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Have I mentioned that I basically live my life trying to get the most out of doing the least? It's true. If I really hate doing something that HAS to be done, I'm going to figure out a way to make it at least more palatable, if not exactly enjoyable. (read more)
Basting a quilt qualifies as one of those things I don't really enjoy doing, right up there with binding a quilt, and cutting material for a quilt, but if you want to make a quilt, you've got to break some eggs.
I've tried a couple of different methods for basting. Rather, I've tried tack basting two different ways. While it does work, it's not perfect. I found the top and back shifting against the batting far too often, which would leave folds in my finished product.
I did get better at it as I continued to baste with a tack gun, but I didn't feel great about the method.
So my search continued.
I'd already been glue basting in order to piece my cut cloth together, and I'd heard about other people using this method for entire quilts, but I'd always seen it done with spray baste, which was a no-go for my house.
See, spray basting means you spray the batting with a can of adhesive, much like hairspray (the method, not the ingredients). It's aerosol, it gets in the air, it gets on your floor (overspray), your walls, your pets, etc.
You've got to spray baste in a ventilated area, preferably outside or with the windows open. Even then, if you do it in the house, you're going to get the adhesive on things unintentionally, it's just the nature of the beast.
So, I thought, what if I could use the same glue I've been using for piecing? What if I could do it in the same manner, would it still work?
I gathered up my materials for my latest quilt top, and decided to find out.
WHAT YOU NEED
A flat surface
Your quilt top and backing
Cotton Batting (I have not tried this with poly)
Elmers Glue (or the like, just make sure it's washable)
A pair of scissors
A water mister (or an iron that makes steam)
GLUE BASTING A QUILT SANDWICH VIDEO
If you'd rather see me explain this and demonstrate, start to finish, check out the video. I do speed up the basting parts, so you don't have to spend an hour glued to your computer.
Lay your backing, wrong side up, on your flat surface. I used my living room rug. Whatever you use, make sure it'll be safe from the heat of your iron through your batting and backing/quilt top. You won't be ironing directly onto your flat surface, but there could be a bit of overlap, so keep that in mind.
Here is my backing, all laid out.
Smooth it out as best you can, but don't worry if there are little bumps, we're going to pull those out in a few minutes.
Once you've got the backing down, lay your batting on top.
Smooth the backing and batting a bit more, then grab your clips. This is the part where we're going to make sure the backing and batting are secured together before laying out your quilt top and gluing it down.
I started at the corner, smoothed the material, clipped, smoothed, clipped, all the way around the quilt.
You see my batting and backing there, before I clip them together.
If the material didn't line up with the batting, I just folded the batting under the quilt (so it folded around the backing) and clipped. After all, I was leaving a little area all the way around that I'd cut away later, so it didn't need to match up exactly.
Side note - Do make sure your batting/backing are all at least a couple of inches wider than your quilt top on all sides, so you have a little fudge room.
When I got to the side of the quilt that lined up with all my extra backing, I just gathering the backing, pinched it to the batting, and clipped.
Once it was all clipped, it looked like this. I do realize it's not completely smooth, but remember that I'm still going to quilt it and then wash and dry it, meaning I do want some fluff in the pattern.
Also, I'll be smoothing it more when I glue and iron, so much of this is going to get pressed out as we go.
GLUING THE QUILT TOP
Lay your quilt top out on your backing/batting sandwich. Make sure it lines up, leaving extra material around the sides, then smooth it down with your hand.
Pull back the first section you intend to glue. I started on the left hand side of the picture and worked my way down, gluing two rows of squares at a time.
Pull the material back from the batting, resting it on the quilt top, like so. Get your glue, and get ready to make magic happen!
In the picture below, you see my pulled back top, ready for gluing. I've just drizzled the glue in zig zags, up and down the batting, edge to edge, leaving around 3 inches between lines of glue, if that.
If you look closely, you can see the glue on the batting.
You really need to not leave large gaps between the glue areas, because if you do, you are more likely to have the material shift, causing frustrating puckers and folds in your finished product.
Lay the quilt top onto the glued batting, then smooth it with your hand. You'll notice that it will stay pretty firmly, giving you plenty of time to do the next few steps and secure it.
