Tuesday, 25 February 2014

How to QAYG

When I first started asking for blocks for me to assemble to make quilts for the Mexican Street children (just thought I'd get that mention out the way straight away), in my head I knew how the blocks should be and I guess I didn't think there would be any questions.

But there have been: do I cut the batting smaller, do I leave more backing, how are you assembling the blocks and so on.

Your block, batting and backing should all measure 12 1/2" and you don't have to quilt right up to the edges. Some people have overlocked the edges which has been nice but it's not necessary.

I am putting the blocks together using Ann Petersen's excellent tutorial in her Craftsy class - Quilting Big Projects On A Small Machine. I can not recommend this class highly enough - so many resourceful ways of quilting large quilts on a domestic sewing machine.

So because I learnt it from a class I had paid for, I didn't think it was fair to show Ann's technique unless it was with her agreement. She has very kindly agreed so what follows is my rough guide to QAYG the Ann Petersen way(ish). If you want a more polished explanation as well as a host of other great ways and lots of tips and hints, please consider taking her class.

To start with, you need to cut two strips of fabric.

The one on the left is 1" wide and the length of your block.
The one of the right is 1 3/4" wide and the length of your block. It has been folded lengthwise, wrong sides together and pressed.
I actually cut mine slightly longer and trim when they have been sewn to the block.

You then take the 1" strip and lay it right side down on the right hand side of the front of the block and you take the folded 1 3/4" strip and lay it underneath the block, with the raw edges facing outwards.

This hopefully gives you an idea of what I mean and I've scooted the underneath strip out only for viewing purposes, otherwise it's tucked neatly along the run of the edge.

I think at this point you are advised to pin but I'm a woman on a mission so I don't. You will need to though when it comes to assembling rows.

And then you sew along the edge, 1/4" away and preferably with a walking foot attached.

Et voila.

You then need to press that top strip away from the block.

Then you place the block that you've just sewn the strips on to, right sides together with the next block. This will be sewn raw edges aligned but I placed one block slightly to the left of the other one so you could see what I mean.

They should look like this when they've been sewn together.

If you open up the two blocks now at the back you'll see the two edges from each block should be butting up nicely against each other with no overlap.

Now give that joining strip a really good press to cover the raw edges.

Now this next and final step is where Ann and I part company. She has you turning your quilt round to the front and sewing in the ditch on the right of the front seam as per in the pic below.

That assumes you have been perfect in your sewing throughout which sometimes I'm not so that if you sew from the front you can sometimes miss sewing it down correctly on the back.

If you look closely in this pic you'll see that having sewn it from the front, my stitches have started to wander on the far right.

As I'm trying to crank these quilts out as quickly as possible, I go for the safer option of sewing that final seam down from the back. The only disadvantage is that you may get a slight wander away from 'stitch in the ditch' on the front but as we're not talking show quilts here I'm fine with that.

If you look closely you can see on this join that my stitches show through on the turquoise part of the binding but it just isn't important enough for me to worry.

And that's it. It really couldn't be more simple and it's been such a quick and efficient method to allow me to assemble these quilts at break neck speed for former Mexican street children (Whoops there I go, mentioning it for a second time).

I said this was a rough and ready explanation. Ann does it much better and not only do you get this in her Craftsy class but a whole bunch of other really useful techniques for quilting big quilts on your domestic sewing machine.


On a completely different topic, I decided to join Instagram so I could find more people to make me 12 1/2" quilted blocks (oops, third mention). When I had a blog makeover a couple of years ago, the only buttons on my sidebar were for email and Flickr. Shallow person that I am, I wanted an Instagram icon that matched but I couldn't find one.

I then decided to bite the bullet and have a go at making my own icons which you'll see residing quite happily in my sidebar. It couldn't have been more easy so my final share for you today is this:

For some reason the link is not showing on mobile devices so please click here.


  1. I do the same thing for a quick quilt!!! :-) And I received a card today from the Wings of Supprt.org (Renacimiento) that my two quilts arrived safely, YAY!!! :-)

  2. Welcome to Instagram, it's where all the cool people hang out. Thanks for showing how to do this...it wasn't obvious to me. Cute new buttons too.

  3. That's almost exactly how I do QAYG but I hand stitched the back - I wasn't making multiple quilts for a wonderful cause, though! Hope joining Instagram helps the block drive!

  4. Thank you for this clear tutorial. I keep it in mind.
    Today I took 8 blocks for your project to the postoffice and now they are on their way to you. I wish you succes making your streetchildrenquilts (put it at my blog too, it might help a bit) Greetings Conny

  5. Very good explanation, thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for sharing! I'd always wondered how QAYG blocks go together.

  7. Glad to see I'm not the *only* one who emailed you such a silly question :o) Keep up the inspirational work. It has the brilliant tendency of rubbing off on people in all the right ways.

  8. Fab tute Alison! Glad to see you pop upon IG - bit of a newbie myself! Hope it helps get those blocks/quilts in!

  9. Still haven't sent you that quilt yet arrgghh I'm a bad person! Thanks for showing us the QAYG though, I did a little search on your blog for it when you first mentioned it :)

  10. I was wondering how you did it ;) Very clear tutorial - more blocks coming your way when I finish quilting them and post them tomorrow. I still have loads of fabric scraps though! This project is proving to be great for my spring clean :)

  11. Very clever! A great way to join QAYG which already have all three layers quilted together ready to go. Thank you for sharing!

  12. Thanks for the great tutorial. Going to try it.

  13. I bought that Craftsy class awhile ago and never watched it. Guess I'll put it up, thanks for the reminder!


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