Years and years ago, when I first started quilting, I took part in a beginner quilt class and we made a sampler. When we were done with each block, we quilted them individually ( by hand!) , and then sashed them together to complete our quilt. I remember NOT liking that process at all! It was so fussy and difficult that I never used the QAYG method again…until I came across this book!
This book completely changed the way I approach my quilts and I have not used any other method since I learned how to do it in this manner. I LOVE IT! Can I emphasize that enough?! Hahaha.
There are a few different ways to approach quilt as you go. If you google the method you are likely to find that the method used most often is where you quilt your block ( or row) with top, batting and backing and then join your blocks (or rows) together using sashing.
The method that I use now is so much simpler and works so well, that I believe you won’t want to do it any other way again either! ( Just a disclaimer here: This is not my method, I learned these from Jera’s book, BUT I will add some little nuggets of wisdom that I have picked up along the way!)
There are two ways you can approach your blocks: You can “build” your block right on your batting, OR you can sew your block together the regular way like you usually do. (That is the method that I am using with my Bee Happy blocks!) For clarity sake I am only going to discuss the second method, but check out the other method if you end up buying the book!
So let me explain the method: After you finish sewing together your block, you layer it on your batting ONLY( make that a bit larger than your block). Pin your block in place. Now use your walking foot or free-motion foot and quilt your block. You can quilt in the ditch, or do fancy freeform designs~ whatever you like! When I am doing appliquéd blocks, I fuse my fabrics and then appliqué them while the block is on the batting:
So in this block I haven’t even done any “quilting” because the buttonhole stitch that I used to fasten down my appliqué is right away attaching my block to the batting! And because there is not a lot of open space left I am not even going to worry about quilting the block ( but I could quilt around the shapes, or add swirls in the white background, and I would do that at this point). So this is what my block looks like from the back:
See how the stitches are holding everything nicely in place? No need for extra quilting in this block! Now in these Churn Dash and Pinwheel blocks I did quilt in the ditch along the various lines ( because just appliquéing the flower would have left too much unattached) :
You can imagine how much easier it is to appliqué and quilt on small blocks like these that are easy to twist and turn~ No more wrangling unwieldy quilts through your little machine!
When I finish appliquéing and /or quilting a block, I trim them down to the unfinished required size and then sew them together JUST AS IF YOU WERE SEWING REGULAR BLOCKS TOGETHER. It is super helpful to use a walking foot for this process because you are working with batting. I also use A LOT of pins. And when I am done sewing my blocks together, I press the seams open.
Two things that you will want to do: You want to backstitch at the start and finish, just to give your open seams some more support, AND you don’t want to use polyester batting! ( The heat of your iron can melt the polyester).
Alright, onto the next step: After you have sewn everything together and your quilt top is now complete it is time to add the BACKING fabric. You are going to prepare this the way you always do….cut it slightly larger than the quilt top, and layer it with the top and baste. You want the back to get attached to the front and batting now. The way you do this is by simple stitching in between the blocks or rows, you can choose in the ditch or next to, or you can cross-hatch…whatever you want! But you can be a minimalist here because the top and batting are already quilted together. ( The batting is what starts shifting after a wash if there is not enough quilting, but you have already looked after that). I usually just quilt in the ditch in a horizontal and vertical direction. Now, you might think, “but now I am still having to deal with pushing a big quilt through my little machine!” That is true, but it is made SO much simpler because you are not having to twist and turn your quilt. You quilt a straight line and then you move your quilt and move on to the next row. Super simple!
Now what about borders? Those are a bit more tricky and I have not been able to find a lot of advice on this. I prefer my quilts not to have borders so usually it is not an issue for me. However, sometimes a quilt needs a border. You approach your border in the same manner as the blocks. You cut it ( or piece it) according to the pattern, then you layer it on batting and you quilt it just like you did the blocks. Trim and attach to the sides of your quilt! ( This will not work with mitered corner borders, so modify your pattern so you have a straight border, or add cornerstones instead!). I find that too skinny of a border is super tricky to work with so I will make the borders wider.
And what if you want sashing between your blocks? It is possible to do this 2 ways: You can add a skinny strip of fabric ( 1 inch wide) . I used that in my Piggy Quilt. There is no need to add batting behind these skinny strips! You really cannot tell.
I also used that method in Tulip Festival.
This one is sashed with a 1 inch strip and you can see what it looks like from the back. You can see that you really can’t see a gap where the sashing (without batting) is.
If you don’t like the narrow sash, you can add a wider sashing that you treat the same as your blocks and border: Layer it on batting, quilt it, trim it, and done. ( I find that shorter pieces work great for this, but would stay away from long pieces that will want to become “wobbly” as you quilt them! In this quilt I made the sashing pretty wide but short so treated it like another block!
In my Bloom quilt I incorporated the sashing into each block right away so it got quilted at that time.
I hope this has explained the method of QAYG that I use! I know there is a lot of info here and it might seem confusing, but it really isn’t. However, you DO have to think a bit ahead and figure some of the details out BEFORE you start. For me, not having to maneuver a big quilt through my machine at all kinds of angles and weird positions is completely worth the little bit of thinking and adapting I have to do with my patterns.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me….I will do my best to help you out!
Until next time~ Happy creating!
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