The Easiest Quilt as You Go Method Ever!

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I went on a quest last year to find an easy quilt as you go method that didn’t involve hand sewing.

I explored 7 different methods and eventually found one that I used successfully on a massive Queen Sized Quilt.

close up quilt as you go

This year, however, I think I have stumbled upon an even easier method! It is definitely my new favorite quilt-as-you-go joining method.

This is a method for joining rows or sections of quilts. Not the kind of quilt as you go where you are piecing the block as you quilt.

The beauty of it is there is no hand sewing and no joining strips or sashing strips.

This is essentially a quilt-as-you-go method that you may have seen people do using a Serger sewing machine. However, I don’t have a Serger, so I adapted it and did it on my domestic machine.

I’ll explain below with a baby quilt I made as an example.

There is also a video below showing how I made this quilt if you prefer to watch that.

What Type of Quilts Will This Work Method Work With?

  • Large row or column-based quilts that you struggle to fit under your machine to quilt.
  • Super-sized log-cabin or Court House Steps style quilts (see my baby quilt example below)
  • Adding borders to quilts
  • Block by block (see explanation at the bottom of this post for how to adapt this method to use it block by block).

Step 1: Quilt Your First Block, Row, or Section

Choose a block, section, or row you want to start with.

easy quilt as you go - first quilt block
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

For my baby quilt, I started with a roughly 10″ block. it was actually an Alison Glass Panel but you could use an individual quilt block in the same way.

I quilted it with batting and backing fabric cut slightly larger than the block.

You can use whatever method of quilting you like here. From straight-line quilting to free-motion quilting—the joining method does not matter.

quilted block for quilt as you go
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

You can quilt right to the edge of your block or section and then trim down the backing and batting to exactly the size of your block.

Step 2: Cut or Piece Your Next Section

My baby quilt was a cross between a log cabin quilt and a courthouse steps idea without any measuring.

easy quilt as you go method
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I chose some orange fabric for my second block. I cut it about an inch longer than the side of the first ‘block’ I wanted to join it to.

I then cut my batting and backing larger than the orange fabric by a couple of inches—the same as you would if it were the backing for a whole quilt—just to be on the safe side.

This section could be several quilted blocks, or your two sections could be two long rows that are exactly the same length. You don’t have to go around in a courthouse steps design to use this technique. That’s just what I did for this quilt.

At the end of this post, I have included a section that describes how you can use this method to join row by row or block by block.

Step 3: The Joining Method

This is the bit you’re here for – the joining method.

Take your quilted first block or section and place it right side facing up.

second section qayg method
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Then, place your second section and lay the top fabric on the right side, facing down on top of the first.

batting for quilt as you go
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Now, place your batting for your second section on top of the second section that is now lying wrong side up.

backing fabric quilt as you go
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Take your second section’s backing fabric and place it UNDER all the other pieces (the right side of your second section’s backing fabric is facing the right side of your first section’s backing fabric). See the video if this doesn’t make sense!

The right edge of all of these pieces should be lined up with each other.

It’s okay that the second section, batting, and backing, are longer than your first piece, but all the raw edges where you will sew your join should be flush with each other.

Choose a Stitch

Now you can choose a stitch.

For this quilt, I used an overcast stitch on a domestic machine because I wanted to mimic the serger stitches in the videos where I first saw this method.

If your machine doesn’t have overcast stitches or you just don’t want to use that you can also try a zig-zag or even a straight stitch.

For all stitch types, I would use your regular 1/4″ seam.

This should make it possible to use this technique with pieced blocks that are designed to be joined with a 1/4″ seam anyway.

joining with overcast seam quilt as you go
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Sew all the way down to join your two sections, including the tops, backing, and the batting.

easy quilt as you go method
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Then open up the backing and the top so that you can see that your two sections are now joined!

easy qayg method
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
backing fabric qayg
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
quilt as you go joining method
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Hurrah, how easy was that?!

Tip: Before moving on to the quilting, it is useful to press down the join of the backing fabric and pin. Or use a basting spray on your backing fabric in place so that it doesn’t move while you quilt this section and leave you with puckers on the back.

So Why Did I Use the Overcast Stitch?

As far as I can tell, the overcast stitch or overlocking stitch on an actual serger flattens the seams a bit more and provides some durability.

However, when I posted my video on YouTube, loads of folk said they had tried it with a straight stitch and got on fine, so I would encourage you to experiment!

The orphan block quilt that I used as my test quilt for this joining method before I made this baby quilt was also made with lots of heavy fabrics, like denim, so I also felt safer using the overcast stitch. It gave me confidence that no seams would pop!

close up overcast stitch
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I’m going to continue on to show you the next steps of how I made this baby quilt. Do read the section further down for variations on this joining method that you might prefer.

