Quilting Tips: Making the Quilt “Sandwich”

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The quilt “sandwich” consists of the backing, batting, and the pieced top. Layer these 3 together, baste then quilt them, and, voilá, a quilt is born! 


Plan on making the backing a minimum of 8″ longer and wider than the quilt top. Piece, if necessary. Trim the selvages before you piece to the desired size.

To economize, piece the back from any leftover quilting fabrics or blocks in your collection.


The type of batting to use is a personal decision; consult your local quilt shop. Cut batting approximately 8˝ longer and wider than your quilt top. Note that your batting choice will effect how much quilting is necessary for the quilt. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see how far apart the quilting lines can be.


Spread the backing wrong side up and tape the edges down with masking tape. (If you are working on carpet you can use T-pins to secure the backing to the carpet.) Center the batting on top, smoothing out any folds. Place the quilt top right side up on top of the batting and backing, making sure it is centered.


Basting keeps the quilt “sandwich” layers from shifting while you are quilting.

If you plan to machine quilt, pin baste the quilt layers together with safety pins placed 3″–4″ apart. Begin basting in the center and move toward the edges first in vertical, then horizontal, rows. Try not to pin directly on the intended quilting lines.

If you plan to hand quilt, baste the layers together with thread using a long needle and light-colored thread. Knot one end of the thread. Using stitches approximately the length of the needle, begin in the center and move out toward the edges in vertical and horizontal rows approximately 4″ apart. Add 2 diagonal rows of basting.


Quilting, whether by hand or machine, enhances the pieced or appliquéd design of the quilt. You may choose to quilt in-the-ditch, echo the pieced or appliqué motifs, use patterns from quilting design books and stencils, or do your own free-motion quilting. Remember to check your batting manufacturer’s recommendations for how close the quilting lines must be.

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