Pin Basting

One of my goals for 2015 is to be more complete in my posts.   Sometimes I show pictures and don’t describe the why and how enough.

With that in mind here is a description of basting a quilt for hand quilting.

A few weeks back I was given a gift card to Jo-Ann Fabrics for my Birthday.   I always need batting so I went to their web site and saw what was on sale.

I bought Pellon Natures Touch queen sized and got it for $17.99 it is $34.99 regular price.


I have used it before and I like it.  I am not a fan of the very thin cotton batting than is used by many hand quilters.   I feel like it doesn’t have enough loft to show off the quilting.  I have used many different brands and this is a favorite and the price was right.

I start by pinning the backing to the floor face down (if you don’t want to ruin your floor  painters tape works fine).


This fabric is 108″ wide so it is a bit bunched up on the right side, If I had a wider quilt I would need to move the couch to be able to smooth it out more.

I washed and dried the fabric first.  Several reasons to prewash. Even the best quality cotton fabric will shrink and I want the shrinking to happen before I quilt it. Even the best quality fabrics can bleed in the wash, I want that to happen before it is quilted.   Washing and drying makes the fabric much easier to hand quilt.    Fabric is treated with sizing (Sizing or size is any one of numerous specific substances that is applied to or incorporated in other material, especially papers and textiles, to act as a protecting filler or glaze) and washing will remove the stiffness caused by the sizing. Many quilters complain that their hands become very dried and and they get cracks in the skin, for many this dermatitis is caused by the chemicals used in the sizing and dying of the fabrics and is usually eliminated by only working with prewashed fabrics.

Next layer the batting  and smooth out any wrinkles


next layer the top and smooth out any wrinkles.


I like to leave 4 or more inches extra around all edges.

Next Pin the three layers together.   I use safety pins. Nothing special just plain old inexpensive safety pins.  I have some that are quite small and made specifically for quilts (they are curved) and I really don’t care for them.   larger pins are much easier to operate.

When I first started quilting I was very concerned about basting properly.   It seemed like everything I read or heard about it stressed how important it is and that pins should be no more than every six inches apart.   I don’t use anywhere near that number now.  This quilt is full sized and I used 60 pins for the entire thing.   One in the corner of each block and one in the center of each block and a few more on the edges.    I quilt in a hoop and once the quilt is in the hoop I remove any pins that are in the hooped area.   The only job the pins do is hold the three layers together until I get it in the hoop.   I have never had a problem using too few pins.

Here is is pinned (it is hard to see the pins in the picture but they are there)


Last I trim off the extra batting and backing.


So here is the bonus.   I did it all, layering of the back batting and top and all the pinning and trimming in less than 30 minutes.

Next time I will talk about the quilting

I did get a few more of the Fantasy Garden blocks finished.



They aren’t in any specific order here, I have 4 more to make and then borders.  I will post pictures of the progress soon.

Remember that the fabric giveaway is open until Sunday.   Enter Here:  Please only one entry per person.

Teddy says hello


Happy Quilting


62 thoughts on “Pin Basting

  1. Hi Tim, Thanks for the info. This batting sounds good, does it give the scrunchy look when washed or is it pre-shrunk.? I like the scrunchy look. I am old school and always wash fabrics before cutting and wash my quilts as soon as I finish quilting. I have also carefully washed very old quilts with good results. I use colour catches but there is seldom any colour run. Thanks for sharing,


    • timquilts says:

      the batting shrinks about 3% so even with prewashed and shrunk fabric it gets the scrunchy look after washing the finished quilt, and I too always wash the quilt as soon as it is finished

    • That’s good to know. I will see if I can order some as I am in Melbourne, Australia and haven’t come across this one. I am presently using Quilter’s Dream batting. Regards

  2. Barbara Wellman says:

    Nice explanation Tim, I to only pin as need to hold the quilt. The only problem I ever had just happened. My DH tripped on my quilt. He seems to like to come as close as possible. He caught a pin in the middle of a plain block for a feather and torn the pin out. I can not replace the block without undoing other quilting. So I whip stitched it and moved the feather vein over it. I plan on stuffing them so I hope this hides it. If you can think of another fix I’m all ears. Love the new blocks , they looks like spring! I am dreaming of bulbs blooming and warmer weather as we sit by the fire. You and Teddy say warm.

