A Quilt Sandwich
February 18, 2008 § 13 Comments
What would you like for lunch? How about a quilt sandwich? Ha. Now I’m just getting loopy with delirium as I try to finish up things that need to get done this week. Sorry.
Let’s talk about finishing those quilts. Once the quilt top is pieced, it’s time to make a quilt sandwich. Traditionally, a finished quilt consists of three layers. 1) the quilt top, 2) batting, and 3) a backing fabric. That’s not always the case, but generally this is how quilts are finished. Some exceptions may include:
- preemie blankets (usually just a cotton layer and flannel layer of fabric and no batting)
- kids quilts with fleece or minky on the back (the fleece or minky is thick enough that batting is not needed)
- and table toppers for side tables rather than a dinner table (better drape without batting)
- or even curtains (a little bit lighter is good).
Steps to making a quilt sandwich, or at least how I do it. I sandwich my quilts on the floor and it can be hard on the knees. You can also do this on large banquet tables with those big office clips. If you don’t have enough room, check with your local quilt shop about using their class room space. Many will let you come in when it is not in use to pin baste your quilt.
1. Prepare the backing fabric. Sew pieces together if necessary and press. Lay the backing fabric right-side down onto a clean floor.
2. Using wide masking tape, tape the four corners while gently pulling the fabric taut. Then, tape between the corners every 5 or so inches.
3. Spread out the batting onto the quilt back. Make sure there are no wrinkles, smoothing with your hands.
4. Press the quilt top and lay right-side up onto the batting. Use your hands to carefully smooth out wrinkles. Also, check that the rows of the quilt are straight and not wonky and smooth the fabric to straighten the rows. This is where precise piecing becomes more important. Make it a goal to work towards even and precise sewing. It will save you some trouble in the end.
5. Pin baste the quilt using safety pins. I use the #2 (1 1/2″) straight pins and the Kwik Klip tool to pin the quilt. The Kwik Klip tool will save your fingernails from being chewed up. There are also bent safety pins that are easier to open and close. Try out a friend’s supplies, if you can, before you decide which you prefer. Pin about every 5 or 6 inches depending on your quilt. Start in the middle and work your way out to the edge, smoothing the fabric as you go if any wrinkles still exist.
6. Trim the batting and backing down to about 2-3 inches beyond the quilt top. Less than that may be hard to work with as you are quilt. And more than that can be cumbersome.
7. Quilt on your sewing machine. (Hand quilters generally don’t pin baste their quilts, but baste with thread – a whole ‘nother post) As in anything, try these suggestions and then modify or adapt what works best for you.
Any finally… the real question may be, “Do I want to quilt this myself?”. Large quilts are indeed difficult to quilt on a home sewing machine.
You may want to send a bed-sized quilt out to a longarm quilter. Referrals from your local quilt shop or other quilters is best. Ask for references and samples of their work. Some longarm quilters have a preference for the type of work they do.
Baby and lap quilts can fairly easily be quilted on your home sewing machine. My limit is somewhere around 60-70 inches in size. After that I really struggle with all the fabric bunched up around my sewing machine.
If you have an old quilt top (possible inherited from your grandmother) you may not want to machine quilt it. Hand quilting is often preferred for older or antique quilts. There may be someone in your neck of the woods who does hand quilting for a service. But beware that hand quilting can be costly. One way to cut down on the cost is to look for a church group that quilts as part of their functions. And… I have heard mixed reviews about Amish quilting services. Some folks have had great success, while others where not as satisfied. Ask around for referrals.
Keep on quilting!