Monday, January 28, 2013

How to make a Handkerchief Rag Quilt

This is my first tutorial and my first multi-size handkerchief rag quilt.

  I usually collect hankies until I have enough of the same size and simply put them together in the normal way for a rag quilt but I had so many hankies of various sizes that I was not using because I didn't have enough of a particular size.  I wanted to figure out a good way to make the quilt using all the different sizes.  I thought I could put a small size next to a big size and it would all work out in the end but the seams didn't match up and I didn't like the look so here is what I did instead.

Step 1:  Sort and organize your hankies as to size.  I have an 11" pile, a 12 - 12 1/2" pile, a 13 - 13 1/2" pile and a 14" and above pile.



Step 2:  Iron each hanky and inspect for yellowing.  The ironing will help you get the correct measurement.



If your vintage handkerchiefs look yellowed you can try a trick I found on Pinterest that really worked.  I found it here.   I wish I had taken the "before" picture of this hanky I tried it on but here is the "after."  It looks amazing!


  


Step 4:  Layout your hankies in the array you want them to be in for your quilt alternating the sizes.





Step 5:  Take a picture of your layout.  You don't really have to do this step but I find that my cats love to mess up my layouts.  The pictures have saved me many times.  Pick up the hankies by row so it will be easy to sew in the right order.


Step 6:  Select the largest size hanky and cut your flannel that same size.  I am using flannel and fleece for this rag quilt.  I like to use fleece with the very delicate hankies to give the quilt a nice weight.  I cut my flannel and fleece squares 13 1/4".  (The 1/4" was just my insurance.)


Step 7:  Layer the hanky and the flannels (and fleece if you are using it).  I've made hanky quilts with just a hanky and two slices of flannel and it turns out beautifully.  For this one I layered hanky, flannel, fleece and flannel.  If the hanky is close to the size of the flannel squares then simply sew your traditional X through all 3 or 4 layers.


If your hanky is smaller than an inch from the edge of the flannel like this:

 Pin it




 Sew it onto just the first layer of flannel



Like this



Then layer the other fabrics and sew through all the layers with the traditional X like this


Step 8:  When all the smaller hankies are sewn onto flannel and layered and all the hankies are sewn with an X, now you can begin to assemble the quilt.  Alternate the small hankies with the large hankies as you did in the original array and sew them together in a row.  I used a one inch seam on mine for a very fluffy look.




Step 9:  Sew all the rows together matching the seams as you go.



Step 10:  Sew around the perimeter of the quilt.  I do a double perimeter seam for added strength and I think it looks pretty too.



Step 11:   (Gently lift cat off quilt)  Clip all the seams as you would any rag quilt.  


Step 12:  Machine wash your quilt.  With Hanky quilts I use a delicate setting and dry on low.  They wash up beautifully and this last step helps to give a nice full fluffy look to your seams.  Admire your results:








Update 2/23/14

I have sometimes cut through the hanky edge as part of the fluffy seams but if you don't want to cut into your precious hankies, make all your flannel squares 1" larger than your largest hanky.  Sew down each of your hanky edges onto the first layer of flannel.  When you sew the squares together you will only be snipping the flannel, not the hankies.

Most of my hanky quilts are made with 3 layers of white flannel.


Update 10/18/15
I recently made a vintage hanky quilt for a customer and I tried something different that I will continue to do.  I sewed the hanky onto white muslin  instead of flannel and then layered that square with the normal middle and backing in white flannel.  I loved the look and the feel of the muslin and it didn't change the fluffy seams at all.  It gave the whole quilt a nice fresh sheet feel.  Here's a picture:

Update 4/3/16
Check out the revised Step 12.  Thank you to Judy for reminding me of this very important (previously missing) step.

Update 4/23/16
Here is my latest hanky quilt. This one I made a heart design with the hankies.   I'm posting it to show what the back looks like.




