Quilt-As-You-Go Quilt

QAYG detailAfter reading two books about the quilt-as-you-go technique, I finally decided to give it a whirl. Marguerita McManus, the author of Finish Almost Any Quilt and Quilt As You Go Reimagined, has been using this technique for years to finish quilts quickly. And it really does go fast—with lots of touchstones along the way that make you feel like you’re really getting something accomplished.

Basically, in quilt-as-you-go, you create quilted blocks first that you then join together to make the quilt (rather than making the whole top and then quilting it to the back). My machine quilting could use some work, so I thought this would be a great way to get some practice.

Once I overcame the block washing incident, I started on the quilting. Marguerita stresses figuring out a quilting path that allows you to keep going without stopping—something I’m not very good at. I figured out a way to quilt the pinwheel with one continuous line, and then I echo quilted around the pinwheel three times. I’d hit the edge of the block, so echo quilting wasn’t going to work anymore. So then I just made straight lines radiating out, each of which required that I start and stop at the beginning and the end. Rats! Well, at least I did some continuous quilting!

QAYG quilting

The next step is to join the blocks together with joining strips. It’s possible to hide the joining strips a bit by using the background block fabric, for instance. But I didn’t plan that far ahead for this quilt. So may joining strips are a different fabric that is quite noticeable (and noticeably quilt-as-you-go). Marguerita’s method is to sew on half of the front joining strip and half of the back joining strip at the same time. Then you sew the second side of the back joining strip. Once you do this, the two blocks you are joining should be butted up against each other.

QAYG joining strip 1

To finish the joining, you flip the front joining strip over the seam and topstitch in place.

QAYG joining strip

The same technique is done if you want to add borders to the quilt. I needed to in this case because my blocks shrunk so much when I washed them that I needed to add a bit on to meet the 40″ requirement for the Ronald McDonald House Charity. You quilt the borders and then join them to the quilt. In the image below, my very narrow border is quilted and now I’m ready to sew on the first half of both the back joining strip and the front joining strip.

QAYG border

QAYG top

I used the same fabric for the joining strips on the front and back of the quilt, so the back as a noticeable grid as well.

QAYG back

The quilt really did go quickly—so much so that Greg noticed. And I’m pretty happy with the result. There are some places where royal blue thread is showing on the white backing fabric, so that’s kind of a bummer. But that could be avoided if I had planned the quilt a bit better. And that’s where I’m not sure this method is a great fit for me. I’m very used to planning just my quilt tops. Then they sit around for a long time, and after a while, I make a plan for the quilting, backing and binding. So to plan for the whole quilt at one time will be a challenge, especially if I want to hide the joining strips and buy enough of each fabric on the first pass. But man, did it go fast…

Next, I’ll add a label and send it through the wash again (this time I won’t agitate it, Mom). Then it’s off to the Ronald McDonald House!


Completed I-Spy Rainbow Quilt

Finished ISpy RainbowThe I-Spy Rainbow Quilt is finished! This quilt was so much fun to work on. Even switching out the threads to quilt each section was fun—the threads were all so darn pretty!

ISpy quilting

The quilting is just straight lines in the colored areas with minimal quilting on the I-Spy fabrics (as I didn’t want them to get too cluttered). I wished I liked the quilting part more, so I could make gorgeous, heavily quilted quilts. But as is, it holds the layers together and that’s what it needs to do. (Sorry for the weird light in this shot.)

ISpy Rainbow back

I’m pretty happy with the way the back turned out, too, considering it was an experiment in improv piecing.

For the binding, I just used four of the solid fabrics, one on each side. My dream was to make the binding match the solid fabric changes on the sides of the quilt, but that dream faded away pretty quickly—so. much. measuring. So I chose two colors for the sides, and then matched the fabrics on the top and bottom.

And, of course, a quilt isn’t really done until it has a label. The label fabric is one of the leftover I-Spy Spoonflower blocks.

ISpy labelNext up, this baby goes into the wash (to help wash away my label grid marks), and then off to the Ronald McDonald House, hopefully to go to some rainbow-loving child.

Finished Girly Quilt

And here it is—the finished girl quilt for Ronald McDonald House! (Here’s a link to the first post I wrote about this quilt.)

The charity asks that all quilts be washed before they are donated, so this is the washed version. I didn’t pre-wash the fabrics before I made the quilt, so once washed, it ended up with a slightly puckered, soft look, making it extra cozy.

My dragonfly pal made it through the wash pretty well. The writing I had done on the wing was a bit light to begin with, and it seemed to fade in the wash. So I’ll go over it again—a little darker this time—before I send it off to its new home. Fly away, dragonfly pal, fly away!


Girly Quilt for Ronald McDonald House

I have a work-in-progress for you today: a girly quilt for the Ronald McDonald House charity. The first quilt I made for them had a boyish vibe, so I thought I’d make this second one a bit more girly. And girly it is.

I didn’t have a very clear plan as I making the quilt top. I had only a third of a yard of the two fabrics I wanted to feature—the purple floral and the dragonfly fabric that I picked up at Lavender Street—so I knew I would need to be creative. I decided to forgo borders on this quilt and designed the whole 40-inch length and width with 8-inch blocks. I did realize I needed to add something to stretch this to a quilt, so I stopped down to Sewn Studio and picked up the purple gingham. I made the pieced blocks uniform, at least to the extent that there’s a dragonfly print, a teal fabric, and a white and gray print, in that order, in each block.

