Quilting The Big Quilt-Baskets

Basket Quilt, Lori Kennedy

Good Morning, Quilters!

As you know, I spent most of last week in Denver filming my second Craftsy video.

It’s taken me a few days to wade through the piles of laundry and now I’m digging in to a long overdue project.

This birthday quilt is for my sister, Pat (Hi, Pat!)  and was created by my Mom, sisters, Pat’s daughters and a few sewing sisters.

I’m so excited to get started on it and give it the time it deserves!


My Mom always said, “When you don’t know where to begin, just begin!”

It’s amazing how often I say that to myself!

I am often subject to “paralysis by analysis”…I don’t know what I want to do, so I don’t do anything…

Most of the time, the best thing I can do is “just begin”.


Begin quilting the stabilization lines.

Every quilt needs to be stabilized.

In this quilt, I began stabilizing around the borders (see Ann Petersen’s Craftsy Class:  Big Quilts, Small Machine, Better Results)  Ann’s theory is that the borders are the most important area to keep straight and that if your quilt is well basted, you can stabilize the borders first and ease the center.  This is a very reasonable theory to me, so I’m giving it a whirl on this quilt.  (PS…Ann also does a great job demonstrating how to spray baste a large quilt!)

Basket Quilt, Lori Kennedy


Once I stabilized the entire quilt-borders and blocks– I stitched each basket.

To do this, I stitched very close to each of the handles and in the ditch of every triangle.

So far, this has taken 7-1/2 hours.  I’m not in any rush—I am bonding with the quilt!

While I stitch all the stabilization, I am starting to get a feel for the fabric and the motifs and am thinking about possible ways to quilt it.  

The ideas are flowing now….

More ideas than if I stared at the quilt for 7-1/2 hours!  It’s amazing!

Basket Quilt, Lori Kennedy


Now that I have some ideas, I will trace the basket and make several copies of it in my sketchbook and doodle a few options

What about YOU?

How do YOU bond with your quilts?  Where do you start when you don’t know where to start?

We’d LOVE to hear!


PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at lckennedy@hotmail.com.  Thanks!



61 thoughts on “Quilting The Big Quilt-Baskets

  1. I am really excited to see you working on a large quilt. I hope you share your progress often. I recently quilted a king size quilt and I used the same process as you. I probably thought about it way longer than I should then I decided to do some stitch in the ditch to stabilize it and it wasn’t too hard from there to quilt each block or section as needed.

  2. I too draw the design on tracing paper and then doodle a lot to figure out what I’m going to do. I find that sometimes the first doodle works and other times it takes forever to come up with something I like. Persistence does pay off though.

    • While I quilt large quilts on a longarm, I think this tip might help any quilter. I found clear plastic sheet holders at Target’s dollar spot (not sheet protectors, though those would work, too). When quilting a sampler quilt for my aunt, I decided it needed feathers, something different in each block. So I drafted each block onto 8 1/2 x 11 paper (wasn’t the same size as her blocks but it was close enough to work), then I’d slip that in to the sheet holder and use a dry erase marker to try out designs. Once I had something I liked, and had my path figured out, I’d pull out the paper and sketch the design onto the paper. With the quilting directions if needed. If the block was repeated in the quilt, I’d just pull out that block’s quilting diagram and stitch it out. Worked like a charm. I only bought two of those sheet holders, and wish I had a few more. I keep checking the dollar spot. Though it’ll probably be a while, IF they even have them again; I think last year they were out with the school supplies.

      • A friend of mine recommends getting a small piece of plexiglass at the local hardware store to audition designs. Ask for a scrap – it will cost a lot less! She recommends sanding the edges of the plexiglass, because it can be sharp, and then taping the edges with masking tape so you don’t accidentally run off the edge of the plexiglass and get dry erase marks on your quilt. The dry erase marks come off easily, and the plexiglass can be used forever! Great for doodling!

      • Amazon has sheet protectors cheaper than $1 each…the first item I saw was 25 for $2.99, and if you look, you can even find them for less. ( I use Amazon Smile so with every purchase they donate to the charity of my choice!)

