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Picture of Making a Quilt Sandwich
Now that you have pieced together all of your lovely scraps into what is called a flimsy is it time to quilt.

Oh wait.  You can't quilt yet.  You have to make a sandwich.  AND your sandwich has to stick together.  No sliding around or the baloney will land on your shoe.  That is not a good thing in a sandwich or a quilt.

To make a quilt sandwich you need three layers: a flimsy, batting and backing.  The three layers need to be attached.  You can basted them together by hand (long and slow and uses thread that has to be removed.)  You can use safety pins (Ouch. Long and slow and will hurt your hand and if you get the wrong kind can ruin your quilt).  Or you can use spray baste.  Ssssshhhhh Don't tell the quilt police. 

 
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Step 1: GET STUFF

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Step ONE  GET STUFF

*Ironed and starched quilt top
*batting about inches bigger than the quilt top
*Fabric backing about 4 inches bigger than the batting.
*Sharp scissors (Note these scissors are tagged with fabric.  That means they are for cutting fabric only.  No paper.  No hang nails.  Fabric.  It is a good idea to secure your fabric scissors in some way or else they will get used and nicked and won't cut fabric any more.)
*Spray baste.  (Any brand but the one that says Original on it.  That stuff is really, really REALLY bad and the reason the quilt police frown upon glue.  This is spray BASTE.  Do not use your generic can of spray adhesive unless it says it can be used as a temporary adhesive for fabric and that it will wash out.  If you use a product not designed for fabric you are likely to end up with a sticky gummy mess on your needle making it difficult for your machine to sew or impossible for you to push a hand need through. 

Step 2: Move the piano bench.

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Clear out a big space on your floor or clear off a really big table.

Vacuum the floor to keep all the threads and fluff from getting into your sandwich. 

Step 3: Dry fit.

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(DO NOT TRIM ANYTHING UNTIL YOU ARE DONE.  Put the scissors down.)

Lay everything out on your clean dry floor.  Put the quilt top down first.  Make sure the good side of the flimsy is facing the floor.  You want all those lovely seams and threads to end up on the inside of your sandwich.    Lay the batting on top.  Make sure that the batting completely covers the top with room to spare (at LEAST 2 inches all the way around.  This is important as your sandwich is going to slip around a bit as you put things toghether and you want to make sure there is peanut butter all the way to the edge. 

Put the backing on top.  Again.  Make sure that that it is a bit bigger than the batting. 

If you feel like a pre-schooler playing with a parachute you are probably doing it right. We call this lift and drift, really more like making a bed than playing with a parachute but the idea is the same. 

Yes, You will eventually trim all this away.... NOT NOW...  Yes.  It does seem wasteful.  However, there is less waste than re-doing your whole quilt.  AND.  You can use all the lovely fabric trimmings to make a string quilt like the one in pictures.  More about trimming and batting scraps later. 

Step 4: Make your life easy.

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Make sure you can easily maneuver around at least three sides of your quilt, four if it is bigger than a lap robe.  If you trip while there is wet glue involved, you may turn into a  very toasty spring roll.  Comfy and sticky but not the desired outcome. 

You also want to make sure that the area is clear of anything that you don't want to put at risk for overspray.  It isn't a problem if you are careful. 

Step 5: Peel the sandwich?

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No that would be the juicy orange your mom put in your lunch but the idea is the same.  Carefully remove the layers one at a time. 

Stack them so that you can easily put the all back in place.

Step 6: Flat! Flat! Flat!

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NO wrinkles.  Smooth.  Smooth again.  Stick to the floor with pins or blue painters tape if you have to. 

Step 7: Spray Glue.

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Spray only one half of the back of the quilt top generously with spray glue.  Follow the instructions on the product you are using.  They will, of course, take precedence over anything we say here. 

Step 8: Lift and Drift!

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Gently ease the batting over the top of the flimsy.  This is where you really need to be gentle.  Lift the batting and let it drift over the top of the flimsy. 

If you tug and pull you will stretch the flimsy and introduce wrinkles.  Wrinkles may be all the rage in linen but in quilt sandwiches they are NOT your friend. 

If you need to reposition things, you can lift and drift again. 

