Workshop Wednesday: Basting a Quilt


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: basting a quilt is tedious work. It just is.

It’s the step in quiltmaking that hangs me up the most, as I really don’t enjoy it at all. However, it’s a necessary step for being able to do something I do enjoy, which is actually quilting the quilt. As such, I try to baste my quilts after my kids and the dog are asleep so I can work uninterrupted on our living room floor and keep my brain occupied by listening to music or podcasts.

Basting a quilt is thought to be one of those fundamentals that doesn’t get explained or demonstrated all that often. Therefore, if you’re new to quilting, you may be a little unsure of what to use and how to use it. Or even what it is, for that matter.

When you baste a quilt, you are fastening the three layers of a quilt sandwich—top, batting and backing—together so they remain smooth and aligned during the quilting process. That’s about it. Occasionally you’ll meet the hand quilter who doesn’t baste at all, but it’s rare.

There are three main methods: thread basting, pin basting and using a basting spray. Below are some different tutorials that talk about all three.

For basic written instructions, click here for a McCall’s Quilting free tutorial on layering and basting a quilt.

In this short McCall’s Quilting video tutorial, Sherri Bain Driver and Valerie Uland demonstrate the simple but important process of layering and basting a quilt top to prepare it for quilting.

In this episode of “Quilty,” Ebony Love joins Mary Fons to demonstrate basting. They briefly discuss spray basting and talk about the needle and thread you’d want to use for thread basting before Ebony talks more in-depth about pin basting.

In a different “Quilty” episode, Heather Kinion demonstrated two different thread basting methods, one by domestic machine and one by hand; click here to view the free video tutorial on our website.

What’s A Basting Stitch (And Two Ways To Do One) With Heather Kinion

(P.S. There is a third thread basting method, which is having it done on a longarm. It’s a service you’d have to pay for, but I know quilters who are willing to pay someone to take care of this step for them. I can’t say I blame them.)

In her “Lessons in Creativity” series, Jenny Kae Parks talks about spray basting in more detail and also demonstrates pin basting. You can view the full episode for free on our website here.

Squaring Up, Basting, And Free-Motion Quilting
If floor space large enough to baste a quilt is hard to find in your home, you need to read about Gigi Khalsa’s wall basting method, which she blogged about a few years ago and that continues to be a popular post. Talk about a brilliant hack!

Off The Wall Basting

Comment (1)

  • Anna L

    The video tutorial I’ve ever watched on pin basting is by Cindy Needham on Craftsy called “Design It, Quilt It: Free-form Techniques.” Her second lesson goes thoroughly into what gizmos she uses and the reasons why. More importantly she demonstrates using a large quilt, and most instructors I’ve watched online have little samples. Pin basting is the most arduous task for me and always ends up being a sweaty affair because I’m on my hands and knees, smoothing and pulling.

    January 12, 2018 at 6:45 pm

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