Sunday, September 1, 2013

How I make a Rag Quilt - Part I

I have already posted a blog on how to make a Handkerchief Rag Quilt so when someone asked me tonight "Where can I get the instructions to make a rag quilt?" I started thinking, I should write my own tutorial.

 I have learned a lot since making my very first rag quilts back in 2003.  They were pretty thin and flimsy and the fluff was big and chunky.  The seams were messed up and they didn't lay right because I was sewing, then cutting them wrong.

Now I know what I'm doing.  Here's how I make a rag quilt:

Step 1:  Pick out your fabrics.  You can use 1 or more fabrics.  I like to lay them all together in the store to see how well they go together.  I have used flannel, cotton, fleece, minky, denim and corduroy and they all have worked very well.

Step 2:  Cut the fabric to 9 x 9" squares.  I like to do 9" because it will give you 16 squares from 1 yard.

Step 3:  Lay the squares out in a pattern you  like.  You can do diagonals like this:

 or a diamond pattern like this:

or a random pattern like this:

Or any pattern you like.

I like to lay my designs out on the floor or the bed and play with it till I get it just right and pleasing to the eye.  Then I take a picture of it just for insurance.  I can't tell you how many times I have been so grateful for that picture.

Once you have your top layer done you can add the middle and the bottom layers.  The easiest way to do this is to cut 2 slices of 9 x 9" flannel in a coordinating color for each top square.  (You can have all three layers together before you lay out your design as well).

Step 4:  I might be a little anal about this step but it sure helps me keep things organized.  I pick up the squares beginning with the 1st square on top and go down the line of the 1st row.  Then I go to the next row and pick up all the squares from left to right and stack that row on top of the first at a different angle something like collating papers.  Your finished stack should look like this:


Let me pause here and tell you something about the fabrics. 
  •  I have made quilts with  flannel in every layer.  A quilt made from all flannel is very easy to sew and cut.  
  • I have used fleece in the middle and backing.  I would never use more than one slice of fleece per square.  Cutting through a quilt with a fleece layer is more difficult.  I usually use fleece in baby quilts for the extra cushioning.  Also fleece does not fray but just gives an illusion of fraying when paired with other fabrics that do fray.
  • I have used cotton on the top and bottom layers of rag quilts.  It is very easy to cut through but the fluff of the seams is much thinner.
  • Using minky is tricky.  I have used it on the tops and bottoms of quilts but never in the middle.  I ALWAYS pin the squares with minky in them because the minky has a tendency to  stretch and I don't take the pins out until  the entire square has been sewn.  Cutting minky is never a precise job.  It can look a little "wonky" and it doesn't fray.  It does add a very soft, lush feel to the quilt.

Next blog post will talk about sewing the quilt.


  1. Great post! Looking forward to the next one! Thanks for taking the time to put the tutorial together! Great tips!

    1. Thanks Gina! I will try to get the next post up today.

  2. Very helpful for a beginner like me. Thanks. Can’t wait to see what I learn from the next post.

  3. LOVE your rag quilt! Where do I find your next post on "sewing the quilt"?
    THANK YOU!!!


      It's right here