Before quilting any quilt it should be well basted. To baste properly - tape your backing - wrong side up - to the floor or table with masking tape so there are no wrinkles. If your quilt is very large you might want to go to a meeting room where you can put two or three large tables together. This would save you pain in your back. Next place batting on the backing patting it lightly as you smooth it out. Place your quilt top is face up on top of the batting. Smooth the top out firmly but do not stretch it. For machine quilting pin baste with safety pins.
For hand quilting, baste with either safety pins or hand baste with basting thread. Use basting thread that is commercially manufactured specifically for basting. It is not as strong as regular thread. If you must use regular thread, use white cotton thread rather than colors. Colored thread might leave some unwanted specks of dye and polyester thread might be stronger than your quilting thread. You want your basting thread to break when you pull it out - not your quilting stitches.
Hand Quilting (in hoop) - It is recommended when hand quilting in a hoop that you start in the center. This way as the quilt is repositioned in the hoop, the three layers are always smoothed to the outside edge, working out all puckers and fullness in the backing.
Re: How to baste a quilt: I use the carpeting and pin the quilt to the carpeting using strong pins (such as t-pins. The fabric is stretched taught, but not tight. The canvas (if that's what it is) under a carpet holds the fabric beautifully. I've been doing this for years.
Hand Quilting (floor frame) - If you are hand quilting in a large floor frame, you would start at one end and roll your quilt toward the opposite end. You would be working in the area your frame allows and when that area is quilted, you would roll the quilt and expose an unquilted area. Remember most frames have a two or three rail system. The batting, backing and quilt top are rolled on different rails. As the quilting is done, the tension is regulated with ratchets so there isn't the problem of puckers and puffy areas when using a large frame.
Machine Quilting (free motion) - some machine quilters will quilt some of the straight lines such as 'in the ditch' (stitch in the line of the seam between piecing) between blocks to stabilize the quilt. It is recommended to quilt these initial straight lines using a walking foot. Quilt from the center toward the edge - again working from the center. So you would start in the center. Your first line of stitching would be from the center to outside edge. Turn quilt a quarter turn. Quilt from center to outside edge. Turn quilt a quarter turn. Quilt from center to outside edge. Turn quilt a quarter turn. Quilt from center to outside edge. Your quilt is now divided into four equal sections like a giant four-patch. Continue quilting straight lines in the ditch beginning your new stitching line at the first four lines and continuing to the edge. You will have a grid the size of your blocks. Then change to the free motion foot and quilt artistic free-motion motifs in the blocks.
Machine Quilting (with frame) - As with hand quilting in a frame, there is a two or three rail system. The batting, backing, and quilt top are rolled on different rails. As the quilting is done, the tension is regulated with ratchets so there isn't the problem of puckers and puffy areas.
As a general rule in hand quilting you should start quilting in the center, working toward the outside. In free motion machine quilting divide quilt into four quadrants and quilt from the center toward the edge in each individual quarter of the quilt. Then turn the quilt and quilt another quarter and so on till finished. When hand or machine frame quilting you would start from one end and work toward the opposite end remembering the rail and ratchet system compensates for the tension of the layers.
I also got one question that I would like to cover.
I'm new to quilting and when I preshrunk my fabrics I was dismayed to find that they had frayed considerably. What can I do to stop this? My concern is that the squares of my quilt will also fray after taking the trouble of sewing. Any advise you can give would be greatly appreciated!
When I am preshrinking small pieces such as quarter yards or fat quarters I pink the edges as usual and fan fold the pieces and place them in a small mesh lingerie bag available at discount stores. The mesh bag keeps the pieces from tangling around each other in the washing process.
For very large pieces more than two or three yards, I unfold the fabric and fan fold it at about eighteen inch increments. I place several safety pins about three inches apart in one selvage. Leave the opposite selvage free. After washing, grasp the pinned area and shake out wrinkles before placing it in the dryer. This keeps the fabric from tangling around itself and many times comes out smooth enough it only needs to be pressed lightly.
For preshrinking use the gentle cycle on your washing machine. With gentle agitation the fabric is less likely to tangle or ravel as much, and a gentle spin cycle will cause less wrinkles.
If you cut each corner of your material on the diagonial it will not fray.
I had heard one idea for fabrics not to ravel so much when washed. It was suggested that simply by cutting off the 4 corner will prevent raveling. It works for me. Try it to see!.
There is another way to keep your material from fraying when preshrinking the material in the washing machine. Long ago I was taught to get ahold of some inexpensive spools of thread for my surger and now when I get material I have to preshrink I just whip the edges through the surger. This also tells me that any material in my "stash" has been pre-washed. Saves a lot of guessing and possible wash time.
The reason for the twisting and fraying of the material is the wringer in her washing machine. Be advised to either take stash to laundry mat and wash in large tub w/out wringer and/or purchase one of the new front loader non-wringer washing machines. No more wasted time untwisting material and unraveling from around wringer and no more shredded material. The time saved is well worth the price. If one is going to spend all that money on good quality material, why not on a good quality washer? Besides, tell your husband HIS clothes will look and feel much better.