My last quilt post was a traditional quilt – piecing together fabric for the front, adding a backing, and quilting (stitch in the ditch method) to attach the two.
Another method of quilting is called quilt as you go. As the name suggests, rather than making a front and quilting the back on, you’re going to make the quilt as a whole – front, back, and quilting, all in one step.
Before we start, I’ll begin with some warnings about quilt as you go:
- The seams you sew are going to be much bulkier than a traditional quilt; instead of the maximum thickness being two layers of front, one of back fabric, and one of the middle batting layer (at the seams of the front side), it’s two times the back plus two times the front plus two times the middle layer (if there is one). It saves time, but at the expense of bulk. (That being said, I try to use this method without a batting layer, so it cuts down on the lumps)
- It can only be used for strips – not blocks. You can, however, make your blocks, sew them into strips, then quilt as you go to complete the project.
- You’ll need to think about the order your placing your fabric layers before you sew to avoid undoing and redoing. Again, it’s a little more work from the outset, but saves sewing time in the end.
OK, now that my disclaimers are done, let me show you how easy this is!
I’m doing a “cheater quilt” for an example here – I had some fleece given to me that was already cut, but not big enough for a blanket, so I decided to just add a couple of strips on the top and bottom to make it into a blanket about 30″x40″. Not a lot of work, but it comes out cute (and I’ll be making a few of these to donate to Project Night Night, as in my last quilt post).
I started by placing my two fleece pieces wrong sides together (right sides facing out)… I know fleece doesn’t really have a right or wrong side, but this can be applied to any fabric, so I’m being specific here. Then you’re going to place your adjacent fabric to the front right side down, lined up along the edge you want to attach to (you may also want to pay attention to the right side up/upside down direction, depending on your quilt). Then fold it down (or flip it over if it’s just a small piece), and do the same with your back side – place your new piece of fabric right side down on the back. I know that’s a lot of words, so here’s a picture to demonstrate what I’m talking about:
Then, just sew along the edge. You can see here what I mean by bulk – there are lots of layers in that seam! Now, open up the quilt so all the good sides are showing. You’re done the first seam! Because of how I’m making my blanket, I’m just doing the same thing over again on the other side of the fleece, but if you want to continue from the pieces you just sewed on, just repeat the first process! Put your new piece for the front good sides together along the edge you want it attached, flip over and do the same on the back, sew up the edge, and open it up again.
If you’re adding batting, it needs to go either on the very top or very bottom of all your fabric layers (cut in the same size strips as the front and back pieces). Either way works, just make sure you do it the same for each strip you add, or your quilt seams will look different.
The first project I tried this method with was a life-size checkers set I made for my nieces – the squares were 3″, so the whole board was about 3 feet square. I made strips by alternating black and white squares, then used the quilt as you go method to attach the strips, batting in the middle, and canvas for the back. I used the serger on this, too, which cut down on the bulk by trimming off excess in the seams.
I really love quilt as you go when I’m trying to get a simple quilt done pretty quickly. It’s definitely a time saver, and all your seams match up perfectly at the end. If I had tried stitch in the ditch quilting on my checkerboard, it wouldn’t have turned out quite as pretty because the thread would have shown on either the black or the white squares. This method eliminated that issue. It also saves you from having to pin the front and the back, and you never need to worry about puckering or folds when you’re quilting.
Give quilt as you go a try, you’ll be glad you did!