Whether you quilt by hand or by machine, the three layers in the quilt sandwich must be fastened together by basting, so they won't shift during the quilting process. Basting a quilt may seem like a long and involved process, but it's simply a large job because of the size of most quilts. A beginning quilter can baste a bed-sized quilt in an hour or two, provided she has a large empty surface on which to lay the fabric.
Lay a washed and ironed quilt backing fabric sheet on a clean work surface -- with the right side, or the more colorful side, facing down. Tape all four edges down securely, with multiple strips of masking tape.
Lay the quilt batting on top of the quilt backing fabric. Most batting will be quite a bit larger than the quilt fabric. Position the batting so that an equal amount sticks out from the fabric on all four sides.
Lay the quilt top on top of the batting, with the right side facing up. Position the top so that all four edges are even and matched with the four edges of the backing fabric.
Open a safety pin, and stick it through all three layers of fiber -- placing the pin in the center of the quilt. Close the safety pin.
Move 6 inches to the left, and place another safety pin -- making sure to catch the backing fabric. Move to a point 6 inches to the right of the original pin, and place another one. Continue adding safety pins every 6 inches, in every direction, until you have covered the surface of the quilt.
Search for special bent safety pins made for basting quilts. Close the pins with a spoon or other object, if the pins begin to hurt your fingers.
Always begin in the center, and work your way out in all directions at once -- to avoid twisting or wrinkling the quilt layers.