A Nearly Insane quilter quilting QAYG?

Is Nearly Insane a title I should give myself? I certainly do notice the taxing looks people throw me when I tell them about all my massive 10-year plans. You know the kind of plans that need yards and yards of aida, boxes of embroidery floss or quilts made out of 10.000 tiny pieces.  Insane… is what I hear their minds whisper. I would only accept the title Nearly Insane though because I don’t accept that ambition is equal to insanity. The Nearly Insane Sampler quilt is aptly named though, I’ll admit to that. This quilt made by Salinda Rupp, and which Liz Lois turned into a pattern has many small pieces in each block. The quilt consists of 99 different blocks in total, each having at least a 30 pieces and at most 200+. 

Why am I doing this to myself? Well, a woman has to learn her art in some way, and sampler quilts are a good way to learn quilting. Sampler quilts consist of many different blocks which allow you to practice different techniques in one quilt. I am making the nearly Insane quilt to build my machine piecing and quilting skills.

To assemble this quilt I use the Quilt As You Go technique, or QAYG. With this technique, you sew the blocks together after they are quilted. This is the other way around from the standard method where you first assemble the blocks before you sew through the three layers. The benefit of this technique is that you can start putting together your quilt before you’ve finished all your blocks. And I must say, seeing the direction this quilt is going, has motivated me so much to continue to work on it and finish the quilt soon!

This post is dedicated to showing you how the QAYG quilt technique works. If you want to read more about the Nearly Insane sampler quilt check this link:

Nearly insane quilt in the sun
Nearly insane quilt in the sun

Step 1: Make the quilt blocks

First, you need to sew blocks to put them together. For that, I am using the foundation paper piecing method where the fabric is sewn on a background. This is a great method to create neat quilt blocks with a lot of small pieces. Read more about the method here:

Nearly Insane quilt block 35
Nearly Insane quilt block 35

Step 2: Quilt the quilted blocks

Quilting sometimes has a too-limited vocabulary, using derivates of the word ‘quilt’ all over. In the second step, you put the batting and backing behind the quilt block. After that, you sew through the three layers, which we call quilting. You can do it in any pattern you want. It creates tiny soft cushions on your quilt blocks.

Nearly Insane quilt block 85
Nearly Insane quilt block 85

Step 3: Find border strips to put the quilt together

Say hello to the guest appearance of my Dear Jane quilt here!  For a long time, I was not sure which colour border strips I wanted to use. Then someone gave me the idea to use ‘any kind of flashy colour’.  So, instead of picking one, I went for all of them. I use solids to balance out all the flower fabric in the quilt, but also because I had a lot of solid fabrics I use for my Dear Jane quilt.

It is nice to use Dear Jane fabric in this quilt to connect the two samplers I’m making. Each is meant to teach me a skill: hand quilting and machine quilting. After finished these quilts I will consider myself fairly accomplished in basic quilting skills. So both in use and fabrics, they will be connected now. To connect the Dear Jane Quilt with the Nearly Insane I plan to use the same backing fabric. I bought all of the available fabric in a second-hand shop because I thought it was pretty. Now, it’s purpose has materialized. Read about my Dear Jane hand sampler quilt here:

The many colours border strips
The many colours border strips

Step 4: Put together the quilt blocks

Two border strips are used to connect the blocks. One at the front and one at the back.  When the quilt is finished you get a pattern like on the picture above.

  1. First, you sew the two strips to a block
  2. Then you pin and sew the second block so when you flip it over it looks like the second picture
  3. The last step is to fold in the edge of the other border strip as you do when sewing down the border. This you can either stitch down with an invisible stitch or with a machine. If you sew it by machine you will see a line on the front of the quilt.

Quilt as you go intimidated me a lot before I gave it a try. This youtube movie from the Gourmetquilter helped me to make sense of it:

Step 4: Admire your results

The most important part of every quilt process is to sit back, drape your finished quilt parts over something. and enjoy the pleasing sight of your own work.

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Conclusion: is QAYG the technique for you?

Have you ever tried the QAYG technique? It really intimidated me at first, but once I had the first four blocks or so together it started to become routine. Some questions for you:

  1. Do you prefer hand or machine quilting?
  2. How do you assemble your quilt blocks
  3. Are you a bright colour person or more calm?

Would you like to know more?

Next week’s post: Kenyan quilt update!

See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.


  1. Love this! And totally agree about the difference between insanity and ambition. Excellent point! I used the QAYG technique when I made my first sampler quilt. I used it as a way to learn free-motion quilting. It was so much easier to quilt block by block rather than trying out a brand new way of quilting on a huge quilt with my little domestic sewing machine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment! I could not even fathom how to quilt this one with my domestic machine so QAYG was the way to go. Also, I had no patience to wait untill I would have finished all the blocks 😛

      Liked by 1 person

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