Right Sides Together

right-sides-together.com · Sep 18, 2014

The RST Guide to Board Basting

Can we take a moment to discuss how basting totally blows? Some people are very anti-hand-binding; they find it boring and tedious and unnecessary. I like binding my quilts by hand—it’s less noisy than the machine while I’m watching my trash TV—but I cannot stand basting. There I am, hunched over my quilt on the floor, poking myself (and occasionally my quilt) with safety pins and trying desperately to line up my sandwich correctly. It’s like a complicated game of whack-a-mole, but with wrinkles. Repeat every four inches horizontally and vertically until quilt is totally basted or you have completely lost it and just gone ahead and attacked your quilt with scissors because {expletive}.

Maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Quilt basting is time-consuming and can possibly be a bit daunting for the beginner, but there is a fairly new technique that has been a complete game-changer for me: board basting. It’s definitely been gaining some traction in the traditional quilt communities thanks to Master Quilter Sharon Schamber, and it takes some of the discomfort out of the entire process. You can actually baste your quilt on your kitchen table or counter! No weird-looking solo games of Twister trying to smooth all the wrinkles out at once while your spouse takes cell-phone pictures for potential blackmail! WIN!

To get started with board basting, you’ll need your usual pressing and basting supplies for whatever method you prefer, and then you’ll need two finished boards longer than your quilt width, in the vicinity of 1.5″ x 3.5″. I use some slats from my daughter’s old crib for most of my small-to-medium quilts. Here’s a general guide to making your quilt sandwich perfectly flat and delicious.


Make your quilt back and basting big enough. I know we all want to save fabric, but this really will make your life so much easier. I go for at least four inches excess on all sides if I’m quilting my own project.

Make sure to fully press both your quilt top and back with loads of starch. The flatter and stiffer you’re able to get each piece, the easier the whole process will go for you.


Board basting involves wrapping your quilt top and quilt back carefully and tautly around each of the boards so that they become easier to control. You “unroll” them as needed, basting in about 18″ strips across the width of your quilt.

Here’s Sharon Schamber’s demo of the process:

And here’s our infographic on how it works so that you can impress all of your Pinterest followers with your resourceful, time-saving solutions (wink wink):

(click to enlarge)


I’ve seen people do board basting with pins and with needle-and-thread. Both are fine, if they work for you. I’m too impatient, and I’ve had good luck spray-basting my quilts (even with boards). At least in my circles, spray basting is THE method of choice. No more bleeding on your fabric, everyone! There are many different brands of basting spray, but the most important thing to look for is “temporary fabric adhesive” on the can. Spray basting is definitely an awesome technique for smaller quilts; you might need to use either pinning or a combination of pins and spray for larger projects as the quilt top can still “travel” a bit on big quilts. Just be sure to lay down newspaper or trash bags before you begin basting so that you don’t spray a bunch of glue on that Pottery Barn farmhouse table you saved for two years to buy. Pro tip. You’re welcome.

Have you had any success with board basting? What suggestions or tips do you have for making basting easier?

The post The RST Guide to Board Basting appeared first on Right Sides Together.

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