Quilt As You Go: Joining Quilt Blocks
For quilting enthusiasts who work on home sewing machines rather than a longarm, the quilt-as-you-go method can be a real space saver. It’s not only a great way to finish large quilts on a small machine, but this technique is a fun way to piece together smaller projects like the panels for a patchwork bag, zippered pouch or pot holder.
Learn more about quilting as you go with these fun projects and tutorials for joining blocks.
Maureen Cracknell shares a tutorial for joining pre-made quilt blocks via the quilt-as-you-go method. Each quilt block is pin-basted to a square of batting slightly larger than the block, then quilted with straight lines. After the excess batting is trimmed from each block, the blocks are joined together with a 1/4” seam and the seams are pressed open to prevent bulky seams. The quilted top can be attached to a quilt back by stitching in the ditch along the seam lines. When you quilt as you go, it makes it much easier to achieve tight quilting lines without turning your whole quilt on the sewing machine after each row.
Quilt as you go to make a stunning piece of clothing, like this Sun and Feathers quilted jacket by Leah Day. To make the jacket, she cut out the pattern pieces and transferred them to graph paper and added an extra seam allowance for the quilting, stitching and cutting. After the pieces were quilted, she trimmed and joined the panels, pressing the seams open. This is an example of detailed quilting that could not be completed without the quilt-as-you-go method, simply because of the garment’s shape.
Another way to quilt as you go is to create mini quilts out of your blocks, which have a front, batting and backing. To join these blocks, you can use the method of sewing strips over the front and back of the raw edges as detailed by Andrea of the blog Welsh Quilter. This quilt-as-you-go technique can be a great solution for quilters trying to complete large quilts on a small machine. The finished quilt essentially looks like it has quilting binding between each of the blocks, but you can use a neutral color to achieve a look that resembles regular sashing. Andrea recommends finishing the back seam by hand sewing.
If you prefer to avoid the thick seams created by other quilt-as-you-go techniques, you might want to stitch your batting pieces together by hand. By trimming the raw edges of batting to fit together just right, you can blanket stitch the batting together to join quilted blocks without a bulky seam. To finish, press under the backing fabric and hand stitch to close the seam.
If you have some fusible seam tape, you can also use that to join together two pieces of batting to quilt as you go. This tutorial at Into Craft shares how to join pre-quilted blocks together with seam tape and water-soluble glue. This method is less bulky than others, and is finished by stitching three rows of straight stitching to the front of the quilt, which secures the previously glued joining strips.
Looking to jump right in and try out the quilt as you go method? Tara Rebman’s Crafty class Quilt-as-You-Go Patchwork Bags will guide you through the steps of this fun technique as you create a warm-up project, a pot holder, and the stunning “Tinker” patchwork bag. You’ll learn techniques for finishing your bag with a hidden zipper pocket, magnetic closure and bias binding.