Making a quilt sandwich

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Once your pattern is all marked out on your quilt top, you’ll need to prepare it for basting.

It’s a bit like making a sandwich out of fabric and wadding.

For my back fabric I chose to use a vintage pillow case.  I’m making a cosy for my computer so the back fabric will actually form the lining so won’t be on show unless you care to look inside the cosy.


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When I’m laying out my “quilt” sandwich for baby quilts or larger pieces then I work on the carpet.   I like to smooth and pin my layers out before basting (or tacking them together)

For small projects I lay them out on an A1 sized piece of foam board I covered with a couple of layers of blanket and a layer of white flannel fabric.  This also doubles up as a small “design wall” where I can place pieces of patchwork when I’m making blocks.

The first layer you place down is the back, this needs to be facing wrong side up.

Smooth out any wrinkles (if I’m using new fabric then I wash it first in case it shrinks)


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Next I place on a layer of  wadding.  This is also called batting.  It’s the filling in your “sandwich”.

You can get synthetic wadding, cotton wadding, bamboo, cotton mixes and wool.

For quilts I pretty much only use pure wool wadding as it’s just wonderful to quilt, it’s more money but I think it’s worth every penny.  However for projects like this I’m just using what ever I have laying around, in this case it’s some cotton wadding.

Personally I don’t like synthetic wadding because I find it sticks to the needle and it makes hand quilting harder.  But it’s all a matter of preference, try it and see what you think.

The wadding ideally wants to be a tad smaller than the backing fabric.


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And finally, on top of your wadding, you place your top fabric, this can be patchwork or a single piece of fabric.  It needs to be with the right side facing up.

Generally I place the top piece on some wadding, cut around it with a good couple of inches seam allowance, then do the same thing with the wadding on the back fabric, again leaving a couple of inches seam allowance.   For big quilts I leave about 5 to 6  inches, children size ones I leave about 4 inches.  It’s always best to be a bit on the generous side*


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I like to pin my fabrics out once they’ve been smoothed out before I baste the layers together.  Some people use quilters safety pins and secure the layers together, it’s not a method I’ve ever tried but you may find you prefer that way.

This is the way I secure all my quilt projects together… I use the same method for making quilted needle book cases to big old quilts that drape down to the floor…

Smooth out all the layers in the fabrics then place a pin in each corner.  Then place a pin in the centre of each side.


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Keep adding pins around the sides until the fabric is held nice and taut.

The above patchwork is made up of 2 inch squares so I put the pins in at all the edge seams.


Next stage is basting the fabric layers together….

* once you’ve quilted your fabrics all together you’ll need to trim the sides before sewing the binding, any off cuts of wadding can be saved for  small projects.  You can even stitch it together to make a larger piece.  And any off cuts of fabric can be popped into your scrap box.

(For this project I marked the design on to the patchwork before I basted the layers together as it was just a small project.  However, for larger projects… anything from a baby quilt size upwards, then I usually prefer to baste the layers together before marking on the design.  I find it helps to keep the design “true” and “un-wonkied” -not sure if this is the official term but sometimes when a quilt is basted any lines you’ve pre-marked on the fabric can suddenly be nudged off a little…most little bumps or hiccups in the design get lost in the mass of quilting stitches with a bigger quilt, but they are much more noticeable in small pieces.)



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