QAYG Tutorial

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Rainbow Strings quilt at Freemotion by the River

Tutorial for a string pieced blocks in a quilt as you go QAYG quilt

I showed you a sneak peek of my Rainbow Strings quilt the other day and now here it is and the tutorial to show you how to join quilted blocks together for a QAYG quilt which is the abbreviation for a Quilt As You Go. Sometimes it is fun to free motion quilt small pieces and then join the blocks later. I made one block a month during 2012 while I took part in Angela’s Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I am doing it again this year and making all kinds of colorful blocks.

I had to take at least one photo down by the Mississippi river… wasn’t fun down there…..

Rainbow Strings quilt by the river at Freemotion by the River

See the red arrow….there were dead fish all over the place. I counted
at least 14 right around my quilt! My brother said they are Shad that
were in the creeks and shallow rivers and died when the water froze.
Last week we had a thaw and of course everything ends up in the

Dead shad fish along the river

Here is the back of the quilt.

Back of QAYG quilt at Freemotion by the River

I did a tutorial on the string blocks and have the link at the end of this post.

Rainbow strings QAYG tutorial at Freemotion by the River

My rainbow blocks finished at approximately 15.5 inches and then I trimmed them to 15 inches. Why? Well I have a 15 inch ruler that makes it very easy to trim around. My quilt is 45 by 60.

After I had my quilt outside I brought it in and washed it. Here is a closeup of the sashing.

seam matched pretty good

I probably shouldn’t show you the next photo……I didn’t use a walking foot and should have…I’m not a perfectionist and you can also see that sometimes I stitched on the sashing.

poorly match seams

Here is the photo I showed you Monday when the snow was falling.

Rainbow Strings in the snow
Now for the QAYG Tutorial

Okay if you are tired of looking at my quilt I’ll show you how to join the blocks. Everything I have read says to use a walking foot and I know it would have helped. I do my quilting on my vintage 15-91 Singer sewing machine and ordered a special walking foot that will work on the old machines. I’ll let you know how I like it.

I took some photos while working on this quilt but some of them were blurry so today I grabbed a couple little string blocks and quilted them to use for this tutorial. If you have never done a QAYG try taking a couple orphan blocks and try it like this…..I dare you!

Cut your sashing fabric 1 1/8th wide by the length of your block. These little blocks are only 3 1/4 inch so I cut 1 1/8th x 3 1/4th. I normally would cut a 1 1/8th inch strip the width of the fabric.

QAYG step1 at Freemotion by the River

Lay the strip on the RIGHT side of one of your squares and sew a 1/4 inch seam.

QAYG step1 at Freemotion by the River

This photo shows you what it looks like.

QAYG step 2a at Freemotion by the River

Now cut a 2 inch strip by the length of your block – 2 inch x 3 1/4th inch. Fold in half lengthwise.

QAYG step 2 at Freemotion by the River

This strip will go against the back side of your block with the raw edges matching the edge of your block.

QAYG step 3 at Freemotion by the River

You will now stitch right over the stitching you did when attaching the front sashing piece.

A little blurry, but this shows you both pieces attached to the block. Now it is finally time to work with the other quilted block.

QAYG step 3b at Freemotion by the River

Place the quilt block you just added the sashing to RIGHT SIDE DOWN on the next block which is RIGHT SIDE UP. One side of the sashing is already sewn to the block, now we are going to lay it along the next quilted block and stitch a 1/4 inch seam. You definitely want to use pins so your layers don’t move.

QAYG step 4 at Freemotion by the River

This is what you now have when you finish stitching. Front side and the back side.

QAYG step 5 at Freemotion by the River

Now take the folded sashing on the back and pin it over the seam. Then top-stitch.

QAYG step 6 at Freemotion by the River

Here is the top-stitched seam.

QAYG final at Freemotion by the River

I used white thread in the bobbin so you could see where the stitching is.

QAYG final at Freemotion by the River

When I made my quilt I used grey thread and it really blended in well.

closeup of top-stitching on QAYG at Freemotion by the River

I hope this makes you want to try this technique and hopefully I didn’t forget anything. The links below will also show you ideas using a wider sashing.

If you would like more information about QAYG (quilt as you go)  The Quilting Edge has tons of tutorials and beautiful quilts that she has made. Be prepared to spend a whole day there! If you click on the link it will take you to the post about using narrow strips to join blocks which is what I have done with my rainbow string blocks I made last year.

Melody Johnson made one small change that I really like, she puts the top-stitched connector strip on the back instead of the front. I did my quilt that way.

I also had several people ask about the string blocks and I did a tutorial on them here. Complete and easy directions for making them and also this table runner.

Tutorial for a string pieced blocks in a quilt as you go QAYG quilt

If you would like a .pdf file of this post you can get it here.

Edit on April 23, 2013: After I did this post no one could see that I had done any new posts. I am going to add this little blurb and see if the post updates. Well….that didn’t work…I originally post this on March 20th, I’m going to try and change the date and see if that helps…..otherwise I will delete the post and repost it. That didn’t work so I am deleting this post and will make a new post of it.



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  1. Catherine says:

    I love QAYG. I use a 1 1/8″ on the back and 1 3/4″ folded on the front and stitch it down fr om the front. This seems to look much better than sewing from the back. As long as I can stitch it by machine, I hate hand stitching.

  2. Carol nye says:

    Connie, I love the colors of your blocks. I have strip pieced blocks many time, but never thought of staying in a color family! Thanks for the QAYG tutorial!

  3. Robyn Lidstone in Australia says:

    Wow!! Here’s another challenge for me. I’m a beginner and QAYG is perfect for me as I navigate the intracacies of patchwork techniques.
    My Brother Scan N Cut arrives at my sewing shop early next week, so I can’t wait to attack my stash and work through my “to do list”.
    It is obvious from all the lovely comments that you, Connie, have become a mentor to so many patchworkers who all appreciate you sharing your expertise.

  4. I Love this quilt! What size squares are you starting with? I usually use a piece of material as backing instead of paper. Could I layer with the backing, sew , and gave it all quilted , then sash the sides. I Love this quilt for all of my stash of material. Thank you so much for your ideas and help!

  5. Pam @Threading My Way says:

    I've been reading through and pinning lots of your quilt tutorials tonight, Connie… getting ideas and finding out how things are done. The QAYG method is very appealing to me. I've only made one quilt (not QAYG) and I didn't find the quilting bit easy, so thought I'd look at other ways. Thanks for all your fabulous tutorials.

  6. Fleur de Lis Quilts says:

    Great tutorial–I've used QAYG before and don't think you missed a thing. Your quilt is stunning. I love the colors.

  7. Marci Girl says:

    Beautiful quilt and great use of QAYG!

  8. says:

    What a gorgeous quilt, the colours are beautiful.

  9. Thanks for the awesome tutorial.Your strip quilt is just wonderful!!

  10. Your string quilt is beautiful. I've used this way of quilting, but I did it the other way around, put the folded strips on the front. That way I could top stich on both sides, and the "extra" stiches were on the back of the quilt. Ask me if you don't understand.

  11. Deborah Hamilton says:

    I have been wondering how to do this, and now I'm going to try it. Thanks for the detailed tutorial.