Tips for Basting a Quilt from Pat Sloan


I think it’s safe to assume that one of the techniques most quilters would like to learn to do better, or just learn to do at all, is how to machine quilt with their own sewing machines. I’m definitely raising my hand and joining that category of people. I still don’t feel super confident when it comes to quilting my own quilts at home on my sewing machine.

Cue Pat Sloan – quilting teacher extraordinaire! Pat has published a series of books recently, with the focus on teaching the basics of quilting. Last year she published Teach Me to Applique and Teach me to Sew Triangles.


Pat has a brand new book out now called Teach Me to Machine Quilt  and focuses on lots of tips and techniques for quilting at home on your own sewing machine using both a walking foot or free-motion techniques. The book has lots of information on setting up before you even do any quilting, such as supplies like thread, pins, and needles, batting and basting a quilt, machine settings, etc. Pages of great information with helpful pictures and diagrams.  There is also help for maneuvering a quilt through your home machine.


Checkerboard Hearts, image from Martingale and Co.

In addition to the instructions on machine quilting, the book also includes 9 unique quilts – 5 projects made for practicing your walking-foot quilting and 4 more projects to help you hone your free-motion quilting. This one is called Checkerboard Hearts.


Love this project  called Cherry Pie.

I really enjoyed reading through this book and I can’t wait to use it as a reference as I try to build my confidence in quilting larger projects on my own machine. One of my least favorite parts of the quilting process is basting the front, back and batting layers together before you quilt. I know it’s SO important – and doing it right can save so much frustration when you go to do the actual quilting.


So I was excited when Pat offered to share her favorite tips for basting a quilt. Here’s what she shared:

I really believe that anytime we take a workshop we learn something because our own skill set has change with each one. For example, when I first started to learn machine quilting it was so new and I had so many things to learn, I could only absorb so much information at one time.

Then each time I took machine quilting with another person, I picked up something new because now my skill were at a new level.

One class I remember well is with an award winning British quilt maker Barbara Barber. At the time, her Quilt ‘Winter Solstice’, was winning awards and was hanging in the Williamsburg VA quilt show.  It is stunning in person and I was excited to spend the day with the lady who made it. She explained a lot about her process for developing the quilting design, something I didn’t realize people did. And her biggest tip was about basting your quilt. I have used her advice ever since, and it’s the method of pin basting I share in the book. 


She laid out the backing and clamped it. The placed the batting on top, the the top of the quilt on that. The tip is to leave the backing clamped to the table and baste without un-clamping it. Why? Because when you un-clamp it to clamp so that you clamp all 3 layers, you ‘release’ the backing and it springs inwards a bit and might wrinkle or pucker. It really works to do this!



Here is a video of Pat in action using this simple basting technique. I can’t wait to try this one next time I have a quilt to baste! When I asked Pat to share, I couldn’t wait to see what her awesome method was, assuming it was tricky and possibly time-consuming. And instead, I love the simplicity because it makes it feel so do-able. Now I need to go get some clamps!


If you want to hear more about Teach Me How to Machine Quilt, be sure to visit Pat Sloan’s blog and see the list of other quilters who are reviewing the book and sharing other tips about machine quilting your own quilts. Also, Pat and her publisher, Martingale, are teaming up to give away 5 copies of the book. Visit Pat’s site for all of the details and information.

Teach Me How to Machine Quilt is now available from your favorite quilt shop, Amazon and the Martingale website (where a free ebook version is included with the purchase.)

Thanks again for sharing your experience and knowledge with us Pat!

*All images courtesy of Pat Sloan and Martingale publishing.

*FTC disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. A digital copy of Teach Me How to Machine Quilt was provided by the publisher for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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  • Reply
    pat sloan
    November 20, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Thank you Amy for being a great friend and sharing my book!! HUGS!

    • Reply
      November 21, 2016 at 11:02 am

      Dear Pat, You are such an inspiration

    • Reply
      Edith Schmitt
      November 22, 2016 at 5:36 am

      Pat, what kind of clamps do you use for basting and where can they be found?

  • Reply
    Lori Morton
    November 20, 2016 at 8:16 am

    Super review!! Thank you for sharing! Loooove Pat Sloan!! Hope I win her give-a-way! lol But book is already on my Wishy List!! 😀

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 9:45 am

    It’s interesting about the not unclamping because I use this method but have unclamped to get the batting on and had puckers… my newer move has been to clamp first the backing, then clamp backing and batting before removing the first set of clamps. It works but it’s an extra step, if I can get away with just clamping the back, I’ll have to try it.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 11:57 am

    What a great tip! I have a quilt I’m attempting to quilt on my machine and I will be trying this method for preparation.

  • Reply
    Kelly Beck
    November 20, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing Pat’s tips Amy!! Basting is my second to least favorite part of quilt making, right after binding 🙂

  • Reply
    Beverly Boon
    November 20, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Love the idea for basting the quilt together. Thanks.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I think I need this book!

  • Reply
    Rita Scott
    November 20, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    What a great way to baste a quilt.

  • Reply
    Margaret Ann
    November 20, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    I have used the big black paper clamps from the office supply stores before and they work great – for lots of projects (they work great in the garden, too). Boy, wouldn’t it be great to pin baste a quilt as quickly as Pat Sloan did in the video! 🙂

  • Reply
    November 20, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    I need this book! I use the floor though not a table and have found that if I tape my layers and spray baste as I am going I finally get an unpuckerd back!

  • Reply
    Janet Ward
    November 20, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks for your review of Pat Sloan’s book. I have recently bought clamps to use in basting. Which is similar to my method of using painters tape to tape the backing down. Can’t wait to pursue the adventure.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2016 at 1:35 am

    Would love that book, hopeless at machine quilting, might give me a few good hints xxx

  • Reply
    November 21, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Thanks so much for the book review. I already had her two books that you mention. Sooooooooooo, I got myself over to Amazon and bought this newest one. Pats books are full of goodies and they are great to look at too.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Good to read about the clamping method. I use duct tape to tape my backing onto a tiled floor (don’t tape it to wood floors because it can pull off some of the finish if it has polyurethane or wax). I don’t have a table large enough for most of my quilts.

  • Reply
    Karen Seitz
    November 21, 2016 at 10:54 am

    I’ve really been enjoying the blog hop for Pat’s new book. Thanks for featuring the basting tip. I have to find a place with a table large enough to give it a try. That doesn’t exist in my house with tiny rooms, and my brother is in the process of moving out of his house and the ping pong table will stay behind. 🙁 Finding a new place to make quilt sandwiches needs to be added to my 2017 quilty resolutions!

  • Reply
    Deanna Plotts
    November 21, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    This is a great review and love the video. I do something similar but use masking or painters tape. Could not see if Pat did this, but I pin but leave them open until after you release the clamps. It is much easier to close the pins with no tension on the backing. Thanks for the opportunity to win her book.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      November 21, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      Ooo. That’s a really good added tip!

  • Reply
    Alison Nevin
    November 22, 2016 at 5:35 am

    Thanks for the tip and video…so helpful 🙂

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