Monday, September 27, 2010

Basting {a Tale of Two Methods}

Spray Basting - I like it!

Last week I spray basted my Red & Aqua Sampler Quilt for do. Good Stitches.  I am now a firm believer in spray basting!  But, I'm going to try and give a fair comparison of basting a quilt with pins verses basting with adhesive spray.  Please chime in with your thoughts too!

Pin Basting
  •  Equipment:  Curved basting pins are designed to move through all 3 quilt layers.
  • Cost:  $10.50 for a pack of 100.  You would need about 225 pins for a large throw quilt like Colorbrick.  Since the pins are infinitely reusable, you never need to invest again.
  • Time:  Professional quilters, like Rita at Red Pepper Quilts, recommend placing a basting pins every 4 inches in a grid pattern.  This takes a very. very. long. time
  • Skill:  It takes some practice to reliably get the pins through all layers of the quilt.  If I zone out a bit, this tends to suffer.
  • Uggh factor:  Like most quilters, I baste on the floor.  Sitting and crawling bent over a quilt for this long definitely has it's physical drawbacks.
  • Tricks:  Try using a knitting needle to close the basting pins.  It really saves the fingers!
  • How it Quilts:  When quilting, you'll have to remove the pins as you go.  The constant starting and stopping definitely slows me down.  I worry that my quilt is shifting as I release the pins, since I do not have a drop-in sewing machine with a nice flat work surface.  

Spray Basting
  • Equipment:  An aerosol can of spray adhesive.  The spray washes out and does not gum up sewing machine needles or tools.
  • Cost:  spray adhesive is $16.00.  One can should last for 5-8 big projects, depending on the size of your quilts and how heavy you spray. 
  • Time:  Once your fabrics are ironed and smoothed out for basting (steps necessary with pins too), the spray basting process takes about 15 minutes.
  • Skill:  Spray basting is pretty forgiving since the fabrics can actually be repositioned.  To avoid a sticky situation be sure to use a light, even coverage.  It's like using hairspray.  You want a very light spray that does not dampen the fabric at all.  Experiment with using less, rather than more.
  • Caution:  Some adhesive sprays have strong odors that are certainly toxic.  There are warnings on the can about using in a well-ventilated space.  Gladly, I used Dritz spray, which is odorless.  Apparently, the June Tailor brand is too.  Still, I used the spray with windows wide open and after my children were in bed.
  • Tricks:  Use a drop cloth to protect your floors from overspray.  Then, just wash that cloth when it's time to wash your finished quilt. 
  • How it Quilts:  Quilting my spray basted quilt was so enjoyable!  The quilt sandwich remained tight together throughout, so that I was sewing through one solid piece that couldn't possibly shift.  With no basting pin bombs to slow me down or distract, my straight line quilting came together quite nicely!
Quilting without pins!
Spray basting a quilt definitely saves TIME.  It is cheaper to get started with spray basting, but pin basting saves money over many projects.  Basting with pins is hard on the body, but basting with adhesive spray requires good ventilation for your safety.  I would NOT use a strong-smelling basting spray, sense odorless options are available.  And, lastly, quilting my spray basted quilt was so much nicer than navigating through pins.  I'm sold!

Spray Basted - Now all one piece!
For the Colorbrick Quilt-Along, I'll be demonstrating exactly how to spray-baste your quilt.  For those who prefer to pin-baste, I'll include a link to one of the many existing tutorials in blogland.

So, what do you think?  Have you or will you be trying spray basting?


  1. I won't because:

    What's the propellant?

    Just because it doesn't smell doesn't mean you're not inhaling the product.

    Too much waste! All those cans to throw out.

    I don't find putting pins in to be annoying. I do hate taking them out, but I am unwilling to hand baste using thead--which is what my grandmother used to do!

  2. And, btw--that blue and red is GORGEOUS.

  3. I tried spray basting with little success and ended up using safety pins. I couldn't get my sandwich as smooth as I wanted it and I really don't want to have to be 'gentle' with my quilt when I'm moving it around the sewing machine to quilt. That said...maybe the brand I used wasn't as good as yours or maybe my quilt was too big?

