Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WIP: Nautical Quilt Spray Basting

With my nautical quilt top complete and my backing all pieced, I forged ahead to layer top, batting, and backing in order to quilt this on my domestic Pfaff. In preparation I first gave my sewing room floor a quick swipe with a soft dry mop pad to get up strings, scraps, and dust. In the following photo I have pulled my cutting table out from the corner to the middle of the room, pulled up both leaves to full length, and laid the backing, batting, and top on it. Even though the quilt overhangs the edges, I find it a lot easier to smooth out all the bumps and wrinkles at table height while standing rather than crawling about on the quilt on the hard floor. I slide the three layer stack back and forth so different parts are overhanging and I can smooth out the parts supported by the cutting table. The batting cutting, layer aligning, and wrinkle smoothing seems to take forever. Maybe I fuss too much. In reality I did it the other night in less than an hour. I need to remember that I generally spend more time dreading than doing.

Once satisfied that the three layers were centered and wrinkle free, I loosely folded the combination and set it on the floor. Folding did not disturb the smoothing process nor introduce bumps or wrinkles. Yesterday, I collapsed one leaf of my cutting table and moved it back into the far corner, out of the way. That way I could tape my backing to the hardwood floor, using the seams between planks to double check that the layers were aligned parallel.

I taped down the backing on two corners using a low tack blue painters' masking tape. Next I unfurled the fabric sandwich roll and taped the other two corners and mid-length and mid-width edges. Next came the application of the temporary fabric adhesive.

First I flipped the top and batting layer as a two layer unit from the upper half downward as in the following photo. I did this just by picking up an edge and walking it forward, laying it down on the opposite half. The manufacturer's recommendation is to always apply the basting spray to the batting and not the fabric so I sprayed the exposed batting. Then I flipped the two layers up against the backing again by picking up the edge and walking it back upward. I smoothed the layers together from center to outer edges. I repeated for the lower half (no photo) by flipping the top and batting layer from the lower half upward, spraying the batting, and flipping batting and the top back down onto the backing.  That completed the backing/batting interface.

Now for the top/batting interface. I flipped the lower half of the top upward, spray basted the batting, then flipped the quilt top down onto it (photo). I repeated by flipping the upper half of the top downward, spray basting the batting, then flipping the lower half of the quilt top down onto the batting. (no photo).

I have found a batting that I am really pleased with, and located a basting spray that is effective, odorless, and washes out. I use 100% bamboo batting because the quilts I use it in drape so nicely and softly. The 505 basting spray does not gum up the needle on the sewing machine. The taping and spray basting takes less than fifteen minutes. There need be no fear of messing up. Things can be peeled apart and corrected. I really need to remember this next time I drag my feet at this step.

Tips Needed for Cutting Batting
So why, for something that takes just over an hour to accomplish, do I usually procrastinate when it comes to the quilt layering step? Perhaps because I find batting so awkward to measure and cut, struggling with laying out and cutting multiple layers of batting at once since the size is larger than my cutting mat and, unlike fabric, it puffs up as I cut. I resort to a large size 60 mm rotary cutter, or even, horror of horrors, scissors! I get an approximate size, because I am chicken about making it too small, and then wind up trimming a bit more several times. If anyone has suggestions for simplifying this process please clue me in.

A Case for Batting on a Roll
I generally buy my batting packaged in predetermined sizes, king, twin, etc. and then try to get several projects out of a package. Although I label each package with the dimensions of what is left in it, the remaining sizes seem to rarely be suitable.  Perhaps I need to learn how to piece batting with a zig zag stitch. Is this really feasible? I am considering changing my practice of buying pre-packaged batting. Instead, I'm considering buying my batting on a roll and cutting off the just the length or width I need. This would solve the issue of folds and wrinkles in the batting. I thought storage for a large roll would be an issue but storing these random odds and ends, even when folded neatly in bins, is not ideal either and probably is proving to be an inefficient use of the batting. Cloth books take relatively small scraps of batting I know I have a lot of cloths books on my to do list... but nonetheless...

I have no new nor completed quilting projects this week. I did start a new knitting project, though. I am knitting a sweater for a tree. If you are curious, you can check it out at my previous post dated August 19, 2014. To see other folks' progress, I am linking up to this week's Freshly Pieced's WIP.


  1. I love that 505 batting spray. And honestly, cutting out batting is pretty trivial for me, since I just lay my backing on the floor and tape it, put one corner of my batting an inch or two from the top and left side edges, and then use scissors to cut the entire batting to about an inch smaller than the backing. It're remarkably non-precision, and I od have to crawl around a bit to do it, but the whole process takes somewhere on the order of 10 minutes, and is remarkably stress-free. I don't think scissors are a big deal (I mean, you're going to rotatary-cut a bunch of excess batting off between the quilting and binding phase anyway) and since you can see where your backing ends, it's trivial to cut a (relatively) straight line just inside of that. And again, even if it's caddy-wompus, it's just coming off at the end anyway. A rotary cutter just sounds like way more trouble than it's worth, since the odds are that the spare piece if batting is ALSO going to get trimmed to size at some point. And, I would think batting on a roll would still run into the problem of a lot of scraps, because you'd need to get a nice tall roll in order to do big quilts; but then unless you buy a second shorter roll, when it comes to baby quilts you're back to square 1. I guess you could let project size dictate the order of your projects (ie, always do small projects in corresponding pairs), but that sounds like more trouble than it's worth. I haven't figured out what to do with my scraps either, so I hear you there.

    1. There is a 27 year difference between your knees and my knees! Crawling around on them is hard but I guess I could suck it up to cut the batting and then move it to table height for smoothing. My mistake is also that I try not to unfold the batting entirely. Sounds like it is more effort to struggle with it partially folded than to refold it. Sigh. I will try your method next time.

  2. I used to keep a roll of batting in my closet, but now I buy a packaged batting (queen sized, since it is readily available off the shelf nearby) while a roll is big, I think it fits the batting more compactly into your closet. My roll wasn't free of wrinkles, though wrinkles don't bother me. I ended up with fewer odd bits of batting off the roll, too. because you only cut off the length you need, the width is the only side you have to trim to fit your quilt. I often piece batting leftovers together with a zigzag stitch. It works out very well, and is unnoticeable in the finished quilt. I recommend squaring the pieces up as much as possible, especially if you are using more than two pieces. Once, I joined 4 or 5 batting scraps together without carefully trimming them first. I ended up with a big bubble in the middle of the batting! although, I did use it as it was and now that the quilt is finished you can't tell the batting was all poofy in the middle :)