Making a Quilt Sandwich
Quilters call the process of assembling the three layers--quilt top, batting, and backing--as making a quilt "sandwich."
It is best to assemble the layers on a large, flat surface where the entire quilt can be spread out. If you don’t have space at your home, see if your local quilt shop will allow you to use their large tables.
If you are sending your quilt to a professional machine quilter, follow their instructions on how to prepare your quilt. Most machine quilters want you to have the backing pieced and all three layers separate.
If the quilt backing is pieced, press all the seam allowances open. This will prevent bulk when quilting.
Place the quilt backing wrong side up on a large, flat surface. Tape, clip, or otherwise secure the quilt backing to the work surface.
Center and smooth the batting in place atop the quilt backing. If desired, baste the batting and backing together with a single, large cross-stitch in the center to prevent the layers from shifting.
Center the quilt top right side up on top of the batting. To be sure that it is centered, fold it in half with right sides together. Align the center fold of the quilt with the center of the batting, then unfold the quilt top and smooth out any wrinkles.
To check that you have not stretched or pulled the quilt top out of alignment during the layering process, place a large square ruler in one corner. The edges of the ruler should be flush with the quilt top’s edges. Take care not to stretch the quilt top out of shape.
Safety-pin or baste all the layers together, beginning in the center. Be careful not to shift the layers, and work toward the edges, smoothing fabric as you go.
This method is the most common for hand quilters because it works better in a hoop than pins do.
With stitches about 2" long, baste the three layers together by stitching horizontal, then vertical lines through the center of the quilt sandwich to form quadrants on the quilt top. Next, baste diagonally in both directions. Add basting stitches 3 to 4" apart over the entire surface of the quilt top.
Machine quilters generally pin-baste because it is easier to remove pins than basting threads.
Pin the three layers together with rustproof safety pins, making horizontal and vertical lines through the center of the quilt sandwich to form quadrants on the quilt top. Add pins over the entire surface of the quilt top at 3 to 4" intervals.
Basting sprays are best for small quilt projects such as table runners or wall hangings. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to adhere the layers to one another. Take care not to over spray, which can lead to a gummy buildup over your work surface and quilting needle.