If you enjoy making quilt tops but quilting on your home sewing machine seems overwhelming, you need to learn this easy quilt as you go technique.
- What is Quilt As You Go?
- The Quilt As You Go Steps
- Video Tutorial – Quilt As You Go
- 1. Select and Prepare the Quilt Blocks
- 2. Prep the Connectors
- 3. Lay Out the Quilt Blocks
- 4. Create the Rows
- 5. Sew the Rows Together
- 6. Finish the Quilt
- Quilt As You Go Options
- More Quilting Related Posts
For a very long time, I have struggled with quilting large quilts on my home machine. It was too much of a hassle to wrestle with a large quilt top.
One day, Kris, a member of my quilting bee, showed me how she likes to quilt as you go. I couldn’t believe how fast and easy it was to put a quilt together.
For my very first experience with quilt as you go, I stitched in the ditch to quilt each of the string pieced blocks, then connected the blocks and rows using the quilt as you go method Kris showed me.
There are many different quilt as you go techniques. I’ll be sharing the method Kris taught me.
What is Quilt As You Go?
Quilt as you go is a technique where individual blocks and/or sections are quilted first and then sewn together to create a quilt.
Here are a couple of quilts Kris has made using her preferred quilt as you go method:
The Quilt As You Go Steps
There are 6 steps to the quilt as you go technique taught in this tutorial:
- Select and prepare the quilt blocks
- Prep the connectors
- Lay out the quilt blocks
- Create the rows
- Sew the rows together
- Finish the quilt
Video Tutorial – Quilt As You Go
1. Select and Prepare the Quilt Blocks
The Quilt Blocks
Select a simple quilt block pattern that you can quickly make. If you have orphan blocks that are the same size, you can use those.
To make things super easy for this tutorial, let’s use 12 – 20 quilt blocks. This will allow you to arrange the blocks in a 3 x 4 or 4 x 5 grid.
Any size block can be used for quilt as you go. However, for your first time making one, I recommend a block between 7 x 7 inches to 10 x 10 inches.
Cut the batting into squares that are 1-inch larger than the finished block size.
So if the finished quilt block is 7″ x 7″, cut the batting into a square that is 8″ x 8″.
The Backing Fabric
Select fabric for the back of each quilt block. This can be the same fabric or different fabrics.
Cut the backing into squares that are the same size as the batting – 1-inch larger than the finished block size.
Make Quilt Sandwiches
Once you have made the quilt blocks and cut both the batting and the back fabric, layer the three together.
The quilt block should be centered so there is 1/2-inch of batting and backing on all four sides.
Baste the quilt sandwiches with pins or spray to hold the layers together.
Quilt and Trim
Decide on a quilt design and then quilt each individual sandwich. Hand or machine quilting can be used.
After quilting, trim each block to the finished size.
2. Prep the Connectors
Connectors are thin strips of fabric used to hold the quilted blocks together.
Connectors may look like sashing in the finished quilt but can also be hidden in the design of the quilt depending on the fabric selection.
When you connect the quilted blocks together:
- Sew the blocks into rows.
- Sew the rows together.
To make the rows, each quilt block will need 2 connectors except for the blocks at the end of each row; they will only need 1.
To connect the rows, each row will need 2 long connectors except for the top and bottom rows; they will only need one.
The amount of fabric you need for the connectors is based on the number of blocks in your quilt and their dimensions.
Connectors start out as fabric strips cut 1 1/8 inches by WOF (width of fabric). You then either cut the strips down (to the height of the blocks) or sew them together (for the length of the rows).
3. Lay Out the Quilt Blocks
One of the advantages of quilting as you go is that you can have one quilt on the front and another on the back.
Like with most quilts, you want to lay out the blocks in rows/columns before you sew them together.
If you have planned your backing fabric to create a specific design, you need to make sure the blocks are laid out so that not only is the design on the front the way you want it to be but also the design you want on the back is created.
In my quilt, there are 20 blocks. Each pieced block is identical but I used 2 different fabrics for the back. I played around with the layout on the back before I arranged the blocks to create the design on the front.
Label the Blocks
After you determine the layout of the front and back of the quilt, label each block by row and position.
This is a critical step so you are able to connect the blocks and rows without messing up the layout.
4. Create the Rows
NOTE: For this section, instructions on how to create the rows are in the image captions.
5. Sew the Rows Together
If your finished rows are longer than the length of the connectors, you will need to sew some connector strips together.
You can sew the strips together by using the same method used to make double-fold bias tape for quilt binding. Just don’t fold the strips in half.
The steps for sewing the rows together are exactly like sewing the blocks together. The main difference is the length of the connectors.
After the row connectors are in place, you will press them open, turn the raw edge so the 1/4″ seam is hidden and hand or machine sew them in place.
6. Finish the Quilt
Once all the rows are sewn together it’s time to finish the quilt by adding the binding.
That’s it…you’re done!
Quilt As You Go Options
Not every published quilt pattern will lend itself to the quilt as you go method taught in this tutorial.
However, with some planning and creativity, you can use this easy technique and achieve a variety of results.
Once you are comfortable with the quilt as you go technique, you can experiment with fabrics, blocks, and even quilt patterns to minimize the appearance of the connector strips. They don’t always have to represent sashing.
Minimizing the appearance of the connectors requires a bit of planning ahead of time, but it can be done.
Check out some of the other quilts Kris has made using the quilt as you go technique taught in the tutorial.
Kris used a combination of hand and machine quilting on this stunning quilt. It required careful planning to disguise the connectors. You don’t notice them unless you are looking for them.
My main goals are to support, empower, and inspire you to discover the joy of sewing.
Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work together to get it figured out!
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