Aimée 5: sandwiches without tears

…. and without a sore back or knees, bad language and grumpiness.

This is the table-sandwiching method for quilts for those who no long find grovelling on the floor fun, who value their spines and joints, and who want a fairly quick and foolproof method for pinning or hand-basting a quilt.

You do need a big table. It needs to be as long as your quilt is wide, or two tables placed edge to edge. I’m fortunate, mine is very long and not too wide, making it easy to reach from one side to the other from a sitting position without much stretching or leaning. If the surface is delicate and you are worried about scratches, first cover it with a blanket and then with an oilcloth or vinyl table covering, stretched smooth and taped or clipped down. This will enable you to pin through the quilt layers without destroying the table top. Mine is natural wood, and has had an interesting life, so a few more marks don’t matter.

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.52.51 PMFirst, spread the top edge of the backing along one long table edge, and tape it down smoothly and tightly. Go to the short end of the table and secure part of the side of the backing, and repeat at the other end. This is where you will start. Arrange the rest of the fabric neatly over three chair backs at the other long edge, allowing some to hang down and give the fabric on the table tension.


Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.52.27 PMNext, spread over the batting and smooth out carefully. You don’t need to tape it, as it will cling to the backing. Again, place the surplus on top of the backing over the backs of the chairs.

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.51.58 PMFinally, arrange the quilt top on top of the other two layers and smooth out. Pin or baste along the taped long edge of the table to secure all layers together in the correct position.

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.51.31 PMWorking from the long edge, pin until you get to the centre of the quilt, or as far as you can reach, or until you arrive at the other side of the table, whichever applies. Use a chair on casters if you have one to speed up the process of moving along the edge. I place pins about the width of my palm apart if there are lots of seams. Fewer seams = fewer pins…

When you reach the halfway point, or to the other side of the table, peel off the tape. Place your hands on the quilt about halfway across, and draw the quilt towards you, keeping it flat on the table, and pulling the remainder of the three layers onto the table at the same time. Ensure you still have a couple of lines of pins showing on the table top to anchor the fabric and prevent sagging. Spread and smooth the layers, and start pinning again.

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.51.10 PMI’m pretty lazy, so I don’t trim out the backing and batting to size first if I’m using a wideback or plain backing. I just plonk everything down lined up along one edge, and trim out as I go along. No grovelling, remember? No struggling with massive pieces of batting or fabric, either.

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.50.51 PMI got Aimée sandwiched and pinned in about 2 hours from start to finish.

And I feel fine 🙂