Step-by-Step Guide on How To Baste A Quilt For Hand Quilting

Whenever you hear the word ‘quilting,’ one crucial thing comes to your mind. It is the art of stitching layers of fabric together. Isn’t it?

Hand quilting is itself challenging and time taking. Adding to that, here is one major challenge all quilters face. To keep the sandwich layers of the quilt together. Do you know there’s a name for holding the quilt layers? You call the whole process Basting.

But do you know how to baste a quilt? There are different types of Basting.

To dig deep into it and to know the best ways to baste your quilt in hand quilting, read the article till the end.

What Does Basting a Quilt Mean?

Basting is the process of sewing a layer of fabric. You can also call this process batting between layers or on top of another material, such as quilt batting. You are sewing an unsewn layer with a needle and thread to hold it in place while you work on other parts of the quilt.

You may have heard that there are three types of Basting. So, What are the three types of Basting?

There are three types of Basting:

  • Hand basting- Hand basting is done by hand, using a needle and thread.
  • Machine basting- You do machine basting by using a machine, of course. You can sew it with a stitch length slightly longer than for hand quilting. This type is usually only used on projects that use more than one layer, such as baby blankets and crib sheets.
  • Backing basted fabrics- Backing basted fabrics are sewn onto the backside of a quilt after all other layers have been assembled. Then cut off at the sides to be turned right side out when completed. These fabrics are cotton batts fleece or some other soft fabric. They allow you to turn up the edges quickly but still have enough body to hold everything together during finishing.

Is it Necessary to Baste a Quilt?

Keeping aside all the stitching and creative works, Quilting is stitching three layers together. Now, you would never want that your fabric slips away while you sew.

Basting peeps in here with a solution. It temporarily keeps the layers or sandwich of fabric together so that you can sew with ease. 

So ‘Basting’ is a step you should never skip. 

Also, try to find someone who can help you while you baste your quilt. Doing it alone might be challenging. 

How Do you Baste a Quilt?

Now at this point, the real question comes, How do you hand baste? There are many ways to baste a quilt, but you have to be careful and use the best techniques.

Traditional methods of Basting include using cotton thread with waxed linen thread. The advantage of this type of Basting is that it doesn’t leave any mark on the fabric. But, there is a downside. You must prepare your sewing machine in advance. Because the thread can break due to high tension, and you cannot even adjust the tension. 

Threads made from different materials are available as well. If you want to use paper-like material for ease of handling, you should do it at a low speed so that it doesn’t cause damage to your fabric or machine.

Another way is by using a needle where you dip in the water before stitching. This technique is quick and easy, but it leaves marks on the fabric, deteriorating over time if not taken care of properly. Moreover, this technique does not provide any protection for your machine either.

Best Basting Ways

Now there are some other methods of basting popular among quilters today. These are as follows:

i. Thread basting

Thread basting is a type of Quilting or sewing with thin threads or string. You use it to hold the quilt layers together while pieced. Then you remove it before the final, binding process. It will prevent the fabric from fraying. It also keeps the stitches in the thread from unravelling.

You can do this process by hand or with a sewing machine. If you are working with a sewing machine, it’s easier to do this technique if you use a zigzag stitch.

The best part of thread basting is that the stitch remains in the quilt for years. And there is no involvement or binding of pins with the fabric. The major downside of this quilting method is that it consumes a lot of your time. – This method doesn’t work well for free motion Quilting. 

ii. Iron or steam basting

Basting is applying glue or steam to the layers of the quilt sandwich.

It creates an invisible stitch that keeps the layers together during sewing. And even after that. You can do Basting before sewing, during sewing, or after sewing.

The most common type of Basting is iron basting. It utilizes an iron with a pressing cloth over it to create the stitch. A different type of Basting is steam basting, where you use steam instead of iron. Steam basting doesn’t need a pressing cloth.

Iron or steam-basted quilts are more permanent than hand-stitched quilts. Also, there are less susceptible to shifting and pulling apart than hand-stitched quilts. But they are more expensive and time-consuming than hand-stitched Quilting.

The best part about this method is that it is speedy and takes less time. However, it works only for miniature quilts.

iii. Pin Basting

In the past, pins were used to hold layers of fabric together on a quilt. But, today’s styles of Quilting take this art to new dimensions. 

Pin basting is the process of taking a couple of pins and running them through the layers of your quilt sandwich. You do it to keep them from moving as you work with them.

There are quite a few ways to do it, but I’ll be showing you one way using what is called “pin basting loops.” You use pin-basting loops for pinning different types of fabrics together. E.g., thread-wrapped cotton or fabric with knit interfacings that don’t respond well to pins.

The size of these loops can vary in width depending on the thickness of your thread ends and fabrics. It is faster than thread basting, works for any size of the quilt. Pins hold the layers of fabric efficiently and it is easy to remove the pins while Quilting.

iv. Spay basting

If you want to know how to baste a quilt without pins? You can surely try spray basting. The spay basting technique also holds the quilt layers together.

The stitch used in this type of Basting is the ‘spay stitch.’ It’s also known as the ‘basting stitch’ or ‘needle-thread baste stitch.’

You do spay stitch by holding your needle parallel to the quilt top layer, then pulling it through the opposite layer from the back of the work. The stitch should be about 1/4 inch long and below where it will be sewn into place.

This process can be used when you complete your quilt top, and it will hold all layers together while you are working on them individually. It can also temporarily hold layers together while you are sewing around them or adding borders to a quilt top.

You use it to add extra stability to fabric that doesn’t have much stretch, such as denim or canvas, by basting around the edges before turning them right.

The best of this method is that it best suits large quilts. and there is no extra weight of pins that make the quilt heavy. The downside of this method is that you need a large table not present at your house in general. 

When to use Which Basting Method?

Now, you are of the different types of Basting, their advantages, and disadvantages. But these methods do not go will all kinds of quilts. They vary with the size and type of quilt you are making.

  • When making a small quilt with cotton batting, prefer iron or steam blasting. This method is best for small quilts and also saves your time.
  • If the quilt is small but does not use cotton batting, prefer spray basting.
  • If you are making large quilts, pin basting will work best in that case.


Basting a quilt is a common step when hand quilting. But it varies by the quilt size, its shape, and the method of construction. Pin basting is ideal for quilts with slight curves, but it is hard to pin baste a quilt in an open area. Ironing or steaming a quilt requires more time and is only used for quilts with lots of curves. Ask your instructor when you are unsure which basting method to use.

Although Basting is a tedious job, you make sure you do not miss the step at any cost. Suppose you want a beautiful quilt with perfect stitches. It is worth doing a little hard work. 

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