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Saturday, 3 May 2014

Basting... It's Not Just for Turkeys

Primary definition of "baste" as provided by Google...
No, I'm not turning this into a cooking blog.

My modus operandi has always been something along the lines of get it done in the most efficient way possible while delivering above average results. That approach worked well throughout my career and I find that it serves me well in my non-work creative endeavours too. So when I come upon an idea of doing something that adds time and effort to a task, I tend to hesitate and ponder why it's needed.

If you read my first post, you may recall that I am not new to sewing. I first took up this hobby as a teenager but then abandoned it in my early twenties. (So I suppose I am somewhat of a "born again" sewer.) In the sewing portions of my Home Economics 10, 20 and 30 courses (in grades 10, 11 and 12 during my high school years), we had to make little sampler squares showing that we had mastered the basic stitches and sewing skills. I hated doing those and truth be told, I never did get my credits for Home Ec 30 because I did not go back and finish the required samplers. The point is that I remember doing a "basting square" after having discussions about basting and what it was used for and why it was sometimes absolutely required.

Basting does, however, take extra time and sometimes hand basting — which takes even more time — is the only way to do the job right.

eSheep Designs
Had to baste this before I could sew it...
The other day, I started making up the new bag for my mother (the basic version of my proposed Hot Hues Convertible Crossbody Fooler Bag). Due to the fabric not being wide enough, I had to add some trim to the corners of the front panel. So I ended up trying to sew a layer of stretchy polyester on top of a basic cotton and well, you can imagine what happened. I actually completed the entire length of stitching. Then I sat back and contemplated how badly it had deviated from my intended sewing "path". Of course, then I had to whip out my stitch ripper. Thus...

In sewing — as in life — when you take an ill-advised shortcut,
sometimes you just have to start all over again.

Let's see if I can recall what the whole basting thing is all about, shall we?

Reason #1 to Baste: When you are working with slippery, tricky fabrics that simply will not allow you to sew and go. Certain polyesters, satins, and other light flimsy fabrics will all benefit from some basting, because pins just ain't gonna cut it.

Reason #2 to Baste: When you need to make a larger piece fit into/onto a smaller piece, basting will allow you to "ease" or gather the fabric evenly for nice-looking results.

Reason #3 to Baste: If it's just plain hard to handle otherwise! Check out my zipper opening problem in the photo...

eSheep Designs
The other side of this zipper opening is heavy with fusible fleece
and impossible to stay "pressed"; hence the basting...
[Another obvious reason to baste is when you are making clothes and you need to check the fit before you commit, but that's not something I'll ever be covering in this blog.]

I'll finish this post with a helpful hint. Use a different coloured thread (ideally something highly visible) when you baste. You don't want to confuse your actual stitching with your basting stitching. (I mistakenly purchased extra red thread when I was making my first tote bag, so that has become my basting thread of choice!)

By the way, be sure to come back next week as I will reveal the Mother's Day present that I made for my mom...


  1. I agree with the reason #1 and reason #2 (zippers are perverse!) to baste. For the fitting of larger/smaller pieces I just use pins, as I do when I make my clothes.

    1. Whatever works. I just know that sometimes basting is unavoidable. (And I've heard people say that zippers are just plain evil. :-0 )

      Thanks for stopping by!


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