Quilting techniques 2: Sandwich - Cutting Corners

Hi everyone!

welcome to the second post of the unofficial mini QAL for the Cutting Corners Quilt pattern.

I am focusing this time on the 'sandwich' part of the quilt construction for all those beginners out there. And what is said 'sandwich'? Is it made out of bread? Which type of filling does it have? Does it come with sauce? Alas! No to all the questions above! ;)

This type of 'sandwich' is a bit different than the regular one, as it is made out of three layers of fabric: the finished quilt top + a layer of wadding or batting (denpending if you are in the US or in the UK, you might use one term or the other) and the backing fabric. You prepare this sandwich so that your quilt is ready for the quilting part, making sure that the layers won't move during the process. The steps below apply if you are the one quilting your quilt. If you take it to a long armer, the person will need the three layers separate.


When your quilt top is finished, the nex step is to create the 'sandwich' and for that you need to follow the next steps:

1. First, check that your backing is big enough to cover the back of your quilt plus the overedge. Usually, if you are making a bigger quilt, it will be necessary to join two or even three pieces of fabric to achieve the measurement needed for your quilt backing, as quilting fabrics are usually just 43'' wide.

Some fabric and quilting shops sometimes stock extra wide backing fabrics with a width of 108'', which are usually wide enough for bigger quilts.

Tutorial sandwich quilt pattern

Now, to make sure that your backing is wide enough, you should measure and cut first your wadding or batting. I usually recomend going for 100% cotton or a 80% cotton / 20% poly mix. The wadding piece needs to be 6 to 8'' bigger than your quilt top all around (this is what's called overedge). You can measure your finished quilt top and then measure and cut your wadding adding those extra 6 to 8'' inches on all sides.

When your wadding is cut, move onto the backing, which needs to be 6 to 8'' bigger than your wadding or batting. Now is when the sewing of two or more pannels comes into place. Check the drawing below so that you can see how the different measurements work.

Sanwich QAl Cutting Corners Quilt pattern

2. Your next step would be to give the quilt to and backing a good press. There's no need to press the wadding or batting although some people do... I have never tried but if I did, I would use a sheet on top to protect my iron, just in case!

3. Now, tape down the backing to the floor with the right side to the floor, on a table or on a design wall (yes! There are design walls made out of different materials where you can 'stick' your blocks, quilt block... They are on my quilting buying list!). Use thick painters tape on the four corners and on the sides and smooth any wrinkles.

Quilt sandwich tutorial

Quilt tutorial sandwich basting

Then, place the wadding or batting on top, with the right side up and without over stretching it and after that, place your beautiful quilt top with the right side facing up, on top of the wadding and again, smoothing any wrinkles. Your layers should be taut, but not stretched.

Regarding your batting, it actually does have a right and a wrong side. For example, if you place it wrong side up, there might be tension issues with your thread. You will know the right side because it has dimples. The wrong side has little balls. 

Quilt sandwich tutorial for beginners

4. At this point, you have a couple of options:

a. You can baste (temporary type of stitch) by hand the three layers together using thread. Go for a bold colour that you will see easily when quilting and to remove afterwards. You need to start at the centre of your quilt and head to each corner in turn, always coming back to the centre. Then, head to the sides and top and bottom edges. This way you are securing the three layers temporarly together for the quilting part.

Sandwich quilt

Always start at the centre and head to each side and corner, hand sewing long basting stitching and finishing on the wadding or batting. You can see below how I baste-stitched one of the samples, ready for quilting it at the machine.

Thread basting sandwich quilt top tutorial for beginners

Thread basting quilt top

When you finish quilting, you can take the stitches out.

b. Your second option would be using curved safety pins (specially designed for quilting) to secure the three layers together. You will spend quite a bit of time with your safety pins as you need to place one every 4'' all along your quilt, securing the three layers.

Safety pinst quilt sandwich

Safety pins sandwich basting tutorial quilting


Apart from these two, there are other more advanced 'sandwich' alternatives like using a spray baste (a kind of glue that keeps the layers together temporarly but that it needs to be sprayed outdoors) or fusible batting, like interfacing, but for wadding.

When you finish this last step, you are reading to start quilting your quilt! And remember, you don't need to do any of these steps (maybe just creating the big enough backing), if you take your quilt to a long armer.

Now, don't forget to get a copy of your Cutting Corners Quilt pattern if you haven't done it already and share your version with the CocoWawa community using the hashtags #cocowawaquilts and #cwcuttingcornersquilt.

Thanks and see you soon!



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