Quilt-As-You-Go is a technique that allows you to sew fabric pieces along with the batting and backing layers, so when your piecing is done the block is already quilted.
What you need:
- Sewing machine and cutting tools.
- Pattern (optional) – The Hexagon Log Cabin Placemat shown in this tutorial will be available soon, however you can use this technique for any other suitable patterns or for improv quilting.
- Backing fabric – Use a piece of fabric that is 1 1⁄2”-2″ larger than your block on each side.
- Batting – Same size as backing or slightly smaller. For the best result, use 100% cotton or 80/20 blend batting as it will be pressed as you go. Poly craft batting will work too, just be careful when you press the seams so that the batting does not stick to the iron, mini iron works great in this case.
- Fabric strips for quilt top.
- Pencil & ruler for marking.
- Basting spray or basting pins.
- Straight pins.
- Thread & needle suitable for the fabric weight you are using. Do not use fine threads to avoid breakages. For example, Aurifil 50/2 weight cotton thread & 80/12 needle are great for sewing cotton fabrics, but if you are working with denim strips, then you will need a thicker/stronger thread and a denim needle.
- Iron – You can use a regular iron if you work with cotton batting or mini iron if you work with poly craft batting.
- Foot – Choose a foot that works best for you; test it before you begin working on the project. You can use a walking foot, a 1⁄4” foot, or any other foot that you can adapt for sewing with a scant 1⁄4” seam allowance. Do not use a foot with an edge guide as it will catch on batting when you sew.
Let’s get started! Lay out the batting on wrong side of the backing fabric and baste the layers using pins or basting spray. I like basting spray for smaller projects as it’s fast and it holds the layers very well.
TIP 1: Registration Lines
To avoid shifting while sewing, mark 2 or more registration lines using regular pencil and a straight ruler; do not use a heat erasable marking pen as it will disappear when you press. If there is no pattern instructions for marking, you can just draw 1 vertical line and 1 horizontal line across the center.
Depending on the pattern, there might be more than 2 registration lines. Refer to these lines as you go to make sure that the left and the right edges are the same and the center of the top and bottom pieces are aligned with the vertical line. To determine the center of a strip, fold it in half and finger press.
TIP 2: Sewing & Pressing
Construction is essential for the quilt-as-you-go method, especially if you are following a precise pattern. Sewing through 4 layers decreases your seam allowances because the extra bulk in the seam. If you are off by just a hair from the beginning of your work, than each of the following pieces will be slightly longer than the previously pieced edge. A scant 1⁄4” seam allowance will help you fit all of the pieces together properly, just sew slightly inside the 1/4″ mark.
To avoid overlapping seams on the back, start and stop sewing 1⁄4” away from the edge.
Make sure to press each seam with a hot iron before attaching new strips; unpressed seams will affect your seam allowances and the pieces will not fit correctly.
TIP 3: Guiding fabric
If you do not have a 1⁄4” walking foot, use a small screwdriver to help the fabrics feed evenly by guiding the top layer.
Attach all pattern pieces in the same manner: Pin –> Sew –> Press –> Repeat. Once you finish the block, it is already quilted, but you can add additional quilting if you wish. Sew around the edges of the block to secure, then trim away the backing/batting edges. You can now bind your block to create a placemat or join blocks into a quilt (which might be another tutorial on my blog someday).
Here is a short video demonstration of the Quilt-As-You-Go technique.