Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tutorial/QAYG # 4/Joining the Blocks

We are finally ready to join the blocks together.  I usually join the blocks using one method, but various widths of joining strips...depending on the look I am going for. On this particular quilt, I want the finished joining strip to be 2" wide. Once you do this a few times...all becomes clear. Just a's important to use a walking foot on your machine. It might not look like I am using one in the pictures, but I am using a Pfaff sewing machine, which has a built in walking foot.

  • Batting strip 1 and 1/2 inches wide
  • Backing strip (red) 2 and 1/2 inches wide
  • Front strip (brown) 4 and 1/2 inches wide
  • When joining the blocks you need short strips, to join the individual blocks, and longer ones to join the rows, just as you do when making sashing.
  • Cut your short strips the same length as the finished size of the block which in this case is 14 inches.  This is important because just as in applying borders, it keeps you from stretching as you sew.
  • Cut your batting strips an inch or so longer, because they tend to shrink up a little, as you quilt them later.
  •  Press the 4 and 1/2 inch front strip (brown) in half...wrong sides together.
  • Make sure your block is right side up.
  • When joining two blocks you want to put your strip on the right side, of the left block.
  • The sequence of how you do things is important, because you want to avoid having the bulk of your quilt under your machine...again it becomes clear, as you go along...I had to learn the hard way.
  • Line up the raw edges of brown strip up with the raw edge of the block (left block in the picture).
  • Next, take the backing strip (red) and line it up along the same edge but, on the wrong side of the block.....right sides together.
  • You can see them in the photo
  •  Here is the back of block with the red joining strip....right sides together.
  • Join all the layers together....using a 1/4 inch seam allowance...and a regular stitch length.
  • I usually just use one pin, at the top, to line things up.
  • Back stitch at the beginning and the end to secure everything.

  • Join the remaining edge of the backing strip(red) to the back, left edge of the other block.
  • Right sides together.

  • I use a lot more pins joining these edges.
  • Join using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

  •  Turn over and give everything a tug and press.
  •  Press from the front. My preference is to press, almost every step of the way. I might want a wonky design but I don't want wonky sewing.
  • When you get to this point, you might question why the front strip is double.
  • I could have, just put in a single strip, pressing one edge with a 1/4 inch hem.
  • I find doing it this way you get such a neat, stable edge, to sew down...also I find it faster, easier and more accurate to fold and press a strip in half than pressing an accurate 1/4 inch hem....especially true when joining the rows.
  •  Spray the 1 and 1/2 inch batting strip, lightly with basting spray, on both sides.
  •  Lay your blocks right side up.
  • Gently place the batting strip, in the gully, between the blocks.
  • It should fit really easily, if you have used an accurate 1/4 inch seam allowance.

  •  Cover the batting strip with the front (brown) joining strip.
  • Just cover the stitching line of the seam allowance.
  • Pin carefully
  • Stitch down the front (brown) joining strip.
  • You now have choices....
  • In this quilt I have decided to use a straight stitch....because that's the look I prefer for this quilt.
  • You could use a zig zag stitch or blanket stitch.......even a decorative stitch if so desired. 

  •  You now need to quilt the joining strip in order to secure the batting inside
  • I have chosen to straight stitch,with my quilting lines 1/2 inch apart. I don't mark I just use my presser foot as a guide. This particular presser foot is not 1/2 an inch but I am able to change my needle position, so that it works out.

  •  All joined and quilted
Coming up:
Joining with Narrow Strips


  1. Thank You ~ for taking the time to put this tutorial together. It's one of the best tutorials I've read. You've made it so easy to understand. I appreciate the pictures too.( I'm a visual learner!)
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I'm sitting enjoying the sun here in sunny san diego, I thought I might sew some today, but it just to pretty to be in doors.
    cheers ~ Deb

    1. My mom used to see on the back porch! Enjoy your day!

    2. Hello, I am here because of the National Quilt Museum block club. Thank you for your guidance for joining blocks in the center. My question is how does one finish the sides of the quilt? Also when joining the rows? Do you offer details for these two steps? Thank you Leah Roach

    3. Hi Leah, I usually just finish my QAYG quilts with regular binding or facing, whatever you prefer. Regarding joining the rows, if you look under tutorials on the blog I have one with tips just for that. Hopefully that helps.

  2. You're welcome....I'm glad it makes sense. I know what you mean about pictures, I'm an extremely visual learner myself.

  3. I've seen quilt as you go blocks and am so intrigued by them. I've been wanting to try some but couldn't imagine how you would join the blocks in a way that didn't look lumpy. This tutorial is great and I love the way you show so many pictures. I can't wait to try this very soon. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love it!

