Quilt As You Go (QAYG) is a technique that’s been around for a long time – but I’ve never tried it until now. There are a few different techniques floating around the internet – including a really common one that uses bias tape and is VERY fussy and irritating, in my opinion. I’ve been playing around with the method for a couple of months now and this is the way I like to do it. 🙂
The video has more detail, but here it is in a nutshell. . .
The hardest part of machine quilting is any time you change direction. That’s pretty limiting. There are plenty of times when a grid or a series of parallel lines is just perfect for a quilt I’m making, but sometimes I want the background quilting to be a little more fun. This is especially the case with my applique quilts, where what I really want to do is quilt around each face and then do something fun to add texture to the background.
That’s when QAYG is perfect.
You layer a piece of batting with each block and then quilt just that block in the machine. It’s small and easy to spin around in all kinds of fun patterns. Whee!
You join all the blocks together after they’re quilted, and then just do some easy grid quilting in the final big quilt.
So here’s the first video in the series. . .
See how easy that is? There’s still some machine quilting, but it’s the easiest kind. And the rest of it opens up a whole new world of easy peasy zigzags and triangles and wobbly waves.
I know some of you already do all that stuff with free-motion quilting. I tried that once and it was a disaster. I’ll try it again someday when I have the magical Bernina Stitch Regulator – I’ve tried that at a show and it does make it super easy. But in the meantime – this is the method I use.
So think of my QAYG method as giving you the look of free-motion quilting without having to learn that tricky technique.
If you want to learn more about how I do Quilt As You Go, there’s a much longer post with WAY more detail and lots of links to additional info and tutorials.
Quilt As You Go – Everything You Need to Know
If you’re ready to jump in, here’s a post with some tips for choosing a pattern.
That is interesting, but what happens when you sew the rows together, do you not get bulk where they come come together? Thanks for the video, I will have to try it.
No! I totally expected bulk. The question was just how much and what’s going to be the best way to deal with it. But I was STUNNED the first time I pressed a seam open. There was no noticeable bump at all! I was kind of giddy and had to do a few more before I really believed it. 🙂
Thanks Wendi! Can’t wait to try this!
LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Looks so much easier then trying to manage a big quilt. I can’t wait to try this method, and those cats are adorable! Thank you!!!
I’m so excited about this technique! I probably won’t use it for everything, but for my favorite kind of applique blocks it gives them EXACTLY the kind of effect I was looking for but always unable to do on the machine until now.
Could you use hot iron on batting that was a combination of cotton & bamboo?
By guess would be yes since they’re both plant fibers – but I’d test on a small piece just to be sure.
Oooh, thanks for this clear explanation! Sounds just my *quilting* speed!
I’m totally in love with it!
I do like what you’ve done and I’ve done it myself.
Here’s a tip/question: If you stitch in the ditch or !/4″ from your seams, why not use a double needle and save time?
That’s a great idea! I’ve neveer used a double needle before – I’ll have to see if my machine even has one. 🙂
Excellent tute Wendi! I will definitely have to try this technique! THANKS!
I hope you love it as much as I do!
I love the look of this technique & am so anxious to try it on my next quilt. Right now I am trying to quilt a Queen size quilt & it is so challenging to move a big quilt in a 10″ harp opening. Thankfully, I am almost done so this is definitely a must try on my next quilt. Tks for sharing.
I love this technique. but how do you finish the quilt. how do you put the backing on, and “quilt” it onto the top/batting?
I’m shooting a video for that this week – it’ll post next Tuesday. In a nutshell – you put the backing on just like a regular quilt. Layer the back with the front (the batting’s already in there), quilt the layers together in BIG chunks, and bind it. The video will show everything. 🙂
I’ve watched a few quilt as you go methods and I love this new simplified version. I do make a lot of charity quilts. I’m definitely changing to this method. Thanks!
Great video! I’m very excited to try this! My only worry is, if you press your seam open and then stitch in the ditch, do you run the risk of breaking open your seam?
You know – I’ve always thought that. I know a lot of quilters do. But Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr (quilters, fabric and pattern designers at Modern Quilt Studios) say they have ALWAYS pressed all their seams open to minimize bulk (even for regular quilting) and have never had a problem with the seams splitting. I like the look of quilting a bit to the side – but I’d be willing to take their word for it and try it in the ditch sometime.
Thank you Wendi! I have been wanting to try quilt as you go but did not like the way they attached the blocks. This looks easy and simple, like me. And I love the cats can’t wait for the pattern. Applique is another thing I have wanted to try so the cat quilt will have me learning several things in one quilt. Yeah. Thanks again
Is the kitty face pattern available? I can’t seem to find it.
I’m still wrapping up the final details. 🙂 It’ll be in the shop on Friday 1/31.
This is excellent – very clear directions! Much easier than I anticipated. I have a project in mind to try it – thanks!!
I was a little uncertain at first – but the more I do it the more I love it. And the results are beautiful!
