September 30, 2018

Quilt-As-You-Go; An Overview Part 3

Back again with Part 3 of my Quilt-As-You-Go overview sharing the third of five methods I presented to the BoulderMQG at our September meeting. You can see Part 1 and Part 2 by clicking the links if you missed them.

Just a reminder that 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.

Method 3: Block by Block with Joining Strips

Yesterday, in method 2, I discussed joining quilted blocks without joining strips. This method results in seams with a double layer of batting which means bulky seams. The extra bulk is manageable but even so, it's there. One way to eliminate this bulk is to use joining strips between the blocks. When joining strips are used there are never any areas where the batting is doubled up. There is no extra bulk.

The basic process involves sewing your blocks as you normally would. Once the blocks are complete, they are individually layered with batting and backing and quilted, block by block. It's like quilting several mini quilts. Then the quilted blocks are joined together with strips that are sewn to both the front and back side encasing the seams.

Standard joining strips finish at 1/2” so that it just covers the seams when two blocks are butted together. The photo below shows a 1/2" joining strip.

However, these joining strips can be any width you want. Wider strips just mean adding strips of batting to fill the gap.

Whether the strips are narrow or wide, they will appear as sashing between the blocks. But they can also be cleverly blended into the block to eliminate the appearance of sashing. This Bento Box design is a good example of how the strips are camouflaged and appear to be part of the block. Notice the additional quilting lines that have been added to the joining strips. This secures the batting in place.

My favorite tutorials for QAYG using joining strips is by Marianne of The Quilting Edge.
She does amazing QAYG work and in many cases you would never know how the pieces are joined.
Here is her tutorial which covers both narrow and wide joining strips.

Another good resource is YouTube video which covers the basics of both narrow and wide joining strips.

Method 3 Summary

  • Works really well for large projects.
  • Seams are flat because there is no batting in the seam allowance.
  • It’s easier to machine quilt smaller units like blocks or sections.

  • Not all designs look good with sashing between the blocks.
    Look for ways to camouflage the sashing so it appears to be part of the block.
  • Requires more batting and backing fabric.
  • Working with long joining strips to join the rows can get more cumbersome
    but is still quite doable. 

  • I prefer fusible batting which makes quilting the individual blocks easy since
    there are no pins to deal with. 
  • Before joining blocks, sew 1/8” around the edge of the rimmed block to secure any quilting that might be cut when the block is trimmed.
  • Batting and backing fabric should be at least 1-2" bigger all around to provide something to hang on to when quilting the blocks.
  • When adding joining strips, especially narrow strips, check your 1/4” seam to be sure the seams butt together and there is no gap in the batting. I strongly recommend doing a small test join before cutting all your strips to ensure you have the right strip width and the right seam allowance.

There are many different tutorials out there. The cut width of strips varies. Some require pressing an edge under while others use a double layer folded over. This double fold uses more fabric but creates a much cleaner edge to stitch down and is much easier to do. Read several tutorials and see which one makes sense for you.

I'll be working on finishing my Bento Box quilt over the next several weeks and will post about it when I'm done. If all goes well, this will be the first queen sized quilt to be finished entirely my me.
Wish me luck.

I'll be back tomorrow with Method 4: Row by Row with Backing. 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. Another interesting method Anne! Sending good luck to you for a successful completion of your Bento Box quilt! You can do it!

  2. Ann, I am way behind on reading blog posts and have just seen these super three Overviews of QAYG, I'm going to be reading them thoroughly after lunch but what I have read so far is brilliant - thanks so much.

  3. I'd never thought about "disguising" the seams so they don't identify themselves as sashing--such a great idea. I love how your sample looks so different, depending on the application of that priciple. Thank you for this series!

  4. This is the method I used to make our queen size quilt. The layout was 7x7 large blocks with sashing, so I made four sub quilts and joined them with the same sashing so it all blends in. I'll add to your tips that dark sashing (like black or navy blue) can really hide the joins well!

    If you're wondering how to divide a 7x7 into fourths, the subquilts were 3x3, 4x4, and two 3x4 block layouts :)


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