I'm sure you've seen these before. I've been drooling over all the lovely soft and snuggly rag quilts I see on my Pinterest feed and have been longing to find out how to make one. So I gave it a try, took some photos and a video along the way to share the process with you, in case you'd like to give it a go too.
Materials to make a rag quilt
- Flannel fabric in prints, solids or both
- Matching or contrasting thread
- Ideally but optional – ragging shears
- Ideally but optional – rotary cutter and long ruler
- Ideally but optional – walking foot
- Time and patience 🙂
How much flannel you need will obviously depend on how big you want your quilt to be and how many layers you want to add. My finished quilt is 9 squares by 13, each square started out at 6 inches and I used 3 layers in each square. So I used a total of 351 squares. Assuming you can get 36 x six inch squares from a yard of flannel (you might get more depending on your fabric width) then I needed 10 yards of flannel to make my quilt in total. That's a lot! You can obviously make a smaller quilt and use less. Making bigger squares would also mean a bigger quilt or less fabric because of less seam allowances.
Make sure to buy your flannel when there is a sale or you have a good coupon if you plan to make a large quilt. Check out the list of sales and coupons which is updated daily here to get the best deal.
Watch me make my flannel rag quilt
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How to make a rag quilt
Decide on what size to cut your squares. Ideally a larger finished quilt size can support a larger square. Keep in mind that this can be a time consuming project, and I recommend not making your squares any smaller than 6 inches.
Use a rotary cutter and long 24 inch ruler if you have them. If not, mark your fabric and cut with scissors (but that will take you much longer). Cut out rows of fabric and then cut the rows into squares until you have all of your squares.
Now have fun designing your quilt. Will you use the same fabric top and bottom? Will you go for a regular placement, something entirely random? I went for a regular placement, offsetting by one in each row. More on that later 😉
Set out all of your sets of 3.
Place the backing piece face down, then your middle layer face up then your top layer face up.
Stitch a large X through the center of your 3 layers from corner to corner. A walking foot is going to be useful here in keeping all the layers neatly together as you sew, but its not essential. The flannel clings to itself so you won't really need any pins.
Repeat, repeat, repeat until you have all of your squares sewn with crosses. This is an excellent time to do a bit of mindless sewing. Sew a few squares here and there when you get 10 minutes. This is an easy pick up and put down project.
Now start to sew your rows. Decide on a seam allowance – for my 6 inch squares I used 1/2 inch. For a larger square you could use a larger seam allowance to get more of a balanced look.
Opposite to usual sewing, you'll be sewing with the WRONG sides together – whatever you want on the back needs to be sewn facing and then the fabrics on the front and the seam allowance will appear on top. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you have all of your rows sewn.
You're starting to see the big picture now. Time to sew together your rows. Remember to sew them WRONG side or back sides together. Open up the seam allowance front and back as you sew and try to match the seam allowances on your squares.
Phew, its been a sewing marathon and we're not quite finished yet. We need to take care of the outside edges, so now sew a line of stitching all the way around the perimeter using your same seam allowance. Now you are done. Put your sewing machine away and put your feet up. But not too long….
Now it's time to snip. Use your spring loaded ragging shears if you have them, or your regular sewing scissors if not. Depending on the size of your quilt and the number of seam allowances you could be snipping for some time! Put on your favorite movie or an audio book and snip away. I snipped about every 3/8 to 1/2 of an inch. Of course be careful not to snip into your stitching or you'll have to sew that seam again.
Snip all around the edges too. I created quite a blister on one knuckle where it was rubbing on the scissors – who knew this could be so dangerous!
OK, nearly done. It looks good but here is where we make it look awesome. Toss it in the washing machine with a couple of towels. I read its best not to use a liquid fabric softener. You'll get quite a bit of fluff in your washer, but it should almost all end up stuck onto the damp towels after spinning so should be easy to just wipe around and pick up any last little bits. Then throw it in the dryer or line dry. Repeat the washing and drying if you like to get a more frayed effect.
And you are done. Isn't it lovely. All soft and snuggly and so pretty.
I held it up proudly and showed it to hubby after all my hours of work. What do you think I asked? Erm he said, what's wrong with the pattern?
Arrghghh. I don't believe it! After all that hard work, I sewed the very last row on wrong – look, it goes the wrong way.
Not sure yet if I'll remove that last row or just leave it as a design feature. I never even noticed until he pointed it out! Sigh.