Sunday, June 29, 2008

Basting, the Sharon Schamber Way

Sharon Schamber, in case anyone doesn't already know, has won Best In Show at Paducah two of the last three years, in both cases by makes very dramatic and intricate quilts with all-around phenomenal workmanship. She has a website, and offers both free tutorial online videos, and pay-for-view videos on more specialized subjects. I don't subscribe -- I'm so far away from what she does that it's like it's on another planet -- but someone on another blog (sorry, don't remember who) mentioned the pinless basting, so I thought I would give it a try. You can watch the video here.

First, some back story. The quilt top is approximately 50" square. I pieced the back out of an asymmetrical stripe. I just had to try to make it form boxes, so I cut the four pieces on the diagonal and pieced it really carefully to reduce the distortion for the bias edges. Seems to have worked, although I didn't have nearly enough fabric to make it line up all the colors perfect. Hey, it's the back of the quilt, and the kid's going to spit up on it, so let's not get all matchy-matchy about this, okay?

The first step is to lay out the backing, wrong side up, just as you would do if you were doing the more usual pin basting. I worked on my dining room table (part of the appeal of this method was that it didn't involved going out to the barn and spraying all the wasps' nests before I got started). The blue tape is NOT holding the backing to the table -- they are registration marks showing me where the quilt top should go so that the middle of the back will actually be in the middle of the quilt top.

Next, quilt top goes down on top of the backing, right side up. Note that there is no batting yet. I also didn't work too hard on getting the top and back to line up at this point.

Another view of the top. There will be variations in the color of the photos I took. Some seemed to work better with the flash, and some with the north light coming from the window to the left.

The next stage is to put a piece of straight lumber down on the top and start to roll it up. I picked out two relatively cheap pieces of oak 1x4 trim at Lowe's. I think what Sharon suggests is pre-primed trim pieces that would be smaller. If I use this method for larger quilts, I'll have to get longer lumber, and then I might see if I can get the stuff she used. But the two pieces I used are quite heavy, which turns out to be useful.

I've wrapped the top onto its 1x4, leaving the backing still on the table. Next, I'll wrap the backing on its own 1x4. You'll see in the next picture that I don't need to do all the wrapping at once. Sharon makes the point in her video that the weight of the lumber holds everything very smooth and secure, which makes this method possible.

This shows the top rolled onto its 1x4, while the back is still on the table. I can't explain the ripples on the backing; they don't seem to have affected the process, so either I smoothed them out before I wrapped the backing onto its board, or something.

That ghostly draping in the background is the batting. I actually bought two bats at JoAnn's the other day -- one that was just barely too small, and a larger one for the next quilt I plan on doing. Good thing, or I wouldn't have been able to get started with this project . . . again!

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