|Six Hundred Safety Pins Later...|
I had quite the time with this. As it turns out, I haven't finished a big quilt in several years, and the last time I had to baste something bigger than a baby quilt I used this standing height, temporary island cutting table made from a 1" thick melamine top balanced on top of four small book cases:
|Basting Lars's Drunken Dragons Quilt Back in 2012|
I no longer have that table -- we took it apart and recycled the materials back when we redid my studio. My new cutting table is much bigger, has one long side up against the wall to save space, and has a very thick maple butcher block countertop. It doesn't work for quilt basting because even the largest binder clips are too small to fit around the butcher block for securing the backing fabric. I also really need to be able to hang the quilt off all four sides of the table for basting so I can start in the middle.
I knew the new cutting table wouldn't work for basting when I designed it, but since basting is an infrequent task, I thought I'd just bring in a folding utility table when the need arose. Well, I looked at Staples, Lowes, Walmart, Home Depot, everywhere I could think of, and I could not find a normal table ANYWHERE. You know what I was looking for -- one of those dark brown rectangular tables like they use at church bazaars or in quilt show classes. The top of the table is only about an inch thick and it has an overhang that ordinary office supply binder clips will fit, and the surface of the table is smooth so it is easy to stick safety pins through all three layers of the quilt, slide the point against the table top beneath, and poke the pin back up through to the top of the quilt so you can close it.
Well, the table I had to use for this has a 2 1/4" thick gray PLASTIC top with a textured surface:
|30" x 72" Table That Is TERRIBLE for Quilt Basting!|
We raised it up to a comfortable standing height by sticking the legs into lengths of PVC pipe, but the only thing I could find to clamp fabric over that thick edge were these awful (and expensive!) Handi-Clamps from Home Depot. I could not use as many of them as I wanted to because of the cost. Also, these clamps do not lay flush on the surface of the table like binder clips do -- they create big hills of batting and quilt top, and since the batting and quilt top do not get clamped with this method, they are draped over those hills for several hours at a time while I am pinning in spurts and taking breaks from sore fingers, the previously starched and flat quilt top and batting tended to want to KEEP those hills when I unclamped and shifted the next section for pinning onto the center of the table.
|Drunken Dragons Quilt, All 3 Layers Flat and Smooth Over Binder Clips|
|This Quilt, Giant Clamp Hills All Around the Table|
|My Terrible Clamps|
The textured surface of the table made it really difficult to pin the quilt as well, because the tip of the pin would get stuck in the dimpled surface of the table instead of gliding across a smooth surface. So, just what I need when I'm up against a deadline -- additional challenges caused by makeshift equipment, right? Anyway, I did the best I could with what I had to work with. I do not think I got everything aligned as well as I did on my past quilts, and in fact, I felt some worrisome ripples in places when I ran my hand across the top and bottom surfaces of the quilt, but I don't have time to take out all those pins and redo it. What's more, even if I did try to redo it, I'm afraid the results wouldn't be any better because I'd be hampered by the same issues. I can't find a better table locally, if I ordered something to have shipped it wouldn't get here in time...
My batting is Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 Cotton/Poly. It can be quilted up to 3 1/2" apart. I'm hoping that if I keep the quilting fairly minimal, I can avoid serious tucks/pleats/disasters. WISH ME LUCK! The Quillow Ceremony is June 5th!
Reviews on this table are mixed. It is the right height and size for quilt basting and it will fold up and roll out of the way when it's not needed, but some reviewers complained that it wasn't very sturdy and/or was difficult to assemble. I am counting on my dear husband to address those issues if necessary. Anyway, I'm headed for a quick shower and then off to the dentist for a cleaning. Happy Tuesday, everyone!