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The Art of Quilt-making,
Getting Ready to Quilt --The Right Way
by Mary Asper, Green Mountain Designs
A Seasoned Quilter
Shares Her Tips
In this article, Mary Asper of
Green Mountain Designs shares her tips for successful
quiltmaking. Although it is written especially for the beginning
quiltmaker, even more experienced artisans may find valuable
information. See Part I, Part II, Part
III, Part IV, and Part V for more tips.
Marys Tip: Stretch
the backing of your quilt when layering to avoid problems
Now that your top is all
bordered and straight, you're ready to prepare it for quilting. I
use this process for ALL quilts, from wall size quilts to bed
- Have a large, flat, sturdy surface on
which to work. I have two 8 foot by 36 inch tables that I
bought at Staples for $48 each - a truly worthy
investment, I think. You can use a door set on two saw
horses - a dining room table (cover it to save
scratching!) or any surface that's large enough for your
quilt. I drag my tables in and set them up when I'm
preparing a quilt, then take them down again - lucky you
if you have the space to leave them set up all the time!
- Prepare the backing for the quilt; it
should be at least 4 inches larger all around than the
quilt top. Mark the vertical center of the backing. (top
to bottom, in the center of the two sides).
- Mark the vertical center of the
surface you are using. I tape a long sturdy pin in the
center at each end of the tables. so I can feel it
through the quilt when I'm working.
- Lay the quilt backing RIGHT SIDE DOWN
(make sure those seams are looking up at you!!) on the
tables, lining up the vertical center of the backing with
the vertical center of the table.
- Secure the backing in place. I have
two methods I prefer:
- for smaller quilts and wall
quilts, I tape the backing in place with heavy
packing tape. This DOES fray the edge of the
fabric when you rip it up - but that's partly why
the backing is larger than the quilt top!
- For large quilts, I use 2 inch
binder clips - available at office supply stores.
Buy a couple boxes so you have plenty.
- Tape or binder clip one end of the
quilt; then stretch the fabric taut as you tape or clip
the other end. Next secure one side; then, again
stretching taut, secure the other side. Your backing
should be fairly taut, wrinkle free and STRAIGHT. Find
the center of the batting. Line this center up with your
other vertical centers (backing and table) so that the
batting is even on all sides. Smooth the batting over the
- Fold the quilt top in half vertically,
right sides together (wrong sides out). Lay the fold
along the vertical center of your tables. Open the quilt
top and smooth over the batting.
- Gently run your hands over the whole
*sandwich* to make sure there are no big lumps, wrinkles,
etc. Visually check to see that everything looks
- Use Quilter's Safety Pins (rust-free)
or some other method to secure the layers of the sandwich
together. Other methods include:
- Quilt-Tac - haven't used it because
it's fairly expensive. It seems to me that the grid you
can purchase to go underneath is necessary, to raise the
quilt so you can push the little tags in with the gun.
- Hand-Basting - I do this in cases
where I don't want to have to remove the basting as I
quilt - like really complex piecing designs or delicate
- Tying - a friend of mine first ties
and binds all her quilts, then hand-quilts as she has
time. She uses Perle Cotton to tie and has good success
with this method.
- When pinning, I like to use number 2
silver-colored pins. I pin about every 4 to 6 inches,
working from the center out to the edges.
- When the area on your table surface is
completely basted, undo the clamps or the tape and , if
necessary, move the quilt to one side and repeat the
process. You will not need to align all the centers
again; your sandwich is already straight and secured.
Also, the weight of the sandwich will help keep the
underlying fabric taut, so you may not need to clamp or
tape all the sides.
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