That is why I decided to adopt a quilt-as-you-go strategy for making our new queen-size bed quilt.
- Sew quilt blocks together to make a small quilt top measuring no larger than 48 inches x 48 inches.
- Add batting and back fabric to this small quilt top and do the quilting by machine in a pattern of your choice. But leave unquilted a seam allowance of one half inch on all four sides of the quilt top. You will need this seam allowance when you later add blocks to enlarge the quilt.
- Trim the batting one inch larger than the quilt top. Trim the back three inches larger than the quilt top. Trimming the batting and back will stagger the seams when you add more batting and back fabric to enlarge the quilt top.
- The next phase is to add a section of quilt blocks rows, batting, and back fabric to the quilted top. This new section should not extend the measurement of the quilt top by more than 24 inches. Remember, it is hard to machine-quilt more than 24 inches from the quilt edge when using a home sewing machine.
- First sew the new block rows to the quilt top. Be sure to fold under the margins of the batting and back before the stitching begins so that they will not be caught in the seam.
- Then add a new section of batting that is slightly larger that the block rows you are adding. To do so, first fold back the added blocks so that the batting of the quilt top is exposed. Fold back the small margin of back fabric as well. Then butt the new batting against the edge of the batting in the quilted top. Be sure both sections of batting lie flat. Baste together these batting sections by hand using the stitch illustrated below.
- Add an additional section of back fabric. The back fabric should be slightly larger than the added block rows.
- Then trim the batting (one inch larger than the new block rows), and back fabric (three inches larger) as you did when making the original small quilt top.
- Machine-quilt next. To avoid puckers while machine-quilting I suggest that you first lay your quilt top on a bed. Place an ironing board at the foot of the bed and lower the board to bed level. Pull the new patchwork section and new batting onto the surface of the ironing board, but allow the back fabric to drop to the floor between the bed and ironing board. The bed will support the already quilted portion of the quilt.
- Smooth the added section of blocks and the added batting to remove puckers. Iron the two layers together. The ironing will create enough friction to hold the two layers together while you turn over the quilt. (The new blocks are now face down with the batting on top.)
- Now pull the back fabric onto the ironing board to cover the batting. Pull the back tight and smooth the fabric with the iron. Pin-baste the new section, then machine-quilt the layers together using the pattern of your choice.
California quilter, Donna Hussain, has exhibited in major quilt shows around the country, authored books, and is a regular contributor to Fiber Focus. Click on her name to see all of her past articles.
The photo shows Donna with her husband, Pascha.