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Three Faster Ways of Basting Quilts

Three Faster Ways of Basting Quilts post image

Have you tried any of these three time-saving ways of basting a quilt? I have, and I’m here to tell you what’s good and bad about each one.  They each have pros and cons, but it’s worth trying all three to see if one of them works for you, because speeding up your basting can really shorten the distance between you and a beautiful, finished quilt.

Fusible Batting for Quilt Basting

Fusible batting is is coated on both sides with heat-sensitive glue. This means that you can use a steam iron to fuse all three of the quilt’s layers together in one step. You will need a large flat ironing surface to spread out the quilt layers and smooth them for ironing.

The main drawback of fusible batting is that the chemicals in the fusible glue layer will be ironed into the quilt – not too appealing if you don’t like to snuggle yourself up in a warm blanket of chemicals. If you make a mistake, it can be difficult to reposition the quilt layers. When I tried June Tailor fusible batting, the fusible layer included a number of lumps of fusible glue (which did melt when I fused the layers, but the initial impression was less than appealing.)

Fusible batting is more expensive than regular quilt batting. Each of the brands I found is made with a different mixture of fibers:

Hobbs Heirloom is 80% cotton/20% polyester fibers.

Fairfield Fusi-Boo is made from a mixture of bamboo, cotton, and rayon fibers.

Mountain Mist White Gold is 100% cotton.

Bosal Fusible Batting is 100% polyester and comes in a 15-yard bolt.

Quilt Basting with Basting Spray

Basting spray comes in an aerosol can. To spray baste, you spray a thin layer of glue on each of the quilt layers, then smooth the layers into position. The basting spray holds the layers in place until you finish quilting. Then it washes out in the washing machine.

The big advantages of spray basting are its speed and how easy it is to reposition and smooth out wrinkled areas. The big disadvantage is that spray basting forces you to breathe some pretty noxious fumes. Learn all about spray basting here.

Quilter’s Basting Tack Gun

Basting with a quilter’s tack gun involves loading a rack of plastic tacks into the gun, poking the needle on the gun’s nose through the fabric layers, and pulling the trigger to shoot the tack through the quilt sandwich. The two brands I’ve come across are the Dritz Quilter’s Basting Gun, which I have tried, and the Avery Dennison Micro Stitch and Collins Quilter’s Basting Gun, which I haven’t tried.

Tack basting is slower and takes more work than fusible batting or basting spray, but it is still faster than pin basting or basting by hand sewing. Basting with tacks doesn’t rely on the chemicals that many quilters want to avoid. But tack basting is definitely not for everyone.

Using the tack gun is definitely an acquired skill. Some quilters — like me — never get the hang of it. If you don’t position the gun just right against the quilt sandwich, you can either make a hole in the fabric, or fail to pierce through all three layers. Some quilters also complain that the tacks get sewed into their quilting. Finally, the tacks must be removed either during or after quilting, an extra step that isn’t necessary with fusible batting or spray basting. The tacks can be snipped off with scissors or removed with a special tack remover.

If you haven’t tried all three of these time-saving basting techniques, it’s worth taking the time to experiment. You may find that one becomes your favorite.

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Heidi January 11, 2012, 2:52 am

    I have used all three of these basting techniques and still return to good old fashioned pinning most of the time. The one time I used the basting gun, it broke before finishing a twin sized quilt. I returned it for a second one and it broke as well. I found it frustrating to use to with having a hit or miss in getting it through all three layers. The basting pins from the gun look like the plastic pins used to attach price tags to clothing. An retail clothing version of the gun might be better suited for the task.

    I only use the fusible batting with small wall quilts. I have used the spray on up to a twin sized quilt. But as you mentioned above, had difficulty with positioning on anything larger.

    • admin January 11, 2012, 5:36 am

      I just ran out of my can of basting spray, so it was back to pinning on my most recent quilt, a (belated) Christmas tree wall hanging. Heidi, thanks for the use of your beautiful photographs. I love your quilts and your fabric color choices!

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