  3. I appreciate your comments about “just beginning”. I think we all suffer from the ‘paralysis by analysis” problem. I try very hard to be able to ‘finish’ something early in every day. It might be as mundane and finishing the laundry, finish the ironing, finish cleaning the kitchen. Then I begin to do other things in manageable increments-especially sewing and quilting projects. I also appreciate your discussion of how you go about approaching the quilting motifs of a quilt-after you stabilize all of it. I am working on a quilt now that I have done all of the steps you mentioned. I have stabilized all the blocks, have quilted the borders, put on the binding and am working towards the center. The quilt is so much easier to handle now that is done. I am looking forward to your next Craftsy class.

  4. I’m quilting a fun Bunny Hill quilt, a UFO from last year, this month. I love your phrase “paralysis by analysis” ~ it is so apt. I don’t know why we get paralized. Once you’ve finished all the in the ditch stabilizing, that’s when the fun begins. I love doodling and auditioning all my quilting ideas and am so happy when I come up with a new motif or two to add to my quilty bag of tricks.

  5. Instead of doodling on paper I use my large cutting/basting table to lay out the quilt and put a large piece of clear plexiglas over it. I use a dry erase marker to trace out the blocks and then audition quilting motifs. This allows me to fill in several and then stand back and see if I like it. If not I wipe it off and start over. I’ll sometimes take pictures with my digital camera to have a record in case I want to go back to a previous doodle. I can trace the final choice on paper and then go quilt with a pattern to refer to.

    • I love that idea, especially taking photos of it. I like to use the sketchbook because I am so comfortable doodling in it, (and I can keep all the possibilities)…but it does have it’s limitations. I will definitely give this a try. Thank you!

  6. Great steps – thanks! I think I may have ‘over bonded’ with my last quit; when I finally finished it I really didn’t like it at all… This may say more about me than the quilt 🙂

    • I laughed out loud when I read your note…over-bonded! Yes, I have a few quilts that I really didn’t like when I finished…Think of it as a “study”–what not to do!

  7. Thanks for all the hints and tips. So far my small quilts have only been ‘stitched in the ditch’. Paralysis by analysis is SO apt for all sorts of things but I hope to take ispiration from all the great hints and tips to tackle a larger project soon. Thanks everyone 🙂

  8. Good morning, Lori- What a beautiful quilt, even more special, with all the warmth and love put into it.
    I’m stitching in the ditch with monopoly invisible Superior thread to stabilize a wildlife 3 panel quilt,with blocks as well, by Northcott flannel. I made stencils of some animals that I plan to out line in Sulky #12 thread, FMQing other parts.
    I did put wool batting in as my son said he wanted a warm and cozy wildlife quilt. I’m so glad to read about spray basting. I must get Ann’s class. The only part of quilting that I really dislike is pinning together the layers; I’ve tried different pins, Pinmoors, etc. My husband tells me to send my quilts to the Longarm quilter since I dislike the pinning so much.
    How interesting to start with stabilizing the borders first too.
    Anxiously awaiting your second video! There is so much to learn and all the things I’ve learned from you, Lori, have made me a better quilter.
    Yikes! I have to go make some coffee, awaiting a big snowstorm here in Southwest Minnesota. Guess I’ll just have to stay in and sew.
    Blessings to you and your family, as well to your network.
    Happy Easter!

    • I LOVE spray basting, but having second thoughts after doing some research and tests.. “washable” and “temporary” seem to be relative terms (stayed sticky/tacky after washing, which says they are permanent in the fabric, and most are pretty toxic which I wouldn’t even dream about putting into a baby quilt. Lori, what spray do you use?

      • I’ve tried other brands and the only one I’ll ever use again is 501. If you spray like Ann Peterson suggests, then press it to activate the starch, it works really well and washes out completely. Do use it outside though.

  9. I bond with my quilts by stitching in the ditch. By the time I’m done doing that I usually have some ideas on how to quilt the quilt. Then there are days like yesterday when you quilt design the modern vine pops up in my mail box and it’s perfect for the quilt I need to quilt. Thank you for the inspiration.

  10. Wonderful blogpost and comments so far. The “paralysis by analysis” is very true. Since I’m computerized longarming until my elbow heals I still can be very creative. When I loaded a wonky antique basket quilt the other day I thought,”What besides flowers can go in a pretty basket?” Hmmmmm . . . Eggs! Easter is coming up too. Using a muslin back I wound bobbins of glorious variegated thread in pastels. I have a two sided quilt now. Bonding is important and can lead to some very surprising and delightful quilting. Thank you for all your posts Lori. You are my morning paper and inspiration! Hugs, Allison in Plano, Texas

  11. I’ve been quilting a king for a week or so now. It’s a traditional pieced pattern, so I SID some main lines and then stitched down the basting next. It’s on point with alternating squares, so I’m alternating the patterns within each block, but then also changing up those 2 patterns as I move closer in to the middle of the quilt. It adds some interest and also makes sure I don’t get bored with a particular pattern. Enjoy the process!

