September 28, 2018

Quilt-As-You-Go; An Overview Part 1

Earlier in September, I did a presentation about Quilt-As-You-Go (QAYG) for my local quilt guild, the BoulderMQG. The intent of the presentation was to give an overview of different QAYG methods
and briefly cover the basics of each technique.

I'd like to share the information I covered in the presentation here on my blog over the next few days. These posts are not QAYG tutorials but they do include links to the tutorials I used. My hope is that you will be inspired to give QAYG a try. I know I certainly learned a lot and will definitely be using them in future projects.

I offered to do the presentation because I have always been curious about QAYG. As someone who doesn't really enjoy the process of machine quilting, I wondered if using QAYG would provide an easier way for me to finish my quilts. At present, I finish about 1/3 of my quilts myself, 1/3 are sent to a longarm quilter and sadly, the final 1/3 are tops hanging in a closet waiting . . . and waiting . . . and waiting to be finished. Can you relate?

I've used QAYG in the past to make a couple of small projects including this couch runner which was included in the book Stitch 'n Swap: 25 Projects to Sew, Give and Receive" by Jake Finch(the book is out of print but is still available on Amazon in case you're interested)

couch runner, table runner, QAYG
Stitch and Flip runner with additional wavy quilting added after piecing.

Until I started the research, I had no idea just how many different ways there are to do QAYG.
I was actually quite overwhelmed with the number of methods I found online. Every quilter seems to have their unique take on how they do it.

In the end, I settled on five different methods that I felt gave a broad overview of QAYG.
These category names are of my own making.

QAYG Methods:

  1. Stitch and Flip
  2. Block by Block without Joining Strips
  3. Block by Block with Joining Strips
  4. Row by Row with Backing
  5. Self Binding
I'd like to share a brief summary of each of these five methods over the next 5 days so you can decide for yourself whether QAYG might be right for you.

Method 1: Stitch and Flip

Stitch and Flip is probably the most recognized technique. The process is very similar to foundation piecing but instead of using a fabric foundation you piece directly onto the batting. A piece of fabric is sewn in place, flipped open and another piece is added and flipped open. The top is secured to the batting at the same. This method works well for simple quilted projects like pot holders, mug rugs, placemats, and table runners. It also works for small quilts.

Stitch and Flip can be done with or without the backing fabric in place. It will primarily depend on what type of piecing you are doing and whether you care about how the back looks. When the piecing starts and ends off the edge like side by side strip piecing, then the backing fabric can be included and the only thing that will show on the back is each seam line running from edge to edge.

Piecing starts and stops off the edge so seam lines run edge to edge with no cross over.

Here is a good tutorial for QAYG placemats like the one above.

Stitch and Flip also works well with piecing that starts in the center and builds outward.
A log cabin block is a good example.

Log cabin strip and flip piecing sewn directly to the batting and backing.

As you piece outward, the stitching lines that show on the back will cross over on the ends. If the backing fabric is a busy print, this stitching probably won’t show up that much. It all depends on how much piecing is involved and whether it matters how the back looks. You can see how the stitching lines cross over below.

This photo shows how the seam lines cross over on the back side of the log cabin shown above.
If you don’t want this look on the back, then piece/quilt using only the top and batting. Attach the backing later with minimal additional quilting to hold all 3 layers together.

One place where you may not want to include the backing is when additional quilting lines are added as the pieces are sewn in place. This type of QAYG is great for making pillow tops and panels for bags or other small projects where the back is never seen.

Front side of Stitch and Flip QAYG with additional quilting added as each strip is sewn.

The additional quilting lines will cross over each other and create a much messier looking back as shown below.

Back side of pink example above shows how quilting lines cross over each other.

I used this tutorial for the above sample.

Method 1 Summary

  • Stitch and Flip is quick and very easy for small projects, especially ones made with strips.
  • It’s a good way to use up small pieces of batting.
  • Stitch and Flip with the backing included can be harder to handle on large projects. In my opinion, managing all three layers at once on a larger scale simply defeats the purpose of making the quilting easier.
  • Use a walking foot.
  • I don't recommend poly batting due to the ironing that is required. 
  • Cut the batting and backing oversize by approx. 1”. The quilting tends to draw up the overall dimensions so it’s best to allow for this and trim to size afterwards.
  • It can be helpful to draw an outline of the area to be covered with fabric on the batting so each piece of fabric added is large enough to cover the area.

I'm working on completing a set of placemats using this method so stay tuned for the final reveal. I will also eventually finish the pink wonky log cabin and perhaps make a small pillow from the top.

I'll be back tomorrow with Method 2: Block by Block without Joining Strips. In the meantime, check out my QAYG Pinterest board for pins of these and other tutorials on QAYG methods. I also have pinned quilts that I thought might work well with each method.



  1. For anyone commenting, I'm reading and really appreciate your comments but am still not sure I have my blog set up to get notifications.

  2. I'm so glad you're doing this set of QAYG summary posts! You're so methodical and your writing is very clear, so I'll be referring people to these posts for sure. I've already learned something, and I'm looking forward to reading about the other methods.

  3. I missed this before but am glad to see it now. I'm also going to link to it and Part 2 in my next newsletter. Thanks for the good resource!

  4. What a great series you are presenting Anne! I’m going to save all your posts because I really want to try this method one day.

  5. So glad to get to read your findings and research. As usual, even your samples are a glory of wonderful color. You inspire me!

  6. I've done very little QAYG, so glad you are covering this, Anne!

  7. Well done! Appreciated your insights!


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