Quilt-As-You-Go is so much more than just log cabins! Try this new Bloomin’ QAYG 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. 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.
- Backing fabric
- Scrap fabric
- Cutting mat
- Fabric scissors
- Ironing board
- Spray basting
- High-quality thread
- Sewing machine
- Walking foot
- Rotary cutter
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.
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.
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.
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!
Here is what should have:
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can already see the flower starting to take shape.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
Keep on adding. You’ll use more fabric strips than you’d expect.
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!
Let me know if you give this Bloomin’ Quilt-As-You-Go a shot — I’d LOVE to see what you create with it!