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Pinning the Quilt Layers for the
Quilt Sandwich

home machine quilt frame

There are 3 layers to a quilt.  There is the top, the batting, and the backing.  There are several ways to pin a quilt and finish your project.  Here are some of your options.

Hand Quilting Frame

Quilters who finish their quilts by hand have a variety of quilt frames to choose from.  Some are small and meant for one person, while others are large enough for a group of people to work on the quilt at the same time.

The easiest to finish a quilt top is to send it out to a longarm quilter.  If you don't have a longarm quilter in your area, you can find these services on ebay.  These services can be expensive, but the quilting can be very beautiful.

There are also many quilt frames that you can purchase to finish your quilts at home.  These can be tricky to use, and they require a great deal of space.  Many people buy them and do not use them.  Others become very good at it.  Before making this type of a purchase, it is best to go to a quilt store and become familiar with these machines to see if you like them.

Pinning for the Sewing Machine

When you are planning to machine quilt with your sewing machine, you are going to have to pin the 3 layers together. 

The most traditional way to pin a quilt is for a traditional binding.  You place the backing down first, right side down, then put the batting on top of it, and the end with the quilt top, face up.

The key to successfully pinning a quilt is to pin it so that there are no puckers on either the back or front.  This can be a challenge.  You need to use a lot of pins, and the backing needs to be stretched taut before you start pinning.  Some people heavily starch the back of their quilt to keep it from puckering.

Pins come in several sizes.  If you are going to machine quilt, you want to use the small pins so you can quilt around them if possible.  You need to use enough of them so that when you lay your hand flat on your quilt top and spread out your fingers, every one of your fingers is touching a pin.

Many quilters have tables that allow them to clip the fabric to the table.  I use a hobby table and office clips.  When I have a large quilt, I push two hobby tables together.  If my quilt is slightly larger than the table, I pin the edges after I undo the clips.  One of my smaller quilts clipped on my hobby table is pictured below.

You can also go to buildings with banquet tables and push a couple of them together for large quilts. You can spray the layers together with glue spray, or use wide mailing tape to hold the backing taut.

One economical option is to pin the quilt to your carpet.  I did this for years.  It works, but it is not a lot of fun crawling around on the carpet.

Finally,  you can buy a quilting staple gun to hold the layers together.

Pillow Fold

Putting the layers of a quilt together for a pillow fold is very different than the traditional method. Basically you are pinning the front and the back right sides together, sewing around the edges, and then turning it.  It is just like making a pillow, hence the name "pillow fold."

Where people mess up is in getting the batting in the correct position.

Here is how I like to put the layers.  The batting is laid down first, and then you put the quilt top on top of it, with the right side of the fabric facing up.  Then you put the backing of the quilt on top, right side down.

The turning process will be a lot easier if you baste the batting and the top together before you add the backing.

Pin around the edges, leaving an opening large enough to turn the quilt inside-out, just like a pillow.  Turn and then sew up the opening.

You are still going to have to pin the quilt for machine quilting, but your edges will be done, and you won't need to attach a binding.

A pillow fold is easier to do on a small project. It is great for placemats.

One hint:  If you like the look of binding, sew a narrow strip of fabric on all sides of your quilt.  It will give the appearance of binding when you turn the quilt.


quilt backing pinned to a hobby table with office clips

layers of a quilt ready for pinning on a hobby table

The Quilt Sandwich


Backing clipped to hobby table


Batting and quilt top laid on top of backing

Eye Candy for Quilters

Pictures of Quilts and Projects


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Quilt Sizes

Buying Quilt Squares

Finishing Your Quilt