|Now you have to secure or "baste" the layers together to keep them from shifting. There are several ways to do this. The least expensive way is to use quilting safety pins and pin through all three layers at 4- to 6-inch intervals. Use safety pins that are large enough to easily go through all three layers (the thicker the batting, the larger the pins that you will need).|
When you are pinning (and quilting), it is important to work from the center out to prevent puckering and skewing of the fabric. Start pinning in the center of the "sandwich" and move out from the center, making larger and larger sized boxes around the central pin and offset the pins as you go. If any wrinkles appear, adjust safety pins as needed. Here is an old quilting tip: use a spoon to press down the fabric where the point comes out of the fabric - this protects your fingers and makes closing the pin easier.
|Here is how the quilt sandwich should look when you are finished pinning (depending on the size of your fabric pieces).|
Pinning can be tedious, so there is another way that I prefer to baste fabric layers together - by using a spray adhesive designed for fabric. The spray can be a bit expensive unless you plan to do a lot of quilting, but it is a real time saver. It is best if you use it in a well ventilated area and you will need to protect the surface you are using to prepare the fabric. The spray is water-soluble so I just use an old sheet on top of the table or on the floor (if I am working with larger pieces). To spray baste your fabric, place your backing down on your surface wrong side up and spray the adhesive as directed on the label. Lay the batting on top in the same fashion as described above, gently smoothing any wrinkles out. If necessary, you can pull the batting off and reposition it. Repeat this step with the top fabric. When all of the layers are placed, press down on the quilt sandwich to firmly adhere the layers together.
Quilting the Grid
|Set the stitch length on your sewing machine to be slightly longer than normal, about 8-10 stitches per inch (this will help prevent the fabric from puckering as you quilt the fabric). Starting in the center of the "sandwich" and using your seam guide or the marked lines, sew lines of stitching across the fabric from one side to another. Remove the pins as you approach them - never try to sew over them or you risk damaging your machine.|
|To reduce the number of thread ends, try this tip: when you reach a side, stop sewing, and with the needle down, turn the fabric so that you can sew close to the side edge until you reach the next line and then sew back across the fabric in the opposite direction (as shown in the photo to the right). This alternates the sewing so that the tension is not always pressing the fabric in the same direction possibly causing it to skew. |
When you have finished quilting one half, stitch the other half in the same manner. When all of the quilting is done in one direction, turn the sandwich and quilt the other set of lines starting from the center line in the same fashion as the first set of lines. When you have sewn all of the grid lines, trim any loose threads and lightly press the fabric flat. Your quilted fabric is now ready to use for your project.
Quilted fabric variations: You do not have to do your quilting lines in plain straight stitches, you can use one or more of the decorative stitches in your machine. This is especially attractive if you use a contrasting thread. Do take into consideration that this will use up a substantially larger amount of thread, so plan your thread purchase accordingly and load up multiple bobbins. If you are using fashion fabrics on both sides, make sure that the decorative stitch that you want to use looks nice on both sides. Another option is to change the angle of your lines so that they make diamonds rather than squares when they intersect (you can see this effect in the example at the top).
Here are some supplies to make this project easier: