Feb 262012

The Free Motion Quilting Project had a post on QAYG quilts, something I’ve tried a few times. In fact, I’ve done a half-dozen or so Quilt-As-You-Go quilts, all with different methods. I don’t have digital pictures for all of them though.

The first one, I was learning to quilt with a walking foot and a long way from trying free-motion quilting. My sewing machine at the time did not have a way to lower the feed-dogs, and I enjoyed hand quilting, so why bother with free-motion?

But hand-quilting was out. No way could I finish a queen-size quilt in time for a wedding. Not even in time for the accepted one-year window after the wedding. And I knew I’d have trouble quilting a queen-size quilt by machine, I’d done the one for our bed with very simple straight line quilting and it was a struggle. So I figured QAYG would be the way to go. Just like me to try out a new technique on a wedding gift, too.

I made maple-leaf blocks, and quilted a simple straight-line design on them. Honestly, I don’t remember exactly what I did, either in the ditch or echo of some sort. Once all the blocks were quilted, I attached them with sashing. I cut 2 1/2 inch strips, one for the top and two for the bottom.

After trimming the blocks to the correct size, I sewed a top and a bottom sashing strip along one edge of block 1. Then on block two I sewed the other side of the top sash and the other bottom sashing strip on the bottom.

Can’t remember what I did about batting, maybe added in little strips to fill the space. Anyway, the two blocks were joined on the top, but not yet on the bottom. I ironed the top, same as I would joining two unquilted blocks, then flipped it over, took care of the batting, and ironed the two back sashing pieces over.

I folded the edge of the upper one over, to hide the raw edge, and stitched it down by hand. Once I had rows assembled I did the same thing. It made a nice two-sided quilt, as I’d used different backing fabrics for the blocks. In fact, my sister confessed she liked the back better than the front!

That quilt convinced me there had to be a way to do this without the hand sewing. I tried two methods, and no longer remember which was first. For one, I left the backing squares extra-large, at least an inch all the way around, when I layered and quilted the blocks. Then I trimmed them to a uniform size, but still bigger than the tops. I sewed the backs together first, adjusted the batting to fit, and added a 2-inch “bias” type strip (they weren’t cut on the bias) over the top, straight-stiching close to the edge to fasten it down.

In essence I appliqued a strip to cover the seam, but on the front as part of the overall design. You could do any shape you wanted, really.

I also tried doing it like the first one, but quickly basting the seam then using a quilting design along the sashing that would hold the bottom pieces in place. (A simple braid or twist worked.) For a wall-quilt you could probably leave the raw edge as is when you fold the back pieces into place, fuse it down, then quilt over it to hold everything. For this diagonal setting I also pre-quilted the triangles. Then I added the border after the center was assembled, then quilted it.

Later I made a couple of small wallhangings from blocks I had quilted earlier. I did a narrower sashing on the top, probably the same size Leah used, and hand-stitched the back. They do not hang well though. Maybe blocking then fusing a new back in place would help?

Since then I’ve tried making some quilts in sections, to be easier to quilt. This one, for example (cow quilt) was quilted in four sections then assembled. I didn’t preplan anything though, which turned out to be a mistake. I sewed the sections together like a normal seam, then contemplated what to do on the back. I ended up doing some remedial work on the back to flatten then hide the seams. I ripped out all stitching on the seam allowance then carefully cut the batting away and trimmed the backing to about an 18th inch seam allowance. I left the front fabric longer, and ironed it open. I tried fusing strips of fabric to cover the seam, but they didn’t stick well and I ended up hand-stitching strips with edges folded under over it all. That was too much work and I don’t recommend this approach! The picture was taken before quilting, so you can see the sections. I haven’t taken an after picture yet.

More recently, I did this one (still waiting for binding) in two sections. Smarter this time, I left the edges to be joined unquilted. Once everything else was done I sewed the tops together, trimmed the batting edges so they would butt together, folded the backs over and folded the upper one to hide the raw edge, and hand-stitched the seam. Then I went back and quilted across the seam area. Only problem I had was maneuvering the full quilt under the needle when the rest of it was all quilted. It did not want to bunch up, and insisted on moving as a solid chunk no matter how I folded or scrunched it. (I’d had trouble with the quilt above too.) Picture show the top half after quilting – I need to take a few more pictures!

One idea I have not yet used, though I have a couple UFOs waiting, is to quilt row-length segments, starting in the center, then sewing the next row on and quilting it. Eventually you do have the full quilt to deal with, but you’re always working on the edge, never reaching into the center of a big quilt.

 February 26, 2012  Posted by at 3:03 pm Quilt As You Go No Responses »
Feb 212012

I’ve finished playing with Willa’s block for round one of the Improvi-Robin. I had fun, I hope she likes the result. Here’s what she sent me, a block plus trimmings:

I thought the color palette (green and purple) a bit limited, so when I went hunting in my scraps and leftovers and orphans and found some gold squares I grabbed them. I’d had a thought some time ago to frame the gold squares with dark purple. (Which tends to look black in the pics, but it is purple.) This seemed like a good project to try it on.

After pondering for awhile, I imagined a quasi-border around two sides with the framed gold squares. So I did some quick measuring and guestimating and ended up making 5 blocks. Gold centers, then the dark purple, then strips cut from Willa’s trimmings. Now the center needed something more. The block was okay as a block. A quilt full of them would have been a nice enough quilt. But it didn’t exactly catch the eye.

So I went shopping in my stash and found the iris print (did I mention Willa used all metallics? I tried to follow suit but the dark purple is not). Framed it with purple then carefully cut Willa’s block into strips for the outer frame. The leftover square from the center ended up cut in half for filler.

Then time to play on the design wall. Once I was done I sort of lost the border effect with the gold blocks. The lighter purple that winds through is supposed to be a sort of inner border or sashing. Maybe a hybrid?

I still needed some filler. Something not too bright, and found just the right thing in my orphan box. The HST portions were block halves leftover from something or other. I think maybe some blocks I made for a swap.

The final assembly required a few more strips, which I cut from the dark purple because that’s what I had available. The lighter purple was all gone, the scraps left from Willa’s block and trimmings were too small, the iris print would have stood out too much, so I used the purple. I think it needs a little bit more for balance but I couldn’t add it without adding more of, well, something. So I sent a piece on to the next person, she can add it in if she thinks it’s needed.

 February 21, 2012  Posted by at 8:28 pm Improvi-Robin No Responses »
Feb 102012

The Free Motion Project’s quilt along is still stippling. Week 5’s lesson was stippling in a block. I chose this block from my orphan-block charity quilt, and stippled in the background of the block with variegated thread.

This quilt is now all quilted, so I will need to find another project to use for the next lessons. Week 6 is stippling in sashing, I’m thinking maybe that table runner I listed for the Finish-along will do for that one. But not until my new Juki gets here, which I bought to use for free-motion work. Any day now!

 February 10, 2012  Posted by at 8:33 pm Uncategorized 5 Responses »