In 1985, I took my first quilting class. I had been bumbling along for 9 years on my own, and I really needed some instruction. Plus I had three little kids underfoot all day. I couldn't wait to get out of the house by myself.
After we finished making each block, we were supposed to layer it with backing and batting, and quilt it by hand. It was kind of like homework. I bought a little miniature frame from an ad in Quilters Newsletter, meant just for doing this. It had stretcher bars with cloth stapled to them, just like a big frame. I set it on the counter in my kitchen, and quilted while I cooked supper. I enjoyed it, but I did get behind (did I mention the 3 little kids?) By the time I had finished all the blocks, the class was over.
If you've ever done quilt as you go, you know the fun part is making and quilting the blocks. Eventually, you have to set everything together. We did it just the way Georgia Bonesteel showed on TV and in her books: we sewed the blocks together on the front, whipstitched the batting pieces together by hand, and sewed the backing seam by hand. It was, well, tedious. And my hand stitches were nothing to write home about. You might be able to see these toe-catchers in the picture below.
And like a lot of quilters from that time, I decided that was the end of quilt as you go for me. If I was going to have to end up on a frame anyway, I might as well not have all that hand work on the back.
Well, time passed (a LOT of it). I hand quilted a few more quilts, and pieced a lot of tops and blocks. I started machine quilting them with a walking foot on my sewing machine. I wished I could quilt like Harriet Hargrave, but that was beyond my skills.
I made traditional quilts, sometimes from old blocks, and I wanted to quilt them the way they would have been quilted by hand, with lots of quilting. I liked the look of outline quilting, done 1/4 in. from the seams, but this was next to impossible with the walking foot without constantly turning the quilt.
So I came back to quilt as you go, to see if I could make it work for me.
Instead of quilting each block separately, I tried breaking the quilts into sections.
This is now my favorite way to do quilt as you go. I have tried a couple of other ways that promise no hand work, but have not been as satisfied with them. I don't mind doing this amount of hand work. I just lay the quilt out on the kitchen table and sew.
Here's the new quilt on my Pick Six list, and the reason why I wrote all this long-winded stuff about quilt as you go.
This is how I will quilt them. I'll layer them up with batting and backing either tonight or Sunday, and get started. I'm planning to take pictures along the way.
So do you quilt as you go? If so, what's your way?