    • timquilts says:

      I think your fix sounds as good as it can be….the only other thing would be to applique a patch of matching fabric on top of the rip

      • Barbara Wellman says:

        I will keep that as an option. I knew I could not put a flower or anything colored there. It is just so frustrating. Happy stitches.

  3. adaisygarden says:

    Thanks for the helpful tips, I needed that! The new blocks look great, too. I’ve been a little hesitant to quilt a large one, but I’m going to use your method of pinning and of quilting in the hoop. I think I’ll be ok?…

  4. katechiconi says:

    Great idea to give more detail, I don’t think enough quilters talk about process, which is half the interest for me. I’m with you on pinning, but I like the curved pins and I do use a few more than you!

  5. Sandi says:

    Wow! Love how u do things..I have never used a lot of pins. I only have my kitchen to table to sandwich my quilt. I put the leaf in and set up a fold-up table beside it. I wish I had wooden floors. On a large quilt I can only do about a 1/4th of it at a time…takes quite a while. Happy quilting!

  6. Judy Dietrich says:

    Hi Tim & Teddy!! So you were born in December, huh. Which day? I was born on the 7th of December, which is a bad day that people remember, for the terrible actions of war. We just went to see the Pearl Harbor & Arizona memorial over the holidays. Such a learning experience—very moving tribute & glad we went. Will look at this day a lot differently on my next bday. Hopefully you were born on a better day than me!! We have lots of birthdays in this month & it is hard being close to Christmas. Hope your birthday was happy & glad you got batting to start this new quilt top to a finished quilt!! Neat colors. Lots of people signed up for the give away—how exciting to hear from them all. Hope your New Year is filled with lots of quilting time. Of course, Teddy pics will be appreciated!!

  7. Tami says:

    very helpful and easy to understand for a beginner or novice….I am working on #8,9,10 and this info will help a bunch, Gunner tell Teddy to have a great week, he is staying warm under his quilt….and staying in out of the snow!!!!! Again thanks I have been pouring through your sites and hope to make a purchase or two from Etsy in the late spring…

  8. Deb says:

    Nice post!! I don’t use a lot of pins . I pins as fast as I can for my knees don’t like the floor very well. So far no problems, but like you say I do add on to batting and backing… Come to think of it , you gave that little bit of wisdom.
    Hi, Teddy ! Snuggles, who is sharing my chair, thinks your cute. 🙂

  9. Ann Bonnelli says:

    Enjoy your posts so much and learn so many things from you and eddy.. Thank fo shri

  10. kemosabaycampground says:

    I am going to try the pin method. I don’t have any floor space but I set up 3 of those 6 foot long folding tables in my husbands workshop. It works fantastic.

  11. audrey says:

    It really is amazing how many less pins you can get away for hand quilting! I just wish I had room to baste my quilts up off the floor so it would be more comfortable!

  12. Rose in VT says:

    I like those larger pins too, they open and close easier than the more usual quilting size. Once the knees objected I went to pinning on a
    table and don’t have any problems working on the smaller surface. That is as long as I start the pinning in the center.
    Teddy is looking winter white these days!

  13. Eileen Mele says:

    Love your doggie! I make wall quilts, and I pin baste on a kitchen counter. The bigger,the better for pins. But the little ones will take a decent bite. Ain’t it all fun!

  14. Cindy says:

    Thank you so much for your commentary.
    It is refreshing and inspiring.

  15. Sue says:

    Nice you have enough floor space. I have a small condo with minimal floor space. Several years ago I started using the narthex at my church – quite a large area – to both lay out blocks and to baste. I go on a Saturday when there’s seldom anyone there. If I’m lucky, sometimes I’m there when the organist is practicing. Another nice thing about that is there’s incentive to hurry up and finish, not wait another day since the room will be in use the next today. I’ll have to try your pin method. The less time on my knees, the more my knees and back will like it! And there are no cats there to “help”. Thanks for sharing your method.