Grab your mister and give the entire section a good mist. I misted my entire two row area. It stayed plenty moist while I was ironing it out.
The reason I suggest misting is because, if you've ever looked at "glue on batting", it does have you use misting spray to create steam to activate the glue.
While my glue was already wet, I figured a little mist couldn't hurt and might even help it to spread out a bit in the fabric, creating a wider bond.
Now it's time to iron. Go slowly, be thorough. I ironed outward, meaning I was always ironing toward my edges in order to prevent material gathering in the center.
Once you've done that initial section, roll the rest of the top up toward the part you just glued. From here on out you are working your way down the quilt.
Chose an amount you want to glue each time, then just stick that number in your head so you don't lose track. For me it was always two rows. I knew how much glue to lay down, how much to mist, and how much to iron.
Once you've finished gluing down the entire quilt top, go ahead and trim the excess material, leaving only an inch or so around the edge.
Remember, I'm quilting this on my domestic machine. If you're using a long arm, you will need to leave more material, probably. My friend Jenny at Come Quilt recommends I leave her an extra 5" on all sides, on any quilts I give her to quilt for me.
Don't forget to drop your clips back in your storage container as you trim around the entire quilt.
Your trimmed end result will look something like this. I probably didn't even leave an inch extra on the edges, but I have quilted on my Bernina 930 enough to know what I need and what can go.
If you're new to quilting on a domestic machine, you might want to leave a little extra, just in case.
GLUING THE BACKING
We're going to flip the quilt sandwich over and repeat the misting and gluing on the other side, but first I wanted to show you how securely the glue holds things together.
This is not going to shift under my needle, and that makes me extremely happy!
Start by folding the quilt sandwich into a rectangle, just like you might roll a rug.
Keep going until you've got it in a neat little pile.
Flip it over, then slowly unfold the folds so the backing is up and the glued quilt top is down. This means you need to pull the folds gently from under the quilt, so go slow.
Once again, pull back a section of the backing, drizzle your glue, mist, iron, and then fold the backing UP to the top and start working your way down.
If you run out of glue, which I did, just refill it. I like Amazon School Glue. It's about $12 for a gallon, and I'd estimate I used four ounces of glue, or a little less. So for every bottle, you can make around 32 quilts.
Not bad, and definitely better than tack basting, in my opinion.
Once you're done basting both sides, you can iron them again, just to be on the safe side, but if you don't feel it's necessary, just fold that quilt sandwich and set it aside.
It'll be all ready to go when you're ready to quilt.
Now, you can see some puckers in that top square. I need to tell you that it's because of my piecing, not because of how I basted.
But, as I've seen time and again with quilts, the little things that really stand out when it's ironed flat will be all but invisible once you've quilted, washed and dried. It'll all puff up, giving your quilt nice depth and a cuddly feel.
And, in my opinion, a finished, imperfect quilt today is way better than the perfect quilt you're going to make ONE DAY.
I promise to show you the end result once I've quilted it, and I also promise you won't be able to see those creases anymore. :)
THE PRODUCTS I USED
If you'd like to check out the things I use to glue baste, here they are:
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
My iron does have a steam setting, but I don't use it since I can't guarantee I'll remember to empty the reservoir, and I don't want calcium build up on my iron's plate. If you are comfortable emptying your iron each time, a water mister wouldn't be necessary. However, I use my water mister all the time to make sharp creases in my seams, and I love that I can use it with my small iron without having to haul out the big one.
This glue basting method has only been tried (by me) on cotton batting. I have heard conflicting reports about it working on synthetic (poly) batting, so if you use batting of that type, try it on a section before attempting an entire quilt.
I do not think I'd use this method on a show quilt. You can see the glue lines through the top and backing until you wash the quilt. I know my friends who do make show quilts do not wash them. If you don't plan on washing your finished product, you might try a method like tack basting, thread basting, pin basting, or just sending it out to someone who can quilt it for you.
I hope this helps you have a perfect product when you put it under your hopper foot!
When you're finished quilting it, don't forget to come back and read about how I square my quilts, and how I use a bias tape maker for my bindings. Both are very simple methods.
Sending you thoughts full of finished quilts and no shifting material,
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About The Author
I started quilting in June of 2018 after attending a quilt show in support of my
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