They all came from comments on my original video and will be appealing to different folks for different types of projects.

Step 4: Quilt and Trim

quilted section quilt as you go
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Once your two sections are joined, you can quilt that second section as desired.

I used semi-evenly spaced wavy lines for this quilt. You could use free-motion quilting, straight lines, or whatever you like.

trimming excess batting and backing
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

When you are finished quilting, trim the excess batting and any excess fabric from the backing on section two down to match the size of your top fabric or block.

If you’re looking for a project to use up your scraps, check out my soft heart cushions.

qayg from the back
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Step 5: Repeat for as Many Sections as Desired!

The process is exactly the same as above for the next sections.

easy quilt as you go method
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I rotated around my quilted section, adding different colors of fabric pieces from the center block to make a sort of rainbow-looking baby quilt (I didn’t measure the fabric – this was a bit of controlled improv!).

quilt as you go
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I did the same every time – cutting my top fabric a little longer than the side I wanted to join to. Then cutting the batting and backing a bit bigger again.

log cabin style quilt as you go
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Then joined, pressed, quilted, and trimmed down….then repeat.

adding sections for qayg
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
back view quilt as you go
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

I hope that makes sense, but if not, do check the video, as it will give you a better visual.

quilt as you go baby quilt
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love
close up quilt as you go
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Variations on This Method

  • Instead of an overcast stitch use a zig-zag or straight stitch. I have used this method with a straight stitch for this huge denim quilt and it worked out fine.
  • Instead of sewing the cotton batting with the rest of the layers leave it out when joining. Then slide it in against the seam and quilt it in place before moving on to your next section. For this variation, you will want to cut your batting about a 1/4″ smaller than your section top rather than larger as I did.
  • Some folk mentioned using the slide-the-batting in-after method but also zigzagging the batting to the seam. I didn’t totally understand the need for this and for me, it was a step too far but I thought I’d mention it anyway in case it might appeal to someone!

How to Use This Method for Pieced Blocks & Rows

In addition to the written instructions for blocks and rows below, I have also created a follow-up YouTube Video here.

To use this for pieced blocks that are intended to be joined into rows for a standard quilt top you can do either of the following methods.

Both methods assume 1/4″ seam allowances throughout.

Method 1 – Row by Row

  • Join your quilt blocks as usual into rows.
  • Cut separate batting and backing strips that are an inch or two larger than each row.
  • Quilt your first row with batting and backing and trim to the finished row size.
  • Join your next row as we did above, replacing the word section with the word row.
  • Quilt your second row. Trim.
  • Repeat for all the rows in your entire quilt.

Method 2 – Block by Block

  • If you want to quilt individual blocks and join them after, this is the method to use.
  • Quilt each block with batting but no backing fabric.
  • You can choose whether to cut your batting to the same size as your block (this may result in some bulkier seams, but you don’t need to be as precise when cutting your batting as you can cut large and trim down) or cut it about a 1/4″ smaller than your block.
  • Then join your blocks into rows. If you have cut your batting small, just join the top fabric of your blocks and let the batting nestle beside each other. If you have cut your batting to the same size as your block, just include everything in your seams, both top and batting.
  • Then, cut the backing fabric to fit the size of your rows and use the joining technique described above.
  • At this point, you can choose whether to leave your backing fabric unquilted or add additional quilting lines across your entire row.
QAYG quilt no hand sewing
Photo: Scrap Fabric Love

Will This Method Result in Bulky Seams?

I talked about the seams a lot in my video. I figured this would be what might have put some quilters off of this method.

Folks might assume that sewing all those layers together would cause too much bulk at the seam lines.

I really didn’t find that it did. I think my seams in this quilt look fine. No one would notice that it was a qayg project unless they looked super closely!

From the front of the quilt, you can’t tell at all. If you use a solid or busy print for your backing, I would guess it would take even a fellow quilter a few minutes to figure it out!

If you are concerned about bulk, try using one of the variations above where you add the batting in after joining.

Video Tutorial

There are so many methods out there, but this way feels the easiest and most preferred method for me, and I think it would be great for beginners.

It’s a good solution for joining and quilting a larger quilt without having to wrestle the middle of the quilt through the machine while holding the rest.

While it’s a really great way to piece together bulky quilts, it can also work for smaller projects.

I hope you’ll try it for your next quilting project. It can be adapted to work for any quilt pattern with enough thought and planning ahead!

Happy sewing!