  12. Fabulous post – and helpful comments too! I am sooooo happy that I found your blog! I am a domestic machine quilter and often use this method to isolate my quilting areas if not doing an all over design. I’m playing with using my embroidery machine to do the repeat motifs and tying them together with free motion. Always something new to try – and adapt!

  13. Please, please, please do follow-up posts with this quilt. Your post plus all these comments have been so helpful. Your “Paralysis by Analysis” really resonated with me. This quilt could be a great teaching series for your followers, if you have the time. Thank you, Lori…

  14. I love your mother ‘s suggestion to “just begin “, makes perfect sense. Your comment about “paralysis by analysis” is a real eye opener. I’ve never heard that before but that’s me on lots of levels. Putting it into words will help me overcome the problem. I’m looking forward to your next video, I love your 1st one. Keep up the good work.

  15. How have I never heard of stabilizing my quilt before? I’ve made several quilts and consider myself still a beginner but in all my books and magazines have not heard of this before?? Thank you, I’ll be researching this now. What a perfect expression – “Analysis Paralysis”!!! My biggest issue!!! Thanks for your blog!!

    • Cookinformyboys, there is a lot of info about stabilization and in the ditch quilting out there. Some people not only stitch around the blocks, but also around each applique, or whatever you think. If there are no blocks to stitch around, there is nothing wrong with making your own grid. That way, a larger quilt is much easier to “Divide and Conquer,” (haha), and quilt each little section at a time. I start my stabilization lines from the middle of the quilt, border to border. If you take Craftsy classes, the ones (besides Lori) I recommend for beginners (or anyone else!) are by Christina Cameli. Hope this helps.

      • Thank you! Great advice! I’m a big fan of Christina as well- we will be interviewing her for The Inbox Jaunt soon.

    • It might be referred to as something else? I always stitch in the ditch the long axes of the quilt before I begin the decorative stitches

  16. Hi Lori, Your quilt is beautiful. I’ve just started free motion quilting and am a little scared to start on a big quilt so all the tips are helpful and encouraging that it keeps the desire to start one. Ready to practice on a lap quilt as soon as I get it sandwiched.

  17. When I begin to quilt I use hard to hold hairspray. I spray the backing to the batting and then the front to the batting. I make sure all is flat. After it dries it is all stuck together and the fabric is firmer. I always start in the centre and stabilize all my blocks. Then I after looking through my quilting patterns I doodle the one I have chosen until I am comfortable with it and just start stitching. I only measure out distant marks, flower every three inches on a border. I have never put a pattern on my material. By the time I get to the outside border the hairspray has softened up but the edges are still mostly stuck together and after it is washed the hairspray is totally gone. I only work on my domestic sewing machine and have down up to a queen size quilt.

  18. I followed advice from Patsy Thompson and built a spray basting wall. Now I don’t have to crawl around on the floor to baste a quilt, and found out the benefits of 505 spray (the only one Ms. Thompson recommends too!) for basting. It’s definitely a bit more expensive than pinning, but every square inch of the quilt is adhered which, to me, is a huge advantage, no gaps. There is a Youtube tutorial on building the wall, just look up Patsy Thompson on that subject.

    • Thank you! Ann Thompson uses tables and I though it seemed more manageable than dedicating a wall for it. Both methods have merits–

  19. Lori, what thread do you use to stabilize? Do you leave it in or remove it when done? If you leave it in, how does it look on the back with all your fabulous quilting afterward?

    • I’m using a light weight polyester by Mettler. I am stitching in the ditch–stabilizing on long axes of the quilt before I start the decorative stitching. I leave it in and it looks fine. I will post photos. I use a fine weight thread in a matching color to create texture only.

  20. Glad to hear you are endorsing Ann Peterson’s methods for quilting. I recently purchased her class to get ready to quilt a queen size on my domestic machine. I had never heard of stabilizing the quilt like she suggests but I will be trying that. For this quilt I will be using her method of cutting the batting into sections and quilt the center section first. Wish me luck! Guess I’d better get the borders on first…..

