June 15, 2014

How to Layer a Quilt

If you are following us on Instagram you will have seen pictures of our Liberty print strip quilts popping up for the last couple of months. We shared our Liberty stash with each other to create these two quilts, swapping strips of our favourite prints. It’s R’s first full-sized quilt so really nice to share some of my little quilting knowledge along the way. Quilting has a bit of a reputation as a slow craft and, although we have been working on ours for a couple of months now this is mostly because we have been neglecting them a bit… We tend to spend a full day speeding through them, then forget them for a little bit and work on some other projects.

Layering a quilt

Last Sunday we finally got around to layering them. This is quite a hard task in our living room as the quilts were as big as all the floor space and it involved quite a lot of furniture hopping and stretching to get them layered. I wanted to give you a quick tutorial on how I layer my quilts. There are loads of different ways that you can do this and if you have a method that’s working for you stick with it! My Nana showed me how to do this and what you need to get the most smoothly layered quilt, so I am going to share her method with you…

You will need:

–          Floor space large enough to fit your quilt on

–          Backing fabric (already assembled if it wasn’t initially wide enough for your quilt)

–          Batting (one piece large enough for your whole quilt. I always go for a natural batting and avoid that horrible iron on stuff!)

–          Your completed quilt front (ironed)

–          Masking tape

–          Tape measure

–          Curved safety pins (you should be able to get these in any good quilting shop)

–          A quilt basting gun


1.       Iron the backing fabric and press the seams. It’s important to start with everything as flat as possible to get the smoothest finish. Spread out your backing fabric on the floor right side down and secure in place with masking tape. It’s important not to pull the backing too tight at this stage, what you want is the backing to be secured down as flat as possible. I find that masking tape is really handy at this point to hold the backing down and it won’t mark your fabric either. Sorry about our messy living room.. see what I mean about a tight fit to the edge of the room!

2.       Measure your backing to find the exact middle lengthways and mark this, as you’ll need to know this when you add the top of your quilt. This is only necessary if you have a pieced back as you’ll want the two edge pieces to be of equal width.

3.       You now need to layer your batting over the backing. If you have this pre-cut to the correct size it makes this stage a lot less fiddly. Lay it over the backing and smooth out any lumps. Make sure you don’t crinkle the backing at this point. If at any point you need to walk on the quilt, place your feet gently so you don’t make wrinkles underneath!

4.       Once you have the batting smoothed out you can add the top layer of your quilt. Lie this over the batting right side up and smooth flat. Measure the centre and make sure that this lines up with the centre of the backing that you marked earlier. It’s a good idea to do this at both ends to make sure you don’t end up with a wonky quilt.

5.       Once you are happy that your quilt is flat and smooth you need to secure the three layers together. My Nana gave me a quilt basting gun – a little device that shoots plastic tags through your layers and secures them together. This is by far the easiest tool to use, but we found it difficult to use on top of our hard wooden floor. And we were definitely poking some holes into it with the spike. After fiddling around for quite a while we moved on to my back-up plan: curved safety pins.

Layering a quilt


6.       The curve lets you really easily pick up all of the layers without moving the quilt (or upsetting the flatness). My general thoughts with these pins is the more the merrier, but as a minimum I would say place them about 8 inches apart across your quilt. Do a couple on the edges and check that you are getting right down to the backing… it would be a huge pain to realise that you haven’t quite been picking up all the layers and having to redo the whole thing.

Layering a quilt

7.       Once all of your pins are in place carefully remove the masking tape and you’re done! You can give any extra long edges a trim, but definitely don’t trim up to your quilt front yet as the layers tend to shift as your quilt them. I tend to leave the backing and batting at least 6 inches bigger than the quilt front. You will do the final trim after the quilting is complete. Fold up your quilt loosely and store it somewhere safe until you’re ready to quilt. We will share our quilting progress next week!

This took us about an hour to do for each quilt. After a lot of clambering over sofas and lying belly down on our quilts as we secured them with safety pins we were done! We have decided to hand-quilt these, so please bear with us…. I think it’s going to take a while…..


Ps. I’m planning a few more of these little quilting tutorials so please do let me know if there’s anything in particular that you’d like me to cover!

Layering a quilt



The quilt looks lovely – v.jealous of your huge liberty fabric stash! I find that floor space is always the biggest problem for me. I like the masking tape tip and would totally agree with the more pins the better :)


Yes it’s so hard to find a room without enough space to stretch it out. We were thinking about heading down to our local community hall at one point, but think we made it work! You need to find a Liberty print pal to swap some strips with for this project :)


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