More basting, some quilting…………….

I started basting this quilt yesterday.  It will take a couple days because I don’t stick with it for more than an hour at a time.

I started quilting this 42″ square wallhanging.  I am quilting 1/4″ on each side of the seam and the strips are 1″ wide so it ends up as rows 1/2″ apart.  I’m doing all of the light strips first and then I’ll come back and do the colors. 

This is the time of year when the basement is cold.  When it gets up to 60 outside late in the day the heat doesn’t come on and it gets too cold to work down there.  In the mornings I pop the heat up to take the chill off so that is the best time to work down there.


Progress, finally………….

I cut backings and batting for three quilts, and this is the backing for this one.  I also spent an hour looking for the backing for the flannel quilt top I just finished.  No, I didn’t find it.

This is the second wallhanging I basted to quilt on my straight stitch machine.  This one is about 40″ square.  The other one is about 42″ square.  I have quilted 13 quilts so far in 2015 in 13 weeks.  Now I need to get the 4 ready for this month to keep up that pace.

The blooming area in the living room was bathed in sunlight yesterday morning.  I have 4 other plants that each have one bud on them.  One is a baby plant started from a piece that fell off one of the big plants.  I never know which one they are from and it takes a couple years to get a bloom on them.

back to finishing…….

I’m not going to try for 4 more finishes in the last 10 days of January.  I think I will be happy to have a total of 10 finishes instead of 12.  I quilted this baby/lap quilt with a large meander.  I have trimmed the quilt and cut the binding but didn’t sew it on yet.  I will do the binding all by machine this time.

I basted the last of the 5 Wonky series quilts.  I will quilt it on my straight stitch machine, ditch quilting.  
Today is the twice monthly sewing group so I’ll work on the flannel quilt that I started piecing last time and start quilting this one when I get home.


I finished this top in March 2013 so it is time to finish it.  I basted it yesterday and will quilt it on my straight stitch machine.

I also chose a backing for a baby quilt and pressed it.  I have it hanging over the bar on my longarm and will probably load it today.

I’m thinking about making a Trip Around the World with the 30s reproduction fabrics.  The solid colors aren’t the authentic ones, just some that I have on hand that are close enough.  It was a snowy day yesterday so it was a good day to work on quilts.


Yesterday afternoon I got the backing taped to my double table.

I spread out the top and thread basted it.  I can start quilting it today on my straight stitch machine.

The paper whites started blooming.

I have one bloom and a few tiny buds on the cactus started from my mother in law’s plant.  This one is a coral/red.

Hand basting with needle and thread…………

I had been hand basting, and had taught it to hundreds of students for almost 20 years when I read in a new book about machine quilting that you must never, ever hand baste for machine quilting.  Huh!!  What is more natural than using a needle and thread.  The thought of opening and closing 500 safety pins is just not appealing.  The first thing I do is tape my backing to my banquet tables.  I am lucky to have the older, really sturdy tables that don’t dip in the middle like the new white lightweight ones do.  Note: I did the basting on my hands and knees on a cement floor for many, many years before getting the tables.

Next I smooth the batting out on the backing.

Now the top is smoothed out and checked many times with rulers to be sure corners are not distorted and edges are straight.  Note that the backing and batting are always larger than the quilt top by at least 1″.  That is insurance in case the top grows a little in basting or quilting.

Most people who don’t like hand basting have simply used too short of a needle.  These needles are 2.25″ long.  The size 7 is sturdy but not too fat.  I tried size 9 but snapped them in half all the time.  I also use a lightweight thread, 60 weight, 2 ply so it will break when pulling it out (and it won’t break a quilting stitch). Your basting thread should always be weaker than your quilting thread.  Some people use a grapefruit spoon with the little teeth to slide the needle onto as it comes out of the fabric (and to raise it up).  With these long needles there is plenty of needle to get hold of to pull the stitch through the layers.

You will have to click on this photo to enlarge it see the stitching.  I use a padding stitch instead of a running stitch.  The running stitch allows the fabric to move back and forth on the stitch whereas the padding stitch holds it very securely.  Each stitch is taken parallel to the last creating a diagonal thread on the surface.  If you take your stitch diagonally the surface thread will be straight.

I have some people asking if my stitching doesn’t puncture the basting thread and my answer is that I would rather stitch through a thread than a safety pin. 

I have to admit that a free motion quilting foot gets caught on the threads, but wait… stop and take out your safety pins in the area you will free motion, so do the same thing with the thread.

You can see the basting lines better in this photo from last year.

My basting rows are approximately 6-7″ apart, about the length from my thumb to little finger, so that is my measuring stick. If the pattern is 6″ blocks, then it is along the edge of every block, so sometimes I am able to just use the quilt pattern to gauge the distance. I never baste over the top of a seam where 2 blocks join, always to one side of it when I do a row of basting.
You always baste from the center out so find the center of the quilt and do one row to the top, one to the bottom, and one to each side. These are your center lines which all other basting will start from. When I am finished I have rows going both directions all over the quilt, in other words it looks like squares, or a plaid. Your basting rows are your guide when quilting to see whether the top is moving. If, as you approach a basting row, the top starts humping up, you know you have to ease it in before you reach the basting row. 

This post probably didn’t interest about 75% of you, those who send out all of your quilts to be quilted by others, and those who use a longarm, since you don’t have to baste for that.  I do a lot of ditch quilting, which I love to do, and I do it on my regular machines.  See this post for all of my machines that I quilt with.

Worked on three………..

Gray dotty zig zag is on the basting table.  I pieced the back and got it layered before lunch and in the afternoon I got 4 full length rows basted on it.  I’m linking to the HSTeria quilt along (Link button on right side bar) because it is triangles, but it’s not new.  I finished the top a year ago and am just now getting ready to quilt it.  Full shot of it here.

In the morning yesterday I worked on the binding on the star quilt and thought I would finish it but instead I spent a few hours quilting in the ditch on this Fractured quilt.  I’m somewhere between 1/2 and 1/3 done with that part of the quilting.