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How to Baste a Quilt – video tutorial

partially basted scrap quilt made with pinks and oranges - title card for a video tutorial showing how to baste a quilt

Once you’ve pieced your quilt top, you need to know how to baste that quilt. That’s the step that turns your quilt top into a quilt, and it’s what I show you in this video.

Technically, basting a quilt is just temporarily pinning or stitching or glueing the layers together to help them in place while you do the quilting – but in this video I’m going to show you how to make a quilt sandwich (layering together the backing, batting, and your quilt top) and how to baste those layers together.

If you’re making a Quilt As You Go quilt, the batting is already quilted to your quilt top, so all you’re layering together is that quilted top and the backing.

In the video I showed how to baste a quilt with pins – but you can also baste with thread (sewing really big running stitches through all the layers) or with spray adhesive. Pins are my favorite method and these are the curved safety pins I use to baste all my quilts.

Once you get your quilt basted, this video shows you how to machine quilt, and then this video show how to bind the edges to finish your quilt.

Want some quick instructions on how to piece together the simple scrap quilt I use in the demo? It’s super easy.

I dug through my scraps and cut 2-inch strips out of anything at least 2 inches wide. The strips were all different lengths – just what I wanted.

I joined all the pink strips together, all the orange together, and all the yellow together so that I had a long strip of pinks, a long strip of oranges, and a long strip of yellows.

Then I cut those long strips into shorter strips, 18 inches long. I used 11 of these 18-inch strips.

Arrange them in a way that looks good to you. I thought the yellow really popped out, so I alternated yellow strips with pink or orange strips. Play around with what you have until it looks good to you.

Sew the 18-inch strips together, press it all nice and smooth – and voila! You have a quilt top!

I did the same thing for the back with blues, greens, and purples. I cut those strips 20 inches long and used 13 of them so that the back would be a bit bigger than the quilt top.

By the way – this is just the right size for an American Girl doll or any of the Dress Up Bunch rag dolls. 🙂

Here are all my posts about layering and basting your quilt, and the final round of quilting.

Here are all my posts about hand quilting and Big Stitch quilting. I don’t use these techniques with fusible applique or Quilt As You Go, but I LOVE using Big Stitch Quilting with my cheater fabric.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about binding and finishing your quilt.

Happy stitching!


  1. Can you weigh in on Batting? There are so many options and I really can’t figure out what I want to use! I’m working on the squaresville quilt (lap size) and I want it to be warm and fluffy, but not overwhelm my normal sized sewing machine. I don’t know enough about the different fiber options to care, but perhaps there’s a compelling reason why I should want cotton, wool or poly, or maybe a mix!

    Thank you!

    • Stephanie – I get a lot of questions about batting – I’m planning to do a whole post about it soon. My all-time favorite batting is Warm & Natural. It’s light and thin for going through the machine, easy to hand-quilt if I choose, lets me quilt up to 10 inches apart (important for some of my designs), doesn’t beard, and feels FABULOUS. Every once in a while the store runs out and I need it right away and have to use another brand, and I always wish I had Warm & Natural.

  2. Lisa SAYS...

    Trying to figure out what size safety pins to buy. I’m using your tutorials (thanks!) but I can’t find if you say a size. In this video you say “small”. Is that size 1 or 2?

    • I don’t know what number they are – but they’re an inch long.

  3. Hi, Wendi! How are you? Thank you for your tutorials! You are amazing! I learned a lot of things from your blog! Keep in touch!
    Best regards from Ireland!
    Angela H.

  4. Diane SAYS...

    Any pointers for layering a larger quilt on the floor when the quilt exceeds the size of table & cutting mat? How to keep it all smooth? I know, a least favorite thing, but a doll size quilt is no use to my 6ft 4 inch grandson. Thanks.

    • Some tape around the edges helps keep it all smooth. And if crawling around on your hands and knees to pin is uncomfortable, try checking in with your local quilt shop or public library. Some of them have large tables where you can baste a larger quilt.

  5. Jeannette Stokols SAYS...

    Hi Wendi,
    I’m almost done with my Woodland Critters quilt and I love it – it’s for my first grandchild! I am a bit confused by the directions for the top quilting since I used the alternate pattern, not the 5 x 5 across basic pattern. The lines between the blocks are not straight from top to bottom and side to side. So I don’t know what to do for the “in the ditch” quilting. Can you explain this? Thanks so much for your clear instructions all through the process – I just got stuck on this one.