Making of a Quilt (ballerina) – Basting, Quilting & Binding

by Kate on April 11, 2011

Today is the final post in the Making of a Quilt (ballerina) series, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

Posts in the series include:
Monday 14th March: Making of a Quilt – Planning
Monday 21st March: Making of a Quilt – Fabric
Monday 28th March: Making of a Quilt – Cutting
Monday 11th April: Making of a Quilt – Basting, Quilting & Binding

The Ballerina quilt is on it’s way back from Karen, I hope to share it with you later in the week. In the meantime, I made a mini quilt to show you how I baste, quilt and bind quilts.

Basting is probably the most important step to ensure you end up with a pucker free quilt, it pays to take your time. There are many different ways to baste a quilt, I don’t think there is a right or a wrong way, just find a way that works for you. I pin baste. It is a tedious process, hurts my back and knees but it was the way I was taught and I have always been happy with the results.

If you are interested in spray basting, pop over to Ashley’s where you can find a very comprehensive tutorial.

The steps:

  1. Ensure you backing fabric and batting is at least 2.5” larger than your finished quilt top.
  2. Lay backing fabric on the floor wrong side up, taping the fabric down. I start by taping the bottom corners, then the top. The backing fabric shouldn’t be stretched but I do pull slightly when taping, all creases should be pulled out.
  3. Lay the batting on top of the backing fabric, smoothing to ensure it is laying flat.
  4. Now to pinning. I use curved safety pins and pin every 3 inches apart, starting by pinning around the edge of the quilt first.
  5. Begin at the middle bottom of the quilt and pin out towards the left edge. I then go back to the bottom middle and pin out toward the right edge. Continue pinning along the edges, around the perimeter and finish off by pinning throughout the inside of the pin-perimeter you just created.
  6. Once pinning is complete, remove the tape and you are ready to quilt

Ballerina Mosaic

At it’s most basic form, quilting is purely there to hold together the layers of the quilt. However with a bit of thought quilting can add a whole new dimension to your patchwork top.

When machine quilting I start at the middle of my quilt and work my way out. Once one half is done, I flip the quilt and work out towards the other side. My stitch length is set to either 3.5 or 3.8. I use a walking foot and keep my speed at a steady pace, too quickly and your stitch length will be uneven.

I like to quilt with organic lines that are generally between 1/2” and a 1” apart and meander vertically down the quilt. I really like this look; it gives the quilt such a great texture and really lends itself to geometric shapes and improvisational pieced blocks.

You can find an excellent tutorial on organic line quilting at Jacquie’s.

Binding: I use Rita’s method of binding. The only difference is that I cut my strips 2.5″ wide, attach them to the BACK of the quilt first and then top stitch the binding down on the front.

Pop back in on Wednesday for the first doll quilt tutorial.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tania April 11, 2011 at 9:24 am

When it comes to quilting, I am all about the texture. And your sort of organic freeform business gets me every time.


2 Nova April 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Oh, a mini version! too cute. Can’t wait to see it’s big sister all quilted & bound. eek.

You are fearless with your machine binding btw. Super impressed.


3 Emer April 11, 2011 at 7:17 pm

I see how you use a lot of bins to baste the quilt. Thats prob why i get lots of puckers, due to not enough pins. And I love the organic line quilting. Will try that next time. Thank You.


4 Mel April 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Meanwhile I sit here staring at Sienna’s quilt that I started A YEAR AGO and stupidly decided to hand quilt and you’ve managed virtually the whole kit and kaboodle in a couple of weeks! No flies on you sister.

Hey now a question: I always start pinning from the middle to the outside edges. Is there a reason you go from the outside in?


5 Kate April 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm

?!? I start from the middle, bottom edge and work towards the left edge then I go back to the middle and work out to the right edge.

Make sense?


6 Baa-me Kniits April 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Wonderful! Thank you….don’t think I would be game to machine sew the binding though ;-)


7 Kirst April 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Why are there not more comments on this post? Absolutely FABULOUS. I will be back often to check & double check. Thanks Kate for a great series.


8 Kate April 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Glad you liked it Kirst x


9 Rachaeldaisy April 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm

This is such a beautiful quilt!! I’m curious about why you attach your binding to the back first? Most books/tutorials stitch it to the front first.


10 Kate April 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I machine stitch my binding…both front and back but by attaching it to the back first I found it much easier to finish it off on the front. If you machine stitch it on the front and then fold it over (to then stitch in the ditch), I just found it very tricky to catch the back and ended up having to hand stitch the sections I missed.

I just find it easier this way and don’t mind the finish.


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