This Faq was started with this question:

Just a quick question: I am planning to quilt one of the quilts I am working on (I have maybe 5 started) as quilt as you go; Each block has a border around it with pinwheels in the corners of it (the School Days Quilt in the Fons and Porter Quick Quilts from the Heart); I was thinking of taking each block and quilting them individually then sewing the front pieces together then whip stitching the backs together. Is this the correct way of doing this???

I do not think that I could fit this entire quilt under my sewing machine....and maybe if I did it this way, I could hand quilt it (a first entire quilt hand quilted?). But, I need some feedback so I wont make a mess of it!! HELP...should I just leave an extra 1/4" of fabric around the block borders (there is no sashing besides the block borders). Then there are 3 more borders around the entire quilt...how would I add these if I quilted each block and sewed them together??

And here are the responses:


I always quilt as I go and love it. I have stopped doing individual blocks because they take so long to join them all together. Can you put your blocks in strips or rows and quilt a whole row at a time? It gives you a smoother back and you don't have as much whip stitching. Yes, leave plenty of room to join the blocks together--don't quilt too close to the edge. I leave a half inch, so my quilting is 1/4 inch away from seam lines. Good luck! Laura PS--I safety pin baste. From rvincen@tenet.edu.


As far as I know, when people do machine quilting they somehow manage to get the whole quilt through their machine. I'm not often sure how. You can certainly quilt each block, or set of blocks as you wish, but I have heard from others that even the most carefully laid out quilting lines shift and won't line up during assembly. You may want to give yourself a few inches around each seam. Good luck, Dawn


I did a full size quilt Quilt As You Go. It took ten years. I learned a lot in that time (no, I didn't work on it steadily for all 10 years!) Anyhow, leave at least 1/2 inch all around each block to give yourself room to sew the squares together. Then I went back and continued the hand quilting across the seam line where I needed to (in this case, every inch).

It was great quilting one square at a time, and made a very enjoyable, portable project. However, when it came to sewing the blocks together, and especially slip stitching the back, it gets very tedious very fast.

Also, leave extra batting sticking out, so when you sew the quilts together (I mean the blocks), you can cut that batting so it exactly butts up to the next square. Otherwise you either get extra humps, or a quilt that is thin in places!

I hope this helps!, --Cindy, calley@essc.psu.edu.


I do the borders separately, quilting them each just like another row, leaving ample seam allowance to attach them to the main part of the quilt. Glad you liked my idea. Hope it works as well for you as it does for me. I don't quilt in a hoop or anything, but that's up to you. But it sure is portable; I always have my quilting with me! Laura, Laurajbr@aol.com.


I read your question on Quilt-Net regarding quilt as you go. I am interested in this also. I recently purchased a book called "Quilt as you go" which is (in my opinion) a misleading title. It certainly did not show me the similar answers you are looking for. Saturday I was watching the Eleanor Burns Quilting Show on our cable and she made reference to a previous show that she had demonstrated this technique. I am trying to call their 800 number to see if there is a book available on this or at least the tape of the show. I would very much like to know how to do this. Jeanie Eatherton, jeathert@silver.sdsmt.edu.


I did my first quilt the way you are describing but I wasn't very happy with the result. You should leave more than 1/4 inch around each block or you will have a really hard time getting enough purchase to whip stitch the backs together. I'd recommend leaving about an inch.

The other problem I had was difficulty in getting seams to match up. I think this was probably because I hadn't measured everything carefully enough. since it was my first quilt I didn't realize how important absolute accuracy was. finally, I found the blind stitching I did to hold the back together (I didn't use whip stitch because I didn't want the stitches to show.) did not hold up well. I have had to resew the back as thread broke and things came undone.

Maybe you will have better luck than I did, but I would hesitate to use this method again. Betsy, Brian Perry, bperry@bingsuns.cc.binghamton.edu.


.I KNOW that this quilt-as-you-go method is supposed to work, BUT...I tried it once on 16" Celtic applique squares. Each square was a different design, so the amount of quilting varied. Darn things ended up being different sizes after quilting. So, if you're going to do it, you probably need to make them bigger than you want and then cut them all down to the same size (without quilting on that extra fabric). I wasn't terribly pleased with the method, as you can imagine! Good luck.--Carol in VA, coneill@capaccess.org.


The first quilt I ever made was a sampler - it did have sashings around the blocks and it was four blocks by five blocks. I joined it in rows and quilted each row individually, then as you said joined the right sides of each row together, whipped the batting (wadding) together and then turned one edge of the backing under 1/4" and hemmed it to the other side. I then pieced my borders together and joined them on in the same way. If I remember I did quilt the borders after I have added them to the whole quilt. But it went together very well and it has been on my bed for five years and been washed! It definitely was easier quilting than a full size quilt. Good luck. Hope this helps. Liz from 'down-under' Perth where the rain has stopped at last, liz@pop.peter.com.au.


I'm currently working on a quilt as you go, and I love this method. I am more comfortable quilting a strip than the whole quilt. One piece of advice is to sew your fronts, then trim the batting close and have a narrow piece to whip stitch. Some of my were too wide and then they kind of pull on the front. Pat Sloan - psloan@capaccess.org.


I did a king-sized quilt using the quilt as you go method and would like to make several recommendations:

1) This is not a great method (although it sounded really good when I read about it)...there is enough pull across the back that the whip-sticthing on the back doesn't hold up very well at all, and it is a colossal amount of work to hand piece each block together.

