Spring Breaking Through (a.k.a "Abby's Quilt"), a Beginner Quilt - Backing & Basting
Updated: Dec 21, 2021
You made it - you created your Quilt-Top! Well done. But we're not finished yet. Once your quilt-top is ready we move on to the backing of the quilt and basting the quilt, covered in this post, and the actual quilting and finally binding the quilt. I've also included some batting alternatives at the bottom of the post. Let's dive in!
Making the Quilt Backing
There are a few options for making the back of the quilt. I prefer to pick out the fabric for the quilt-back when I get my fabric for the quilt-top so the fabrics are coordinated. But a contrasting fabric would work just as well. For this particular pattern I used the same fabric in the quilt-top and in the backing.
I also used leftover fabric to create a colorful panel on one side of the backing.
Each colorful block is 4" by 3" sewn together in a random order. I added white borders to add definition to the panel before sewing the backing fabric on either side.
The Right Batting
This quilt screams "SPRING!" so I went with a light cotton batting. Getting quilt batting in India has been a challenge, the only options were to get something shipped from overseas and that is PRICEY! However, even if I were willing to dish out the dough, with COVID restrictions this year, that was not an option for me. Sigh. However, after extensive research, I was able to get reasonably priced batting through a factory - Yay! (If you're in India and would like to get your own, please contact me).
The batting came in a roll and had to be cut to size. The two parts of the batting then have to be sewn together (as shown in the picture) before they can be used.
Make sure you lay the two parts of the batting next to each other with NO overlapping edges or you will end up with a ridge in your quilt. There are plenty of tutorial videos on YouTube for machine sewing two bits of batting together which can be applied here as well.
Basting the Quilt
Basting is a fancy word for making the "quilt sandwich"; quilt top - batting - quilt back. Our goal is to ensure the back and front are perfectly aligned without the quilt fabric or batting bunching up anywhere. There are several methods to do this but it can be tricky if you have limited space. Here's how I did it (with limited space in a New Delhi apartment). I Ironed the quilt top and backing so it was crisp and lay flat. I took the mattress off of one our beds and lay the layers together horizontally on the bed. Half the quilt falls off one side of the bed, but I was able to get close enough to put in my basting stitches. The batting sticks to the fabric of the quilt-top and backing when you make the sandwich and that makes this process a tad easier.
Using my quilting needle and thread (I used white cotton thread as pictured here), I sewed in long stitches along the width of the quilt. The role of these stitches are to hold things in place, so it doesn't matter what they look like.
When I first basted this quilt, I ended up making a mistake because I spaced each line of stitches about 6" - 8" apart. This worked out fine for me originally because I was hand quilting this and once I set it on my work station I didn't need to move it.
However, half-way through hand-quilting the quilt, it had to to be put away. When I picked it up again I wasn't happy with the way things had moved around so I re-basted the quilt, this time I basted at the dining room table. I used regular clothes-pins to hold the quilt in place by clipping it to the long edge of the table. This maintains the tension in the quilt-layers while basting. I re-basted the quilt with quilting pins; quilting pins are very similar to regular safety pins, except they are bent in the middle to make it easier to pin the layers together. You can use regular safety pins as well. I pinned at each block corner and placed additional pins at frequent intervals.
That's it! You're done basting your quilt and ready for quilting.
Quilt batting isn't always a viable option. Different types of batting can be expensive to source, especially in India. While researching options for this quilt I came across a few alternatives that work just as well. However, full disclaimer - I have yet to try these!
Alternative One - Fleece or Flannel.
This takes care of the quilt batting AND quilt backing. Fleece or Flannel are reasonably economical options to use, and they're readily available in the stores or online. As a bonus they feel quite warm when in use! You could pick a print pattern or plain one that goes well with your quilt-top colors, or pick something that contrasts your quilt-top pattern. If you choose this option I wouldn't recommend quilting stitches too close to each other.
Old Cotton Sarees
In India one type of fabric we have in excess is sarees! If you're making a light cotton quilt (like this one), you can use cotton sarees folded over and trimmed to size. You might still want to use quilt backing. Choose sarees with fast colors that won't bleed and don't have bold patterns that show through the quilt-top fabric. This could be a great alternative to traditional batting. You can be quite creative with your quilting stitches with cotton sarees as your batting!
An Old Quilt
From what I have read online, you can quilt over an old quilt, but you will need to be careful while you do this. You will still need to make a quilt backing and baste as needed. You can follow along with the instructions in the next post for quilting. Old bedsheets on the other hand are not recommended for use as batting (something to do with the thread count of the sheets).
Have you tried a different type of batting? Leave us a photo and a comment below!