How I Make a Quilt Sandwich

Since I blog about food quite a bit on my other blog, some of the readers are quite intrigued with the ‘quilt sandwich’ that I keep referring to.  I don’t actually like making quilt sandwiches.  I think its the most boring, labor intensive part of quilting.  But it must be done in order to get to the next stage of fun!  I make my quilt sandwich differently than most of my friends, who look at me skeptically when I describe what I do.  But it works for me, so I thought I’d share it with anyone who might be interested.

Originally I learned this in a workshop from Judy Dains, who uses it to make small (like 36″ square or less) wall quilts.  But due to lack of space, or maybe laziness, I have been successful making my large (70″ x 80″) quilt sandwiches this same way.

I make them on the ironing board.

So you need to have good quality cotton batting.  My most favorite batting is Quilter’s Dream Request.  This is not available locally, so once in a while I will order it from Hancock’s of Paducah, especially when they are having a sale and free shipping.  Otherwise, I like Warm and White, which is usually available at Joanne’s and I wait until it is on sale there too.  You can use an 80/20 blend, like Hobbs, but it doesn’t work quite as well.  And basically you steam the three layers together.

The best way is to start from the center, steam the back, lay the batting on top and steam it, and then put the quilt top in place and steam it.  (BTW, this is the New York Beauty quilt from Karen K. Stone.  I got tired of paper piecing by the time I got to the border, and made my own border.)

Then I take my long plastic ruler and slide it underneath the sandwich, between the quilt backing and the ironing board,  so I can put some pins in place.  But I only put the pins about every 15 inches or so.  The steam does most of the work making the three layers stick together.

The hardest part is carefully moving the sandwich to the next portion that needs to be steamed.  If the quilt is smaller than your ironing board, it is no big deal.  But if it is larger, as both quilts were that I did recently, you have to be careful that none of the layers wrinkle as you move them.  If the quilt is large, I just do one half and then carefully flip and do the other half.  The sandwich is quite stable this way.  I like to take it to the machine and either machine baste it or if possible, stabilize it by quilting along the blocks.  I use either the walking foot or sometimes the darning foot (free motion) for this part.

Here I am just free motion quilting along the setting ‘stars’ in the design–to stabilize the quilt.  (BTW, you might be able to see that I pin using a straight pin and ‘pinmoors,’  something I picked up at the last quilt show I went to.  I like them pretty well.)

That stabilized the whole center of the quilt, so I just machine basted the edge.  I turn my machine speed down to the slowest speed for machine basting.

And now all the pins are removed, and you have a completely stable quilt sandwich ready to go any time the mood strikes. My backs are just as smooth as any other quilt backs, and there is no bending over or crawling around on the ground.  And no pesky pins getting in the way either.   I made this quilt for machine quilting because of all the pointy spikes, and I made myself another one for hand quilting in the evening.  BTW, that little star is Gwen Marston’s liberated star.

I just took this picture to show that when you are machine quilting, it is best to have as much of the quilt top supported on the table, and to keep the area that you are working on nice and flat and smooth.  I love having this ‘industrial’ table that my machine sets into.

I am pretty new at making feathers, but I am enjoying putting them here, there, and everywhere.

I took this really close-up shot so you can see this method of making feathers.  My BFF showed me how to do this.  Basically you make one loop, and then backtrack along it PARTWAY, and then do the next loop.  Make another loop, backtrack along it partway and make the next loop.  This probably isn’t clear.  But try drawing it with a pen.  It is a nice little rhythm, and I think its a little easier than traditional feathers.

Well, this is the first entry on my quilting blog.  Don’t know if there’s a need for another quilting blog out there.  But I’ve got a lot  to say, and I like taking pictures, and I love quilting, so I’ll probably be back!  Don’t know how much technical advice I’ll be offering though.  Its kind of hard to figure out how to describe how to do something technical!

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8 thoughts on “How I Make a Quilt Sandwich

  1. Love your new blog. I always enjoyed your quilts from your other blog so I’m happy there will be this one dedicated to quilts!!

  2. I am so glad you did this post because I was going to ask you THIS MORNING what a sandwich was!! You must be a psychic quilter/blogger!!
    I’m excited you are doing this quilt blog – can’t wait to see what else you come up with! 🙂

  3. There’s always a need for another quilting blog out there! Can you steam the sandwich together when you’re going to hand-quilt? I wish I’d known about steaming them together before I started on my still-in-progress quilt.

  4. what a great idea steaming the sandwish together will try that some time,i do mine either on the floor{not good} but if its a big one i have a friend with a quilting frame which we put the quilt on and tack as we move it along.but you feel its not right to except to use this all the time.
    keep the good work up with this blog,always good to see other peoples ideas.
    jennyuk

  5. I am totally new to quilting, I have tried to read up on it but so much seems very technical. Your straightforward blog and pictures have done the trick! I can picture in my mind now how I want to build my quilt. Thank you and please please keep blogging.

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