How Do You Make Your Sandwich?

Quilt sandwich, that is.  The ingredients are constant – top, filling, back – but the methods used to combine them vary.  After my unfortunate experience with the Project from Hades I’ve been looking for alternatives to pin basting.

And what have I found?  The two main alternatives are spray basting and fusible batting, if you plan to machine quilt.  Hand basting is the traditional method used with hand quilting, but isn’t recommended for machine quilting since removing the basting thread is almost impossible once you machine stitch on top of it.

Of course, every quilting instructor has a different preference, just to confuse us poor quilters.  Lynn Peterson uses spray, Wendy Butler Berns and Leah Day use safety pins.  The chief objection to spray appears to be concern about exposure to noxious chemicals.  Well, if you spray outside or in an open garage that should help mitigate such problems.  After all the talk about inhaling bad stuff from basting sprays I was amused at this video about 505 basting spray.  These two ladies seem blissfully unaware of any potential health impacts.

No one except the owner of a local quilt shop seems to favor fusible batting, and she swears by a Hobbs product.  I’ve used something called Fusiboo with OK results.  Everyone cautions against using a June Tailor fusible batting that has clumps of glue stuck here and there.  I bought some of this stuff once and it is truly awful.  Anyway, the shop owner sold me some of the Hobbs batting.  I’ve seen her quilts so I know the product will work on tops with lots of applique.

As I’ve tried fusible batting I decided to go with a basting spray for my flowers quilt.  It has so many bits of fabric fused on the top that I feared pinning would be difficult and wouldn’t hold the layers together well through all the twisting entailed in quilting all those edges.  And I was worried the pins would get caught in my walking foot as I rotated the top.  Besides, I had already cut a piece of batting.

So, based on Lynn Peterson’s recommendation I bought some 505 spray and sprayed it to the wrong sides of the quilt top and backing, being careful to spray out on my porch. Then, following Lynn’s instructions I pinned the backing to a carpeted floor using T-pins, aligned the batting on top, and then smoothed the top on.  I then ironed my sandwich to further smooth and attach the layers.  I did this with everything still pinned to the carpet.  Since then, I’ve noticed some quilters spray the batting, add the top, then turn everything over, spray the other side of the batting and add the backing.  I think the method may depend on the size of your quilt.

The result?  So far I’ve done some stabilizing stitch in the ditch and about half of the narrow zigzag stitching around the fused pieces.  I’m pleased with the hold of the spray, though it’s a bit loose at the corner edges.  I may have used less spray there.  For this quilt it’s not an issue.

And for the future?  I admit I’m sold on spray basting, though I may have a different answer come winter with snow on the ground.  Maybe I’ll use fusible batting then.


Filed under In Process

4 responses to “How Do You Make Your Sandwich?

  1. Judith Campbell

    I too am not a fan of in basting. It leaves a lot of holes. So I finally tried the spray this weekend. It did work well– I had my windows open and a mask on, for safety sake. It held well throughout the quilting process and there was no drag. It does leave surrounding areas kinf of tacky, but those were due to be cut off anyway.

    The brand of fusible batting I used [can’t remember which one it was] was stiff and unfriendly to quilt through. I make wall hangings, FYI.

  2. I have worked with 505 spray, but went back to pinning. I quilt on my Bernina (both straight line and free-motion) and I find pinning the best alternative.

    • Oh my, so I might be returning to the pins? Have you tried those colorful tips you put on straight pins yet? Supposedly it’s easier and faster since you don’t need to fasten the pins.

      • Haven’t tried them yet as I have a lot of curved basting pins, size 2 – 38mm. Over the last 2 years I got some practice with pins and quilt basting goes quickly.

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