Binding, For Beginners, Modern Mini QAL

Modern Mini Quilt: basting and quilting

Last Sunday I published the instructions for piecing this cute mini quilt,

This week, we are on to basting and machine quilting.

Supplies needed: strong packing tape, quilting thread, safety pins, scissors, and a marking pen if you plan to do any fancy quilting (I like the fine point pens that come off with a little spray of water)

You will also need 3/4 yard fabric for the backing (or piece some scraps together to be about 28″ square) and batting 28″ square.

diversion: “batting” or “wadding”? I prefer 100% cotton like “warm and white” or “warm and natural”; these are good all-around battings as far as loft (flat, but not flimsy), tightness, weight, and ease of quilting.
I have also used the bamboo batting and love it although it’s more expensive. It is soft and light weight, great for a quilt that will be used for snuggling.
I recently bought a whole bolt of the Pellon batting (had a killer coupon at Joann’s), which is what I am now using on my bigger quilts. I feel like it has a tighter “weave” than the bamboo (more like the “warm” batting), but it is very flat, so if you want your quilting to pop, you probably need two layers.

1. Lay the backing fabric out on a hard surface (like a tile or wood floor) wrong side facing up. If needed, lay the quilt top over the backing for measurement purposes and trim so the backing is only about 2-4″ larger on all sides
trim backing fabric to be just larger than the quilt top

2. remove the quilt top and use strong packaging tape to secure the edges of the fabric to the floor. Start with one side, tape it down. Then move to the opposite side, pull it taut and tape securely. Move to an adjoining side, tape, and then pull the opposite side taut and tape. (for a large quilt, it is advantageous to have someone help with this)

3. tape all four corners of the backing to the floor, pulling the fabric taut. *I am by no means an authority on basting a quilt. I welcome any and all recommendation on this topic. I have found that it is necessary to pull the backing fabric very tightly at this point. Try to hit the sweet spot of getting it as tight as you can without stretching it.
tape the edges and corners to keep the fabric pulled tight

3. lay the batting on top of the backing fabric. Beginning in the center, use your hands to carefully smooth the batting out toward the edges. No wrinkles allowed.

4. lay the quilt top over the batting, right side facing up. Smooth over the other layers by starting in the center and spreading it out toward the edges.

5. use safety pins to hold the three layers together. Begin pinning in the center of the quilt top and smooth outward, adding pins every 4″ maximum (the closer you pin, the better). I typically pin along one axis of the quilt (see below), then move out toward the edges on each half.

Once the layers are securely pinned, remove the tape (I hate this part!) and pick up your quilt sandwich…you are ready to quilt it.

Since I am still a beginner at machine quilting, I mostly do straight line quilting along seams and use my marking pen to mark basic designs like curves.

pointers for beginners:

  • use a walking foot and start with gently curved designs or straight line quilting
  • if you don’t have a walking foot, reduce the foot pressure and quilt with a regular sewing foot (this is what I do)
  • quilt “straight” lines but use a decorative stitch built into your machine, like a wavy or curly line (I love this! I did it on my modern wedding ring quilt)
  • check the back of your quilt frequently to make sure the bobbin thread is smooth. If needed, adjust tension.
  • start quilting in the center and work outward, or one edge and work across the quilt. This helps you keep the layers smooth as you go. Be careful not to ever pull or stretch the quilt sandwich.
  • the closer you keep your quilting, the better your quilt will hold up to washing and have that nice snuggly feel. Check your batting for recommendations on how closely it needs to be quilted for ideal wear. On the other hand, if you quilt it really really tightly, it will be more stiff, it is up to you and what you plan to use the quilt for.

Today I got as far as quilting along my seam lines. I am using my BabyLock Sashiko machine, which looks like hand stitching. I plan to add some more quilting to this, I will show you when I finish. I think this quilt would also be really cute quilted with perl cotton with bigger hand stitches in colors like the geese.

I would love to hear if you are making one of these minis with me, what kind of colors did you use, and how are you quilting it?

Next week we will bind!


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5 thoughts on “Modern Mini Quilt: basting and quilting

  1. Rosa says:

    Just stunning!

  2. Ronna says:

    I love this, it is beautiful. What size is this quilt?

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