Off the Wall Basting | Inside Quilters Newsletter


The thing about ideas that are just crazy enough to work is that a person must be crazy enough to try out the idea, to see if it will in fact work. As we’ve been settling into our home and filling it up with more furniture, the nice big floor spaces on which I used to spread out and baste my quilts are no longer very big. It’s really no fun crawling around on the floor to baste a big quilt, but basted they must be and it’s a tried and true method that works.

While I’m running out of floor space, there’s still plenty of wall space. Maybe I could use that instead?! If it worked, I’d be able to stand up straight and pin everything together without discomfort. While I’m sure my co-workers would help me baste a quilt that needed to be finished for work, I had a quilt top and back that I made just for fun, for me, and I wanted to get it out of my unfinished pile. I don’t remember the exact size off the top of my head, but it’s about 70″ square. You may remember it, I blogged about making the top. I decided to give my wall-basting idea a shot.

I started by pressing my quilt back so it’s nice and wrinkle-free, then I put two long strips of regular masking tape along the top, on the wrong side of the fabric. I used the 2″-wide kind of tape so there would be plenty of adhesive on both the fabric and the wall.

Two long strips of masking tape at the top will hold the quilt back in place, so I can tape the perimeter of the quilt back to the wall.

I did need my husband’s help just to get the quilt back initially stuck onto the wall so it hung straight. We each held one of the strips and stuck them to the wall, then his job was over and I was able to tape all around the perimeter by myself. It worked out well because I could pull the fabric taut since it was stuck to the wall on top, and tape the edges down. It was obvious if there was any distortion and the tape was easily readjusted as necessary.

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The quilt back is nice and smooth, taped all around the edges. It’s a little hard to see since the wall is almost the same color as the masking tape!

Next comes the batting, of course. I had the idea that cotton batting would stick pretty well to the back and stay put without any tape, but I did have to tape the upper two corners in place while I smoothed it over the quilt backing. I cut off the excess batting, which was adding unnecessary weight, and then with a bit of manipulation and patting out folds I got it nice and smooth against the quilt back. So far, so good.

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The batting, trimmed to size, stuck pretty well to the backing. It was a little tricky in the bunchy areas where the batting had been folded, but patient manipulation worked that out.

The quilt top, being smaller and lighter than both the quilt back and batting, should adhere nicely to the batting, I thought. It did. Once one corner was anchored and smooth, it was really easy to smooth out the rest of the quilt top and it stayed put without any tape or anything. It was actually much simpler that crawling around on the floor to get wrinkles out, since on the floor you usually have to put your weight on the quilt and that distorts the smoothing out you just did. I was able to get the backing, batting and quilt top on the wall in about half an hour.

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Layer the backing, batting and quilt top. On the wall. Done!

Then it was time to pin it! I was nervous that the safety pins might add more and more weight and eventually pull the tape off the wall, but I figured that by then I’d have a good amount of basting already done and then I could just move to a table or something. So I just started pinning at the top and before I knew it, I was done! It worked really, really well. I did have to squat and then sit on the floor to pin the very bottom, but it wasn’t for long and still preferable to crawling on hands and knees.

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It’s not too apparent, but there are safety pins all over the quilt. No knees were harmed in the basting of this quilt.

So, wall basting. Have people been doing this all along, but I just never heard about it? It’s pretty great. I guess it helps to be tall if your quilt is pretty big, and I had made my quilt back about 6″ larger than the front so even with the slight distortion that happened when I removed the masking tape from the fabric, it didn’t affect the working area. My husband was a little concerned that the masking tape might damage the paint on the wall, but it came off with no trouble at all and the wall looks just fine.

My quilt front and back are perfectly smooth, basted, and ready to quilt. I think this will be a good project to practice some more free-motion quilting.

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Close up of the front, basted.

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The back, basted. No wrinkles!

Please tell us all about your quilting adventures and ideas, innovations and dreams! We’re always on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and our website. Have a stitcherrific weekend!

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