a blog about my quilting life...mostly

a blog about my quilting life...mostly

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Quilt as you go~ another tutorial

 Hello friends, 

I love using the Quilt As You Go technique~ or QAYG for short~ because it allows you to quilt larger quilts on your domestic machine so much easier. Would you like to learn more? Read on!

( this post contains affiliate links~please see my disclosure statement in the sidebar)

Years ago, when I was a very new quilter,  I learned a different QAYG technique where you made each block ( top, batting, and backing) and then sewed those completed blocks together. It was a very fiddly process and I didn't like it at all! Fast forward a bunch of years and I came across this book by Jera Brandvig with a brand new to me method of QAYG: 

The method that Jera used made so much more sense and I have been using it ever since! In the ensuing years I have picked up a few more tips and tricks so here is how I go about making my quilts using the QAYG method (And I am by no means an expert on this technique, but I can certainly share what I have learned while using this method):

I decided that I needed a new Fall quilt for our home and thought that taking pictures of that process would be the perfect opportunity to share this tutorial ;).
I started by piecing and appliquéing all my blocks: 

(Here are the quilt blocks, before I decided I wanted to make a bigger quilt and adding appliqued blocks)

Next it was time to layer EACH block onto its own COTTON batting square that I cut slightly larger than my pieced blocks. You want to use cotton and not polyester because you have to press the seams open and polyester and the heat from an iron equals a big, melty, sticky mess! My cotton batting has polyester scrim, which I didn't realize when I bought it, so I had to be very, very careful, because even that little bit of polyester was a pain! Use all cotton batting!

You will notice that I marked some quilting guide lines on my appliqued block before I laid it on batting. My pieced blocks I didn't mark because I was quilting in the ditch.

Next, I took my blocks to the sewing machine and quilted them using a walking foot. 

 I didn't pin at all. Especially when stitching in the ditch I find that the fabric clings to the batting really well and pinning is not necessary. However, if you are free-motioning your blocks you probably do want to pin. And yes, you can use this method for free-motion quilting just as well. Last year I made a quilt that I free-motioned with feathers and swirls and it was so much easier to maneuver just one block through the machine, rather than an entire quilt! And you don't have to only do one block at a time. If your blocks are smallish, feel free to sew them together first to make a larger piece, which you then layer on batting and quilt. However big but still easily maneuverable you want to make it!
After I quilted my  blocks, I trimmed each one to the original size of the block. 

Having these square rulers AND a rotating cutting mat make that process so easy!
( this is by far the best price that I found for a rotating cutting mat: https://amzn.to/3paoo55 (click);
 and this is an awesome deal for 4 square rulers!:https://amzn.to/3j8hUjx (click)).
I want to show you how my blocks looked at this point in the process: 
( the back of the pieced block, all trimmed and ready for the next step)

Next, it was time to lay out my blocks in order to sew the quilt top together. The blocks are all quilted but none of them have backing: 
Time to start sewing the blocks and then rows together, just like you normally would, except you want to backstitch at the start and end, just to give it a little more strength.  I am not usually a pinner, but I do pin these! 

After I sewed my blocks together,  I pressed the seams OPEN ( here is where that cotton batting comes into play!). It can sometimes be a bit tricky to press seams open. I like using my fingers first and then following with the tip of my iron. First I do the back, and then I flip everything over and press from the front. Do not worry if it is not perfectly done. 
Next, I sewed my rows together and pressed those seams open too:

This is what my quilt looked like from the back: 
Now I do need to explain this photo, because you may have noticed that I seem to have an extra border on there. I decided that my quilt was not big enough and sewed some border strips together, which I then laid on batting and quilted also, in exactly the same way I did my blocks. Borders are a little more tricky! I avoid skinny borders ( my skinniest one here was 4.5 inches), and you have to make sure that you don't distort and curve them as you quilt. This is especially a problem if you are free-motion quilting. So I suggest doing straight-ish line quilting OR making your border nice and wide. ( or don't do a border at all ;) )

Alright, at this point my-quilt-top-with-batting was all  sewn together and now it was time to add the backing, which is one solid piece of fabric, just like in regular quilts.  I cut it slightly larger than my quilt top, pinned it, and quilted it one more time. But this time I just need to quilt on the major seams!
I like to start in the middle and quilt straight lines in the seam allowance and will do all the vertical lines first, and then turn my quilt and quilt all those seams. Yes, I am still pushing that whole quilt through my domestic machine, but this time it is just straight lines, no turning and twisting and it is so much easier!

When I finished, I trimmed the backing even with the top and added the binding, just as usual. ( No photo of a finished quilt to share with you yet because I'm busy working on the binding, but soon, very soon!)

I just love using this method for all my bigger quilts, because it makes quilting so much more doable.
I hope you will give this method a try, and as usual, don't hesitate to ask questions if something is unclear! 

Until next time~ happy creating!