Rag Quilt Tutorial

rag quilt tutorial directionsWith 24 hours left in winter break, I finally finished my daughter’s rag quilt!  I’ve only been sewing for a year and I still consider myself to be a beginner.  If you are new to sewing, you could definitely make a rag quilt – it’s all straight lines!!

My aunt started quilting 3 years ago after she retired from teaching (25 years of teaching – bless her heart!).  She taught me some of the basics of quilting, and I used her little lessons to make this rag quilt for my daughter.

I’m certainly not an expert on this, but having gone through the process, I thought I’d share the steps I went through and the tips I figured out along the way.

I started with basic squares, and because I was making a twin size quilt, I kept the squares fairly large (9″ x 9″).  You’ll need coordinating fabrics for the front pieces, and then one color for the entire back.  I used Joel Dewberry Aviary 2 for the front (and two other patterns that coordinated well with this fabric set because I ended up not having quite enough) and flannel fabric in turquoise for the back.  After all my cutting, I had 8 squares of 10 different patterns for the front (80 in total) and then 80 flannel squares for the back.  You’ll also need to cut out the same number of squares of batting, an inch or two smaller than the fabric squares (I cut my batting in 7.5″ x 7.5″ squares).

rag quilt squaresThe cutting took a long time (even with a rotary cutter), but the sewing took longer.

Simply layer the pieces of fabric together, and then sew an “X” across each stack.

Photo Dec 23, 9 23 40 PMAfter all the pieces were sewn together, I laid them out on the floor to figure out a random pattern (is that an oxymoron, or what?).  I just moved them around until it looked random enough for me.  Then, I took a picture of it (and referred back to it about a million times while I was sewing).

twin rag wuilt layoutI didn’t take any pictures of this next step, but I sewed together each row of the quilt.  When you sew, you’ll put the back, solid color panels together and sew 1/2″ from the edge.  If you’ve sewn anything else before, it will feel strange to sew with the “wrong” sides back to back, but in the end, you want the edges on the outside of the quilt, not on the inside.

rag quilt tutorial 2After sewing all the rows, you’ll sew all the rows to each other, using the same method.  You’ll feel so accomplished when it’s all sewn together, but don’t get too excited, you’re not done yet.  It’s time to cut the edges so the fabric frays, giving it the rag look.

rag quilt tutotial 6Cutting all the little pieces is a lot more time consuming than you’d think!  Three episodes of Breaking Bad later, I had all the edges cut.  Finally, it was done.

rag quilt edgesRunning it through the washer and dryer helps to start to fray the edges up.  I believe it continues to fray as it is used and washed, but it will never fray beyond those stitches that hold it together.

rag quilt tutorial 8My almost 3-year-old daughter loves it.  She knows that Mommy made it for her, which makes it extra special.

rag quilt tutorialRight now, she’s still in a toddler bed, but when she moves up to a twin bed, it’ll fit perfectly.  Of course, she’s still using it as her blanket, it’s just about 5 times bigger than she is.

rag quilt tutorial 1I plan to sew another quilt for my second daughter using the same fabric, since they’ll be sharing a room within the year, but I’m thinking of doing a jelly roll quilt this time, and probably not making it a rag quilt.  I should probably start cutting out the strips now, since this one took me almost 6 months to finish!

Like what you see? I’d love for you to follow along!

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15 thoughts on “Rag Quilt Tutorial

  1. Love, love, love the patterns/colors you chose to do this quilt. Bravo! Thanks so much for sharing at my Creative Ways Link Party. Hope you’ll be back with more great posts tonight!

  2. The colors and patterns you’ve used are wonderful, and so much more effective in the larger sizes. I wish I could gather up enough courage to try this. I’m not very good at sewing 🙁

    1. Thanks, Cheryl! I promise, you could do this one!! It’s sewing straight lines – albeit a lot of them – they are all straight. I’m very new to sewing and felt comfortable doing it. I’ve heard it’s the easiest quilt to start with…

  3. I love your quilt. It is sew pretty! I am working at shirt quilt for my daughter. Quite a feat of creativity. My project isn’t pretty like your though but it has character! Happy quilting

    1. Thanks, Laurie! Isn’t it special to create things for the people you love? I almost feel like it doesn’t even matter what they look like, because it’s really the work and creativity that mean everything. Here’s to hoping both of our daughters treasure their quilts for many years to come!

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