Sometimes you have to look past the logical solution.
QAYG (quilt as you go) is a clever, tidy and relatively painless way of sandwiching and quilting your blocks before you assemble the quilt. For those of us quilting on a domestic sewing machine, this is a great way of avoiding the shoulder-pain of hauling a huge piece of quilting through the narrow throats of our machines.
However, once the quilting’s done, you’ve got to attach all the pieces to each other. Logically, you’d join it up row by row. After all, that’s how you’d do it if you were simply sewing the blocks together before quilting conventionally, isn’t it? Trouble is, you end up with at least 4 or 5 very long seams where you’re wrestling many, many layers together into quarter inch seam allowances. Things can wobble and gape, sewing lines can go wonky, and the pin sticks alone can lead to insanity.
I’ve come up with a way of reducing the number of very long seams you have to sew to only 1. Better, yes? I don’t claim it’s original, but I know it works for me, and I haven’t see it documented anywhere else.
If your quilt’s an even number of squares (eg: 6×6 or 8×8), divide in half horizontally and vertically. Make up a square of blocks for each corner, join the two top and two bottom sections, and then you only have one long seam across the middle.
If your quilt’s an uneven number (eg: 5×5 or 7×7), offset the horizontal and vertical divides, but proceed the same way. One side will be squares, the other rectangles. Proceed as above. If your blocks are smaller and there are more of them, you can afford to create sections which are 4 or 5 blocks long/deep, as the seams will still be shorter and the sections more manageable.
Joining sections which are only 2 or 3 blocks deep is much, much easier and more pleasant. You’re not hauling the bulk of what you’ve already joined around every time. Only one really long strip. Works for me!
Lynn at Tialys and I both have a quilt to assemble by this process. Mine’s 5×5 and hers is 5×6. We’ve both done it the hard way, row by row; now I want to see whether she finds it easier this way too. Starting this weekend, we’ll be working together (if 18,000kms apart), as we both want our quilts finished by Christmas.
Stay tuned – I’ll be taking photos as I go to try and clarify my scruffy little drawings.