Sunday 9 July 2017

How To Make A Rag Quilt

It may not be quilt weather here in the uk at the moment, but I made this rag quilt for my niece recently and I wanted to share how to make it. This certainly was a fun project to make and I want to make everything quilted now, hehe!

A rag quilt is made from squares of fabric pieced together with the seam allowances on the outside. The seam allowances are snipped at intervals and the whole quilt then goes in the washing machine- the snipped edges fluff up to create a lovely fluffy border!  I wanted to make one as I have never made a quilt before and I had heard that a rag rug is a great introduction to quilting, as there is no need for a seperate back or border. It's also a great project if you're not confident with a sewing machine, as you only sew straight lines. Even if the lines end up a little wobbly like mine, once the seams are all fluffed up no-one will ever know!

 This can also be a very thrifty project as it is a fab way to use up small pieces of fabric from your stash. Also, the backing is made from wynceyette, which is a type of brushed cotton- check if you have an old wynceyette sheet you could use before heading to the fabric shop.

 You don't have to use it as a quilt- a rag quilt would make a great picnic blanket or throw for your sofa. You could also use these ideas to make rag quilt cushions. 

 This is by no means my own original idea as rag quilts are widely made, but read on to find my interpretation of how to make one!

You Will Need

Selection of cotton based fabrics for the top layer of the quilt.  I used three designs
I think that polycotton fabrics would work too, but if you are unsure if the fabric you have will fluff up in the washing machine, perhaps try washing a small sample first

Winceyette (a soft brushed cotton) for the backing fabric. You will need twice the amount of the top layer fabric, including seam allowances

Fabric scissors or fabric cutting wheel. If you are using a cutting wheel you will also need a cutting mat and quilting ruler. If you are cutting the pieces by hand, you will need a piece of paper and a pencil and ruler to make a template


Sewing machine

Thread for machine sewing

Needle and thread for tacking


Decide on the size you would like each fabric square to be and how many sqaures you would like in each design. I cut my squares 7"x7" and stitched them with a 1/2" seam allowance, to leave finished squares of 6"x6".  Cut out the amount of squares in the top layer fabric to make a quilt to your required size. Use a rotary cutter and quilting ruler with a cutting mat, or a paper template pinned onto your fabric and then cut around it with fabric scissors.

For every square of fabric for the top layer you will need to cut two identical squares from the winceyette


Now to make your quilt sandwiches! Take two squares of winceyette and pin one of your top layer squares on top to form a fabric sandwich


Repeat this step until all of your squares have been used up. You can now either machine stitch an x across each square from corner to corner to hold all the pieces together, or leave the pin in place and proceed to the next step

Now you should lay your squares out on a table or on the floor and decide on the design to make u your quilt


Once you've decided on your design, stitch the squares together in rows of the desired number. My quilt was 6 squares long.

Place two squares wrong sides together and pin along the side edge, leaving a 1/2" seam allowance.You need the seams to all be on the right side of the fabric


Continue until all of your squares are pinned together in rows. You may like to tack all the squares in place


Sew the squares together using a 1/2" seam allowance in a contrasting coloured thread. Ensure that you also sew a 1/2" seam allowance on the squares on the end of the rows too

All of your squares should now be sewn into strips, with the seam allowance showing on the right side and each end square should be sewn with a 1/2" seam allowance too. Press the seam allowances flat


Now to sew your strips together! Line the strips up together in your chosen order and pin along the long sides, again using a 1/2" seam allowance and with the seam allowance on the right side of the fabric. Pin the seams out flat


Now that all the pieces for the quilt are sewn together, it's time to snip the seam allowance.

Use fabric scissors to snip through the exposed seam allowances at approximately 5mm intervals, taking care not to snip through the stitching. Don't forget to snip along the outside edges too.

Once all the seams are snipped, give the quilt a good shake outside- try to remove as many of the loose threads as you can

When washed, the snipped seam allowance will fluff up


Pop your quilt in the washing machine, along with something extra like a pair of jeans to give some friction. I washed mine at 40 degrees.

You will find that many loose threads will come away from the quilt in the wash, so it's best not to wash it with lots of other things!

When the quilt comes out of the washing machine, give it a good shake and hang it up to dry. Shake it again once it's dry to remove any more loose threads. You will find that the more you wash the quilt, the fluffier the seams will get.

Enjoy your quilt! If you make one, please share a photo in the comments below, or tag me in your photo on social media @louisedawsondesign

Happy making!

Louise xx

1 comment

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