Once I got the blocks cut and pieced, I played around a lot with the layout. I decided to keep the purple floral central and to use the gingham more as filler. I oriented the pieced blocks so on the inside the dragonflies were toward the purple floral, but they were toward the outside along the edges of the quilt. This made kind of cool pattern of the teal strips, too.

For once I actually had enough of one fabric—the purple gingham—for the backing! But after cobbling together so many quilt backs, I decided one fabric seemed a bit too plain. So I was super daring and tried my hand at raw-edge applique to create a dragonfly label based on the dragonflies in the print on the front of the quilt. I drew my dragonfly on Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, cut out the pieces, and placed them on fabric. I then cut out the fabric pieces and ironed them to the white and gray background fabric. I used a zigzag stitch to secure the applique pieces, and then pieced the whole label into the backing fabric.

I was so happy with my applique dragonfly that I really didn’t want to mess him up with random quilting. So after stitching in the ditch on the front of the quilt, just enough to get things secure, I turned the quilt over, and quilted around my dragonfly.

With that territory now set aside for the dragonfly, I turned the quilt over back to the front, and I’m finishing the quilting, taking care not to bother my dragonfly.

I’m doing simple straight lines to mimic the straight lines on the pieced block, and I’ll add a wavy line in each of the teal strips.

And for the floral and gingham blocks, I’m trying my hand at flowers using my walking foot.

I still have a good bit more quilting to do on this one, but I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turning out. I’m hoping this one will make a little girl feel a bit of comfort in the next few weeks.

Finished Quilt for Ronald McDonald House

In record time, I finished the quilting for this quilt that I’ll be donating to our local Ronald McDonald House charity. (Here’s my blog post on making the quilt top.) I usually get stalled on the quilting. I don’t practice enough to be good at it, and because I’m not good at it, I don’t practice. You can see my problem.

But for this quilt, I decided to dive into the quilting before the first layer of dust settled on the quilt top. Because of the animal theme, I titled the quilt “Roar,” and I quilted that into the brown fabric on each side of the quilt.

In the four-patch blocks, I just did a simple X and then stitched in the two ditches.

And for the animal blocks, I highlighted one animal face in each, and then added more stitching to fill in the block. You can still see my yellow chalk lines in this photo.

After giving a whole presentation to the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild on labeling quilts, I would be remiss not to have one on this quilt. (Here’s a link to part one of my blog posts on quilt labels, based on that presentation. And here’s part 2.)

And finally, a quick look at the back of the quilt. I had small pieces of the animal fabric left, so I incorporated them into the back along with some of the other fabrics I used from my stash.

This really was a fun quilt to work on, not only because of the fun animal fabric, but because of the size, too. 40 x 40 rocks! It’s large enough to do a fun design, and small enough to quilt easily—and get done quickly. I think my next charity project will be a girl quilt of this size for the Ronald McDonald House. I’m already gathering girly purple fabrics for it.

Charity Quilt for Ronald McDonald House

After a weekend of feeling listless and uninspired, I somehow now have ideas for three quilts I can’t wait to make. Two of them require fabric. But all the pieces fell into place for this third one, and I ended up finishing the top in two days. Not too shabby.

The first piece came into place several weeks ago when I bought the animal and dot fabrics with the intention of making another pillowcase for the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild’s pillowcase drive. That didn’t happen. But I did still have the fabrics out and at the ready for when I came up with a new plan.

The next piece fell into place when I remembered an e-mail I had gotten about a month ago from a friend who volunteers at our local Ronald McDonald house. He included a link that directed me to the Greater Cincinnati Ronald McDonald House volunteer page, where they shared their need for quilts to include in the welcome package they give each family that stays with them. They ask that each quilt be 40 x 40 inches, so each family will be sure to receive the same size quilt. A perfect size to make from fabric purchased for a pillowcase!

The final integral piece was placed when I started rifling through my fabric stash and found that many of my greens, browns, and grays perfectly matched the animal fabric. Hooray!

I sketched out a 40 x 40-inch quilt that would be made up of 6-inch blocks (alternating between the animal print and 4-patches from my stash), 2-inch sashing and a 5-inch border. Once I started putting the center together, I found the dot sashing was getting a bit overwhelming. I probably should have made the blocks a bit larger and the sashing a bit more narrow, but then the measuring and cutting would get messy, and that’s no fun.

With the center complete, I needed to figure out what exactly this 5-inch border would be. I considered a scrappy border with the stash fabrics, but I thought that would end up looking crazy busy. I also wanted to somehow incorporate that now-annoying dot fabric, because only having it in the center looked incomplete to me. Finally, I wanted to use more of the animal fabric since the 6-inch squares weren’t quite enough.

After staring at it a while, I decided to piece the side borders with stash fabric and use the animal print at the top and bottom (I didn’t have enough to use it on the sides, and keep it right-facing, too).

To solve my dot problem, I decided to extend some of the sashing strips into the borders. We’ll file that one under, “Easier Said Than Done.” I know I’m not a very accurate piecer or measurer or cutter. So getting those strips to match up even somewhat took a lot of trial and error. A lot of error.

If I made this pattern again, I would piece the border at the same time as the center so the extensions didn’t need to be separate units. But I really like the way the sashing lines add movement to the quilt. And I’m friends with the dot fabric again, too.

Next, of course, comes the quilting. Because it’s small, I’m hoping I can handle it on my machine with straight quilting lines. And I’m hoping, too, the quilting will help to make those sashing seams less noticeable. I’ll share the finished quilt when it’s done!