Quilt As You Go Technique – Top Five Things to Know

Quilt as you graphic designed in Canva

Quilting – Coming or Going?

It’s been more than once or twice during the past few years I’ve been seriously quilting that I’ve run across the term “Quilt-As-You-Go” – QAYG, the acronym often used.

I never really gave it much thought until after I finished quilting a rather large quilt for my granddaughter’s Sweet 16 birthday. Now that her little sister has an upcoming Sweet 16, I’m beginning to think more about the feasibility of doing a QAYG as compared to the traditional machine quilting method.

Sizing Things Up

My machine, a Janome 9450 with an 11″ throat space, is designed for machine quilting large quilts. While I LOVE the added throat space, quilting a quilt larger than a throw or small twin size can still be still an arduous, back-breaking, shoulder-straining ordeal.

As a refresher, here is a nice chart I saved awhile back created by Caroline of SewCanShe:

* Quilt Size Chart*

Printable Quilt Size Chart - SewCanShe

Considering so many many quilts are typically made in the larger sizes (full to California King)

The dilemma is this – not all quilt designs are compatible with the QAYG method. I could not have done 100% QAYG with the 1st Sweet 16 quilt. What this means now is this: If I QAYG my second Sweet 16 quilt, the pattern will need to be altered or modified.

Let’s Be Considerate

So, you’ve decided to use the QAYG method for your next quilt However, there are few things (five actually!), you need to consider before starting a QAYG project:

1) Is your quilt pattern compatible with the QAYG method?

Technically, any quilt pattern can be quilted using the QAYG method however, if the main purpose of using the QAYG method is to save time and simplify the quilting process, it is best to have each block the same.

I say this because the pattern of th block often dictates what quilting pattern you use. This may mean using one particular quilting design for one block and then changing to a different design altogether for the next.

2) Will your quilt pattern use an equal number of four-sided blocks?

This may seem obvious but if an “artisan” or organic quilt design is desired, QAYG may not be the best option. Not saying it can’t be done however, in my experience, I have not seen it done.

3) If a dense quilt design is desired, this will alter the overall size of the quilt block.

Again, another reason to use a repetitive block design using an identical quilting pattern.

This will help ensure every block finishes at eh same exact size. When it doesn’t, it makes it really difficult to get corners to match up.

I’m learning to use a batting that doesn’t require stitches to be closer than 8″-10″ .

Here is an example of what happens when the pattern is too densely quilted:

Close up of  a portion of a quilt block with stitches too close together and batting that is too thin.

There is very little definition. The “quilting” is barely visible.

And here is the entire block:

Quilt block stitched using a densely quilt design

The quilting isn’t as prominent as I’d like it to be – in fact the image somehow shows more definition than is visible in person. Go figure.

In any event, placing all the blocks from QAL into one quilt top with so many quilting variations, in my opinion, is not going to look good.

When blocks of varying designs and patterns are used, the quilting needs to be the unifying element that brings it all together. The best way to accomplish this is to quilt the entire top as one unit using one consistent pattern.

4) Use fusible batting

When I first discovered fusible batting, I thought I had found the Holy Grail – THE technique that would forever render the process of creating and basting a quilt sandwich as easy as layering fabric and ironing.

Bosal Double Sided Fusible Batting

Instead, it became a lesson, one learned the hard way that fusible batting is primarily designed for QAYG and small quilt projects.

Again, if saving time is a high, if not your top priority, and you enjoy using fusible batting the time spent finishing your quilt will be significantly reduced.

The product shown above is one of my favorites. I order it online from ByAnnies but, be warned – it sells out fast!

5) Sashing or No Sashing?

QAYG is perfect for those quilt designs that require sashing between blocks.

The example below from ScrapFabricLove shows the appearance when two blocks are connected without sashing.

These blocks were likely created for demonstration purposes only however, I feel this example also illustrates the advantage of continuity in the quilting pattern from block to the next.

QAYG quilt blocks without sashing between the blocks

This one depicts two blocks joined using sashing:

Two QAYG quilt blocks joined together with sashing

For those of us that do not have or want a long arm quilting machine, the QAYG method has grown in popularity.

As for me, I’m definitely going to use this method in my next large quilt.

Want to Learn More?

The exact method I will use depends on the quilt pattern and as a source of both inspiration and instruction I will be visiting these tutorials:

1) Pattern Poole TV

2) Joining QAYG Blocks with Alisha Williams

3) OnPoint-TV and Quilting with Nancy

4) The Fat Quarter Shop

5) Missouri star Quilt Co.

I welcome your questions and comments and as always, please share you experiences using the QAYG method.

We are all here to learn something new!

3 thoughts on “Quilt As You Go Technique – Top Five Things to Know”

  1. Can I quilt-as- I -go on a wedding ring quilt. I’ve done quilts -as – go on other quilts I like it. But I can’t get on the floor anymore to pin my quilts. I waited for me to get real good on quilting before I made me a Wedding ring quilt. This one is for me.

    • Hi Ann,
      That’s a good question! Typically, interlocking quilt patterns such as the Wedding Ring or those with a bargello or tessellation type pattern are not suited for QAYG. There may be a few alternatives that you may want to consider. One that comes to mind is rather than use the wedding ring pattern for the entire quilt, just do a strip using the wedding ring design say, 1/3 the distance from the bottom edge of the quilt. The remainder of the quilt the solid background color.
      I’m thinking QAYG a ring motif in each of 12″ white squares. You could have maybe 3 rows of white squares then a row with the wedding ring quilting (think table runner style panel) and finish with maybe 2 rows of the white squares.

      Another option might be to applique a wedding ring pieced panel onto the quilt top.

      And yet another option: Reduce the size of wedding ring pattern to a wall hanging size. The would be the center square and add QAYG borders around the perimeter of the wedding ring pieced panel.

      Aside from those options, the only other alternative would be to use a long arm machine. If you are set on having the entire quilt made with the wedding ring pattern, and as much time and effort you will be investing in this project, I would look into sending it out to quilted by someone with a long arm machine.

      Good luck and I’d love to see the picture of your quilt when it’s finished!

  2. I used qayg for a large quilt. The only problem is joining the blocks. The joining seams need to be closer stitching to hold it together.


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