Preparing your quilt sandwich
The ﬁrst thing you need to do is assemble the different layers of your quilt—backing fabric, batting (wadding), and quilt top—and make sure that these layers don’t slip out of position when you begin quilting. There are several ways to do this. You can spray baste your layers (using a thin layer of spray glue to temporarily hold your layers for quilting) or thread baste (using basting/tacking stitches through the layers), but I like to pin the layers together using curved quilter’s safety pins. Straight safety pins are absolutely ﬁ ne to use, too; I just prefer the slight curve in the lower pin arm, as it allows you to easily scoop the layers.
Whenever possible, try to ﬁnd an extra-wide fabric for the backing. They may be hard to come by, so for a full-size quilt you will often need to join several pieces together. I like to piece different colour fabrics for backings. Why should the front get all the glory?! As a general rule, I piece backings for small quilts (36–60in/90–150cm) horizontally, with the seams running across the quilt, and backings for larger quilts (over 60in/150cm) vertically.
1. To achieve the best outcome, you need to have everything as ﬂ at and smooth as possible. Press your backing fabric as ﬂ at as you can and place it on a large, ﬂ at surface, with the right side facing down. Using masking or low-tack painter’s tape, tape down the edges of the quilt backing, smoothing out the wrinkles as you go. Your backing fabric should be about 2in (5cm) larger than the ﬁnished quilt top on all sides: if your top measures 64 x 86in (162 x 218cm), for example, then your backing should be a minimum of 68 x 90in (172 x 228cm).
2. With the backing fabric taped to the table or ﬂoor, place the batting (wadding) on top, centring it as best you can. Smooth out all the wrinkles, feeling through the batting to the backing. The batting should be 1in (2.5cm) larger on all sides then the top. Tape it down as best you can.
3. Place the quilt top right side up on top, centring it as best you can. Smooth out all the wrinkles, again making sure you feel nothing on the other layers. While you are doing all the smoothing, you should be planning your quilting. This will help you with the positioning of the pins.
4. Starting at the centre of the quilt top, place a safety pin through all layers. Work your way left and right of the centre pin, spacing the pins about a palm’s width apart, until you reach the edges. Move back to the middle and then pin the next “row,” smoothing as you pin. The goal is to have enough pins that, when you push the quilt through your machine, you will not have to worry about anything moving between the layers. Once you have pins all over the quilt, you are ready for the next step—quilting!
Stitching either vertically or horizontally across the entire quilt gives an interesting texture. This method is simple to do, as you start and ﬁnish stitching off the quilt top so you will not have any threads to tie off and bury in the batting (wadding). You can create a different look by using a variegated thread, or even a selection of colors, for your quilting thread. Varying the distance between the rows also adds a different look. Pick a starting point near the middle of the quilt. Work your way in one direction and then go in the other direction when you have reached the end. The more densely quilted you make your quilt, the stiffer it will be.
1. Prepare your “quilt sandwich” as described opposite. Start near the center of the quilt and quilt one row, either vertically or horizontally depending on your design.
2. Work outward from the centre row, quilting ﬁrst to the left and then to the right of it, using the side of your walking foot as a guide so that the rows are evenly spaced. When you have ﬁnished quilting, remove all the safety pins.