Preparation for quilting a small quilt, wallhanging or tablerunner

So, you’ve finally finished that quilt top! The piecing is done and maybe you’ve even added some applique or embroidery. Now it’s time for quilting. Putting together your quilt sandwich is a very important part of finishing your quilt. Take your time and do it right. Choosing the right batting and backing fabric will have a permanent effect on the look of your quilt, so don’t rush through this process.

What is a Quilt Sandwich?


A quilt sandwich consists of three layers that will be quilted together to make a finished quilt.

1. Top piece – This is the layer you’ve been working on for the last few days or weeks (or years). The top piece is the side that will show to the world. I bet it’s beautiful! Be sure to trim any loose threads, especially on the backside. They may show through after quilting which, from experience, can be very frustrating. If you have a lot of piecing, you may want to stitch a 1/8 inch around the outside to prevent your piecing from coming apart.

2. Batting – This layer makes the quilt officially a quilt. The thickness and type you use depends on your desired look. I tend to use Warm and Natural 100% cotton batting from JoAnn Fabrics. The quilts I make generally aren’t washed so I don’t have to worry about shrinkage. If you’re making a table-runner or quilt that may need washing now and then, use batting with some poly in it to reduce the shrinkage. The batting should be cut a few inches larger than your top piece.

3. Backing –  The bottom layer of your quilt can match the front but is not necessary. Sometimes I use plain muslin which shows off the stitching beautifully. The backing fabric should also be a few inches bigger than your top piece to allow for stretching and maneuvering.

Watch for future posts on free-motion quilting tips.

Quilted examples

Here are some Artfully Sew examples of quilted wall-hangings I have done. Some are available in my Etsy shop at I also love to make custom orders, so don’t hesitate to ask!

This piece is densely quilted with curly ques and flowers.

“Hope’s Horse” is from my personal collection. I loved quilting the clouds and the hair on the horse.


“Sammy” is also from my personal collection. Our cockatiel made a perfect subject for quilting. I especially enjoyed doing the feathers.