“What is quilt as you go?”
a Quilter’s Review reader
Quilt as you go, or QAYG for short, is a fun way to make quilts quickly. We’ve all felt the pain of spending months making larger quilts, and wanted desperately to find a quicker, easier way to get our projects done.
That’s exactly what QAYG allows you to do.
With this method, you complete the piecing and the quilting at one time. Once the top is complete, the only thing left to do is attach the backing to the top quilt.
Sounds easy enough, right?
We’re going to show you how to use this technique to get your projects done faster.
How to Quilt as You Go
The QAYG method can be used for any quilting project. If you’re making a conventional quilt, you’ll want to have your blocks all ready to go. If you’re working with strips, you’ll want these cut and ready to go as well.
One little tip I’d like to mention about strips and blocks: be mindful of how large your pieces are. When pieces are too big, there will be too much open space between your lines of stitching, and you’ll have to go back and quilt those spaces later. No one wants to do more work than necessary.
I also recommend using a walking foot for this method because it helps prevent puckers, which can be a royal pain. A walking foot will keep the bottom and the top fabric moving at the same rate, which creates a smooth finish.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get started with the QAYG method:
1. Start with The Backing Fabric and Batting
Once you have your pieces or strips ready, you can get your backing fabric and batting ready. The backing fabric should be laid down first, right side down.
The batting is placed on top of the backing fabric. There are many different types of quilt batting. If are just starting out, our batting guide might be a helpful. You can find it here.
2. Place Your First Two Pieces
The next step is to place your first two pieces. Now, you can choose to work from the middle of the piece, or if you’re making a traditional quilt, you can work from one end to the other for each row.
For this method, I’m going to use strips as part of the example.
Start by placing one strip right side up. Next, place the other strip right side down. The right sides should always be facing one another when using this technique (you’ll see why shortly).
3. Start Stitching
Start at the edge of the batting, and begin stitching right down the seam to join the two pieces. If your project requires really straight lines, you can draw lines and use them as guides as you move along. If you’re working on a freeform project, I wouldn’t worry about drawing any lines.
4. Open the Piece
Next, open the top piece, and finger press the seam.
If you’re working with conventional blocks, you may want to steam press the seams to make them really crisp.
5. Repeat Steps 1-4
Now you’ll just repeat steps 1-4, and keep moving along until you finish your row.
When you use this method, you’re seaming your pieces together, and you’re also quilting along the back as you go along.
Once you’ve finished, the only thing left to do is binding.
QAYG with Conventional Quilts
When making a conventional quilt, the method is slightly different. The key difference is in the batting. Also, you won’t attach the backing with this method.
Each block is quilted onto the batting separately, meaning you’ll need to cut the batting to roughly the same size as your blocks.
Next, you’ll stitch the blocks onto the batting, and repeat steps two to four as above.
Now, I recommend laying all of your blocks out onto the floor to create your layout. Once you’ve done that, you can gather the blocks in each row, and place them in numbered piles. Numbered piles will help ensure that that each set of blocks is placed in the right row.
If all your blocks are similar or you don’t care which order they’re sewn, you don’t have to be quite as organized.
Now you can move onto sewing the blocks together to create your top quilt. The method is essentially the same as the example with the strips.
Each block will be laid down with right sides facing each other. This is the most important part. The right sides need to be facing each other for this method to work properly.
Next, sew along the seam, open the top block, and press the seam open. You’ll repeat this process until you reach the end of the row, and keep going using the same method until you’ve finished your top quilt.
1. Baste to Backing
Now that all your blocks (or strips) are joined, it’s time to baste your top layer to your backing.
Make or purchase your backing as you normally would. Lay it down on the floor wrong side up, and tape it down.
Lay the quilted quilt top onto the backing with the right side facing up.
Next, baste the two layers together. A basting spray can be used, or you can use pins. Many quilters prefer to go with pinning simply because the quilted top is so heavy. Spray basting may not hold as well as you want.
If you’re using pins, make sure that you only pin along the block seams. Remember, you’re not trying to reinforce your patches because you already did this when you quilted the top layer.
2. Quilt the Backing to the Top Quilt
The final step is to quilt the backing to the top quilt layer. This step is the quickest and easiest because you’re simply stitching along the seams where the blocks join.
Some people prefer to tie their quilts instead to create a machine-free finish. It’s really all about personal preference when it comes to finishing. I personally feel my quilting machine creates a more professional look, but that may not be the look you’re going for.
Once you’ve finished attaching the backing to your top quilt, trim any excess backing along the edges. Bind, and finish your work.
The QAYD method is a great way to get a big project done in a much shorter amount of time. If you search online, you’ll find a few other methods that employ the same basic technique, and you can pick up a few tips and tricks by reading these tutorials. If you’re having a hard time visualizing this method, I’d recommend picking up a good book on the topic or having a quilter friend show you this technique in person. Being able to see it firsthand can clear up any questions you may have.
If you want more information on this method you should check out this great book by Jera Brandvig. It is an outstanding book on the QAYG method.