Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tutorial/QAYG # 5 / Joining Blocks with Narrow Strips

In this tutorial we will be joining the blocks, with  narrow joining strips. The steps are much the same as # 4 Joining the Blocks Tutorial, with some minor differences.

  • Backing strip (black) 1 and 1/4 inches wide.
  • Front strip (multi coloured) 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 20 inches.  This is important because just as in applying borders, it keeps you from stretching as you sew.

  • Press the 2 inch front strip (multi-coloured) 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 multi-coloured strip up with the raw edge of the block.
  • Next, take the backing strip (black) and line it up along the same edge but, on the back of the block.....right sides together.
  • Use a walking my pictures I am sewing on a Pfaff with a built in walking foot.

  • Join all the layers together....with 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 (black stripe) to the back of the other block.
  • Right sides together.
  • I use a lot more pins here.

  • Stitch using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
  • You might want to do a test run, on this, because you want the seam allowances to butt together perfectly.
  •  If your seam allowance is too wide the seam allowances will overlap creating bulk.
  • If your seam allowance is too narrow there will be a space or gully.

  •  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.
  • Pin and then stitch the edge (multi-coloured) down. In many of my quilts I use a blanket or applique stitch for this, but in this particular quilt I wanted my joining strips to look the same, as my strips that are creating the design.

  • Here are the two joined blocks. The multi-coloured strip is the join.
Coming up:
Adding QAYG Borders


  1. fave quote ever: "I might want a wonky design but I don't want wonky sewing" - I LOVE that. And was your kid the coolest when the grandparents were into paint by numbers?!

  2. This looks like a great way to join blocks, thanks for the tutorial!

  3. Marianne,

    Did you insert batting in the narrow joining strip?

    Does the top joining strip always overlap the back strip?

  4. Hi Amelia, there is no reason to insert batting becase the seam allowances (that contain batting) butt up against each other. This next question makes me wonder if I have been unclear. The top joining strip doesn't overlap the back strip,it covers the seam allowances. I hope that helps.

  5. Another great tutorial. Thanks again.

  6. I'm new to your site - I think Melody was the inspiration for the visit - and I just love your QAYG tutorials! Great photos to accompany your explanations.

  7. Oh - I wanted to ask: have you ever done a queen or king size quilt this way?

  8. Thanks for all the great comments. The largest QAYG I have done is 60"x80", anything larger does become a bit awkward to handle.

  9. Marianne ~
    Thank you for taking the time to post the QAYG tutorials, I appreciate very much!
    The blocks are looking pretty awesome!
    Hope you had a great weekend.

  10. Another great qayg tutorial! This weekend I had a look at the new Yoshiko Jinzenji book, Quilting Line and Color. The book is filled with photos of beautiful projects, and she does some qayg. On at least one of the patterns, rather than butting the blocks, she sews the blocks back to back, then turns and sews flat with some bias strips, creating some bulk at the junctures, with the bulk becoming a design element.
    It looks great in the photos, but the instructions are somewhat obtuse. I wonder if you've had any experience with similar techniques?

    p.s. I recently bought a book by Yoko Saito, entirely in Japanese, and find it easier to follow than the Yoshiko Jinzenji book.

  11. You are welcome Debbie...I am having a wonderful time, since I am staying in Victoria for two extra weeks.

    If anyone is wondering about Dan's Question...Wendy Hill is a good reference for that particular technique. Also, I will be posting a book list at the end of the QAYG tutorials.

  12. I'm loving your ideas with stripes--stripes of stripes! Glad to find your blog through Mary at Fiberliscious.

  13. Are the dimensions of the strips correct? I am confused with two 1/4-inch seams and a back side strip of 1 1/2-inch and front of 2-inch. Wouldn't it leave a gap missing 1/4-inch of batting?

  14. Hi, the dimensions in the tutorial say 1 1/4 inch for the backing strip, not 1 1/2. Hope that helps.

  15. Sorry I did mean 1 1/4.... with two 1/4 inch seams. The remaining is 3/4 inch? And that is sufficient to join without a filler batting?

  16. Yes I just rechecked the math and that is correct, the key is to do a test.....I even find slight difference when I sew on different machines. If the seam allowance is too narrow you will end up with a gulley and if it is too wide you will end up with some overlap.

  17. Thanks so much, I really like the idea and want to give ot a try, your work has inspired me to spend the day playing to achieve success with this technique.

  18. thankyou for this wonderful tutitorial. I do have one question, when do you use step 4 and when is step 5 used? I think the end result is the same for both, but, I guess I don't understand when each one is appropriate. thank you again,

  19. Hi Suzanne
    In case anyone else is confused I'll answer here. Tutorial 4 is for joining with wide strips and tutorial 5 is for joining with narrow strips. You can choose either one, depending on the look you are going for.

  20. Wow! This is just what I needed! I have sort of hated QAYG projects because they looked it. I read your instructions, and with a couple of adjustments for "operator errors" it is terrific.

    Thank you so much! Chris

  21. thanks so much for this tutorial, I'm making my first queen sized quilt and have been stressing about how I'd manage the quilting (my sewing table is not all that big!) - but this looks great! I'll be able to be a bit more adventurous with my quilting rather than just stippling :)

  22. Thank you for this tutorial! Your work is beautiful, I can't wait to give this a try!!

    1. Your work is incredible! I am however, confused on how you joined your blocks with quilted circles. It's the quilt you used as your example for showing how to sew circles. I don't see any joining strips. I love that quilt! Thank you

  23. Hi Mari..
    When joining the two sections together, does one section have batting and other has 1/4" of the batting cutaway? I am working on a wall hanging and want to try your technique since I will actually machine quilt the four sections. What is the name of the Yoko Saito book that you purchased? Thanks in advance...

  24. Hi
    I read through the comments and your replies to see if anyone asked this before. I have a problem with the math involved in this. The joining strip for the back is 1 and quarter inches. So when you attach to the first block with 1/4" inch seam and then turn it over it will use up half an inch. The same will happen when the strip is attached to the second block. Another 1/2 inch is used. Will that not leave a 1/4 inch of strip causing a 'gully' as you call it. The front works out all right. two inches folded in half gives 1 inch. Half an inch to either side and there is no gap. I will try with one block and see how it works out but would like your reasoning.

  25. I am doing a quilt following your QAYG method. Reached the point of joining panels with a strip. Strip joined to first panel successfully. However my machine is skipping stitches when the strip needs to be joined to the second panel. Changed needle to a top stitching one,cleaned machine, increased tension, increased foot pressure even changed the strip as the first was perhaps a tad thick as it was painted. I did support the quilt fairly well. I also used a walking foot. Can you tell me what I could be doing wrong? I am giving my machine a rest today but can't stop wondering what is causing this issue.

  26. Sorted it out Mari. Because of the ridge caused by the left panel, one side of the walking foot was riding higher than the other. Your mention of using a strip of cloth made me think about it. So I just nudged the ridge aside as I sewed. It was a slow process but got the job done! I also learnt that a walking foot should not be a running foot and sewed slowly.


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