Step 9: Pat the Batting

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Gently pat the batting down on to the glued portion of the flimsy. 

Do not wipe, tug, pull or swipe across.  If you need to remove a wrinkle, gently lift the batting and re-settle it across the surface of the flimsy. 

Step 10: Peel the Batting

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Gently peel back the unglued portion of the batting.  Gently lay it across the top of the glued portion. 

Step 11: Spray, Pat, Repeat

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OK everything but the rinse.  You are going to spray the back of the flimsy on this half.

Gently lower the batting and pat the batting smooth across the top of the flimsy,

Note that the batting is larger than the flimsy by quite a bit.  This is important.  (Remember, I'll tell you how to keep from wasting it later.)

Step 12: Spray, Pat, Repeat Again!

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Yep.  You do the same thing all over again only this time you are going to stick the backing to the quilt. 

Remember the flimsy was facing the floor.  The backing is facing up. 

Spray the first half.  Lift and drift.  Then pat it down. 

Now just like with the batting, lift the second half of the backing, spray, pat and repeat. 

Now your sandwich is ready for trimming. 

Step 13: Cutting Away the Excess

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VERY CAREFULLY.  Flip your sandwich over so that the flimsy is on top. 

Now you can trim the batting and backing NO LESS THAN 4 inches from the edge of the flimsy.  VERY CAREFULLY. 

DO NOT TRIM EVEN WITH THE FLIMSY.  That comes later. 

Make sure you have plenty of excess batting and backing around your flimsy.  If you cut it too close things may shift just enough to cause the flimsy to run off the edge. 

Did mention you need to do the trimming VERY CAREFULLY?


And Remember to save those scraps!

Step 14: Secure the Perimeter

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Double check your corners and edges to make sure they are secure.  A little spritz of spray glue now can save a load of headaches later. 

***  An extra step that is usually a very good idea is to use very large stitches and hand baste very close to the outside edge of the flimsy.  You can use any old thread.  I try to grab the spool that are old and tend to break in my machine.  This thread is not an integral or structural part of the finished quilt.  It may get left in the binding or it may be pulled out.  These are large loose stitches that simply help secure the sandwich.

I know I said basting was a pain.  However, since your sandwich is already glued you can pick it up, haul it over to your comfy chair and do the basting while watching your favorite program.  No back breaking involved.

Step 15: QUILT

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Your Sandwich is complete.  Lunch is served...Ok, not lunch but you are ready to quilt. 

Hands sew, stitch in the ditch or FMQ.  Whatever your preference. 

Step 16: TRIM away the crust.

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 I mean really.  How much curly hair do you need?  (You know eating the crust makes your hair curl don't you? Well that is what gramma always told me...   ...  You mean she might have been fibbing? Gramma?  Gonna have to let that sink in for a bit.)


Get ready to finish your quilt by sewing the binding on.  (Lots of tutes around the interwebs for doing that.)

Once it is stitched you can do your final close trim. 

You want to make sure that you leave enough batting/backing in the margin to fill in your binding.  I use a very small (2 inch) binding so I trim my quilts to 1/4 inch.  If you use a larger binding.  Leave more.  You want the edge of your quilt to be a fluffy and stuffy as the middle. 

Step 17: TA DA!

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Here is the finished quilt.  You can see more pictures and read more about making the flimsy on my blog. 

Now those scraps.  Save any of the backing fabric pieces that are least 3/4 of an inch or larger.  I know your scraps are that size because you left 4 inches all the way around your quilt!  Right? 

Long skinny strips can go into your strings bucket.  That is the bucket I used to grab all of the colored fabric in this top.  It is foundation pieced using strips of fabric (left from squaring up pieces, trimmings and quilt backings). 

Larger pieces can go into your scraps bucket, organized or sorted by whatever method works for you.  These can be used in scrappy quilt projects. 

Batting pieces can be stitched together with white thread to make larger pieces.  Amazingly enough once you quilt your piece the joints don't show.  They are perfect for small projects like mug rugs.  (I'll post one of those some day soon). 

The tiniest snippets of fabric, thread and batting can all go into your fiber jar.  These can be used to stuff a dog bed for the local shelter (check their requirements) or to make a sturdy filling for a stuffed hassock.