Update: I recently wrote a more comprehensive tutorial for How to Make a Rag Quilt - including lots of fabric ideas. Don't miss it!
My kids love rag quilts, and this is the best one I've made yet. At least according to them. I wrote last Saturday that they had it on a rotating schedule so everyone got a chance to sleep with it. They are now all snuggled up watching a movie under it, and I haven't had the chance to enjoy it yet! Well, I really do enjoy seeing them use it so I guess that's good enough for now.
Why is this my best rag quilt yet? We think it's in the combination of fabrics.
The spooky and sweet quilting cottons I used are Spooktacular Eve from Blend. They add personality to the front. The back is fleece for softness and warmth. The inside of the quilt has a layer of flannel. I used flannel instead of batting so I wouldn't have to quilt the layers together. This saves lots of time. Plus the flannel frays wonderfully for that 'rag quilt' look.
This quilt is thick and warm, but not too heavy. It's perfect for snuggling on the couch or tossing on a bed.
The one question I keep getting about this tutorial is "why don't you quilt your blocks together with an 'x' before sewing them - like the other tutorials do?"
My answer is simple - because I like the clean look shown in the picture above. It's beautiful to me. Since I'm not using batting (which requires quilting at specified distances) and since my finished squares are only 7", quilting is not necessary. And it takes lots of time. Time that I'd rather spend on my next quilt...
Rag Quilt Tutorial
These instructions are kind of a 'cliff notes' version. Read my post 'How to Make a Rag Quilt' for more detailed instructions for making a rag quilt with any fabric.
This finished quilt is a 57'' x 64'' throw quilt. Feel free to resize as you wish.
You will need:
- 4 yards of cotton fabrics (enough to cut 72 8'' squares)
- 2 1/2 yards of 58-60'' wide fleece (mine is all the same color)
- 4 yards of 40'' wide flannel
Keep in mind that the flannel and fleece will show on the front of the quilt. The seam allowances make a nice fluffy border around each block - so make sure the colors coordinate. My fleece and flannel are all ivory color.
You will need a nice sharp pair of scissors for 'ragging' the seam allowances. I love these spring-loaded rag quilt snips that pop back open every time. In fact, I wouldn't even attempt a rag quilt without them. I like my hands.
I also recommend using a walking foot (otherwise known as an even feed foot) for your sewing machine. It helps tremendously when sewing thick layers of fabric.
Cutting and Stacking
Using your rotary cutter and ruler (or regular scissors), cut 72 squares 8'' x 8'' from each type of fabric: cotton, flannel, and fleece.
Each quilt 'block' will have cotton on the front, flannel in the middle, and fleece on the back. If this is your first rag quilt (or your first quilt!) you may wish to stack and pin together the three squares for each block. I didn't because I needed a 'speed method.' Just sayin'.
When you sew the blocks together, take two 3-layer-stacks (print, flannel, fleece) and place them with the two layers of fleece right sides together. The flannel will be on either side of the fleece, and the cotton print fabrics on either side of the flannel, facing out.
Not for the newbie: Here is my 'speed method'... I made a huge stack of fleece and flannel blocks that went: 1 flannel block, 2 fleece blocks, 2 flannel blocks, 2 fleece blocks, 2 flannel blocks, 2 fleece blocks... 1 flannel block.
This was so I could arrange my cotton print blocks on my design wall, and then take them down as I sewed the quilt rows together.
Arrange your cotton squares into 9 rows of 8.
At my sewing machine, I grabbed a stack of 4 blocks from the white pile (1 flannel block, 2 fleece blocks, 1 flannel block) and placed two cotton prints on either side of the stack, facing out.
Switch to your sewing machine's walking foot and sew the stacks together with a 1/2'' seam allowance.
Sewing 6 layers together, especially layers with different types of fabric is not a precise business. Follow the cub scout motto 'do your best' and don't worry about the rest. It will look great.
Finger-press each seam open. Here you see the fleece layers in the middle.
If you are using a design wall, you may be able to stick the fleece backed squares to it without pins, like I did.
Sew 8 blocks (or stacks of fabric) together to make each row, and continue until you have 9 rows.
Sew the rows together with the fleece right sides together and the cotton prints facing out, as before. Make sure that the seam allowances are all open.
Use pins at the seams to help match them up accurately (but again, it's hard to make them perfect).
Continue until all 9 rows are sewn together.
Also sew around the outside of the quilt, 1/2'' from the edge.
Now comes the snipping! This part takes the longest, at least for me. I cut my squares on one day and sewed them all up the next day. Then it took me several days and nights of snipping. I carried this quilt to the pool and snipped during 2 hours of my kids' swim practice and also during about 6 episodes of Murdoch Mysteries. Whew! I tried to make snips 1/4'' apart pretty consistently. You may place yours further apart, but keep in mind that the fleece is not going to fray so nice little 'fringes' look better than large ones. The cotton and flannel fabrics are going to fray beautifully.
Make sure you snip all the seam allowances (including the corners) and around the outside of the quilt. If you accidentally snip into your seamline, take the quilt back to your sewing machine and sew the seam closed (see below).
Last of all, throw the quilt into the washing machine and let the magic happen. This combination of fabrics makes a really thick, fluffy seam allowance. It's so yummy!
Gasp! What's this? I snipped into my seam without noticing it. Actually I'm very surprised that there was only one such hole in my quilt after washing.
No worries! If this happens to you, just re-fold the quilt back along the seam line and stitch up the hole (backstitching at the start and end). The fluffy part will hide everything.
Have fun! And make sure you show me your rag quilt on a Show Off Saturday or in our SewCanShe Sewcialites facebook group. :)