79 comments:

  1. I have a question. Most of these rag quilts are washed after they are made to fluff out the trim. I am making one of these hanky quilts and I'm afraid that some of the brighter colors of the hankies might run if they are washed and dried. But now after re-reading your post I see you did not wash this after it was made? Love this btw!

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    1. Linda, I did wash it eventually. I think I took the picture pre-washed. I always wash the hanky quilts and I have never had any bleed their colors. I think they make hankies colorfast just because of the nature of the job they do, if you get what I mean. I'd love to see a picture of your quilt!

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    2. I have been collecting hankies for 45 years. I have about 350--(only 2 or 3 duplicates). Made 1 quilt about 15 years ago, but this is really neat. I might give this a try! Thank you!

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    3. I live on a fixed income and disabled. I am not able to afford these hankies so if someone wants to donate some for me to do this. Thank you. Sincerely. Susan

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  2. That is stunning, I wish I had tour talent! If anyone needs pretty hankies for their projects you can find them here:
    http://www.nanaluluslinensandhandkerchiefs.com/Ladies_New_and_Vintage_Handkerchiefs_Hankies_s/1921.htm

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  3. Have you tried to make them with cotton batting? Just wonder if that would work like the fleece. I have my Great Grandmothers Handkerchiefs and have been trying to figure out for sure what to do with them.

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    1. I have never used batting because it doesn't fray nicely and if you were to cut it smaller just for the cushioning, you would have skimpy fringe. I only use fleece on small hanky quilts. I do 2-3 layers of flannel for the large quilts.

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  4. I have a question. How much flannel and fleece did you but to make that 30 hanky quilt? Also what size bed was that 30 hanky quilt?

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    1. The pictures are usually taken on my queen size bed. I can't say exactly how much fleece and flannel to buy because it depends on the size of the hanky squares.

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  5. Simply beautiful. I wonder, what does the back look like? is there another hanky or is it whatever your last layer was, fleece or flannel?

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    1. It is the white flannel on the back.

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  6. So beautiful. I have been looking for a project to do with the scarves i have and i am going to try this. Hope it works. Making a denim one for my son and one for granddaughter out of charm squares....

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    1. I'd love to see a picture of the scarves when you complete your quilt!. Good luck!!!

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  7. Beautiful. Just found handkerchiefs that my Grandma made, they are all white with shadow embroidery on them also a lot of white on white. That was what she did to pass her time. Thinking I would like to make one of these with maybe a color under the white so the embroidery will show through.

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    1. I've found that backing white hankies with white flannel works really well. Anything else will completely change the color of the hanky.

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  8. This looks easy enough for this novice sewing grandma to tackle. Thank you for the how to!

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  9. What is fleece? The only thing I can think of is what they use for lap quilts and tie two layers together. But that would be to thick and heavy.

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    1. That's fleece but I only use fleece when I make a small baby size blanket/quilt to give it more cushioning if the baby lies on top of it.

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    2. Do you make these and sell them i would love one for myself and one for my babygrl

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    3. Tiffany, I do make these and sell them. I use brand new hankies for the vintage style quilt and I use real vintage hankies for the Handkerchief Vintage Quilt. You can find them for sale here:
      https://www.etsy.com/listing/112321442/hanky-quilt-vintage-style-hanky?ref=shop_home_active_7

      https://www.etsy.com/listing/179588578/handkerchief-vintage-hanky-rag-quilt?ref=shop_home_active_15

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  10. I would like a really lightweight thow. Would one layer of flannel be okay & look alright?

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    1. ReRe, I think that would be fine. You should try it!

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  11. So Is there a pdf of this pattern or something that I can print. I have a drawer full of my mother and grandmother's hankies!!!!

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  12. I am trying a quilt like this. I have been sewing the hankies onto a layer of light pink flannel. I am 600 miles from my fabric store, so today I could ony find a darker shade of fleece in a local fabric store. I bought it. But I am wondering if it will look nice when it is finished with light pink, daker pink and a printed cotton fabric backing (mostly white) snipped for the fluffy part? What is your opinion? ReRe has a good idea of just using one layer of flannel. I'd value your thoughts. Thanks. Linda

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    1. I think your quilt will have a nice all over pink hue and if you like pink that's good. I like pink! I'd love to see the finished quilt!

