In keeping with my recent goal of using the fabric I have stashed in my closet, and in my ongoing effort to cultivate the love affair I'm having with my sewing machine, last week I went on a search for the perfect winter project. I was not looking for anything difficult or fancy, as that would not fall into the perfect category I had in mind. Instead, I wanted a quick and easy project that would not tax my brain or test my patience - something fun that incorporated color and function. I really didn't know what I wanted to work on. All I knew was that I was in the mood to play.
As I was googling and searching all things fabric and sewing related, I remembered that my friend Amy had written about the rag quilts she loved to sew. I've never seen a rag quilt before, but the idea intrigued me. Luckily, Amy recently posted pictures of the rag quilts she has made on her blog. After seeing her beautiful quilts, I knew that this was the perfect winter project I had been looking for.
And so without a pattern or instructions, I set out to make my first rag quilt. Since I've been quilting for years, I sort of knew what I was doing, but that didn't solve the math problem - and quilts are all about the math. I HATE MATH. And because I hate math, I always struggle with that part of the quilting process. Over the years, I've learned to figure it out, write it down, re-figure the numbers, and write it down again. Sometimes I get it right... sometimes I don't. Math is not my strong point.
This time around, I got it right. And because I got it right (twice!), and because I wrote it down, I've decided to pass along everything I learned along the way. Following are the written and photo instructions for making a rag quilt.
Instructions are for a cotton print fabric quilt top, with flannel batting, and a flannel backing.
Yardage Requirements for a 38.5" x 53.5" Quilt
- Large Squares: 1.5 yards for quilt top
- Small Squares (Four Patch Blocks): 1/2 yards each of four coordinating fabrics
- Flannel #1: 2.75 yards for quilt back
- Flannel #2: 2.75 yards for batting (can be the same print or a different print than quilt back). If using the same print, then the the total yardage requirement is 5.5 yards of flannel.
Rag Quilt Cutting Chart
- Large Squares: Cut (5) 8.5 x 44" strips, then cut the strips [sub-cut] into (17) 8.5 x 8.5" squares
- Four Patch Blocks (cuts from each fabric): Cut (3) 4.75 x 44" strips, then sub-cut into (18) 4.75 x 4.75" squares
Flannel #1 for Quilt Top
- Cut (4) 8.5 x 44" strips, then sub-cut (17) 8.5 x 8.5" squares
- Cut (8) 4.75 x 44" strips, then sub-cut (72) 4.75 x 4.75" squares from each strip
Flannel #2 for Batting
- Repeat the cuts for flannel quilt top using the same flannel print or a coordinating flannel. The color of flannel used for the batting will be the color that is most prominent when ragging the quilt.
*Additional fabric required if yardage is not at least 43" wide after removing selvage.
- Use a walking foot if available
- Finger press seams in alternating directions
- All seams are sewn wrong sides together
- A 1/2" seam allowance is used throughout the project
- Cotton thread is recommended
- Set machine stitch length to a shorter than normal length (closer stitches) - you may need to adjust the tension. Cut out a test block of fabric that includes all layers and run some trial stitches while adjusting the length and tension to the desired settings.
Step-by-step photo instructions
For those who have not sewn in a while, this is a project that will get you going. And for those who are afraid to sew anything big, this project will alleviate your fears. And finally, for those like me who are looking for the perfect winter project, this is it - a project that satisfies a desire to create and that will turn out perfect time and time again.
Seriously, anyone with a sewing machine can make these. They are not in the least bit difficult - all you need to do is sew squares and blocks of fabric together. In fact, rag quilts are really quite simple! Straight line stitching is all you need to know how to do. And the best part about this project is these quilts are comfy-cozy. The minute I finished my first rag quilt, Alyssa grabbed it, curled up in a chair, and fell fast asleep. And in my mind, that is what a perfect winter project is all about - something that is welcoming and inviting and... well... nap-worthy.