Rag Quilts Are Quite Easy to Make
Learn how to make a rag quilt. They are quite easy to make and wonderful to have close by to keep away the chill . Once you cut lots of fabric blocks and squares of batting, you’ll have a finished quilt in no time. They are comfy and soft making them perfect for wrapping yourself in just to relax. Rag quilts can also be a personalized memory quilt by using old shirts, jeans or even baby blankets and flannel sheets. Your creativity is your only limitation.
This quilt below is a compilation of the jeans my son wore as a teenager. We spent a fortune on these embroidered pocketed jeans over the years, and I wasn’t about to throw them away. It was fun to cut out different sections to include pockets, zippers and all the decorative pieces from each pair. The backing is an assortment of flannel which is almost as durable as the denim front. What amazed me is weight of this quilt with all the added ‘hardware’ around the pockets and such. It turned out wonderful and he loves it.
What Is the Best Material To Make A Rag Quilt?
The best fabrics to use are woven cottons, and using flannels makes them extra soft. Knits don’t work well because they don’t ravel, which is what provides the ragged effect around the edges. I’ve used flannel, denim and also made two large lap quilts with a light cotton fabric. This red, white and blue quilt is one I made my brother-in-law. It’s the first one I made and was from a kit with all flannel fabric. It turned out great and still looks pretty good after many years of use.
Sewing A Rag Quilt Is Very Easy
Sewing a rag quilt is very easy and uses a different process than regular patchwork quilting. Most rag quilts are made with 5” or 7” squares. Since the seams are exposed and are what make the rag edge, rag quilts are sewn with a ½” seam around each block. The best part is once the blocks are sewn together, the quilt is finished. There’s no additional backing or quilting required. How awesome is that for a quick project!
What Size Rag Quilt to Make?
Once you determine your quilt size, do the math and start cutting squares. For a 60”x72” lap quilt, plan on 5 yards for the front and 5 yards for the back. You’ll need 120 squares measuring 7”x7” for the top, and 120 squares measuring 7”x7” for the back. Additionally, you’ll need to cut 120 squares of batting measuring 6”x6”.
Do the Quilting First
The quilting is done before the quilt is sewn together. Make three piles to pull from as you sew. A pile of backing fabric, a pile of batting, and a pile of the top fabric. To begin, lay out a piece of backing fabric with the right side facing down and the wrong side facing up. Next, place a piece of batting on top of the backing and then add the top fabric with right side facing up.
If you must, you may pin these together as you go, but honestly, don’t waste your time. This is a rag quilt. It is going to be frayed along every seam and nobody will see how straight your squares are. I promise!
Let the Sewing Begin
Begin sewing diagonally across each square from corner to corner. As you reach the bottom corner, have the next layered block ready to feed into you machine. Just keep sewing until the entire pile is sewn. Now do it again, sewing from the opposite corner through every square. You’ll be sewing a large ‘X’ across each square. This is what stabilizes the block and holds the batting in place. DO NOT take a shortcut and skip sewing the second diagonal line. I made that mistake and the batting just doesn’t stay put and tends to move around. The “X” ensures everything stays in place where it needs to be.
Sew Your Blocks Together
Now your choice is to assemble your rag quilt randomly or laid out in a specific design. Either way, you’ll begin to sew your quilted blocks into rows. I chain stitch them in a continuous length which makes it easier to sew the rows together.
To chain sew your blocks, select 2 blocks and lay them back to back with the front facing up. Begin sewing at one end and sew a ½” seam from top to bottom. Instead of cutting your thread, simply feed your next square in and keep sewing. Repeat until you have 12 block sets sewn and connected.
Go back to the block you started with and open it with the wrong side facing up. Lay another quilted block on top with the wrong side facing down. With the right side on top, sew your blocks together with a ½” seam. Continue to chain stitch, adding another block on top as you move to the last row. Go back to the top and do it again. Once all the blocks are added, you should have 10 rows with 12 blocks each.
Sew the Blocks Together in The Other Direction
As you are chain sewing the blocks together, you’ll see the exposed seam on the quilt top side. Without cutting any threads, begin sewing each row from side to side, being sure to keep the back of the blocks together so your seam is on the side of the quilt top. Your previous chain stitching is holding all your blocks in place while you sew each row together. This is a very easy and efficient way to assemble any kind of block pattern.
Once all the blocks are sewn together, your last step is to sew around the entire quilt ½” from the edge. That’s all the sewing there is. Now you need a really awesome pair of sharp scissors and a good movie because this next step will take a while. Along every seam, clip ¼” into the ½” seam allowance, approximately ½” apart, including the outside edge. It’s a lot of clipping, but this is what will give you the frayed edge that gives the rag quilt its name.
The Finishing Touch
Now let your washing machine do the rest of the hard work for you. Run your finished quilt through a complete cycle with a good long rinse. The agitation of the cycles will loosen the threads which will slip out. Next give it a good toss in the dryer to collect all those threads in the lint trap. Take it out, give it a good shake, and trim any knots of threads that may have developed along the seams.
You now have a beautiful rag quilt for snuggling. Watch out though, everyone else will want one too!