“Quilt as you go” methods

QAYG is an alternative means of quilting that’s intended to address the problems that come with trying to use the traditional quilting process on a standard sewing machine. I’d first heard of QAYG a while back, but had dismissed it due to not having a lot of time to seriously consider hobbies; now that I’ve got more time and presence of mind to do things other than work, sewing’s on the top of the list, and quilting is one of the things included in that umbrella.

Traditionally, you construct the quilt top, layer it into the “quilt sandwich” with the batting and backing, and quilt that entire thing together. The biggest problem in this case is maneuvering the sheer bulk of all of that material in and through the small throat space to the right of the sewing machine’s needle. Even on a project as small as a standard baby blanket, I found there was much more material wrangling than I would have cared for, and keeping track of its draping and dragging made it difficult to consider decorative quilting patterns.

This Instructable by Abby Holverson breaks down the basics of QAYG:

  • Assemble/baste/quilt each block as if it’s a mini-quilt
    • Leave an unstitched 1/4″ seam allowance around each edge
    • Cut batting to the size of the block, no seam allowance
  • When you’re ready to join the blocks:
    • Stitch the top fabric of the blocks with right sides together (RST) and 1/4″ seam allowance, and press open the seam
    • Lay the batting flat so that the edges touch
    • Fold over one edge of the back seam, press it flat, and pin it over the other raw edge, and sew the back seam closed

A problem with the above is that the batting is left to float free and possibly bunch up as the completed quilt is handled. The method described by Leanne at Lily’s Quilts addresses the problem thus:

  1. Assemble/baste/quilt each block same as above, except:
    • Cut batting and backing larger than the top fabric
  2. When joining the blocks
    • Stitch the top fabric together same as above
    • Line the batting up and trim so sides touch edge to edge, then fold the blocks RST and sew the edges of the batting together with zigzag stitch going over the edge so that they lay flat when open
    • Finish backing seam same as above

The above methods deal with joining blocks directly together, but what to do when you want to include sashing in your design? Marianne at The Quilting Edge has a good tutorial with photos. I have paraphrased the steps:

  1. Decide how wide you want your sashing (w), then cut:
    • Width
      • Batting w + 1/2″ (or 2 * seam allowance)
      • Backing 2w + 1/2″
      • Top 4w + 1/2″
        • Technically can just be same as backing, but easier to fold the partially joined strip in half and press instead of trying to make an exact 1/4″ fold
        • The extra 1/4″ that included the folded, pressed edge is intended to hide the raw edge of the adjoining block
    • Length
      • When joining blocks: length of block +  1/2″
      • When joining rows of blocks: length of entire row + 1/2″
  2. Align edge of top strip RST with edge of block top
  3. Align edge of backing strip RST with edge of block back
  4. Stitch block, front strip, and backing strip together with 1/4″ allowance
  5. Align remaining raw edge of backing strip RST with raw edge of backing of other block to be joined, and stitch together with 1/4″ allowance
  6. Press all new seams
  7. Spray batting strip lightly with basting spray on both sides
  8. Lay blocks right side up and place batting strip between blocks
  9. Cover batting with front joining strip’s folded-over edge; it should just barely cover seam allowance’s stitching line
  10. Stitch down the front (brown) joining strip to finish the “sandwich” of the sash
  11. Quilt the sashing to secure batting

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