    I had an ideea about using smaller strips and no batting in between but I love this one. I think I finally got the currage to try going large :D Now I only need to find inspiration (and will receive the prise asap :) )

  5. The double strip in the front is a great idea! Honestly, in trying to figure out your process, that's the point where I wondered, "How does she make that look so good?"

    Thanks for the great instructions and photos.

  6. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I am a hand-piecer and quilter, but I love the look of this, and it seems simple the way you do it! Can't wait to make some squares this weekend!

  7. You are most welcome...I hope you have fun with that.

  8. This is a fantastic tutorial. Thank you for all your efforts. I have finally GOT IT! And it is the perfect way to make my next quilt. Can't wait to get started. Your quilts just blow me away. They are some of my favorites, ever!

  9. I just found your blog. Wow!! I love everything I'm seeing and I really appreciate your QAYG tutorials. I love the method of creating blocks but have been stumped as to how to put them together.

    You described it perfectly!!! Thank you very much!

  10. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and illustrate this wonderfully clear tutorial. I like machine quilting my quilts myself, but find size to be a huge problem. I once missed a class when the teacher demonstrated this technique, I am so glad I now have found your blog!
    And I love your style!

  11. Thanks so much......I'm glad to be of help.

  12. That is the best tutorial I have ever seen! I cannot wait to try this out. I love color and design but I am a flop at anything that requires accuracy- I think this method might be the answer for me.

  13. Thanks...I hope it works well for you.

  14. thank you, I can wait to try some of the Oaks !!

  15. Thank you for your very clear tutorial ! I'm testing the method and so far so good and I love it !!! It's so neat and easy ! Have a nice Sunday !

  16. reading it again and practicing..

  17. I love your work. You have inspired me. I can't wait to do some QAYG quilts. I have been thinking of purchasing a Bernina but I have only used a Pfaff. I noticed you have used a Pfaff in your photos and also a Bernina. I would appreciate your opinion. Thanks.

    1. Thanks so much. I love both machines but if I had to choose, it would be the Bernina. So much depends on what type of quilting you do or just personal preference.

  18. Do you join all your QAYG quilts like the above tutorial using the 2 1/2 inch wide strip and the 4 1/2 inch wide strip Or do you use other strip measurements. I am making my first QAYG quilt and wanted to know if this was the standard size for the strips. Thanks.

    1. No I use several ways of joining. If you go back to the tutorial heading on the home page I have them listed there. I do use this one quite often because I like this size of can be changed to anything you like.

  19. This is by far the best tute for qayg I've ever seen. I have a longarm but when the frame is loaded and I have a small quilt, I'm going to give your method a try! Thanks for posting, Amie :-)

  20. Tour tutorial is easy to follow with all those great pics.Thanks,can´t wait to try one.

  21. Thanks! I GET IT... even without trying - that's how good this tutorial is! I have so many small pieces of batting, and I wanted to do some QAYG projects but couldn't understand this part. I am so thankful to have the knowledge - thanks for sharing!

  22. Thanks for a QAYG tutorial that makes perfect sense and looks good.

  23. this is really a great tutorial. It helps so much. Thank you for sharing.

  24. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I've only used 1 1/8 and 2 3/4 inch strips before in QAYG and this method opens a world of possibilities. I'm so glad I found your blog

  25. This is absolutely the best tutorial is have read. Thank you so much for taking your time to share this.

  26. I don't know if you still watch the thread for comments and questions... but how do you get the backing to be joined together? I may just be missing this information...but I understand how the top comes together, but how do you get the back to come together nicely?

    1. I’m sorry....I just noticed your question now. Your question tells me you don’t really understand the concept. The joining strips join both the top the backs. There is folded strip for the front and a single strip for the back. Go back and go through one step at a time.

    2. I have a quilt mostly cut out. But I have been paralyzed because my fabric is so pretty and I don't want to ruin it. I like the idea of the doubled sashing in the front. I have seen pictures where the front sashing looks very "lumpy". I think your method with the sashing doubled would help to prevent that. I also think it would add a sturdiness to the joining that would keep you from stretching the joining strip. I have planned on using 100% cotton for this quilt. I don't know if that is a good idea or not. I am going to do a few practice blocks while your method is fresh in my brain. Have not tried a quilt in many years. Have set up my old machine for piecing. Now I will put a walking foot on and give this a go. Learning how to use a smart phone is a creative awakening for me, now Wish me luck trying the walking foot. Don't have directions for my Singer or the walking foot...have to try to get a book for it I guess. Thanks for such an easy to follow tutorial.

    3. Hopefully that works out for you.

  27. I must add myself to all the great comments…….what weight of thread do you use for your top thread for quilting? Do u use a larger needle also? The quilting really stands out and that’s what I’m looking for. Wonder tutorials!


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