I thought I’d try it since I’ve seen all kinds of it online, this quilt-as-you-go thing. Not the sew one piece of fabric to another on top of the batting and backing fabric kind, but the quilt all your blocks separately and then join them together kind. I have quite a few fat quarters from Andover’s Downton Abbey fabric collection (BTW Andover fabric is absolutely lovely to work with, such great quality and it feels so nice!) so I decided to put a few together and try this out.
There are a few different methods for doing this and you can search them out, read about them, and see which one suits your style. But this method is the only one I found that interested me because it doesn’t involve sewing batting together into the adjoining seams – which just makes it sound and look unnecessarily bulky – and it gives a smooth and tidy finish.
The contrasting strips between blocks make the rest of the fabric pop, so some sashing is always nice, and this way you get it on the back too. So if you want to get really creative with colors and plan your layout (maybe prints on the front and solids on the back) you can have a cool and totally reversible quilt. Not to mention the fact that your backing fabrics can be smaller pieces rather than one large piece and even if they’re random, those joining strips tie it all together. I chose one fabric to back all my blocks, mostly because it was available to me and went well enough with the color scheme and print style of the front to fit my needs, and partly because I planned to do different stitching patterns in the blocks and I wanted a back that would hide all the random changes and look consistent. Maybe next time I will try for an adventure.
I won’t give you a tutorial because instructions are easily found online, but here is a link you can check out if you’re interested: The Happy Zombie QAYG
Some people like to machine stitch everything together, but this tends to stiffen up the areas where blocks are joined, so I prefer hand stitching the folded pieces that hide the seams on the back, just as I prefer to hand stitch my bindings to the back side of the quilt.
After trying this out, my humble (haha) opinion is that Quilt as you go would be good for:
- people who like to work in small chunks rather than dealing with a whole quilt at once
- people who like portable projects that can be taken anywhere that their sewing room isn’t
- people who have lots of practice blocks or fat quarter sandwiches that they’ve quilted during a class and want to put into something other than a reference pile
- people who prefer hand quilting and like to use a small frame in their lap
I might do this again, I might not; I’m kind of neutral on the idea. I do prefer working on a whole quilt, moving around it organically, to just quilting a smaller section, but I can see the practical application of the QAYG process for certain projects.
(As an aside, check out the new addition to the customer quilts page to see the one I just finished for my mom. She bought a piece of fabric that looked like blocks and asked me to quilt it. However, she has a real thing for burgundy, green, pink and flowers, and I’ve told her I’m declaring a moratorium on that combo because I’m just
sick of getting a little bored with it …!)