2) Cut the back of each block EXTRA large (leaving ~ 1" in each direction). You never know how it may shift during quilting, and you need a lot of fabric to whip-stitch. (Also, don't use a directional print on the back)

3) I would recommend breaking up the quilt into quarters, quilting the quarters and then piecing the quarters into the large quilt. Less hand sewing, more sturdiness and most of the advantages of the quilt as you go method.

4) The borders are difficult...I machine-sewed each of the borders to the top, and then machine-sewed the backing directly to the back...I figured I could even out the back once it was all quilted...seemed to work pretty well. If none of this makes sense, or you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to ask! Jennifer S. Wayland, jsw@stc.com.


For lap quilting, you join the blocks into rows first, then join the rows together. Join blocks as follows:

1) Put two blocks, right sides together.

2) Fold ONE backing away from the edge.

3) Place in sewing machine so batting is to feed dogs and unfolded backing is on top.

4) Sew a 1/4" seam.

5) Lap the two blocks out flat, right sides down, bring folded backing up over seam, fold under 1/4" and pin in place.

6) Stitch with a ladder stitch so your stitches don't show, be careful backing does not pucker.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Cheryl in Yellowknife, NT Canada cheryl_johnson@learnnet.nt.ca (2 N's) OR c_johnson@learnnet.nt.ca (2 N's).


I am machine quilting for the first time and I bought a book called, "Block by Block" by Beth Donaldson. It is wonderful! I walks you through machine quilting a block at a time. It even instructs on how and where to sew on the sashing. I found it to be great for a beginner such as myself and recommend it highly. the ISBN is: 1-56477-079-6 and it retails for $19.95. Hope this helps. From nitalanaux@aol.com.


I just finished a queen-sized quilt-as-you-go for a machine quilting class with Lois Smith (Rockville, MD), and most of what you describe is exactly what you should do. For the blocks, leave extra fabric around the edges, both front and back, and quilt up to the edge of the batting. Then you can sew the fronts together, the battings will butt side-by-side, and you can then stitch the backs. Whip-stitching is fine if you like the look; I used a blind hem stitch so the stitches wouldn't show. For the borders, just do the same thing. Layer the pieces and quilt them, leaving extra fabric front and back, then sew them to the quilt. You can bind the edge as usual, or there is a way to finish the outside of the border BEFORE attaching it to the quilt, so it is finished when it goes on. All of this is described in Lois' book "Fun and Fancy Machine Quilting", published by the AQS. Good luck! Denise, dctaylor@stsci.edu.


Everything you need to know about quilt as you go as you describe it can be found in all of Georgia Bonesteel's books "Lap Quilting". check out your library. Linda in Calgary, Alberta Canada eh! jjwilson@freenet.calgary.ab.ca.


I started quilting because I was inspired by Georgia Bonesteel's TV programs. Here was a way to quilt without all that heavy machinery :-> She has several books out on her technique, all well illustrated. I have done several large bed quilts with her method, and they worked out very well, I find I can get teeny stitches with the work in hand as opposed to in a frame.

GB recommends that you don't quilt right up to the seam line on each section, but leave at least an inch of grace for maneuvering the pieces into the machine to join them. Then go back and quilt through those spaces after the sections are joined and the backing is seamed. Make your backing fabric a bit larger than each section you assemble (at least an inch) because backing fabric tends to be taken up by the quilting more than the front. This also makes joining the sections easier if you have plenty of fabric to manage the hand-sewn seam on the back. Depending on the size of your blocks, you may want to assemble and quilt them separately, or join strips together. I like to join blocks as strips the width of the quilt center, so I may be quilting a section 54 inches long but I keep the other dimension to no more than 24 inches. I don't use a hoop, preferring to hold the work in hand. Anyway, check Georgia's books. Judith in Ottawa, bw032@FreeNet.Carleton.CA.


Just a hint. Don't use solid backing if lap quilting. The seams show a lot more than on prints. From: grayson@magicnet.net.


I just finished a giant bed quilt that I quilted on the machine as I went. I want to share my experience in case anyone else is thinking of doing it this way.

I did the center section first (~50" square), leaving plenty of backing and batting around it. Then I put a small border around the center section. I had enough backing and batting around the center that I didn't need to piece this part yet. Then I had four more sections to add, each two blocks wide. The top and bottom sections were the length of the center section, the side sections were the length of the quilt. I added these sections to the quilt and then quilted them, so maybe this is not strictly 'quilt-as-you-go', but I did avoid having to quilt the center with the rest of the quilt in the way. To add these sections, I first pinned the new backing, right sides together, on the back and the new top, right sides together, on the top and sewed a 1/4" seam with the machine. There was batting and backing from the old section over hanging the seam by quite a bit. I trimmed the backing and sewed new section of batting to the old batting. I used warm and natural batting and I did overlap it. This seemed easier than trying to get two perfectly straight and matching cuts so that the batting pieces would butt up against each other. I didn't have any problem quilting through the layers on my machine (an old Kenmore with temperamental tension).

I did have a problem with the backing. I didn't get it on straight or the seam was crooked but it bubbled up near the seam at one end of some of the sections. I was trying to avoid hand work. I have tendonitis and a two year old daughter. The more work I can do without having to lay the quilt out on the living room floor, the better. I can see that sewing the backing together after the quilting is done would help the quilt be smoother. Michelle Boyd michelle@hax.com.