Wednesday, May 21, 2014

UFQ Assault evening!

Last evening, I made time to layer up a quilt top that I'd like to finish this month!  I often talk with quilters who do their layering on the floor -- I've only done that once and don't like getting onto the quilt.  These days, I use an extra tall table and have developed a one person strategy.  So come along with me as I get it done.  Maybe it will give you a new perspective on this odious task! 
First, set up the table.  I used two tables years ago and discovered I always got a pleat where the two tables met -- so it's only one table.  The weight of the quilt holds itself smooth once you get it smooth.
 Second, find a good movie to watch while you work.
Third, Harry, get off the table!!
I have marked a small + in the center of my table and I use it to center the backing. 
I fold the backing into quarters with the right sides out and lay it on the table with the center at my mark. 
Now I can unfold it and it will be centered -- I also put a mark at the center of the backing to help me center the batting.
The batting is also folded into quarters.  I match it to the center mark on the backing.
I unfold the batting carefully so as to minimize wrinkling the backing.  You can clamp the backing firmly to a table but my table is too thick for the clamps.  Half the batting is unfolded in this picture and the metal yardstick is stabilizing the backing temporarily.
Once the batting is unfolded, I fold the quilt top in quarters with the wrong side out.  Once again it is centered on the first two layers and unfolded carefully.
I make a quick check on all four sides to make sure I have extra batting and backing.
I pin baste, but before beginning that, I place my hand at the center of the layers and give JUST THE BACKING a firm tug.  I move my hand a bit further and give the backing another tug and continue to work my way all along each side of the quilt until I've pulled any wrinkles out of the backing.  (Yes, I'm in my jammies.) 
Now I'm ready to start pinning! 
I place the pins every 3 to 4 inches in a grid and don't close ANY pins until the entire quilt is pinned.  If I close the pin as I put it into the quilt, I'll lift everything slightly and the backing will shift. 
Once the portion on the table has pins inserted (but not closed), I shift the quilt and bring up the next section.  Once again, I smooth out everything and tug the backing again before continuing to insert pins.  This quilt is 48" by 60" and it took about an hour to pin baste while I watched episode four of the Masterpiece version of Mansfield Park from the late 80's. 

Get off the quilt, Harry!!
I plan to quilt a simple equilateral grid in the body of the quilt and something swirly in the border.  Another UFQ assaulted!!
Mary Huey




  1. Great tutorial Mary. But why are you being so mean to poor old Harry! He probably just wants to help you out! Cats are like that! :-D

    1. Harry's (my daughter's cat) assaults on my cat, Willie, try my patience with him though he can be lovable. While all cats in my experience are attracted to quilts, Harry exceeds normal in his ability to cozy up on them.

  2. Great tutorial, I will have to reference this in the future. Harry reminds me of my Nermal and Garfield. They are in most of my pictures when I layout my quilts!!

  3. Thanks for the process, Mary - where did you find your tall table? - although I am short so the regular tables would work for me. I'm still doing quilts that size on the floor. Love the top you will be quilting - its got hexagons! I invite you to link to Hexie Weekend which is still open til tonight, midnight. Those hexies look machine sewn.

    1. I got the table at a warehouse club, BJ's. It actually has 3 levels which is nice -- it also doubles as a craft table when my grandchildren are visiting. Yes, machine pieced hexies -- using the technique in my Set-In Piecing Simplified workshop DVD!

    2. And I forgot to brag that the center is quilted -- hoping to get the borders done this evening so I can take it with me to bind this weekend!

  4. I might have to try this - although I baste with needle and thread. I don't like being hunched over the floor for hours - this looks much better. I'm guessing the larger the table the better - maybe our dining/sewing table would work well at about 1x2 yards.

    1. Just be sure there isn't a "crack" in the table, Karen -- I always get a wrinkle on top of the crack. One of the girls could help you out with "tugging the backing" smooth -- just station them on the opposite of the table and tug directly across from you. All my children were trained to do that!