Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Quilt Basting Tutorial, with bonus batting piecing instructions

Here are instructions for how to baste a quilt in preparation for machine quilting. You could baste it like this for hand quilting or tying as well.

Here's what you need:
quilt top
backing fabric
wide tape
curved safety pins
Kwik Klip pin closing tool

I didn't have a piece of batting the right size for this quilt so you also get to see how to piece together batting.

Step 1: Spread and smooth out your backing fabric on a carpeted floor. The backing should be about 4-5 inches wider and longer than the quilt top. I used flannel for this quilt backing, but sometimes I use regular woven fabrics too. If there is a right side of the backing fabric, it needs to face the floor. You can iron it too, but it's not necessary unless your fabric is super wrinkly. Use wide tape to tape it down. You don't want the backing fabric to be stretched tight, just flat and smooth. I usually use packing tape but haven't been able to find it, so I used duct tape this time.

Step 2: Spread your batting out on top of your backing fabric. I had to use 2 small pieces; I overlapped them by about 4 inches.

Step 3: Cut on an imaginary wavy line through both thicknesses of batting.

Step 4: Remove the small cut pieces of batting and match up the curved edges of the batting pieces. They should butt up to each other but not overlap.

Step 5: Next you'll hand sew the batting pieces together. Here you can see how I did it because I used black thread. You should use thread that matches the batting though. It's ok to use pretty big stitches. The quilting will hold this together fine in the end.

This photo shows the batting seamed together. I removed the black stitches and sewed the entire seam with light colored thread.

Step 6: Spread the quilt top on top of the batting. Iron it first if it's really wrinkled. Smooth it out nice and flat.

Step 7: Using curved safety pins (these should be available at your local quilt shop), start in the middle of the quilt and pin all 3 layers together. I put pins about every 4-5 inches. Make sure you don't pin the quilt to the carpet. I use the Kwik Klip pin basting tool for closing my pins. You can use your fingers but they can get pretty sore after closing lots and lots of pins.

Step 8: Cut off the excess batting and backing, making sure to leave a couple inches beyond the edge of the quilt top. Then, remove the tape (give it to your kids so they can make a tape ball) and you're ready to quilt. Unless you pinned your quilt to the carpet. In that case, just fix the places where you did that and then you'll be done.

I hope this is helpful! As always, let me know if there are any questions or clarifications needed.


  1. Thank you thank you thank you. I am about to sew my first quilt as you know - this is the part I am confused about - I may be bugging you for help if that's ok! :-)

  2. That would be great! I will be posting my free-motion quilting tutorial later this week, too. :)

  3. Thanks for your directions on piecing the batting! I'm sewing a patchwork duvet cover for my son and his wife (just married) The top is all ready to be sewn but I didn't know the best way to join the batting (using flannel). Thanks!!

  4. Your tutorials are great! I just finished my first quilt which I made without any guidance at all. It turned out surprisingly well but I'm excited to use your tips. I'm going to try free motion quilting on the next one!

  5. Thanks! Very helpful! I need one of those tools to close safety pins!

  6. Thank-you for posting about piecing the batting. since I have a huge aversion to hand sewing though, I'm going to try it with my machine basting stitch set on zig zag instead. I have a question though, why the wavy seam? Is it so it's less obvious in the final quilt?

  7. Hi Vicki,

    I just searched "how to piece quilt batting" on google and your post showed up. Very helpful - thanks so much! Funny that you wrote it three years ago and I'm reading it now. :)


  8. This was great. I am glad to know about the curvy join and that my stitches can be nice and long. Thanks!

  9. Thank you. I have sewn the batting straight and I put the backing on a table. Two lessons learned,
    Thank you. I look forward to the binding tutorial.

  10. I have searched the web over, even watched quilting videos, and your site is the first one that made sense. Thank you! I have never quilted before, and this step, along with the binding tutorial, were the most helpful posts I've come across on these topics!

  11. Found you through Chasing Cottons. Thank you so much for this tutorial. It was very helpful!

  12. Last year I found some iron on mending tape, at Joanns, that you use for batting. Thought. I'd put that out there for those of us who don't like to hand sew.😁
    Hope it's helpful to some of your followers.


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