While there are a few strategies quilters use for pin basting, here are my five favourite tips.
Tape the entire edge of the backing fabric to the table. This provides a consistent tension over the backing fabric, as you can see in the diagram on the right, below.
Many quilters find starting from the middle of the quilt and working their way out to the edges works for them and the quilt. I was taught to pin the corners first, one in the centre of each edge and then fill the edges with pins 3/4″ apart as shown below. This keeps the quilt in place so you can then fill the centre with pins around 4″ apart.
Place pins on right angles over all of the first seams to be sewn. This makes it easier to sew right up to the pin to ensure there is no puckering, and to take the pin out as the head of the pin is off to the side and not right up under the needle and foot.
Place pins on curved seams too.
If the batting is thicker, place pins around 2-3″ apart instead of around 4″.
If you’ve pinned over all of your sectioning lines, then these will be the first pins to be taken out and you won’t have many pins to work around when you quilt it.
If you’re pin basting a hexagonal quilt, try using a rectangular back on the quilt and not a hexagon. I found that it is just about impossible to tape down the bias edges without them stretching out of shape.
These tips have never let me down, but as always, go with what works for you. I used to hate the basting but once I got my technique sorted, I realised it was a gateway to having fun with the machine quilting and getting the quilt finished. I put on a movie and baste away. If you have a few quilting friends that need to baste their quilts too, you could host a basting party and you baste the day away together. I would suggest supplying a few yummy nibbles but probably leave the wine until after you’ve finished!