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    2. Goodness. I decided the fleece was too stiff and I wanted a very soft feel to the quilt. So I drove to another fabric store and found white flannel. I am at the point now where I am sewing the rows together. It is coming along nicely. I'll send a picture when it is finished.

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    3. I tried something with the last vintage hanky quilt I made that I will continue to do. I backed each hanky with white muslin and then layered them with 2 slices of white flannel. It had such a nice weight. I think I will do that from now on.

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    4. You should definitely include this note about muslin in your blog post as an update since not everyone will scroll through the comments section. ;)
      It's beautiful btw.
      Blessings, Heather

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    5. You should definitely include this note about muslin in your blog post as an update since not everyone will scroll through the comments section. ;)
      It's beautiful btw.
      Blessings, Heather

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    6. Good idea Heather. Thank you!!

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  13. Ladies, I have completed my hanky quilt and am very pleased with the outcome. It is soft, warm, old fashioned and will be used and loved for a very long time. Thanks for the encouragement.

    /Users/raytschoepe/Downloads/IMG_6521.JPG/Users/raytschoepe/Downloads/IMG_6520.JPG

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    1. Uh oh. Pictures don't send. Any suggestions?

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  14. Did you prewash the flannel and the fleece?

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    1. Yes you should wash both although the fleece doesn't usually shrink. If the hankies have ever been washed then everything else should be washed first.

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  15. Hi there, was wondering if you could tell me what brand of flannel you use or what store you bought it from? I recently made my grandsons rag quilts and the flannel from Joann's was just terrible. It shrank, pilled and looked 5 years old after the first wash. I'm dying to make one of your beautiful hankie quilts but I don't want to spend the time or money (and use up my precious hankies)on something that's not going to hold up. Thanks in advance!

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    1. Hi anonymous, I know what you mean about their flannel. I stopped using it for awhile especially the white. I would get mine from Michael Levine. However lately Joann's have gotten a better quality of flanne and I'm using it again.

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  16. Pretty. I've saved my grandmother's hankies in hopes to make a quilt or frame them. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  17. wow I love this! I do not have any hankies, any suggestions? I did look at one site but they were expensive but I would love to make this!

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    1. I got the majority of my hankies at yard and estate sales.

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    2. Resale shops also - I find many of them there.

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  18. How big of a seam did you have? I always use 1 inch seams....I love heavy fraying. Thank you ahead of time.

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    1. I use 7/8th - 1" as well. The fluffy seams frame the hankies so nicely!

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  19. I'm so inspired! I have a collection of hankies from my Aunt Jean and will someday (hopefully in the very distant future) have my mother's large collection. It's nice to know that I will be able to honor my mother's love for her precious hankies in such a meaningful and useful way!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Katherine! Good luck on making your own hanky quilt. That will become such a lovely family heirloom!

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  20. I absolutely love this hanky quilt. I don't sew a lot but I think I can make yhis. Can you please explain how you frayed around the hankies?

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    1. Mary, The fray comes from first hand clipping the seams and then washing and drying the quilt. Get yourself a pair of Fiskar Rag Quilt scissors!

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  21. Love it! Dying to try it when we get home from Arizona. But I have one question...I have made denim rag quilts and always wash & dry afterwards so it gets really ruffley. If you don't wash the hanky quilt after cutting the edges, how to you get it to fluff? I feel like I am missing something..

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    1. Judy, I can't believe I did not add that very important last step!! Gosh thank you so much for bringing that to my attention. Time for another update.

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  22. Direction always say 'clip seams' but how deep and how close together do you clip? Thanks- your quilts are gorgeous!

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    1. My clips are about 1/4" apart or less and I go about 1/4 - 1/8 close to the seam. I hope that helps.

