The Harry Potter Bookcase quilt stalled a bit for two reasons. The first was my schedule. I was all over the place for a lot of weeks and didn’t have the time to focus on it. The second, and biggest reason, was my indecision. I really wanted floating candles and flying keys. Those two items were the first two I planned before I made the first shelf. It didn’t seem to matter how I drew, designed, embroidered, or created the effects I never settled on anything I was happy with. At one point I decided that I was going to do something – anything – to move forward. I put the quilt on the wall with all of the various ideas and cut outs and stared. I stared so long that I eventually pulled out a chair. My roommate came home with me in the dark staring at the wall. Poor guy stood there while I had a full on melt down about why I was unhappy with every idea I had. He didn’t say a word until I was completely verklempt. He looked at me and said – why don’t you just hang actual candles and keys in front of the quilt. Whoa. Why don’t I???
Well. Once I was over my little tizzy, work started happening pretty fast! First, I sandwiched and basted my quilt using a table basting method. There are tons of tutorials out there with a google search “table baste quilt”. My biggest challenge was making it work with my table. I have a large table, but the top is wide so binder clips etc are no good because they dont open wide enough to clip to the table. I found these vice grip thingies on amazon and decided to give them a try. They are wide enough to hold the quilt and the table. As a bonus, their weight seems to help keep it is nice and taught. This isn’t a step by step tutorial, but here are some pictures and my best tips for using this type of basting method.
TIP: Mark the center of your table with something you can feel through all the layers of the quilt. I used scotch tape to put a button in the exact center of the table.
TIP: The backing goes first right side down. Fold it in half crosswise, then half length wise. The corner of the two folds is the exact center. Use your button to place the center and unfold the top fold, make sure it is still centered and the remaining folded line is lined up horizontally or vertically (depending on how you folded it) and clamp it down as much as possible. Then, one clamp at a time, remove the clamp from the double layer and just clamp down the bottom layer. When you’re finished, completely unfold and clamp the other side of your perfectly centered quilt back.
TIP: Repeat the process with your batting. In this case, I used TWO. The bottom batting is a poly/cotton blend. The top batting is wool. I’m looking to pop the books and create some textures in the bricks with the quilting. I think this combo of batting is really going to do it.
BONUS TIP: You may be tempted to smooth and pull the fabric and batting really really tight. I would recommend avoiding that. I try to put similar pressure on my layers that a long arm might do. If you stretch and pull it too much, you’re likely to end up with some unusual bends and folds when the fabric falls back into its non-stretched state. In this case, I really want that wool to pop so I certainly don’t want to stretch and flatten it.
TIP: Repeat the fold and center technique once again for the top. At this point – walk all the around your quilt and check every edge. If you’ve been successful, you’ll have a batting and backing at least 3″ wider than the top all the way around. If you’re off – you have a problem and will need to start again! I give myself about 6″ all the way around. A bit wasteful in supplies, but not in time!
TIP: Buy these curved safety pins. They make a huge difference! Some people may be shocked at how sparsely I pin. Do whatever you’re comfortable with. Using the table you don’t have to kill yourself in the floor so you have time! Once you’re happy with the pinning, move the quilt, use the clamps to pull it flat, and baste to the edges. I had to move this one about 8 times to get all of the sections. It sounds scary, but it really doesn’t take long. I bet I had it all basted (with ironing and a few mistakes!) in less than 4 hours.
If you’re curious, I trimmed my cut away stabilizer an inch or two away from stitch ends. It has made little to no difference in the quilting; however, I wish I had cut the book stabilizer in the shape of the book. I don’t know because I didn’t do it, but I suspect it would have made the book pop even further and flatter than it does now. Here’s what it looks like from the backside of the top:
Now there is nothing left to do but quilt it! I have more details about that coming soon, but in the meantime check out this teaser image
That’s all for quilt prep! I love to hear from you, if you have questions, comments or something to add feel free to reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find more Harry Potter Quilt posts in this Index of Posts!