Beginner Quilt Series - How to Layer a Quilt Sandwich and Pin Baste a Quilt

This is another video in our learn to quilt series. We are making a simple baby quilt with 5" squares for this series.

This video will show how to layer the backing, batting and quilt top together. This layering is called a quilt sandwich. It also shows how to pin baste the quilt. Quilting attaches the three layers together.Beginner Quilt - Quilt Sandwich & Pin Baste Tutorial - fb

What does baste mean in quilting?

Basting simply means holding the quilt layers, the quilt top, batting and backing, together temporarily until they are quilted.

There are several ways to baste a quilt. Quilts can be pin basted, spray basted, fused basted or hand basted.

What is pin basting?

One of the most common basting methods is to use safety pins. This means pinning all over the quilt sandwich so the layers are securely in place.

Pin basting is time consuming, but it’s a good and strong way to baste both large and small quilts.

For pin basting, use safety pins. There are quilter's safety pins designed specifically for this purpose.  It's not recommended using straight pins that can prick fingers or slide out of the fabric. 

The pin basting method shown here is for preparing a quilt for machine quilting.  A quilt that is to be hand quilted would be basted with sewing thread. 

For information on hand basting, check out our page with 65+ quilting tips and tricks

Watch the video below to learn how to make a quilt sandwich and pin baste a simple baby quilt.  Written directions follow the video and are very helpful.

COMPLETE VIDEO TUTORIAL AVAILABLE! The video below is a preview with no audio, to watch the whole video tutorial, click the link Beginner Quilt Series - How to Layer a Quilt Sandwich and Pin Baste a Quilt to watch in Youtube.

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what you will need to make a quilt sandwich and pin baste a simple baby quilt:

  • Pieced quilt top
  • Quilt batting (Warm and Natural brand is nice batting)
  • Quilt backing
  • Safety pins
  • Rotary cutter
  • Cutting mat
  • Quilter's ruler
  • Smooth table

Instructions for layering a quilt sandwich and pin basting a quilt

step one: Prepare the Batting

The middle section of the quilt is a layer of batting to add loft to the finished quilt. 

Use the rotary cutter, cutting mat and the quilter's ruler to cut a piece of batting a bit larger than the quilt top. 

The quilt backing and batting should be a couple of inches larger all around than the quilt top. This ensures that when the layers are quilted together, the quilt top will not be larger than the backing and batting.

Once it has been quilted, the three layers will be trimmed to the same size and "squared up".  Take a look at our tutorial for squaring up a quilt, if you need help.

Now the three layers to the quilt sandwich are ready.  There is the pieced quilt top, the quilt batting, and the quilt backing.

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Quilt Backing Batting

As mentioned in the supply list, Warm and Natural Batting is the type recommended here. An affiliate link can be found below to purchase this batting.

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Batting

step two: layering the quilt

The three separate layers of the quilt must be arranged correctly before basting.

On the flat table area, begin by laying the quilt backing face down. Be sure to smooth out the backing fabric. 

Directions to make a quilt backing is part of our Beginner Quilt Series and is a good place to start if you need a quilt backing!

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Lay Backing

Next, center the batting that has been cut to size in the middle of the backing fabric.

Because the extra batting and backing will be cut off after quilting, it is not necessary that they be perfect and matching in size.

Once again, take time to smooth out the batting layer, starting from the center.

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Lay Batting

Finally, the pieced quilt top is placed in the center on top of the batting with the right side up.  The quilt top will be smaller than the other layers. 

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Smooth To Edges

Smooth this layer as well, starting in the center of the quilt and smoothing outward.

Step three: begin Pin Basting

To pin baste, start in the middle of the quilt.  Use one safety pin to join the three layers in approximately the center of the quilt. 

Next, divide the quilt into four quadrants by pinning the safety pins out to the edges from the center pin, and then do the same to the top and bottom starting at the center pin.

Place the safety pins 3" - 4" inches apart, smoothing the fabric out towards the raw edges, making sure there are no bumps or wrinkles in the batting or backing.

Now the quilt should be divided up into four sections.

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Start in Center

If the quilt is too big to fit on the table, it can be slid around in order to pin baste the entire quilt.

Step four: Pin Baste in Quadrants

 Choose one quadrant of the quilt to begin pinning. For this tutorial, the lower right quadrant is the first to be pinned.

To do this, pin the safety pins in a row across the quilt, starting from the center of the quadrant, pinning 2 to 3 inches below the first line of horizontal pins that divided the quadrant.

Be sure to smooth continuously while pinning.

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Place Pins Across

There will now be a line of pins from the center to the right side of the quilt sandwich below the set of pins used to divide the quadrants..

Next, pin baste in a column going down within the quadrant, starting a row next to the pins used to separate the quadrant.  These pins should also be 2-3" apart.

Remember to always keep smoothing the quilt sandwich while pinning.

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Always Keep Smoothing Towards edge

Once again, place pins in a horizontal straight line 2-3" apart and under the second row of pins until the edge of the quilt is reached. Remember to smooth the quilt while pinning along.

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Place Pins in other direction

Continue alternating the pin basting in rows across and columns down, smoothing while pinning, until one quadrant of the quilt is completely pin basted.

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial First Quadrant Defined

Watch the video for more pinning details.

step five:  pin basting the remaining quadrants

Next, follow the same procedure to pin one of the quadrants NEXT to the one that was just pinned.  Don't forget to keep smoothing the quilt layers out while pinning. Smoothing the quilt sandwich can not be stressed enough.

After the 2nd quadrant is finished, work on the other quadrant which is adjacent to the first quadrant that was pin basted

Finally, finish with the fourth quadrant using the same pin basting method.

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Close Up Pins

When the quilt is turned to the back, the pins should have gone all the way through to catch the three layers. The backing should be smooth with no wrinkles or bumps.

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Show Backing

Now the entire simple baby quilt should be pin basted in placed, holding the layers together for the next step, which is machine quilting.

Layer Pin Baste Tutorial Quilt Finished We hope you enjoyed this video and tutorial on how to layer and pin baste a quilt.  Be sure to watch the next video in the Beginner Quilt Series: Quilting the Top: Quilt the Layers together


If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.



Half Square Triangles: How to make Half Square Triangles
Paper Piecing: How to Paper Piece a Quilt Block
Binding A Quilt: How to Add Binding to A Quilt (No Hand Sewing)
String Piecing: Learn String Piecing on Foundation Paper
Tying A Quilt: Learn How to Hand Tie A Quilt

Supporting Products and links: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. We make a small commission on sales through the affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your purchase and your support! Please see our full Affiliate Statement for more information.

Beginner Quilt Series Layer Quilt Sandwich and Pin Baste Tutorial - pin

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