Guide on How to Baste a Quilt for Machine Quilting?

Wondering what is the correct method to baste a quilt before the quilting process begins?

Nearly every quilter had this question in their mind when they started machine quilting. Each of us wants to make sure that our baste can withstand the machine quilting process without breaking apart and spoiling our hard work in the process.

In theory, basting is the simple process of joining the quilt top, batting, and backing over each other and creating a “quilt sandwich.” After making that quilt sandwich, we work on it either by hand quilting or by machine quilting.

However, as easy as its sounds, it is not! Basting is the least desired part of the quilting process for some quilters. If you made a mistake like you didn’t smooth the cloth properly or didn’t create correct basting, then your quilt will get spoiled, and your hard work will go in vain.

The article will look at different options regarding the correct method of basting the quilt for machine quilting. 

It’s time for some quilting!!

What is Quilt Basting?

Basting is the process of joining the quilt top, batting, and backing while also creating a “quilt sandwich.” Quilt basting is built to keep all quilt layers together before we start working on the quilt on the machine.

There are multiple ways to baste a quilt. We will look at methods that can work in the case of machine quilting. Either you can use thread or spray to baste the quilt layers together.

Although basting can look tedious to most of us, creating the quilt sandwich before starting the quilting process is necessary. If the quilt sandwich is not free of wrinkles and not smooth, then our quilting will be spoiled in the long run.

Is Quilt Basting Necessary?

Basting is very necessary for your quilting process. Without basting, we are prone to make mistakes as different fabric layers will not remain in one place while working on it with the machine. It will displace, and the quilt will get spoiled.

There are multiple ways to baste a quilt, but most people use only two methods mainly, i.e., the spray method and the pin method. We will learn about this method in the upcoming text.

In the case of machine quilting, basting becomes utmost necessary. Unlike hand quilting, where you do not need to load a quilt sandwich on the machine, you have to load the quilt sandwich to the machine without displacing the layers.

In case you forget to baste the fabrics together, your whole quilting sandwich will become displaced when you start the quilting process on it. 

So it’s highly recommended that you always baste the layers together before you start the quilting process.

How to Baste Quilt for Machine Quilting?

Machine quilting is a tedious process. You have to keep the pressure of your machine at a certain level, use precise stitch length and width, and make sure you are using the correct thread. However, if you do all this correctly, you will create beautiful, long-lasting stitching.

Basting is the first step in the machine quilting process. It’s essential to create it well, or else you will not enjoy the finished product. When it comes to basting, there are two different approaches: Hand basting and Machine basting.

Hand basting is done by sewing through your quilt sandwich with a needle and thread. Machine basting utilizes an industrial sewing machine that gets sewn around your quilt sandwich as it moves along an even feed dog bar on your machine table or frame.

Both methods can be used as a temporary solution for basting your quilts before starting machine quilting for those who don’t want to do it by hand. This method also saves time and energy when they begin machine quilting their projects.

Let’s see some of the most common techniques to baste the quilt.

i. Thread Basting for Machine Quilting

This is basting that is done by hand. Thread basting is a time-consuming process, but it offers a great deal of control. It also ensures that the quilt sandwich will have a good stretch and won’t tear easily during machine quilting.

Thread basting is perfect for beginners who are still learning how to baste a quilt properly or for those who want to decrease the risk of breaking their quilts. It takes more time, but you have better control over the final result with this type of basting.

Thread basting is not recommended for free-motion quilting as there are chances that threads can get caught in the machine. 

ii. Spray Basting for Machine Quilting

If you want to baste your quilt before machine quilting, you need to use a basting spray. Using spray basting is the easiest and fastest way to baste your quilt. All you need is to follow these steps: 

  • Lay your backing on a flat surface.
  • Spray water mist onto the backing. It should be a good amount of water to moisten the fabric without tearing it.
  • Spread the second layer of fabric (batten). You can use a thick cotton batten or thin cotton batten at your convenience.
  • Spray water mist on the top layer of fabric (batting). Again, make sure that the batting is not too wet as this may cause tears in the fabric. You can also use some adhesive for this step instead of spraying if you think it will work better for you.
  • Spray water mist on the top layer of fabric again, but this time onto the top layer, the quilt top. This will help keep it from sticking to itself during the machine quilting process and avoid creating wrinkles on your finished project.

iii. Iron Basting for Machine Quilting

You can use this basting for any fabric. This is the most traditional basting method, and it’s a lot easier than others. All you need to do is fold your quilt sandwich in half, iron the cloth, and then use pins to join them together.

You should take care while pinning as if you make a mistake here; you will have to unpin the cloth again and start over again.

After making sure you have joined all the layers properly, you can now machine your quilt without worrying about it coming undone. This method is helpful for beginners as it is easy to understand and execute.

iv. Pin Basting for Machine Quilting

Pin basting is the most popular way of basting your quilt before starting machine quilting. It is also called a “quilt sandwich.”

Pin basting is one of the favourite methods of basting because it offers several benefits, including:

  • It’s cheaper than other methods
  • It’s faster than other methods
  • It can be done by hand or machine
  • The results are not permanent

In this method, layers of the quilt are secured on a table and then pinned with safety pins. This method can work on any size with ease, as you need to insert pins. The only downside is that pins increase the weight of the quilt.


So now we know that Quilt basting is the process of tacking the quilt together, usually with pins, to hold the layers in place before machine quilting. It is done to keep the layers from shifting out of position while the machine stitches, but it also makes the quilt easier to handle. 

Quilt basting can be done with any of these techniques, i.e., thread basting, pin basting, spray basting, and iron basting.

It’s up to you which method you prefer but always keep in mind that basting type depends on your quilting method. Always try to follow the proper way for basting, or your quilt will suffer in the long run.

I hope you like the article. Happy Quilting!

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