Quilt-As-You-Go Instructions

    by Fern Fischer

    About the Author

    Fern Fischer's print and online work has appeared in publications such as Midwest Gardening, Dolls, Workbasket, Quilts for Today and Cooking Fresh. With a broader focus on organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles, she specializes in topics involving antique and modern quilting, sewing and needlework techniques.


    Quilt-as-you-go is a great technique for new quilters and those who like to take hand work with them wherever they go. Quilt-as-you-go quilts break a big job into smaller pieces and make the whole enterprise easier to manage. The idea of carrying along small "bites" of a quilt appeals to many quilters. Rather than piecing together a complete quilt top, and then layering it with the batting and backing and mounting it in a stationary quilting frame, or running the whole thing through a sewing machine, these projects allow you to work block-by-block. The block is pieced, layered with batting and backing and then quilted as a block, so all of the quilting is finished on each block before the blocks are ever joined together.


    No large quilting frame is needed with this method. Blocks can be pieced and quilting by hand or machine.
    To make a quilt-as-you-go project, you will need enough quilt blocks to make the size quilt you want, and the same number of backing fabric squares and batting squares cut 2 inches larger than the blocks. The extra 2 inches allows for potential puckering from quilting stitches and provides a way to sew the blocks together once they are all quilted.
    To quilt-as-you-go by hand, you'll need to assemble a sewing kit with the following supplies: sewing thread, hand sewing needles, quilting thread, hand quilting needles, quilting thimble, scissors, ruler, long quilting pins, and a small quilting hoop or adjustable lap frame to fit the block size.
    To quilt-as-you-go by machine, assemble all the blocks by machine as you normally would. You may then hand or machine quilt the blocks.
    Keep your sewing kit ready so it will be easy to take along with a couple of block sets when you want to carry your project with you.


    Use quilt blocks you have previously pieced or embroidered, or simply use squares of fabric. Make a quilt sandwich from one backing fabric, one batting, and one quilt block. The WRONG sides of the fabric blocks should face the middle batting layer. Baste or pin the layers, and quilt the entire block. You will need to leave at least 1/2 inch on all four edges free from quilting stitches, because these edges will be opened slightly when you join the blocks together.
    When all blocks have been quilted, trim them to the exact same size using a square acrylic ruler and rotary cutter.
    Place two blocks with top sides facing. Fold down the backing fabric and batting layers. Sew the top layers of the quilt blocks together along one edge, using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Open the joined blocks and lay them face down on a table. Trim the batting edges so they are butted together and flat, or feather the two edges of the batting together so they lie flat. Flatten one edge of backing fabric over the seam line on the back. Fold under the edge of the other side of backing fabric, and let it overlap the first. Blind stitch the folded overlap along the seam line.
    When all blocks have been joined in this manner, join them into rows, then use the same technique to join the rows to make the quilt. Trim the quilt's outer edges if necessary to make them even, and bind the quilt.
    Tip: If you want sashing between the quilt blocks, add sashing strips to the block design as a border so the sashing is part of the block. Layer, quilt and finish the blocks, and continue joining the blocks and rows as above. Be sure to allow extra for sashing strips when you cut the backing and batting squares.