Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sewing an easy quilt-as-you-go quilt: Part 1 of 2

This project will introduce you to machine quilting, specifically the quilt-as-you-go method. Therefore, the preparation process will be a little different than with the first quilt. The top fabric should be cut to be 2 inches smaller on all sides than the backing fabric. This means that if you were to lay the top fabric on top of the backing fabric, there would be 2 inches of backing fabric showing on the top, 2 inches of backing fabric showing on the bottom, 2 inches showing on the right, and 2 inches showing on the left. While this is not a crucial step for this quilt, it will be in future projects, so it will help if you begin to get used to it now.

Lay the backing fabric right side down on a large, flat surface. Following the directions on the can for the quilt basting spray, baste the backing to the batting. Now baste the top fabric to the batting, making sure that the top fabric is right side up. The batting should be in the middle of the two fabrics, and the wrong sides of the fabric should now be basted to the batting.

Lay 15 of the strips on the top fabric (do not baste them just yet) to find the arrangement most pleasing to you. Do not spend a lot of time on this step; the randomness of the strips is what makes the quilt attractive. Once you have determined the arrangement that you like, pin them to the top. It may help to use a ruler to help you keep the fabrics straight. The strips will overlap the edges of the top, but that is ok. You can go back and trim them off later.

Now you will sew each strip down. Notice that you are quilting as you create the quilt top. This quilt as you go method makes for a very quick and easy quilt. Sew the fabrics one quarter inch from the raw edge of the fabric strip. Each fabric strip will therefore have two stitching lines. You will leave the edges raw and unfinished. If you haven’t guessed, each time you wash the quilt, the raw edges will fray, which creates a fabulous rag effect. If you are using jumbo rickrack, you will sew one stitching line straight through the middle.

Once you have completed sewing all of the strips, lay the quilt on a rotary cutting mat and trim the edges. The top, batting and backing should now be even. By making the backing fabric slightly larger, you have kept it from being smaller than your quilt top. When you quilt thick layers, some layers will bunch up more than others.

In Day 2 of this second quilt, we will discuss the binding process.

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