    I prefer the medium curved safety pins. WAY easier to insert and remove. I too do about four inches apart. The easiest way I know to pin your quilt is on a big table. Start in the center and work your way out smoothing and pinning as you go.

    I love that there are different ways to accomplish the same thing!

  4. I love love love spray basting! I used to put off all of my projects because I didn't want to pin them. Or, if it was a small project, I'd quilt without basting. (NOT recommended.....!) Now, I get my projects done so much faster and I adore it.

    For the cost: I wait until Jo-Ann's or Hancocks has a 40% off coupon and buy my spray then.

    I'll join you as a spray-basting fan!

  5. I have pinned all my quilts but after reading this, I really want to try spray basting. My pet peeve with pins is the constant stopping to undo a pin. Also, we just moved to a place with carpet so I have a feeling that pin basting will be a pain in the butt when it pulls up carpet. I'm going to give spray basting a try very soon!! Maybe a tutorial on how you spray basted your quilt so smoothly?? :)

  6. My sister has a few quilting buddies that love spray basting, but neither she nor I have tried it. I am so sensitive to sprays/propellants that I worry about the inhalation, but certainly love the fact that it would save me time and my fingers from pain! I like to hand quilt so I would probably continue to use pins b/c I know they would be holding steady for the month or so that my quilt was in a hoop. But smaller projects that I machine quilt? Then I might try it.

  7. Just used spray for the first time and it was called 505 Fix and Spray - it went on just like hair spray - I didn't notice any kind of horrible smell - I used it on my bathroom floor and there wasn't even any overspray b/c you can direct your spray as you go pretty carefully - I loved it!! It took just a few minutes and then I was quilting with no cursing.....

  8. Okay, all I have to say is HOW DID I NEVER KNOW ABOUT THIS BEFORE???
    I have a quilting rack that I use for larger projects, but I can't quilt straight lines with it so I always end up pinning when I want lines or squares. I'm totally trying this spray stuff next time.

  9. Pin basting is my least favorite part of quilting. I've been wanting to try spray basting, and now I'm sold! I'll pick some up next time I have a coupon from JoAnn's.

  10. I don't care for spray baste for anything other than a really small project. You mentioned that the pins go through all 3 layers, which really holds them together. I think there can be some shifting of the layers while bunching up a big quilt under the machine. I also pin baste on a table - baste one section then move to the next - no problem. It goes really quick after you've done it a few times!

  11. 1. I'm worried about how spray basting will hold up in the long term - how the chemicals might start reacting and eating away at the batting/fabric, etc. Hopefully it washes out, but I don't know if we know enough yet. There's a study about this that was done in Iowa, but I don't have the link handy this morning.
    2. I pin baste over my ironing board or my dining table, now, just letting the wrinkles hang out. I don't make huge quilts, so it's worked so far, and makes up for the fact that I don't have enough empty floor space and you don't get the back pain of crawling on the floor either.

  12. Rachel - I have been busy with homeschooling, here, at our house, but don't think for a moment that I don't appreciate the way you can teach me all about quilting. I am impressed on many levels. Your banner looks great, your photos are always fantastic, your directions well thought out, and your voice so clear. I liked what you said to folks who want to do the quilt along project and might want to sell their quilts - your position on that topic was spot on with the way I feel. Good work. Carolina

  13. oh - and one more thing, I made sure to change your url to your new on my sidebar of favorite blogs so that others can continue to learn from you. Good luck. Carolina

  14. My LQS doesn't even carry the spray basting stuff because of the gummy gunk it leaves all up in your machine. Honestly, I've been too afraid to use it in fear that I might mess up my baby!

  15. So many great comments. Thanks, friends! There are definitely lots of differing thoughts on this one =) It makes sense though because with using different brands, plus different spray amounts, the results are going to vary a lot. If you do try it, just be sure to spray light. Spraying light will minimize the chemical exposure, make it easier for it to wash out and avoid messing up your machine.

    I didn't have to handle the quilt carefully at all. It was very well stuck. And, while I generally go for all-natural/organic, I do think using an odorless design with windows and screen doors open when not pregnant and with no children around is pretty safe. Take care with children though, as their bodies are more easily damaged by chemicals. The odorless point does matter, I believe, since smells usually reveal the presence of VOC's or phthalates. Not that what I used is non-toxic (AT ALL), just that it is better than the alternatives.

