Last summer when I was learning how to quilt ... I struggled to find a tutorial to help me baste my first quilt ... so ... here's a tutorial for other newbys ... what I would also appreciate is any hints from you "old-timers" to help me with my process and share with some of the newbys!
ADDED: How timely ... Loft Creations has a blog post this week on batting choices. Check it out for some thoughts on what batting's right for you!
First ... find a large place where you can lay out your quilt. I find a hard surface underneath (in this case hard wood floor, is better as I don't have to worry about getting the pins caught in the carpet underneath). Give it a good vacuum or sweep before you begin.
Second ... lay the quilt backing on the floor, finished side facing the floor.
Third ... chase the dog (or cat) off the back of the quilt ;-) ... invariably ... the pets are convinced that you laid this on the ground for THEM!
Fourth ... tape the quilt back to the floor. I use painters tape, it's tacky enough to keep the quilt backing from sliding around the floor, yet still pulls back off the floor easily without leaving any sticky residue. Smooth out all the wrinkles and pull it semi-taut as you tape it to the floor. I like to run one side of the backing parallel to the wood lines on the floor ... this will become helpful once you get the batting and top on it to make sure that the quilt top is sitting properly on the backing.
Fifth ... lay the batting on top of the quilt back. In this case, I am making a twin quilt, however, I am using a full size batting. I don't prewash and therefore experience about 7% shrinkage. This means that I make my quilts 107% of the size that I ultimately want them to be. Which also means that I can't use twin size pre-packaged batting on a twin size quilt ... it's not quite large enough. Knowing where the underlying quilt back is with respect to the edge of the wood grain, helps me when I put the batting on top of it.
Sixth ... lay the quilt top, finished side up, on top of the batting and make sure you're centered properly on top of the backing ... your backing should be about 3-4" larger (1.5 - 2" at each side) than your top -- this gives you flexibility on laying it out, and also ensures that any shrinkage you have while quilting is accounted for.
Seventh ... it's time to pin. You have to smooth it out as well as keeping it aligned. Then I sit in the center of the quilt and start pinning ... smoothing it out as I move towards the edges. I probably don't use as many pins as I have seen other folks use. And I use a combination of medium and large safety pins. I understand that there are safety pins that are designed specifically for quilts ... but these seem to work so well for me ... so I haven't tried anything but basic safety pins.
Eight ... keep pinning ... and pinning ...
Ninth ... finish pinning, trim off the excess batting around the edges with scissors, remove the painters tape and you're ready to begin quilting!