Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bobby's Quilt Is Basted, Ready for Quilting

Six Hundred Safety Pins Later...
Happy Tuesday Morning!  I'm headed to the dentist in a little bit, but wanted to share that I've got Bobby's Quilt basted and ready for quilting! 

I had quite the time with this.  As it turns out, I haven't finished a big quilt in several years, and the last time I had to baste something bigger than a baby quilt I used this standing height, temporary island cutting table made from a 1" thick melamine top balanced on top of four small book cases:

Basting Lars's Drunken Dragons Quilt Back in 2012
I no longer have that table -- we took it apart and recycled the materials back when we redid my studio.  My new cutting table is much bigger, has one long side up against the wall to save space, and has a very thick maple butcher block countertop.  It doesn't work for quilt basting because even the largest binder clips are too small to fit around the butcher block for securing the backing fabric.  I also really need to be able to hang the quilt off all four sides of the table for basting so I can start in the middle. 

I knew the new cutting table wouldn't work for basting when I designed it, but since basting is an infrequent task, I thought I'd just bring in a folding utility table when the need arose.  Well, I looked at Staples, Lowes, Walmart, Home Depot, everywhere I could think of, and I could not find a normal table ANYWHERE.  You know what I was looking for -- one of those dark brown rectangular tables like they use at church bazaars or in quilt show classes.  The top of the table is only about an inch thick and it has an overhang that ordinary office supply binder clips will fit, and the surface of the table is smooth so it is easy to stick safety pins through all three layers of the quilt, slide the point against the table top beneath, and poke the pin back up through to the top of the quilt so you can close it.

Well, the table I had to use for this has a 2 1/4" thick gray PLASTIC top with a textured surface: 

30" x 72" Table That Is TERRIBLE for Quilt Basting!
We raised it up to a comfortable standing height by sticking the legs into lengths of PVC pipe, but the only thing I could find to clamp fabric over that thick edge were these awful (and expensive!) Handi-Clamps from Home Depot.  I could not use as many of them as I wanted to because of the cost.  Also, these clamps do not lay flush on the surface of the table like binder clips do -- they create big hills of batting and quilt top, and since the batting and quilt top do not get clamped with this method, they are draped over those hills for several hours at a time while I am pinning in spurts and taking breaks from sore fingers, the previously starched and flat quilt top and batting tended to want to KEEP those hills when I unclamped and shifted the next section for pinning onto the center of the table. 

Drunken Dragons Quilt, All 3 Layers Flat and Smooth Over Binder Clips
This Quilt, Giant Clamp Hills All Around the Table

My Terrible Clamps
The textured surface of the table made it really difficult to pin the quilt as well, because the tip of the pin would get stuck in the dimpled surface of the table instead of gliding across a smooth surface.  So, just what I need when I'm up against a deadline -- additional challenges caused by makeshift equipment, right?  Anyway, I did the best I could with what I had to work with.  I do not think I got everything aligned as well as I did on my past quilts, and in fact, I felt some worrisome ripples in places when I ran my hand across the top and bottom surfaces of the quilt, but I don't have time to take out all those pins and redo it.  What's more, even if I did try to redo it, I'm afraid the results wouldn't be any better because I'd be hampered by the same issues.  I can't find a better table locally, if I ordered something to have shipped it wouldn't get here in time...

My batting is Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 Cotton/Poly.  It can be quilted up to 3 1/2" apart.  I'm hoping that if I keep the quilting fairly minimal, I can avoid serious tucks/pleats/disasters.  WISH ME LUCK!  The Quillow Ceremony is June 5th!

For basting future quilt projects, I've ordered the Sew Essentials Home Hobby Table from JoAnn's, which is currently on sale for 50% off:

Reviews on this table are mixed.  It is the right height and size for quilt basting and it will fold up and roll out of the way when it's not needed, but some reviewers complained that it wasn't very sturdy and/or was difficult to assemble.  I am counting on my dear husband to address those issues if necessary.  Anyway, I'm headed for a quick shower and then off to the dentist for a cleaning.  Happy Tuesday, everyone!

I'm linking up with WIPs on Wednesday at Esther's blog.