How would you add a border to a QAYG technique?
Good question! I didn’t think of it because I almost never add borders to my quilts, but there’s no reason you couldn’t make and quilt the border as a long strip and then add it to the rest of the quilt. I worked with strips instead of blocks in the chevron pillow I made for this post (http://wendigratz.wpengine.com/2013/10/book-review-quilting-happiness.html) and it worked great.
Pingback: The quilting gods must be crazy! - Page 2
Pingback: Quilting around applique?
Pingback: New member needs help
Pingback: Quilt As You Go & Batting Buddy
Pingback: Straight Stitches with QAYG
Pingback: Applique question
Pingback: quilt as you go?
Pingback: Help with QAYG blocks please
Pingback: Free Moose Fusible Appliqué from the Woodland Critters Quilt | Sew Mama Sew | Outstanding sewing, quilting, and needlework tutorials since 2005.
I did this on my last quilt and I love it! My only tip is to really clean out your bobbin case after the quilting. Because there is no fabric on the back a lot of “fluff” goes down.
Always good advice! I admit – I’m a bit of a fanatic about keeping my machine clean and oiled. I oil it every time I sit down to use it (my Bernina DRINKS oil) and I clean out all the guts every time I change the bobbin. It’s the most valuable thing I own (besides my house and car) and I definitely want to take good care of it. 🙂
Do you thinks spraying the quilt would work for adding the backing? I always have trouble with how smooth I can get my quilt when I pin.
It should work. I’ve had bad experiences with spray basting – overspray
everywhere and hard to clean up. 🙁
But I know some people swear by it!
Pingback: quilt as you go Pro and Con
Do you apply the appliqué before or after you have quilted the block?
I like to applique after I quilt – it makes things super easy – but you can do it either way.
Thank you so much for this tutorial! Your kitty quilt is so cute and I love the idea of the free-motion look without having to learn free-motion. Can’t wait to try it!
Have fun! 🙂
Pingback: How do I connect embroidered QAYG squares? - Page 2
Thank you! Where do you get those kitty designs?
Here’s a link to the pattern. https://shop.shinyhappyworld.com/collections/quilt-patterns/products/cats-quilt-pattern-workshop
I am quilting the Cat quilt on flannel as a crib quilt. I’m using 100% Cotton soft and natural batting. The loft is ⅛”…Is this the “loftiest” batting I can use? I choose flannel for its softness (planning to use cuddle fleece as the backing)…my issue is that it’s realitivy flat after quilting….I think because of the flannel? What about doubling up the batting and cutting ¼”
Off one of the pieces in the seam allowance?
Thanks so much!
You can use a loftier batting – just make sure that it’s 100% cotton. Warm & Natural has a slightly thicker cotton batting that’s called Warm & Plush. It’s like 1 1/2 layers of their regular batting.
Remember too that if you’re using cuddle fleece, that adds its own loft. It’s a double-sided plush so it’s got a nap on both sides – not like minky that usually is flat on the back side. I find that when I use the regular batting it seems kind of flat at first, but then I add the cuddle fleece which adds weight and thickness, and then I wash the whole thing and that makes it crinkle up and get “loftier.” By the time I’m done it feels like a really good quilt – and it’s nice and warm with good weight to it. 🙂
Wendi, I can’t thank you enough for giving us all this information. It’s a pleasure to watch you teach in a way that is so easy to understand.
What would happen if you wanted to add borders?
I’ve got another post here about adding sashing or borders. https://www.shinyhappyworld.com/2017/04/add-sashing-quilt-go-quilt.html
I’m making my first applique quilt using your Woodland animals pattern and I want to use your QAYG method but I have a few questions: Do I need a special foot? How do I keep the lint from the exposed batting from clogging up my machine?
I never have problems with too much lint – but I’m pretty meticulous about cleaning my machine. I tend to work in sessions of a few hours and I always clean and oil it when I’m done so it’s ready to use the next time I want to sit down.
I have made the sea creatures quilt and some of the pieces such as the shark are double width i.e. 21″ long. Even though I have done QAYG, is this sufficient just to sew around the edges when doing the final quilting?
It really depends on the batting you used. Look at the wrapper and see what it says about required quilting distance. As long as you did that on the background block, you’ll be just fine. 🙂
I just completed my first qayg lap quilt. After the top with batting was attached, I decided to add a border around the entire quilt like a frame. Realized after I sewed on the border to the quilted blocks and had pinned the entire thing to the backing there was no batting under the border so it was obvious because it wasn’t as thick and was flimsy. I ended up just using fusible fleece to the borders but it wasn’t great. Any ideas on how to add a border as a frame just around the outside edges to qayg blocks before AND after quilting? Thanks, Lisa
There’s a post here with info about adding sashing to a QAYG quilt – you can use the same method for adding a border. 🙂 https://www.shinyhappyworld.com/2017/04/using-qayg-with-sashing-video-tutorial.html