Basting Experiment Commentary

Initial post about this basting experiment here

Basting experiment here

Basting so far.

I am still basting the first section.  It is slow going.  Slower than putting in pins, but I have a lot of pin experience and no thread basting practice, so I expect I will speed up as I go.

I am going to the fabric store to see if they have small curved needles.  I have a large upholstery needle and the curve was very handy in taking a stitch quickly, but it left Huge holes in the fabric.

I am having a hard time taking a stitch thru all 3 layers with the straight needle.  It doesn’t want to go thru the botton layer.  The curved needle had no such problem.

This Vanish thread is very thin and seems too delicate to do a good job, but it does seem to be working on the bit I have done.

Back from Jo-ann’s Fabric.  They had 2 different needles I am trying, both from Dritz:

  • Curved Needles for Tying Quilts
  • Quilter’s Basting Needles

The basting needles are straight, but much longer than what I have, and the curved needles are much smaller than mine.  So both are worth trying.  The curved needles are regularly $4.49. Luckily, I had a 50% off coupon. The basting needles were $2.

So far I have about 35 dollars invested in this new basting method.  I have maybe 10 dollars in safety pins, so this method is a bit more expensive, but the boards and needles should last a long time.  The thread is .014 cents per yard and I estimate 300 yards will be used in a queen size quilt. That is about 4 dollars in thread per quilt.  If it is faster than pinning, then it is worth the expense.  If it isn’t faster, then it isn’t worth the cost.

Basting Start

I started basting section 1 with a single strand of the vanish thread and the larger of the 2 curved needle.  That left holes in the fabric, so I switched to the small curved needle. That worked ok.  The single strand of thread was difficult to see and broke occasionally at the needle.  I think it got weakened from the moisture in my hands, so i started using a little baby powder to keep my hands dry.

I also decided to try a double strand of thread and that worked better than a single thread.  I bought the Vanish Light and next time I will get the original thickness.

I also tried the straight basting needle.  It is long and flexible and worked not quite as well as the small curved, but good enough if that is all you can find.  I like the curved needle.  It lets you scoop a stitch fairly easily.

I didn’t time myself, but I will for section 2.  I thought a timing would not be useful until I am moving fast enough to be a normal speed and not a slow beginner

To load the needle I cut a length of thread that is 2x the width of my arms stretched out (about 11 feet), threaded the needle, brought the 2 ends together and tied a knot.

Section 2

I timed myself and it took 1.5 hours to do section 2.  This does not seem faster than pins, however the first 1/2 of the section took 1 hour and the last only 30 minutes.  I could tell I was going faster. I found the zone.  But it is still a tedious process.

Section 3

This section only took an hour to do, so I definately increase speed with experience.  It was easier too.

Finishing Basting

The last section was only about 10 inches wide, and took about 20 minutes to baste.

So the whole thing is now basted and seems fairly secure.  It doesn’t feel psychologically as secure, but we will see when I start quilting.  My fear is the big stitches are gonna get caught on the presser foot of my machine.  I hope not, for I think thread basting with dissolving thread is the best way to go.

However, those of you not wanting to invest in such expensive thread, could use this method to pin baste.

I LOVED how the boards kept everything straight and manageable.  I will never again baste without them.


As it turned out, I did not end up quilting the dissolving thread basted quilt.  My friend got to use it as her first foray into free motion quilting on a large scale.  She had been tying all her quilts and I knew she would love quilting.  Any way, the basting thread had to be removed as the quilting happened.  We both tried various ways of holding the quilt to get the thread to stay down, but it would not; it consistently got tangled in the darning foot.  Not a big deal and takes about as long as removing pins, however, I am going back to pins.  I will bast my quilts using the board method because it is the most efficient way to single handedly bast a quilt that I have found.  I would thread bast something that wasn’t going to be quilted for a while, but pins are best for me, as I tend to quilt as soon as it is basted.

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