Friday, December 2, 2016

Boat basting

It took me a while to figure out the best way to baste quilts on the boat, and I thought I'd share that process on today's post.  We only have two rectangular tables, and both are quite small. The one in the salon has fiddles, which is a raised lip all the way around to keep items from sliding off as the boat rocks. Unless the quilt is smaller than 20"x44", the fiddles keep the quilt from laying flat.

The table in my studio, which is about 24"x48" is a better size and has a flat top. But it's wedged on top of the guest bed and up against a side wall, and has the sewing machine on it. I've basted on this table, using the method where you roll each part of the sandwich around long boards, but it is incredibly cramped and awkward.

The only large unobstructed section of floor is outside on the upper deck, where it is almost always windy, and I'm not eager to kneel while basting anyway. So, what remains as a large flat surface is the queen sized master bed.

Here is a really bad photo of the mattress. The white splotches are spots of sunshine from the two small windows on the starboard side. Not a whole lot of light comes in through 8"x18" portlights, but it really contrasts with the darkness of the room!

A queen mattress is 60"x80", so baby and lap sized quilts fit easily. First I lay out the backing fabric, right side down, and smooth all the wrinkles out.

Then I pin around the edges, right into the mattress, keeping the backing as taut as possible. Our mattress is generic memory foam and the pins hold nicely. I use these pins only for this purpose, since they tend to get sticky from the basting spray.

Next, I smooth the batting on top of the backing. I know that conventional wisdom says the backing should be bigger than the batting, but I don't worry about that too much for quilting on my Juki. As long as both pieces are bigger than the top, it works fine for me.

Next, I fold back the batting about halfway. The little rectangles you see in the photo are small pieces of iron-on tape to connect two pieces of batting together. I use those and a zigzag stitch to make "frankenbatting" from batting scraps.

Using 505 brand spray baste adhesive, I spray directly on the batting, not on the backing fabric. I've found that I don't need all that much 505 in the middle, just a spritz every 8 inches or so rather than an even coating. It's more important that the edges and corners are well sprayed. I've tried several other brands and like 505 the best. If weather permits, I open the windows for ventilation. Otherwise, I just turn on the master bathroom fan to keep the air moving. I haven't noticed any irritation from the spray fumes, probably because I really don't use very much.

After smoothing the sticky batting onto the backing, I fold back the other half and repeat. The bed is a good height for me to be able to reach every part of the sandwich so I can really feel if there are any lumps or pleats. I can also walk around three sides easily.

Next, I lay the quilt top on the batting, checking to make sure it is roughly centered on the batting and backing and smoothing it down.

Then I repeat the process of folding it back halfway, spraying the adhesive on the batting, and smoothing it back down.

Again, it's important that the corners are well basted, since they get a lot of handling during quilting.

I also double check that the edges are stuck down well.

Ta da! All basted and ready to remove the pins from the mattress. This whole process takes me about 15 minutes on a quilt this size. Yesterday I basted two toddler quilts for Project Linus, and a gift quilt for a friend. That one was 62"x62", so it hung over the edges of the bed a little bit and took more time to make sure all the layers were flat.

Lately, I've been basting quilts in batches on the day that I change the sheets on the bed. That's because we're testing this thick blue egg crate foam mattress topper to see if it helps my sore shoulder. We bought a hospital bed sized topper, which is roughly half the size of a queen bed and was cheaper to buy and ship. It goes under the mattress pad.

After the bed is fully made, the topper makes quite a lump on my side! I used to baste my quilts right on top of the fully made bed, but it simply isn't flat enough right now to do that. So now I wait until I'm stripping the bed anyway to make a suitable surface for quilt basting. If the foam helps my shoulder without being too soft for my lower back, we'll invest in a queen sized piece for the whole bed. The jury is still out, though.


  1. Now that is quite the process! Smart to wait til sheet changing day

  2. Once again you put on your creative thinking hat! I never thought about how you would baste on a boat. Where there is a will there is a way!

  3. Wow, you baste fast, much quicker than pins. I used to stick pins into my carpet and baste on the floor, it takes ages and I have to kneel on the floor for hours I'm so slow. Now I have a hard floor but I haven't basted a big piece for a while, and I may just have to try your method. Does the 505 not get on the bed? That would be my only concern.

  4. where there is a will there is a way..... us quilters will get the job done somehow...


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