Easy quilt-as-you-go method for smallish quilts – 3 simple steps

Lazy River Bed RunnerHave you tried the easy quilt-as-you-go method? It’s packed with some serious quilting magic!

You start by basting your backing and batting together; then you stitch the pieces for the patchwork on top of the batting and backing. Which means you’re machine quilting your project at the same time you’re piecing it.

Mind blown!

If you’ve never heard of the easy quilt-as-you-go method or if you’ve yet to try it, take a look at our excerpt today from Gudrun Erla’s book Learn to Quilt-As-You-Go. After she had designed patterns and owned quilt shops in her home country of Iceland, quilting brought her to Minnesota in 2003. Since then Gudrun has been designing full time, and her quilt-as-you-go technique is super-popular. You’ll see why below!


Excerpted from Learn to Quilt-As-You-Go by Gudrun Erla

Gudrun ErlaEvery technique starts with knowing the basics. Once you understand the basic method of building a backing-and-batting sandwich and applying strips to it, you can piece and quilt your projects in a single step. In Learn to Quilt-As-You-Go, I delve into working with triangles, filling areas with strips that go in different directions, adding appliqués and dimensional embellishments, and creating the illusion of curves. It’s a fun method to rely on for smaller projects—and when you realize the quilting is complete once you’ve sewn your last patchwork piece, you’ll be amazed! So let’s talk about the basics of this fun process.

1. Baste the Backing and Batting Together

Before adding any quilt-top pieces, you first need to baste the backing and batting together. There are several ways you can do this, but whatever method you use, make sure there aren’t any puckers or wrinkles on the backing before you begin piecing.

My preference is to use fusible batting or interfacing and then fuse the backing and batting together. You can also use nonfusible batting with basting spray, quilter’s safety pins, or thread.

2. Mark the Batting

Once the backing and batting are basted together, you’ll need to mark the batting to use as a guide for placing the fabric pieces. Each project in the book specifies how to mark the batting. Use a clear ruler and a marking pen or pencil to mark accurate lines that are easy to see.

3. Piece the Top

Your fabrics are cut, the backing and batting are basted together, and your machine is ready to sew. It’s time to quilt as you go!

Place the first fabric right side up on the batting where instructed, using the lines on the batting as a guide.

Position the next piece over the first strip, right sides together, aligning the raw edges along the edge indicated in the project instructions. Pin the pieces together.

Using a ¼" seam allowance, sew through all the layers, remembering to lock your stitches at the beginning and end of the seam.

With your fingers, open the second piece to the right side and finger-press the seam. Then use an iron to press the unit. Try to avoid directly touching the iron to the batting so as not to melt it. For some projects I simply finger-press each piece as I sew, and then press with an iron after I’ve completed a full row. Use your best judgment and go to the iron if you feel like your pieces aren’t lying flat with just finger-pressing.

Lay the next piece in place as directed in the project instructions and pin it in place. Sew through all the layers, and press as before. Continue in this manner until all the pieces have been added.

What’s next? The binding—other than that final step, you’re done!

Thinking about giving the easy quilt-as-you-go method a whirl? Gudrun’s got you covered with more helpful details about the whole process. Pick up Learn to Quilt-As-You-Go and you can choose from 14 small projects. Start with one of four beginner projects:

Let's Dish Place Mats
Let’s Dish Place Mats

Then move on to triangles:

Winging It Table Runner
Winging It Table Runner


Spring Bouquet Wall Hanging
Spring Bouquet Wall Hanging

Prairie points:

Lucky Charms Topper
Lucky Charms Topper

And (the illusion of) curves:

Petal Play Topper
Petal Play Topper

What’s your experience with quilt-as-you-go: love it, learning it, or haven’t yet tried it? Tell us in the comments!

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