Bloomin’ Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial

Quilt-As-You-Go is so much more than just log cabins! Try this new technique for a fun effect.

I’ve been asked a number of times for a tutorial on how I created the Newtown Auction pillow. I finally got my act together and created this little how-to. I’m calling it Bloomin’ Quilt-As-You-Go, as it looks a lot like a flower starting to bloom. If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and I’ll try and help you out and/or modify the tutorial so it makes more sense.

I learned the basic scrappy quilt-as-you-go via a great tutorial over at Oh, Fransson! Her version is lovely and straight, like a log cabin block. I made a couple pot holders using this technique. It was the perfect introduction to QAYG, and I’d highly recommend giving something small like this a shot to get comfortable with it.

I’ve taken the same process and made it wonky. The technique is the same, but it sort of requires a bit of mental geometry — the ability to see where you’re headed before you get there.

I’m participating in the Pretty Little Pouch 6 Swap, so I thought I’d create the front panel of the pouch using this method, and write up this tutorial as I went! I hope my partner loves the pouch I’m creating.


There will be three layers to this panel. A backing fabric, the batting, and the scrappy top. Unlike a normal quilt sandwich, the back of your panel will be not so pretty. So it’s perfect for making things with a lining — pouches, bags, pillows, etc. It doesn’t work so well for an actual quilt.

You’ll want your iron and cutting mat close by, as well as your scissors. I lower my ironing board and put it right next to my table, as well as put my small cutting mat right next to my machine. This saves me from walking over to my big cutting table after each step.

Choose your fabrics. You can do this with any fabrics, but I find that a gradation of color works particularly nicely, as well as a range of values — dark to light. For this pouch, I chose a selection of pinks, purples, and grays. Cut strips between 1″ and 2″ wide, or pull from your stash. It’s perfect for scrap-busting.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

Cut a piece of batting the size of the panel you want. My panel is 8.5″ x 8.5″. Back the panel with a utility fabric. For this pouch, I used an inexpensive cotton from JoAnn (seriously, like $1.99 a yard) since it will be inside the lining of the pouch. I cut it a little wider than the batting, just in case it shifts. You can spray-baste them together if you’d like.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

Set up your machine to quilt. Lengthen your stitch a bit, and use high-quality thread. This is a thread-intensive project, so you might want to wind an extra bobbin or two, depending on how big your panel is, or how many you’re making. Just to make this small square I used nearly an entire bobbin!

I didn’t use my walking foot — my machine quilts fine without it. But if you’re more comfortable quilting with it, go for it. Pick the fabric you’d like as the center of the “flower,” and quilt it, right-side up, straight to the batting. I like to start it a bit off-center, but you could start it anywhere on the panel.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

I used simple straight-line quilting, but you could do some FMQ or use other patterns. To save thread, when I came to the end of the fabric, I turned the panel, stitched three stiches down, and then stitched back the other way across the fabric. It actually goes pretty quickly once you get the hang of it.

Here’s a quick video I made of how to do the turning: QAYG Video Tutorial. Can I figure out how to embed it? Of course not. Does it have a bit on the end where I pick up the camera to turn it off? Indeed. Are my thumbs blocking the camera half the time? You betcha. But the fact I even made a video in the first place should be cause for celebration. Hip, hip, hooray!

Moving on.

Here is what should have:

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

In a traditional log cabin, you’d lay the next piece perpendicular to the first piece. Instead, lay your second piece face down at an angle, so the two pieces are right-sides together. Sew along the edge of the piece with 1/8″ seam.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

Open up the two pieces and press the new piece away from the first piece. Quilt that one using the same technique you used on the first piece.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

Add another piece across from it using the same method. Basically, instead of making a square, you want to make more of a pentagon, with five sides instead of four. So every piece will be angled. I use each fabric (except the first fabric) two or three times as I work my way out from the center. You’ll see this more as it starts to come into form.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

Continue adding pieces at an angle. You want to make sure to cover up all edges and seams with the pieces you’re adding. You’ll see below that the light purple piece (right-side down in the photo) covers the two ends of the darker pink pieces, so that when it’s opened, those ends are hidden.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

You can already see the flower starting to take shape.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

Keep adding pieces. It’s hard to go wrong — I’ve had whole pieces I’ve ended up covering up. Just make sure that the pieces you are adding are covering up the ends of the strips as you go — you don’t want frayed edges showing.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

When I start to get to the edge, I like to trim as I add pieces. I trim after I open up a piece and iron it, but before quilting it. That means I’m not quilting anything extra.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

Keep going around in a circle, adding pieces. You’ll be surprised. You’ll cut a large piece of fabric, and by the time you’ve added others on top of it, only a small triangle is showing in the end.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

It’ll take some getting used to, but as you see the shape take form, where to put the next pieces will become more clear. It’s difficult to visualize at first, but after a while it should make more sense (I hope!)

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

Keep on adding. You’ll use more fabric strips than you’d expect.

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

Soon you’ll be finished!  Trim down your edges and square up your block (if you’re making a square). You’re ready to use this panel when you make a bag or pillow or mug rug!

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa

Let me know if you give this Bloomin’ Quilt-As-You-Go a shot — I’d LOVE to see what you create with it!

Bloomin' Quilt-As-You-Go Panel Tutorial by Let's Eat Grandpa


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  1. says

    I really love the colours you’ve used this time (I love the original one too, but I’m a sucker for purples). Your instructions are so clear, I might just give it a go!
    And good work on making a video!! Congrats on your new “clogging” skill.

