Winter is here and I am so excited. We are a family of quilt snugglers so we now have the best excuse to curl up on the couch watching reruns of Friends and fighting over our favourite quilts (when we are not out at all the sport we do of course!). Most of the quilts we have in the house are backed in super cosy flannelette as I love the weight and warmth it adds to my project.
One of my favourite style of quilts to make is a rag quilt. I often call them the most underestimated and unassuming quilt out there because people can be so dismissive of them, totally their loss in my opinion! Last year I wrote about this custom rag quilt for Mandy and the internet kind of broke for a minute as messages and emails came in thick and fast asking for a tutorial. Well my friends – today is the day! When the stunning range Edie Jane (created by Deena Rutter for Riley Blake Designs) landed in my lap I knew it was perfect for my project. I have always loved Deena’s fabric lines and have worked with most of them over the years. This one may be my favourite yet though! I chose 9 gorgeous prints from the collection (8 for the quilt top and 1 for binding) and got straight to work.
Before we start this tutorial I feel like this post needs a disclaimer so lets get that out of the way first!
This version of making a rag quilt is MY version, not the ONLY version. In fact I don’t know anyone else who makes them like i do. It is messier, more time consuming and a bit wasteful too so if those things don’t appeal look away now. The end result though, in my humble opinion, is way more modern and better finished than any other version I have tried. Taking the extra time means a much nicer looking quilt at the end of it though so if you don’t mind a bit of extra work then you will love this tutorial (although a word to the wise here – don’t wear your favorite knit jumper while making this as it will never ever be the same, trust me on this lol)
This is a long tutorial too guys – there are a few steps involved to getting it right. I have created a PDF version for my shop as well for those who would like to download a copy to refer back to rather than keep reading through my post. You can purchase it here for only $5.
Before we begin:
- This tutorial will make a quilt that is 60″ x 60″ – my favourite size for couch snuggling, in the car and backyard picnics. It could be made bigger or smaller simply by adding/removing the squares or adjusting the block size from 8″
- Rag quilts are not about perfect piecing and error free sewing. The beauty of them though is that it is rarely ever noticed in the final product.
- I bind my rag quilts. This is a personal preference as I think it creates a modern looking quilt. The traditional way of ragging the edges is fine too of course!
- Changing the seam allowance will change the depth and amount of ragginess to the quilt. I prefer to keep mine quite small at ¼” and would not recommend going any smaller.
- This is a true quilt as you go (QAYG) quilt. I assemble and finish the quilt at my machine so that any snipping errors (trust me they do happen) can be fixed immediately. Plus I hate double handling so I find that finishing each section as I go much more time effective and productive.
- Rotary cutter, quilting ruler and cutting mat
- Iron and Ironing board
- Scissors for ragging the quilt
- A walking foot is desirable but not necessary
Quilty tip: Many of you have already emailed and asked about the scissors I use. There are many options available but I find these Kai ones the best to use. They have powerful with their serrated blades and don’t hurt my wrists at all unlike other spring loaded versions.
Iron your selected top fabrics well to remove creases and cut 64 squares measuring 8” x 8”.
Using the top fabric as a guide cut 64 squares of wadding slightly larger than the 8” square. This can be done roughly as the fabric will be trimmed later.
Roughly cut 64 squares of flannel to be slightly larger than the wadding and then layer all squares together in sets of 3 ready to sew. Use this order: TOP fabric (right side up) – Wadding – Flannel (right side down). Pin the layers together if preferred.
Using a slightly longer stitch length (3mm) sew two diagonal rows from corner to opposite corner to create a cross. There is no need to lock your stitches for this step. Repeat for all 64 sets of squares.
Using your rotary cutter and ruler trim all your blocks down to 8” square. Discard your offcuts.
Layout your quilt to form an 8 x 8 square, moving squares around until you are happy. Place a marker on the end square of each row so you can keep the order of your rows while assembling.
Pick up the first row of your quilt and sew the blocks WRONG sides together using a standard straight stitch. As you progress along the row you should see the seams facing up as per the picture. You do not need to lock your stitches at this stage.
Once the whole row is sewn open out and very carefully trim the excess wadding out of your seam using your ragging scissors. Take great care not to snip the top fabric or flannel, fixing any issues immediately with your machine. Once the wadding is trimmed out place small snips in the exposed seam taking care to not snip any stitching. Again, fix any issues or mistakes immediately with your machine. Repeat until all seams in that row are done and then repeat the process for the entire quilt until all rows are sewn and ragged.
Once your rows are sewn and ragged, we will start assembling the whole quilt top. Pick up your first two rows and place WRONG SIDES together. Sew the rows together using a standard stitch length and LOCKING your stitches at the beginning and end of the row. Nest your cross seams as you come to them (manipulating it so they sit in opposite directions) as per the second picture to ensure a more secure sew and to help the machine navigate the thickness of the quilt.
Once the 2 rows are sewn together carefully trim out the excess wadding and snip the exposed seams. Take great care at all times when snipping and immediately fix any mistakes made if necessary. Remove the excess fabric at each cross seam for a more polished and modern look.
Repeat step 10 until all rows are sewn together and your quilt is complete. As the quilt gets heavier make you will need to work more slowly and support the quilt, especially on the last row.
Once your rag quilt top is finished you can choose to sew a seam around the outside of the quilt and snip the exposed edges to create a rag effect (traditional finish) or to bind your quilt as per your preferred method (more modern approach).
Place your finished quilt in the washing machine and wash on a gentle wash using a mild detergent. Give a good shake and then tumble dry. Your quilt will give off a lot of fluff and threads for the first couple of washes so give it a good shake outside each time to remove what excess you can.
And the end result is a beautiful snuggly quilt that will only get better with age.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments about how I make rag quilts. I know it is slightly different to other versions made with flannel but the snuggle factor is high I promise you.
Now if you make this please please show me! If you are not in my Facebook group Piccolo Pattern Studio already then please pop in and say hi too – we are a growing community of quilters with completely varied level of experience which I LOVE