Quilt Sandwiching in a Small Space
Supplies: Finished Quilt Top, Batting, & Backing, Office Binder Clips, Quilting Safety Pins, Small Work Space, Lots of Patience
When you’re quilting, I don’t care how much room you have, it’s never enough. I’ve come to grips with this unfortunate reality and have resigned myself to working within my limitations vs. fighting them. (Come to think of it, I should adopt this theory in other aspects of my life, but that’s another post).
I found this super cute BBQ fabric somewhere on the web (prob Etsy) and wanted to make a quilt for our couch in the RV. Once the top was ready, it was time to sandwich it all together. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to a ginormous table or floor space (sans dog fur) to lay it all out. So I’m using my craft table I snagged at Joann’s online that normally sports my rotary cutting mat.
Now, being the super-resourceful (a.k.a. scrounger) gal that I am, awhile back, I went down to my friendly office supply dude at work and said, “Hey, if you ever come across an opportunity to toss out those super big black binder clips, could you set them aside for me?” In my day job I work for a major company and they are going paperless as much as possible so people get rid of those clips all the time when they move cubes and inevitably pare down the amount of crap they have to move. He was a sweetie and within a few days, I got the call. I picked up a couple dozen of the large and medium clips. Score!
My space to put this quilt together is my cutting table in my sewing room that’s about 27” x 59”. Not much right? The first thing is to create a square center point on the table. It doesn’t matter where it is on the table, but it must be marked to ensure the top/batting/backing are square to each other as they are laid out. I used a couple of wooden BBQ skewers I found pretty cheaply in the utensil aisle at the grocery store and secured them with masking tape. This is really important: I need to be able to feel (and see) the raised skewers through the layers of fabric as I add them. I made a 90 degree angle by criss-crossing the skewers and used masking tape to secure them to the table.
Next, fold the back of the quilt into fourths and butt the center corner of the quilt into one of the 90 degree angle corners of the skewers.
Unfold the backing. I used some homemade pattern weights to hold the backing in place so the weight of the fabric wouldn’t pull the backing off the table.
Using binder clips, I clipped the backing as taught as possible to the table by alternating ends each time I clipped (one on the right rear, one of the left rear, 2nd on the right center, 2nd on the left center, etc.) This prevents the backing from skewing one direction or the other. I only had 3 sides of a table to clip to, so after clipping the ends real tight, I evenly clipped the one side without pulling too tightly but just made sure it was smooth.
When it was as taught and smooth as I could get it, end-to-end, I did the same thing for the batting and quilt top.
Once the three layers are clipped tightly, it’s time to pin. You can spray baste, and I prefer it usually, but when I’m unable to clip to 4 sides, then I pin to ensure everything stays in place. When it’s all pinned, remove the clips and flip the quilt on the table so a new part is ready to be clipped again. I like to begin with a part that’s already pinned and re-clip it to the edge. This gives a stable starting point. Then do the same clipping as before starting with the backing, then batting, then the top. Pin it all and continue doing this until the entire quilt is pinned.
When it’s all done, flip the quilt over and if there are any wrinkles, unpin, smooth them out, and re-pin. Then iron it front and back.
It’s ready for the long arm!