We all want to use our quilting time efficiently. Sometimes a time-saving tip is just the thing that will give you a few extra minutes in your day.
I needed to quilt 3 baby quilts that were approximately the same size. Rather than load the backing fabric for each quilt, I sewed the 3 backings together end-to-end. Then pinned one end to my backing leader and the other end to my take-up leader. I treated the entire thing as one extra-long backing. Here’s how it works:
Carefully measure each quilt and make notes of the measurements. Measure all your backing fabric and make sure you have enough for each quilt.
Sew the backings together
You’ll want to have the widest backing at the end (quilted last) and the narrowest backing at the beginning (quilted first). That is so you will have even tension on your backing fabrics all the way through the job. Place them in order and make sure they are oriented correctly if there is a directional fabric. One of my fabrics had Paddington Bear with numbers. I had to make sure he was going to be head up, feet down, and the numbers were right side up, in the finished quilt.
Set your machine for a long basting stitch. I set my stitch length to 5 on my HQ Stitch 510 machine (my favorite piecing machine, it sews oh so straight!).
Pin the fabrics right sides together and stitch.
You’ll end up with a really LONG backing fabric.
Load the backing
Just like you would any other backing, rolling on the belly bar and smoothing as you go.
Prepare the batting
I had a piece of batting that would be enough for the first 2 quilts. I did not cut it, I just loaded it as is and trimmed after quilting the first quilt. Then I cut another piece of batting for the 3rd quilt.
Float your top
I usually do not float my quilt tops. I like to have uber control of my fabrics whilst quilting, and loading the top to the top pole helps me have that control. But when doing multiple quilts like this, I do float. Floating means you will not pin the bottom edge of the quilt top to the top leader. Instead you just lay the quilt top over the batting and let the bottom edge hang free. These are small baby quilts, so I feel I can still control my fabric enough to get good results.
I stitched a plumb line across my batting and backing at the top and lined up the first top with that plumb line. Be sure you know the order that you will quilt the tops so that they match up with the right backing!
Trim the batting from the bottom of the quilt. I love using my HQ batting scissors, the blunt tip lets me cut close to the completed quilt without cutting the backing.
Prepare to quilt #2
You will see the basted seam between backing #1 and backing #2. Advance the quilt so that you can place the batting at the top of backing #2 and stitch another plumb line. Place quilt top #2 on the batting, lining up to the plumb line. And quilt.
And so on and so forth, until you have completed all your quilts.
Remove your quilts from the leaders and separate them where they are basted together.
Ta-da! Load once, quilt 2 or 3 or 4 at a time.
Now you have some extra time to work on the piecing project you have going. This works even better when all the quilts will use the same fabric for backing.
I hope you give this time-saving tip a try. Let us know in the comments how it worked for you.