  2. Marcia R. says

    Oh My Goodness! This is my favorite tutorial ever! If I wasn’t sitting at work, I would go grab some fabric right this minute and give it a try! I loved your pillow, and you are so gracious to share your secrets. In fact, I started following you because of that pillow. ;-)

  3. Tamie says

    I love, love, love this and cannot wait to try it! I think you did splendidly with the video – you inspire me to stretch my technical skills! Thank you for your wonderful Christ filled blogs, I am grateful to be in the company of other believers. G-d bless you!

  4. Indianna says

    I loved this when I saw it on Flickr, thanks for the tutorial. My mum loves Mackintosh roses, and this reminds me of one, so I think I will make it for her.

  5. brigitte mauthner says

    Thank you for your generous free tutorial. I love it a lot and it will be my first attempt to give it a try with the “quilt as you go” method. Have a nice sunday. Here it is snowing in a nice way.

  6. Karen S. says

    Thanks for posting the tutorial! I’m looking forward to giving this a try. Your pillow and pouch both turned out beautifully!!

  7. Cindy says

    Cori – Thank you so much for the tutorial and the inspiration! The first time I saw your pillow, I knew EVENTUALLY I would attempt to make something similar. Today is that day. When my pillow is complete, I’ll post a picture.

  8. says

    Wow, I really love it and could see it becoming a great looking bag or pillow! Thanks for sharing, I pinned so I would not forget to try this sometime.

  9. Jelayne says

    Thanks so much for sharing your tutorial for this pillow! I pinned the blue/yellow one awhile back and I really want to get going on one maybe for a gift, or for myself, or both!! You are really gracious to share this for free! I have a question… When you’re making a quilted pillow cover, do you make it 1 inch smaller than the pillow form? Or do you use a fill? Thanks!

    • says

      I do make it slightly smaller than the pillow form, but not too much smaller since it’s pretty stiff and doesn’t give a lot. Start out with a square that’s about an inch bigger than the final size pillow you want — you’ll lose some as you square it up as you go along. Let me know how it goes!!

  10. Bev Floden says

    Does the quilt block become thick after adding over the ends?
    Will try it soon to see for myself.
    thanks for the directions.

    • says

      Hi Bev — the quilt block is definitely thicker than a standard quilt block. That’s why it’s better to use it for pillows or a bag instead of an actual quilt.

  11. Diane says

    This is really unique! I was wondering if a person couldn’t just sew several of these for a lap size quilt? Being there is, or appears to be, a good inch lap at the edges of each square? Or is this only good for a pillow pattern being you’re adding your batting on in the beginning? It is beautiful…love the colors you have chosen as well.

    • says

      Because you quilt as you go, the back is UGHLY. So you’d have to add another layer of backing fabric and then quilt again — but I think that would ruin the look on the front. Make sense? It’s also incredibly dense — not very pliable and comfy. That’s why I think it’s so good for pillows or panels for a bag. If someone does make a quilt, I’d LOVE to see it!!

    • says

      It’s definitely heftier than pretty much anything else I sew — that’s why it’s perfect for a pillow panel or a for making a bag :)

  12. amanda says

    i love this tute! any tips for making it into a mug rug without an ugly back? should i try quilting as i go just to the batting and then adding the backing with some very simple quilting? thanks again!

  13. GrannyTo8Boys says

    I couldn’t resist watching the video after reading your comments on it. I was expecting much more fun from it. LOL. Next time mess it up a bit more for our pleasure, ok? Thanks for the QAYG. I have tried it a few times without much success. Yours looks easy. Gonna give er a go.

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  15. Debbie Pine says

    Saw your auction pillow on Pinterest and dug around till I found your tutorial. Thanks so much for sharing! I have no clue how to include a pic but I just finished one today and I can’t wait to make more! Took way more fabric than I planned on and had a few pieces get totally hidden but its awesome.

  16. Angela says

    I tried this as my first QAYG project. I know, I should have started with something simple, but that’s not how I roll. I made a pillow using yellow to green batiks. It was easy, fun, and it turned out so well I am giving it as a gift. Next week I think I’ll try the North West panel. Thanks for the tutorials!

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  18. Dane Ruser says

    I love your quilt-as-you-go projects — very inspiring! I would like to see PFD files attached so that your fans can better print them for reference. I want to make a “Hey, let’s make stuff” book for my reference library. Thanks for sharing your tutorials.

  19. MPaula says

    I am planning to make a duvet cover (considering it has been in my mind for several years, who knows when it will get done) and wondered if quilt-as-you-go would be an appropriate method. I continue to use the cover alone when it becomes too hot for the duvet.
    Considering that the back of the quilt would be hidden by the fabric used for the other side of the cover, ugliness is not a concern. The stiffness might be a problem so I will start with a smaller project first to get a feel for it (unintended pun!). Obviously I would have to make squares or rectangles to make the top and then stitch them together.
    Thanks for your tutorial. I am pinning it for when I actually get started.


  1. […] guys! I actually wrote that quilt-as-you-go tutorial I promised a few weeks ago. I’m going to use the panel I made to make a pouch for the Pretty […]

  2. […] and I got to meet her for a whole hot minute at the Sewing Summit last October. I just adore her Blooming Quilt As You Go Panel and I might have to use it for my next scrap buster!  Her style is super fresh, colorful and above […]

  3. […] before I’d even heard of Tara Rebman, when I came across this stunner on Flickr, based on this tutorial, but I really wanted the Tinker Tote bag pattern, which is AWESOME, so I ponied up the cash (which, […]

  4. […] I whipped up this cute little boxy pouch for my partner. I took this as an opportunity to try out all of Fancy’s fancy stitches. It was a lot of fun. My girl loved helping me press the buttons too. There is a tutorial over at Modern Quilt Love for the boxy pouch. The tutorial for the QAYG technique can be found at Lets Eat Grandpa. […]

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