Spray Basting a Quilt--Tutorial

Hey ya'll.  I've been asked several times how I baste my layers together before I quilt.  I have thread basted and pin basted, but my absolute favorite has been to spray baste using a spray glue specifically designed for quilt basting.

There are several brands you can use.  Right now, I am using Sullivan's "The Original" Quilt Basting Spray* that I bought at Mary Jo's in Gastonia, NC.  I have used other brands and was out when I went to Mary Jo's in the summer and this was what they had.  I do suggest getting your basting spray from a LQS or from someone you trust, because not all sprays are as good.  Some will gum up machine needles.  This one does not.  Spray basting glues can get expensive per can, however unless you have a very heavy hand when you spray or you are basting several large quilts this should last you a while.  I bought this can late last Summer and I still have a good bit left.

You may want to spray baste outside or open many windows if you do it inside.  I tend to spray baste inside because I don't have a good flat surface outside to baste on, since we have a gravel parking area and live on a mountain and every time I try to go outside the wind blows constantly.  If you have a garage, great, but keep in mind that you need ventilation inside.

To spray baste a quilt I suggest you have the following ready:

  • Backing cut to size and pressed
  • Batting cut to size and pressed
  • Quilt Top pressed
  • Basting Spray
  • Old sheet, drop cloth, etc.

To begin lay down an old sheet, drop cloth, shower curtain, or something you can wash once you're finished.  Your floors and your family will appreciate this!  The over-spray is sticky and doesn't just mop up off your floor the first or second time you mop.  I have an old cloth shower curtain that I use, only because it was there and kept it out of the garbage.
Spread out the shower curtain or other material that you are using so that the floor is covered where you will be spraying.  I didn't before this project, but it is helpful to press this as well.  This may seem like an unnecessary step, but if you have any large creases in this it will be hard to distinguish these creases from any folds in your fabric later on.

Once you have laid out your backdrop you will want to get your batting out. This is where my method of spray basting differs from others.  The directions on your can of spray will tell you to spray the fabric first, however I was basting a quilt with a non-quilting friend helping one day and we were having trouble getting the backing smooth.  Everything was stretching and we couldn't get the wrinkles smoothed out.  My non-quilting friend asked why I did everything in the order I did to see if there was a method behind the madness, but of course I said, "It was the way I was taught to."  So she suggested laying the batting down first then laying the backing on top.  Genius!  Leave it to a non-quilting friend to figure it out.  The batting once laid out doesn't wrinkle as easy as the fabric does and if the fabric is on top you can see your wrinkles.  Much easier.

Smooth out the batting, which if pressed first will be much easier.  Most packaged battings are more "stuffed" into the bags than not so they tend to be quite bunched up in the center.  I pressed my batting and smoothed it onto the shower curtain.

After you lay down your batting you will want to smooth on your backing fabric right side up of course.  Make sure you have the backing pretty smooth and even on the batting.  This is all done before we ever touch the basting spray.  The project in the photos is a wall hanging so it was't too bad, but if you are working on a large quilt, have a friend help to work on both sides at the same time.

I folded the backing back on itself so that it was folded in half.  Depending on the size, I will often work from the center out in sections doing a portion at a time.  Spray, then lay backing out, smooth, and keep going.  This one wasn't that large so I did half at a time.  Read the directions on the can of spray because each brand is a little different on how much you want to spray.  Some people don't like to spray the batting because it is harder to see.  It doesn't bother me, but if you have trouble, spray your backing then start unfolding it.  Either way will work.  Once you all of your backing adhered to the batting you will want to flip this over so that the batting is again showing.

Center the quilt top on the batting and repeat just as you did for the backing.  Fold in half, spray and spread the half out.  Fold the other half up, spray, and smooth.

Once you have everything sprayed and spread smooth, your quilt is ready for quilting on your machine.  Of course this method doesn't work for Long Arm quilting, but if you are quilting on a home machine or a mid-arm machine this is perfect.  It eliminates the need for pins that often get in the way of quilting stitches no matter how strategically they were placed in the beginning, and it eliminates the need for removing those pesky basting threads that you otherwise may have had to use.  As I said earlier, my biggest difference in spray basting from others is that I use my batting first not my backing.  This is much easier to keep everything from stretching.  I've spray basted as large as a queen-size quilt that was quilted on my domestic machine and had great results every time.

You may be asking about the glue after you have quilted.  Most spray glues including the one I use will tell you on the label that the glue will dissipate after a few weeks, or you may wash the quilt when finished if you want it gone immediately.  I usually don't worry about the glue in my quilts.  The only time I would is if I am working on a baby quilt, which needs to be washed before use anyway, but especially for wall hangings or other large quilts you shouldn't have a problem.

I hope this tutorial has been helpful and if you have any questions feel free to comment to this or email me at efbcutham@gmail.com.  I'd love to hear from you.

-Until next time, quilt on!

*The link to Mary Jo's website is not sponsored by MaryJo's in any way, simply only to show you where I purchased my product.

©A Cruso Quilter, 2015.

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