  16. Patty Gal says:

    Hi Tim and Teddy. Happy New Year!
    I can’t believe you think you are not providing enough info in your posts. I find them absolutely wonderful. Because of you, I have added at least three new quilts to my to-do list! And I can not wait to start them which means those other WIP will just have to wait a little bit longer. I find your work and your blog very informative and inspirational. More would only be better but don’t forget to leave yourself enough time for quilting. After all, that’s what we are all about here.

  17. cathymann says:

    “The only job the pins do is hold the three layers together until I get it in the hoop.” CLANG!! that’s the sound of the pin dropping- have been using lots less pins/ thread basting but was having issues with the quilting appearing all bunched up. The difference is, of course, in the hoop.thanks for sharing Tim, I think my issues are solved.

  18. Lorij says:

    I like the way you explained everything. I do it the same way except I put my cutting boards on the bed, pin the middle then each corner. Then a few more where necessary. I don’t use a lot of pins. I Iike that batting too.
    I have had double knee replacement and getting down on them is not always a good thing. The flowers are so very pretty.

  19. Carol Adams says:

    Thank you so much for this post, I pin too. This will make a good chapter in your book (I hope!).

  20. Rebecca Loader says:

    I am going to try this batting. I get tired of the very thin cotton, too. Love the picture of Teddy: he has the sweetest face! My Dalmatian tests out all of my quilts, too.

  21. Lisa says:

    My mother has an old ping pong table that we use for basting. It works for most of our charity quilts. We duck tape the edges down and don’t worry about scratching it with the pins. With a few blocks under the legs it’s a nice hight to work on and saves the knees.

  22. says:

    Thanks for the info on Nature’s touch…I shall try it. Also thank the fabric company for the fabric give away. If I was lucky enough to get a bundle…no matter the line, I would create a quilted jacket. Just what this cold weather needs. Marian Smith

  23. Thank you so much for that post and the reasssurance! I have only ever threadbasted, and it does my back in, even though I do it on the kitchentable. I always thought (obviously wrong!) that you could not use pins with a hoop! But it seems so much quicker as I usually spend all day! Would this also work with a Baltimore quilt? I am planning to sandwich mine next week.

  24. subee618 says:

    Great information!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge! It is greatly appreciated. Question about washing after piecing….do the edges fray a lot in the wash/dry process?? And do you iron the top and back after the process?? I like the idea of washing before quilting….just not sure how to accomplish it without issues.

    • timquilts says:

      never wash the top after piecing, wash the fabric before piecing, the top will fray very badly if it is washed unquilted. wash dry and iron all the fabric first then piece and layer and quilt

  25. Mike P. says:

    I’m going to have to try this batting. I use Warm & Natural (machine quilting) and sometimes I feel you can’t see the quilting much (sometimes I don’t want you to!!!). I’ve used Quilter’s Dream poly in the past when I want to see the quilting… I like the way it looks, but I really prefer cotton. Thanks for the tip!…. Mike.

    • timquilts says:

      I have used warm and natural but for hand quilting it is really like quilting through iron. I imagine the Natures touch would be a good one for machine quilting….and I like the price. hope it works for you

  26. annette jacob says:

    Tim, your fantasy garden blocks are really exceptional–they are glorious…special. Just wanted you to know that! They make me feel

    • timquilts says:

      Thanks! The fabrics are really out of my comfort zone….and that is why I wanted to make something with them….I usually avoid bolder prints, I am glad I decided to go for it

  27. Cecile Uhry says:

    I do not pin, I still hand baste. Pins get in the way of my small hoop. I have also used the basting gun. Many people don’t like this apparatice but I find no large holes after I’m done with the quilting. I also cut them off as the quilting is done.

  28. Sylvia Smith says:

    I’m going to have to try that batting. Have never seen it before and like you i find i don’t get enough loft from all cotton. Do you rinse and dry it to preshrink before sandwiching?

  29. Carla says:

    I am the same about basting. I used to fret and worry about wrinkles but found if you can keep the backing taut not stretched and then you smooth the top well you really don’t need that many pins. I work from one side of my dining room table using large binder clips.. I was just looking for a cotton batting that is a bit thicker for a machine quilted quilt I need to give this brand a try

  30. ro848 says:

    Thanks so much. You inspire me!!


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