The Quilt As You Go lessons, videos and patterns are the most popular pages here at Shiny Happy World. That makes sense! It’s a super easy and fun way of quilting, and I don’t know of anyone else who does it quite the way I do.
Over time I’ve added a bunch of tutorials to answer questions, demonstrate specific steps, and make things as easy as possible. It’s time for one page to corral all those Quilt As You Go instructions!
If you want to work through these lessons in a systematic way, you can find them all here.
Every single lesson is free, and you can use any pattern to practice all your new skills!
Getting Started with Quilt As You Go
If you’re just getting started and want to know what the heck QAYG is, start with this video – What Is Quilt As You Go and How Do You Do It? Then jump to this video – How to Assemble and Finish Your QAYG Quilt.
Those two videos will give you a basic overview of the process. You’ll find lots more videos in the sections below.
Cutting the Fabric
I’m currently rewriting all of my patterns to these cutting instructions. . .
Cut the blocks and batting 11 inches square (or even a smidge bigger – it doesn’t have to be exact). This will give you a little wiggle room and I like wiggle room.
After you quilt and applique the block, then trim the block to 10 1/2″ square. (There’s a video demonstrating this here.)
Sew the blocks together using 1/4″ seam allowance so that the finished block size is 10 inches. (Watch How to Join Quilt As You Go Blocks here.)
For half blocks (like adding words to your quilt) cut the initial blocks 11 x 6 inches. After quilting and applique, trim to 10 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches. Finished blocks will be 10 x 5 inches – exactly half the size of a full block. (Quilt Block Sizes for Alternate Grid Layouts has lots more info about half blocks and double blocks.)
I get a lot of questions about how I quilt my blocks. Here are some specific answers. . .
- I don’t baste the batting to the block. I find that the cotton fabric clings just fine to the cotton batting and I don’t have problems with shifting.
- I don’t mark any of my quilting patterns – I just jump in and start doodling on the machine and it’s lots of fun.
- I don’t use a special needle or thread – just a universal 80/12 needle and regular all-purpose thread.
- I do set my stitch length a little longer – a 3 on my machine. I like the look of the bigger stitches and it makes the quilting go faster. 🙂
- I do use a walking foot. All the quilting patterns I currently use work fine with the feed dogs and walking foot engaged – through I think this method would also work very well for people learning free motion quilting. That will be me someday. 🙂
You can watch how I do it and see a gallery of quilting pattern ideas in the following videos. . .
Piecing or Applique?
You can use QAYG for piecing or applique – but I especially love it for applique. I quilt all my blocks first, and then I applique over the quilting.
A lot of people ask – don’t the quilting lines show through your applique when you do the quilting first?
I’ve done a lot of experimenting with that and I’ve gotten to a place where that almost never ever happens. Here’s what to do. . .
- Use 100% cotton fabric. The worst show through I’ve had is when I’ve accidentally used a piece of mystery fabric that turned out to have synthetic content. 🙁
- Iron your quilted block nice and smooth and let it cool without moving before adding your applique. It’s an extra step, but it only takes a few seconds and it makes a big difference.
If you’re really worried about it, you can do the quilting after you applique. I give tips on that for lots of different patterns in these videos.
If you’re thinking about using QAYG for a pieced quilt – take a look at this gorgeous scrap quilt.
More About Applique
This is the applique technique I use for all my quilts. When combined with QAYG it’s a super fun, easy and fast technique – great for beginners of all ages and still fun for experienced sewists.
I usually outline all my pieces with all-purpose black thread and a simple straight stitch. I love the slightly cartoony look and I think it works well with the style of my applique designs.
I get a LOT of questions from people worried about the durability of just outline stitching. They don’t want to satin stitch, but they think they have to in order to keep the edges from fraying. I’ve never had problems with that with the materials I use – click here to read more and see some photos of a quilt that’s been washed a kajillion times.
Of course, you can use any decorative stitching you choose if that’s the look you want! I’m more likely to stick with the straight stitch and use a thicker thread if I want a heavier line. Read more about playing with different thread weights here.
Final Assembly and Quilting
After trimming, I sew my blocks together just like any quilt. Just sew through the top and the batting – pretend the batting isn’t there. Watch me sew QAYG blocks together in this video.
I press my seams open to eliminate bulk. You do NOT need to trim the batting out of the seam allowance. That would very quickly turn this into a not-fun technique. 😛
You don’t need to stick with the layout suggested in the pattern. This post has a bunch of fun variations to try.
Baste your finished quilt top to your back using whatever method you like. I have had nightmare experiences with spray basting, so I stick to pins. You can see how I baste a quilt here.
Quilt the top to the backing just along the major seam lines. Sometimes I stitch in the ditch using a straight stitch, sometimes I stitch 1/4″ to each side of my major seams. Sometimes I use a zigzag or decorative stitch to quilt those seams. All of those options work equally well.
- This video has general machine quilting instructions.
- This video has tips for quilting a full-sized quilt on a regular machine.
- This video shows exactly how I quilt my quilts with cuddle fleece on the back and answers a lot of reader questions.
- This post has lots of tips for using decorative stitches to quilt.
Bind your finished quilt just like any other quilt using your favorite method. This video shows my favorite quilt binding method.
Whew! That’s a lot of information! Please email me if you have any questions that aren’t covered here. I’m always adding new info as needed!
If you’re ready to jump in and start quilting – here are a few posts to help you choose (or design!) a pattern. . .
- Choosing a Quilt Pattern
- How to Work with Digital Patterns
- Tips for Turning Any Drawing, Embroidery Pattern, or Clip Art into an Applique Pattern