    Thanks for commenting! And thanks for sharing you suggestions for easier pin basting.

  16. I'm with Dree. Chemicals and waste... not worth it. Also, I've never paid that much for pins, and I've purchased them from three different stores.

    To help with the pins getting in the way, to the best of your ability, plan where you're going to quilt, then don't pin there (obviously won't work with stippling).

  17. I've tried pin basting, and ultimately, for me, it doesn't work. I have physical limitations that don't allow for me to spend that kind of time crawling around/sitting on the floor. My husband, bless him, is a great helper when I need to baste a bigger project--we've spray-basted about a dozen quilts in the last year, and have really hit our stride!

    I've tried several different sprays, all with good results. I haven't found any gumming of the needle or my machine--I think if someone's having that problem, it means you've used too much or the product is inferior.

    If it wasn't for basting spray, I think I'd make fewer big quilts, and I would likely have to save up to send out anything bigger than a baby quilt to a long-arm quilter.

  18. I swear by spray basting! I don't think I would quilt without it. I actually use the June Tailor brand because I can buy it from Joann's when it's 50% off and stock up at about $5 a can. I started out using the 505. It was great but, it is pretty pricey and you can't find it on sale that often.

    I actually spray baste on the wall. If you think spray basting is a God send - try spray basting on the wall. You can spray baste a full size or queen size quilt in 15 minutes with no crawling around on the floor. With the aid of masking tape and gravity, it makes the process very painless and simple. I do it in the garage and am not too concerned about overspray but, you could do it on any wall and tape up newspaper around the quilt to prevent overspray.

    One misconceptions is that it wont hold over time. I've spray basted quilts and quilted them six months later with no problem. I've always spray basted in the garage or outdoors on the patio and so ventilation was never a problem for me. I would be a bit hesitant to spray baste in a closed space.

    I've never had any problem with any kind of residue on my machine and I've spray basted many a quilt.

    If I had to pin baste quilts I think I would not quilt quite as much. So, thank you spray basting. Thank you.

  19. I love spray basting! I use my clothesline outside to hang my flimsies on, spray them and apply them to the batt, which I tape to the wood floor in my living room. Once the back is on, I trim the batt, flip it over, tape it down again and center the front on! I use the June Tailor basting spray, $10.99 a can at Joann's, and have had excellent results. No gunking up of my machine, and it holds the quilt beautifully through any kind of quilting.

    A WARNING - you cannot use any kind of spray adhesive! It must be labeled "sewable" or it WILL gunk up your machine!! I have used hairspray for small projects (coasters and hot pads) but it doesn't hold well enough for a large quilt, with all the rolling and folding you have to do to quilt it. It's also not repositionable.

    I'm sorry if I'm ruining the environment, but I'm also providing quilts to people in need.

  20. I love to spray baste!! JoAnn's 40% off coupons - just sayin'.

  21. i have been wanting to try spray forever. i have only used pins, and it is such a pain in the butt. i would love a more detailed tutorial on how to do a large quilt, which is what i would be interested. if you ever get the time. :)

  22. I have learned to pin my quilt first with regular pins (not safety pins) and sew it all together using loose, long basting stitch after which you remove all the pins. This is a work intensive method as well but you won't have any pins getting on your way and you don't have to spray chemicals on your quilt. When you are done with quilting you of course remove the basting stitches.

  23. Thanks for this post. I just found your blog today and this topic is exactly what I needed. I've always sent my quilts to a long arm quilter but I want more control over the end result so I'm going to try my hand at quilting them myself. I've been dreading using pins so I'm going to try the spray basting method first. Thanks so much!

  24. Can't wait to see your spray basting how-to this week, I keep checking back for that, because I want to learn more about spray basting and try it myself. My to quilt pile of quilt tops keeps growing because I don't want to pin baste!! :)

  25. Thanks for the info here...from you and all the people weighing in with their thoughts. I had just recently heard about spray-basting for the first time, and now armed with enough info, I am for sure going to give it a shot. And I'll use a coupon too!


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