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I have looked at that table you have ordered on line several times - let us know how it works out.
When basting a quilt that is not going on my 3 roller quilting I frame I do on the floor using T-pin I pinned the backing to the carpet tight and then lay out the batting which stays put and the quilt on top smoothing it all down. I actually sit on it carefully while I pin and nothing shifts because the backing is tight to the floor I guess. I know a lot of people do not like to baste on the floor but by sitting and stretching out when needed I have not had a problem. I normally do not pin large quilts this way anymore because they go on the frame but I have done up to 70 x 70 this way and works for me and no extra cost as the carpet is on the floor!

JanetD said...

I have the Sew Essentials table and used it for pin basting a quilt recently. Other than the fact that it was smaller than I'd have liked, which meant moving it around, it worked fine. My dad assembled mine, and if he could do it anyone can.

Adventurous Quilter said...

Basting big quilts is certainly a challenge, I'm guilty of avoiding that challenge and adding those tops to my 'to be quilted' pile LOL that method isn't really working for me!

Katie said...

How about trying Sharon Schamber’s method of rolling the top and bottom on boards? I can sit down doing it and it saves space and my back. Sometimes I stitch like she does and sometimes I pin, but it always works. I have a stash of boards up in the attic in different lengths. Just primed trim boards from Home Depot or Lowes. Picture here. :-) http://mysandbox32123.blogspot.com/2011/05/its-never-bad-moment-to-show-off-baby.html

colleen said...

I'd suggest you return those clamps and buy an expensive finished ply wood sheet (perhaps duct tape the edges) set it on your current table then use your binder clips
The Joanne's table is what I use for a cutting table it's great for me for that but for you it would always be a table in your room
The folding table that you have and ply wood can be stored flat out of the way or out of your room
Or you can watch on Craig's list and get that table you want that also can fold away flat

Rebecca Grace said...

Katie, I'm intrigued by Sharon Schamber's method. I've watched her video. It's funny how what works well in one person's home can be cumbersome in another. She talks about how she scoots back and forth on a stool when she's basting large, wide quilts, but I have carpeting in my studio so I'd be lifting up my chair every time I needed to move it a few inches. I do think Schamber's method would eliminate the tendency to overstretch the binding, but I also worry that, by starting at one end, I might get to the other end and realize that there's not enough backing or something. When I did this last quilt, I realized that I laid the batting out sideways and was able to fix that before any pins went into the quilt, but if the top and backing were rolled up separately I wouldn't have noticed that mistake until I had basted almost the whole quilt and ran out of batting.

The only sensible solution is a long arm machine on a frame... ;-)
Thanks for stopping by.

Rebecca Grace said...

Hi, Colleen. My husband is a "tool man" and he has already taken the clamps off to his woodworking shop. :-) He will use them for whatever wood clamping purpose they are meant for. I've already ordered the JoAnn's table, so I'll see what it looks like when it shows up. I don't even know how I would get a giant sheet of plywood home in my little convertible! But thanks for the suggestions.

Val's Quilting Studio said...

YOu are sooooo much more patient than me! Seriously! :) :) I'm so anxious to get a quilt done my this point....that yes, my solution was my long-arm. (Best empty nest/ middle age gift I ever bought myself) V:) PS: I lOVE your new haircut in your profile picture!

Pam's Applique Paintbox said...

I have a set up like Colleen's-a nicely finished 3/4 inch thick plywood board (4x8). i use picnic table clamps to clamp down the backing. The are inexpensive and flat and good clampers. This plywood board forms a sturdy, non slip, stable surface. My lumber store delivered the plywood to me for free tho I don't imagine many do it for free.

I hate the whole process of making a quilt sandwich. It is time consuming and tedious. However, I took a craftsy class from Cindy Needham called Design it, Quilt it which gave me so many pointers on making a successful quilt sandwich. Plus other info on marking and using stencils. Best class i ever took!

That was quite an ordeal you went thru! Sympathies!

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Oh I have had that table for years and I actually like it. It is a little wiggly but not in a flimsy way. And I had no trouble assembling it myself either. I think you'll like it. Good luck on your quilting journey!

Barbara Sindlinger said...

At least you made figured out a way to get it basted. I just get on the floor. It's easier and I don't have to move the layers around. I have hardwood floors so it's pretty easier for me to do. But once I'm down, I don't get up until it's done.

I think the only way to find those old brown tables is to see if a church or party rental place is selling.

Deb from frugal little bungalow said...

Well I KNOW that you are glad to have that part of the quilting process over with! :) The quilt top is lovely ; enjoy your quilting now :)