Noodlin’ about

Not quite as aimless and lazy as it sounds, actually.

I used the pool noodle method to layer and spray baste the Bonnard quilt. I got it done in the space of about 2 hours, a record! Plus I don’t have a stinkin’ backache, pricked and sore fingers or pin holes in the fabric. I didn’t do it exactly the way shown on the YouTube video which gave me the idea, which I think would need two people to be successful with a quilt this size, just to keep things taut and smooth. I broke it down into two stages. Here’s how.

First job was to assemble my noodles. I’m using regular foam pool noodles. I cut and fitted together one whole noodle and part of another so they were the exact width of the backing. They’ll cut with an ordinary sharp kitchen knife, no special equipment needed. Then, to stop them bending in the middle, I pushed a broomstick up the centre channel, which also held the extended section on; it’s a tight fit.

Then I taped the backing good side down to the edge of the table, and pulled the rest of it across the table and smoothed it down, taping the first 24 inches of the sides as well, to hold things flat. On top of this I laid the edge of the batting and pulled the rest of that across the table too, so both layers lay flat and reasonably smooth. At this point, I took the decision that I wouldn’t attempt to do the quilt top as well, as I didn’t feel confident I could get all three layers smooth. So on this pass, I layered and basted only the backing and batting.

I pinned the edge of the batting to the noodle, and rolled the batting up carefully, ensuring it was straight by checking the edges. I then sprayed the leading, taped, edge of the backing, aligned the batting to the taped edge and carefully unrolled to the edge of the sprayed area, smoothing the batting onto the backing, spreading in an outwards motion from the centre. I was careful to cover any exposed parts of both the batting and backing, as well as the table top. I untaped the edge of the backing and pulled it down so a new section was on the table top.

I continued spraying a section, unrolling and smoothing the batting, until I reached the opposite side, exposing the edge of the batting pinned to the noodle. I unpinned, smoothed out this final section, and trimmed away excess batting flush with the edge of the backing.

I then pinned this flush edge to the noodle and rolled backing and batting together onto the noodle except for the final table-width. I then took the quilt top, and right side up, aligned the top edge with the top edge of the batting/backing but leaving about 1.25 inches of backing clear. I then rolled the remainder of the quilt top onto a second noodle.

After that, it was a repeat of the backing. Spray a section, smooth out, pull forward, spray the next section, etc. Finally, I flipped the sandwich over and smoothed out the backing again, as it became a little wrinkled while the top was going on.

If you want to try this yourself, you’ll need:

Pressed and smoothed quilt top and backing, and batting cut to size
Masking tape
2 – 4 pool noodles, depending on how big your quilt is
2 broom sticks or pieces of dowel the same size
Glass head pins (not as big as flower head, but easier to extract from the foam than dressmaker’s pins)
8 – 10 sheets of butcher’s paper or a plastic drop sheet
Spray baste ( I use 505)
A large table in a clean, dry area with no wind to blow the spray about.
Fabric scissors

If you haven’t tried this before, I urge you to give it a go, especially if you’re over the floor grovelling needed for pin basting. Actually, if you’re sensitive to the spray, this process would work quite well for thread basting too, but you’ll need a curved upholstery needle for the quickest results.

Job done. Smooth layers, trimmed out, and ready to start hand quilting.  I must go and find my hoop…

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Bonnard back

‘Tis done.

It went nice and quickly. I did a bunch of strip piecing and then sewed a lot of random leftover squares together to make other strips. Jumble them up, make sure there’s one of the random strips in each set, sew it all up, stitch the red fabric to the sides and there you have it.

Next is cutting the batting to size from my big roll, and then sandwiching. Normally with a quilt this size I’d be pin basting, but I want to have a go at spray basting, as I think the pins will drive me mad while I’m hand quilting. The one slight problem is that I don’t have anywhere outside that’s big enough and clean enough to lay the quilt out flat. Our weather’s very hot, very dry and everywhere’s very dusty. I think it’ll have to be a couple of picnic tables on the back patio, working fast so I don’t die of heatstroke, and I’ll have to work section by section.

I’ve seen a video tutorial where you wind each of the three layers onto pool noodles with a dowel rod up the centre to stiffen them, layer them up as usual and then unroll just a short section of the backing, spray, roll the batting across it, smooth and spray, and then roll the top across it, and smooth and spray that. It seemed sort of straightforward (famous last words…), so I got myself some noodles in the post-Christmas sales for the princely sum of $4 each. Bonnard is wider than the length of the noodle, so I shall have to cut a section from a spare to add to the end to extend it. I’ll let you know how I get on, and provide a link if it’s successful.

Time to go and cut batting and fluff it up in the tumble dryer to get rid of the creases.