I saw a tip of readying the quilt sandwich for basting using pool noodles. The top, batting, and backing are each rolled onto a separate pool noodle. The edge is pinned to the noodle and then rolled onto the noodle, then pinned again at the end to prevent unrolling until making the quilt sandwich. The rolls are laid out in order, one on top of the other, smoothed, basted, unrolled a bit more and the basting process is repeated.
I tried this out on a baby quilt and I LOVE IT! Basting and marking for quilting is probably the reason there are 14 un-quilted tops in a pile in the sewing room. I have tried numerous ways of marking and basting the quilts but I was never totally satisfied with the results. I think that by the time I reach this point in the process I want it DONE. I want to believe that since the quilting comes at the end of the process it should go quickly, as if once the top is completed it is all down hill from there. I know once I get going on the actual quilting it may take a few days at my machine and I tick off the sections one by one while listening to an audio book.
What I’m learning is the quilting is a whole other project. I often stall at this point because I need to shift my design sense from the shape of the blocks and the colors of the quilt, to that of the quilting lines that work with the top. It is a different skill set for me. At this point I want the project finished and I have not been happy with chalk pencils constantly breaking as I mark, and lines that disappear before I’ve started the quilting.
As for the basting process, I’ve crawled on my hands and knees around the quilt taped to the living room floor, smoothing and pining, only to have puckers on the back. I had better luck with basting spray, but it comes with its own set of challenges keeping the three layers smooth. I’m still crawling on the floor with larger quilts using this method, but I love that I am able smooth each layer as it is rolled onto the noodle, then baste the layers in sections as I unroll them. I can also roll each layer in advance and keep them rolled for a few days until I’m ready to baste and start quilting.
A single noodle works great for a small quilt like a throw or baby quilt. For larger quilts I joined two noodles together by rolling newspaper to stick in the center for stabilization then joined them with duct tape.