The Free Motion Quilting Project: More Quilt As You Go Quilts

Monday, February 20, 2012

More Quilt As You Go Quilts

Last week we learned how to connect quilted pieces together using binding strips, which is my favorite Quilt As You Go method.

But as I said many times in that post, that was certainly on the ONLY way you can do this.

I've actually experimented with Quilt As You Go methods quite a bit from the very beginning of my quilting adventures. For a long time I was intimidated by the idea of quilting an entire quilt because I didn't understand basting and how to get all the layers together without pleats forming.

So for my very first quilt, I pieced 9 patch blocks, then quilt each in the ditch, then connected them together.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis also allowed me to make my first double sided quilt. The front is blue 9 patches, the back is a black and white checkerboard. I guess I was aiming for "overachiever" status with this first quilt...

free motion quilting | Leah DayUnfortunately I hadn't researched a good method for putting the quilted pieces together and got stuck at that point. The blocks were fully quilted to the edges and I knew absolutely NOTHING about binding so I carefully picked out the stitches on the edges, seamed together the blocks from the front, then zigzag stitched the back down. It ended up with a less than perfect finish:

free motion quilting | Leah Dayfree motion quilting | Leah DayWill this quilt hold together forever? Definitely not. I wouldn't suggest this as a good method for connecting a quilt that is going to be washed often and drug around. An art quilt / wall hanging might be able to get away with a solid satin stitch.

Now for the second Quilt As You Go technique I've played with, I bothered to do a bit more reading and had successfully bound at least one quilt, so I thought I had this whole quilting thing figured out like the back of my hand. LOL!

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis giant pink quilt was also my first foray into free motion quilting. 6 panels were quilted separately, then pieced together so from the front, you really can't tell this is quilt was created in pieces.

All I did to connect these panels was to stack them right sides together and run a 1/4" seam down the full seam, leaving all the bulk of both seam allowances to the back.

I then bound the bulk with regular binding strips.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe strips that run horizontal I stitched down to the back of the quilt so they're really not very noticeable. The vertical middle seam, however, was so big and bulky I didn't bother securing it down and as you can see from the photo above, it's quite noticeable and lumpy.

It's certainly not the prettiest finish, and you can definitely feel this when you cuddle up with this quilt.

It took a few more years and a bit more understanding of quilting and binding before I finally found the method I taught last Wednesday by playing with binding strips and simple addition to get the right widths.

free motion quilting | Leah DayI put together this little sampler quilt for the Beginner Free Motion Quilting Fillers DVD. My goal is to create several quilt patterns that are all designed to use this technique to put 24 to 30 inch pieces together. It's on my to-do list at least!

And before you run off thinking this is a "beginner" or "cheater" way of creating a quilt, it's definitely not!

A quilt made in pieces can be just as finely quilted as a quilt made the traditional way in one big piece. I proved that last year when Winter Wonderland won Best Machine Quilting at AQS Knoxville. Did you know this quilt was quilted in pieces?

free motion quilting | Leah DayEach block was quilted separately, then the blocks were connected using 1 inch binding strips on the BACK of the blocks.

To cover the front, I cut wide BIAS binding strips, folded them in half, stitched a seam down the side, then pressed them so the seam allowance was on the flat, bottom side.

free motion quilting | Leah DayThen using a lot of starch, a hot iron, and a heavy hand, I forced those strips into a wavy shape, then secured them on top over the raw edges between the snowflake quilt blocks.

It's basically the same Quilt As You Go technique, just stitched up a notch!

You can learn more about this specific way to connect the blocks together in the Winter Wonderland Quilt Pattern.

Of course, now that I stop to think about it, technically I've also used a Quilt As You Go method to create my Sun and Feathers quilted jacket:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis jacket is fully reversible with red fabric on one side and blue on the other. This was created using a regular Simplicity pattern #5345.

To create this jacket, I copied each piece - back, front, arm - onto a piece of graph paper. On this graph paper I marked not only the outer CUT line for the fabric, but also 5/8" for the STITCH line, and a line 1/2 inside this for the QUILT line. Each of these lines needs to be transferred the top, right side of each piece of the jacket.

I layered and quilted each piece, making sure to stay within the QUILT line at all times.

free motion quilting | Leah DayWhen all the pieces were quilted, I trimmed each to the CUT line, then pieced them together, making sure all the stitching was falling on the STITCH lines. When putting the pieces together, I only connected the top red fabric and the flannel middle layer.

Once the jacket was together in 1 piece, I trimmed the seam allowances of the flannel and pressed the red fabric open. Here you can see the blue fabric pinned out of the way so it wasn't caught in any of these seams and the red fabric pressed open:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThen it was a simple process of folding the blue fabric over, smoothing it over the red seam allowances. Then the opposite blue side was folded UNDER and hand stitched to secure along the seam line:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe result is a jacked that is 100% reversible, even over the tricky arm areas!

free motion quilting | Leah DaySo that's pretty much all the quilts I've created using this technique. If you have a Quilt As You Go quilt you've created and written about on your blog or website, link up that post below so we can all check it out!

Time to shut up and go quilt!



  1. Wow, Leah, some beautiful work there, especially your wonderful jacket.

  2. Hi Leah....I totally agree with Anne...the jacket is gorgeous and it doesn't look bulky at all. It appears to have such a nice drape. I'm in awe of the beautiful snowflake quilt....belated congratulations on the AQS win, btw!

  3. Thanks for sharing this a great information, Leah! I've done two quilt as you go quilts so far and I'm now a huge fan! I've got two more in the works too because it's such a great way to do FMQ for a large quilt on a more manageable scale.

  4. Leah, you are an inspiration! Now I want to try this technique on a jacket of my own... (deep breath, yes I can do this... breathe out...) lol. Thank you for sharing this Leah!

  5. Cool! I just posted a quilt that I made a year ago. I "learned" it from your blog, and a few others. Thanks! My first few posts in Feb show more detail, and Jan has each block described. LOVE that snowflake quilt, and the jacket is amazing!

  6. I love the jacket and simply amazed by your Winter Wonderland quilt! I would really, really like to try the quilt-as-you go method with those curvy bias lines going on. Just like that special touch.

  7. I am definitely interested in this method!! I like the idea of quilting on smaller pieces.

  8. I have been using the Quilt as you Go method for many years. I quilt--either hand or machine--the block to withing i/4 inch of the edge. Using your method I sew the blocks together, right sides facing, and then on the back hand stitch the seam down. You can't even see where the blocks are joined when the quilt is finished. Mary Frances

  9. Has anyone ever tried using a 'french seam'? You sew your pieces with WRONG sides together first, clip the seam allowance, then re-sew with RIGHT sides together (along the same seam). I have used it for making clothes with sheer or very delicate fabric. The seam allowance gets encased. I am going to give it a whirl on a small quilt to see if it would work.

  10. Can I just . . . O M G you just blew my mind with that jacket?! WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW


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