Baste Not, Want Not

Posted by Jen Lopez on Nov 27th 2019

When I first started quilting, I was really disappointed to discover that a huge part of quilting is not really sewing so much as it is getting ready to sew, i.e. pinning and basting. I hate basting and for that matter I’m not crazy about pinning either. How can we skip over this odious step and just get to the good stuff? Fortunately, there are several easy (and kind of fun) alternatives:

  • Clips – Whether they be the specialized plastic clips sold just for sewing at the quilt shop or that box of mini binder clips you re-appropriated from the office, you can just clip it! Clips are especially useful for holding binding in place and can get you out of yards of basting, not to mention all that finger-pricking you would be subjected to from pinning. 
  • Spray Baste – Why baste with a needle and thread when you can buy basting in a can! Available at Walmart, big box craft stores and local quilt shops, a can of spray adhesive will last you through yards and yards of quilts. It’s sticky enough to hold two pieces of fabric together but won’t gum up your needle. If you are feeling more frugal, a quick Google search will reveal recipes online for homemade spray adhesives made with various substances ranging from Elmer’s glue to good old laundry starch.
  • Walking Foot – I majored in Mechanical Engineering so this one is my favorite. You can avoid basting by making it simply unnecessary! A sewing machine’s “walking foot” is a mechanical widget used in place of your traditional presser foot. Instead of gliding over the fabric, it essentially hops, thus ensuring the top fabric and the bottom fabric move through the machine at the same rate of speed. This way, there will be no bunching or slipping and you can get away without basting or pinning at all!

However you can avoid basting (of either variety), I highly recommend it.


Please join us here every other Wednesday for another fun, fiber-filled installment of By the Yard. Be sure to check out the By the YardTM 2020 Wall Calendar for Quilters – a great gift for the DIY enthusiast in your life! You can find it at

Follow my blog with Bloglovin