    • I too have Ann’s Classes (Lori’s & Patsy’s also). I just finished a quilt by piecing the batting. Worked beautifully and reduced the bulk. It was only my third FMQ quilt. I used fusible bating tape with wool batting. I wished I had basted it together because the tape didn’t hold. Thank goodness it is a wall quilt and will not need to be laundered often. I will always baste the batting in the future! I’m pretty sure Ann basted hers (it’s been a while since I watched it).

      Thanks for all the comments everyone. Sure learned a lot today.

  21. Love reading about how everyone chooses how to quilt the top. I have a question:I did one of the fast jelly roll strip quilts, the sewing the strips end to end and like it a lot. Now I have all these strip lines 2 inches apart and need some ideas on how to quilt the top. Any ideas for this top?

    • You could do alternating rows of curvy designs like flowers and more linear or geometric motifs….Or pretend the quilt is a whole cloth-and quilt large motifs over it–Like Flower Power…

      • You can do feathers across a couple of the rows. Leave one row blank and then do a different type of feather on the next set of two adjoining rows and on and on. Another idea is to go through Lori’s tutorials or craftsy class and usesome of Lori’s other travelling motifs.

  22. WOW I love all the comments! So many Helpful hints and ideas. I now will be able to start my FMQ! Thanks to everyone and Lori for all you do for us.
    Happy Quilter from the Great UP NORTH MN.

  23. I actually also bought that class by Ann. Unfortunately the throat of my machine is pretty small and I still struggled. But there were a lot of good tips. I’d like to see how you quilt this as it looks a lot like the Jinny Beyer Craftsy BOM from last year I am finishing. In fact I am going to work on it today.

  24. Wonderful blog today – loved all the comments and everyone had such good advice I’m a relative beginner to machine quilting and want to thank all for passing on their good and bad experiences.

  25. I agree with the idea of just getting started and that works for me in terms of leading to more ideas. I often find I have ideas to get to a certain stage and the rest needs to percolate. In my house there is a long horizontal railing next to the “hole” where the basement stairs are. Quilts in progress get hung over that rail when I need some thinking time or I have to be doing other things. As part of my day I will walk by that quilt many times. Sometimes I simply ignore the quilt, but other times I will notice things that stand out or recede, areas that need more quilting etc. This will typically lead me to the next step. It is a way for me to live with the quilt as part of my everyday life. It also makes a good conversation piece when visitors are in the house.

  26. Interesting idea to make the quilt stable and get ideas for the quilting while doing that job. I often over think and don’t get anything done at all. I will try just go ahead and start the stabilize process to get the ideas flowing. For sure the doodles might give better ideas that I would have just doing it and see what happens. Wonderful ideas to help get out of the “paralysis by analysis”. Thanks for the ideas!

  27. Thank you for all the ideas and suggestions. I, too, have found Ann Peterson’s class very helpful with her techniques. Just finished the largest quilt I have ever done since a quilt friend said, stabilize it and then just quilt it. Yes, and I got over the analysis paralysis!

  28. Lori..I agree…I am also paralized by analysis, but once I stabilize and spend time with the quilt I formulate ideas. I have Art Studio app, and what I can do with this is take a photo of my quilt section or entire quilt picture and import the photo into the Art Studio App and do my doodling there. No tracing necessary! Another option is to take a pic of the block and print a few copies off of the photocopier to doodle on.

  29. Lori, I am thrilled and honored that you are quilting this for me!! I do feel (slightly) guilty about the amount of time the quilting requires and though I could never adequately pay you back I can do something- therefore I am offering to do the binding work on a huge pile of your small quilts- just send them – I mean it! (That will also give me more time to learn from and admire your beautiful quilting so it can be a win-win!)
    Love you and Happy Easter, Pat.

  30. Pingback: Sun or Rain? Little Bird | The Inbox Jaunt

  31. Pingback: Quilting The Big Quilt-Personalizing | The Inbox Jaunt

  32. What is your favorite method for transferring a design to your quilt that you have sketched out? Or do you “freehand” all of your designs? I am working on a small art piece in which I am using the negative space in a heavily quilted piece to spell out words, so it needs to be precisely marked for the letters to be clear. Ideas?

    • I am working that out now. I have a transfer pen from Sulky I am going to try. Will do a post on that soon.

Comments are closed.