1. Lay the backing down on a clean surface, with the wrong side up. Beginning at the middle of one of the sides, put a piece of masking tape or painter's tape (which I prefer, but didn't have in the condo here) in the centre. I like to put one more piece on either side of that centre piece so I have 3. Do the same at the opposite side, smoothing out the quilt top, giving it a slight tug before you put the first piece down on that opposite side to create a mild tension across the backing. Work your way across the two opposite sides, taping every 3-4". Once the first two opposing sides are taped down, repeat the process with the remaining two sides. At this point you should check your backing for stray threads you might have omitted to cut if you pieced the backing. It's not a bad idea to run a lint brush over the backing to remove any unwanted fuzz. . . or cat hair!
2. Place a couple of old towels along two of the sides, or all four sides if you have enough old towels. I keep two for this purpose, and move them around the quilt back as I apply the spray. This protects the floor from overspray. The instructions are on the can; the only thing I do differently is not always wait the full 3-5 minutes for the spray to become tacky. I've had no variance in results.
I also advise being light on the spray; you just want it to hold the layers, and in almost 100% of my quilts, I pull the basted quilt up off the floor, and head over to my machine and start the quilting right there, so you are already anchoring the layers together. No need to overkill the adhesive.
3. Lay down the batting, centering it over the backing. I like to lay the seeds part (I usually use Warm 'n Natural) down so the smooth whitest side is face up. They have really improved their needled cotton; there are few leaves/stems, or seeds, as I like to call them.
I left the fold here on purpose so you can see how it is possible to lift, reposition, and smooth back down the batting again and again until you are happy with the results.
4. Here the batting is smoothed out as perfectly as it is going to get. My backing pieces were not all even at the bottom edge; you can see the longest piece peeking out here. I didn't trim them evenly in case, (and yup, I speak from experience) god forbid, the quilt top was positioned a little off and there was no backing beneath it. Sigh. Yes, I've had to cut a strip of fabric, pull back the backing from the batting and piece in the strip so that I have 3 layers once more for the inch or so at that point. Not fun.
Apply the spray once more to the batting, as you did to the backing. Remember less is more.
5. Lay the quilt top on top of the batting, smoothing out, repositioning, adjusting as much as you like until you are happy with the smoothness of the top, the alignment of the top with the backing (it's easy to lift edges and check for alignment, especially if you have a pieced backing as I do). You can even grab your 15" square and gently tug things to square. It will hold. However, it will remain tacky for some time, so if, as you begin to quilt, you find you want to reposition a wonky bit, it's totally do-able. For example, I will be sure my fiery zinger is nice and straight before I quilt in the ditch.
6. I pull my quilt up off the floor, and usually the tape stays stuck to the floor, so there are only a few to pull off the edges of the quilt back! You can see a few on the one edge in the picture below.
Then I like to take it to my cutting table, or, here in the condo, my kitchen counter, and smooth out the back. I don't put a ton of pressure into the smoothing out process here, as I have found it can then cause some wrinkling in the front and before you know it, you're back and forthing and getting irritated. So again, just gently smooth it out. It's not stuck down permanently, nor is it at all hard to smooth it out. Are you getting how big a fan I am of this spray?!
Okay! Back to quilting! I've completed all the outlining and stitch in the ditch quilting and I'm now free motion quilting on "card" number 4 of the 22!