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  23. I am a novice at sewing but a expert at collecting vintage hankies - so I am going to attempt to make this beautiful rag quilt! But I have a question - if the quilt is sewn together square by square then the backside of the quilt will have all the seams showing, right? Or am I supposed to sew a large sheet the size of the quilt for the back when it comes to the perimeter sewing? Thank you so much for the step-by-step tutorial and I apologize if this step has been covered and I just don't understand!

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    1. Yes all the seams are showing on the back but it looks nice. I will add a picture of my most recent hanky quilt back so you can see what it looks like.

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  24. OK, let me see if I have this right. You stitch the hankies onto muslin. White flannel as the backing. What do you use and how many layers in between ? Years ago I made a plaid flannel rag quilt and has 3 layers - plaid flannel (top), cotton batting (middle), and more flannel for the backing. It turned out pretty heavy, but Oh So Soft & Cuddly. Is this correct ????

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    1. Yes, Hankie, muslin, and two layers of white flannel.

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  25. Oh my WORD, I love this! I love vintage hankies and have been "collecting" them because they are so pretty. I'm not familiar with a rag quilt. Sorry for the lame question, but how do you get the "rag" look between the squares?

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    1. Thank you Rene! The rag look comes from sewing wrong sides together and then cutting those seams.

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  26. I'm collecting my hankies now to make a rag quilt! I love the idea of using muslin for the backing on the smaller hankies, but do you snip the muslin edges too (when you're snipping the flannel edges)? Never thought to use muslin, does it fray well? Thanks!

    Carolyn

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    1. Yes, You cut through the muslin. It frays nicely.

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  27. Hi, Love this about your quilting and really want to have a go. As I live in England, not sure what you mean about 'Flannel'. Many thanks for you help.


    Jen.

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    1. Flannel is just a type of fabric, very soft, like what your PJ's are made from.

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  28. I love this look! Might do this after my next quilt! I have a lot of hankies from grandmother's and great aunts-so lovely, but such a waste just laying in a box! Question- how do you keep the cat hair off? My quilts all have an extra layer in them- cat hair.

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  29. I love this idea and am currently in the process of making a handkerchief quilt but haven't had a clear idea of the finished product..e.e.e! I think I can do this. My question is, it appears that the you end up cutting through the edges of the handkerchiefs, is that right? Many of mine have crocheted or tatted edges. Seems like cutting them would ruin them. I also have enough white hankies, many with fancy edges, to make a quilt. I don't want to damage the edges. Would you just make larger squares?

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    1. Exactly! Don't cut the hankies! Just make your squares larger so you are just cutting the two bottom layers. Or if you are sewing the hankies down onto muslin just make sure the muslin is wider than the hanky. Good luck! Call me if you need help.

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    2. Thank you so much! I'm going to do it!

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    3. Thank you so much! I'm going to do it!

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  30. Hi there - I have accidentally begun a monster project - a king sized hankies quilt. I've sewn the hankies onto white flannel and then two layers of fleece. Is that going to be too thick?

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    1. I would think two layers of fleece is way too much! You will break so many needles and it will be a bear trying to go through the seam intersections. You could do one layer of flannel and one of fleece. It will be nice and fluffy! You may still break needles but its doable.

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  31. How do you finish the edges of the hankies? Do you cut off the rolled hem or leave it on and do you sew around all the scallops? Thank you.

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    1. I try never to cut into the vintage hankies. I don't really do anything to finish the edges but just sew the hanky to the muslin around the edge of the hanky. Sometimes if the scalloped edge is a big enough curve then I will follow the curve when I sew it down but if they are too tiny I simply go straight. I hope that helps, Nanagramms3

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    2. Do you sew a running stitch or an overcast stitch to stitch them down?

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  32. Did you leave all the rolled hems on the hankies or did you cut off the hem so the hankie itself would fray? That part was not clear to me. Thank you ever so much.

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  33. Hello,is fleece the fabric that is smooth on one side and fluffy on the other like sweatshirts?Or is it like batting used in between a quilt?

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