Christmas will be here in 81 days, and I try to have a new Christmas quilt each year. "Try" is the operative word here....most years it doesn't happen :-) But this year it will, since I pulled a top out of the to-be-quilted pile and got to work.
First thing I needed to do was to lay out and layer the quilt sandwich: backing, batting and quilt top.
This quilt is almost queen-sized, so I needed to piece the backing fabric. I don't worry about the seam down the middle, and whether or not it is strong enough. The quilt will be held together with enough machine quilting, and I've yet to have a seam pop, even on those "couch quilts" that get used a lot. Since my basement floor has a commercial-grade, low-pile carpet, I just pin the backing to the carpet with straight pins, making sure it is stretched taut.
My batting of choice is 100% cotton. Though I usually use Warm and Natural, this Mountain Mist cotton batting was on sale so I thought I'd give it a try. Not much different from the W & N, in my opinion.
When laying out the batting over the backing fabric, I take my time to smooth out all the wrinkles. It's wonderful how the cotton batting "sticks" to the cotton fabric.
Since I had that center seam running vertically on my backing fabric, I used that as a guide for laying out the quilt top by folding the top in half vertically and laying it along that seam. Though I can't see the seam through the batting, I can feel it with my fingers. As you can see, there is plenty of extra backing and batting extending past the quilt top. There will be a little bit of shrinkage with the quilting, and I don't want to be short. This particular project has a little too much and when done pinning I will trim off the extra, leaving about 4 inches extra all the way around.
Now it's time to get out the large square ruler to be sure the corners are square. I make sure and check each of the four corners, both at the pieced border and the outside border edge.
Now the fun begins, pin-basting the 3 layers together. I used approximately 350 small safety pins for this project. The Kwik Klip shown below can make it easier on your fingers, but to be honest I rarely use it.
The pins are placed about 4-6 inches apart over the entire quilt. A good measurement is a fist-length apart. I don't do very much marking on my quilt top for quilting design, but this is the point
when I start to think about how I will machine quilt. Since this is a sampler of quilt blocks from a guild exchange, I know I will quilt in the ditch around the squares to start. Therefore, I don't place any pins in the ditch areas.
Time for the glamour shots! Really, this is what it looks like for a couple of hours while I place those hundreds of pins. I really don't enjoy this too much, but for a quilt this size this is what works for me. Sometimes I'll use a quilt basting spray, but only for small projects. I don't like the aerosol, I don't like the cost, and it only seems to stick for a short time.
Whew! The basting is finished, off to the machine to quilt! I'm so happy that this project will be finished for the holidays this year!