How to Make a Rag Quilt

This has been edited because I get so many questions about this particular post from October of 2007.  I have included more pictures and a better explanation to help you make this project with less confusion. 

Supply list:
Walking foot – this is a strong recommendation! (If you don’t have one they sell them on Ebay for cheap seller: dafent)
Thread
Fabric (you can use anything 100% cotton – I like flannel the best because it is so cozy)
Batting – I use Warm & Natural (Joann Fabrics)

A walking foot looks like this. You don’t need, need, need one but if you are going to make a few they are definitely worth the investment. Just make sure you order the right one for your particular machine.

Throw 49” x 63” -11.25 yards of fabric – 63 quilt sandwiches
Large throw 63” x 77” -18.50 yards of fabric – 99 quilt sandwiches
Crib 35” x 49” -6.25 yards of fabric – 35 quilt sandwiches

General directions: This is a fun scrappy project so don’t worry about which color of fabric is next to each other or if a plaid is straight. Due to the nature of this quilt, it is not necessary to be “perfect” in cutting, pinning, or piecing. After the completed quilt is washed, the frayed edge hides a multitude of sins. Do not pre-wash the batting or flannel. Remove selvages. All seam allowances are 1″. Yes, 1″. Use a walking foot for all sewing. All stitching and seams are on the “outside” of the quilt. Press or pin all seams open, as you would when sewing a garment.

1.  Begin by cutting out your squares of fabric. I use 9″ squares. To cut I use a quilting ruler, rotary cutter, and mat. But you don’t have to do it that way if you don’t have the supplies. Just measure and cut 9″ squares with scissors if you must.

2. Cut the Warm & Natural batting into 6 3/4″ squares. Look above at the size you are making. However many “quilt sandwiches” it says for your particular size that is how many squares of Warm & Natural batting you will need. Sewing a “Quilt” Sandwich: When making your sandwich, be sure that the right side of the fabric is on the outside. Center a batting piece on the fabric. It isn’t necessary to use the same fabric on the top of each “quilt sandwich” as on the bottom. Top with another fabric square. Pin in place (if you like pinning. . . I don’t pin though).



 3.  Using a matching, contrasting, or a specialty thread, sew an X on each of the “quilt sandwiches”. You can use a pretty wide stitch since it isn’t holding the quilt together rather just giving it a quilted look. After all the X’s are stitched on the squares you are ready to assemble them.

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4.  When you have completed all your sandwiches it is time to sew them together.  At this point it does not matter which side is which because they look exactly the same.When sewing the “quiltlets” together lay them back-to-back (wrong sides together) so the fringed seams appear on the front of the quilt.

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5.  I lay out all my squares so I can make sure I like the pattern. Then using a 1″ seam allowance I sew the first row of squares together, followed by the second, etc. I sew all the rows together first. I do actually pin the rows together. It is much easier. Then I sew the first row to the second row and keep adding the rows until the quilt is assembled making sure to pin the seams down.

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6.  It will look similar to this when it is all sewn together.  Once the whole quilt is together BEFORE cutting/clipping the edges (seam allowances), you will want to stitch around the entire quilt outside to make sure NO batting is showing. This, too, will be about a 1-inch seam allowance making sure the seams are pinned down. Now you want to clip all the edges (be careful not to clip through the seams) about every 1” or less depending on your liking.

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7. Grab yourself a cup of coffee for this step. Turn on some music or watch a movie and let’s begin. This is the time consuming part. Using utility, heavy-duty scissors (Fiskars has the easy grip rubber handled ones, loves those, easy on the hands), clip all seam allowances almost, but not quite, to the seam. Make clips 1/4″ — 1/2” apart approximately. This is what makes the fringed look. Clip all the seams and around the quilt. 

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8. You will then put the quilt in the washing machine, full cycle, with fabric softener and a bit of detergent. Wash fully. Dry fully. You will want to change the lint traps OFTEN during the course of drying. Once dry, fully shake the quilt good once or twice outside, removing any loose threads.

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Comments

  1. Happy Momma says:

    I love "scrappy" quilts – – they are the best quick gifts!! And they hide a multitude of mistakes! I made one for hubby the last time he deployed. It had a ton of white squares and I ironed on pictures of the kiddos and I for him to have with him all the time!! – – – They have all since washed off :)

  2. An easier version of this quilt is this: one side is denim (cut-up old jeans) and the other side is flannel. NO BATTING! No quilting the pieces together! Stack a piece of flannel and jean, wrong sides together. Put two of those stacks together with the seam coming up on the jean side and sew a 1/2" seam. Continue like this, sewing rows and then sew the rows together. Then fringe like you did on yours. I have made tons of these with different variations (even including shirt and/or jean pockets!) ~ I don't know how to send you a picture. It looks so cool when it's done ~ very neat on the flannel side, and on the denim side the flannel colors show on the seams. Very warm too!

  3. Thank you!!

  4. I HIGHLY recommend spring-loaded scissors if you are going to make many of these. It helps a TON on the cutting the fringe! ;)

    Also, I made a diaper bag using the rag quilt diaper bag for my daughter. I think my squares were about 4" each. It turned out really cute and I still use it on occasion (she's almost 18 months old now, so we more use a small bag that fits a diaper/sippy instead of the entourage!) ;)

    Merry Christmas!

  5. Thankyou, this was so easy to follow. I made a blanket for my two year old out of his old cot sheets :)

  6. Leslie Jean Carpenter says:

    I just wanted to say thank you… Your web page helped me with my first Rag Quilt
    (Crib size)for my granddaughter. I am now in the process of my next one a small throw for my daughter’s birthday. Your page gave simple clear instructions and helped me with my yardage.
    Thanks again for being here for me :)

  7. I am almost one with my quilt for my one year old, I was wondering if you think it’s possible to put a minky backing on it? I’m not a fan of the back of my quilt, I haven’t quilted in years and it’s not too pretty back there. Thanks so much for the great tutorial and the inspiration to pull out my sewing machine again!

    • Hi Leslie, You would have to cut the minky into slits to see how it looks and if it frays. If it doesn’t fray and you like the look it is fine to use. Good luck, and I hope your little one loves it!

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