Monday, May 14, 2012

Rag Quilt Tutorial

I know that it has been awhile since I have posted...anything.  These last few weeks of school for my girls have been crazy at best.  They are FINALLY done on Wednesday with their school year and we are all SO excited!  Yes, even mom. =)  This is a tutorial I have been working on for a few weeks now and was finally able to sit down today and finish writing it!

Late last year, I made a rag quilt for a friend who had a baby boy. I just love how these quilts feel so soft and they are really warm.

I made a throw size one for myself about a year ago and I love to wrap up into it especially on cooler nights and mornings.

I had a couple of students also make rag quilts and so I thought I would share a tutorial on how to make them. They are wonderful gifts and right now you can get some awesome deals on flannel at our local stores. So let's get started with a tutorial!

Rag Quilt Tutorial -
The Nathaniel Quilt"
Measures 46" x 46" finished

I named this little quilt after the little guy that I made it for. This quilt is very easy to put together and

Materials Needed:
- 5 yards of flannel - I used 5 different flannels in this quilt
- 1.5 yards of 60" wide cotton batting
- thread
*Do not prewash your fabric before cutting

Cutting Your Squares:

For each finished, quilted square in your quilt, you will need two 6" squares of fabric and one 4.5" square of cotton batting.  This quilt has 81 quilted squares in it so you will need 162 flannel squares and 81 cotton batting squares for your quilt.  Now don't get overwhelmed at those will be cutting them out with a rotary cutter and mat.

From each of my five different flannels, I was able to get enough squares for 18 finished squares (36 individual squares).  You can cut out two at a time with the rotary cutter and mat making it go a lot faster.  You will end up with more squares than what you actually need for your quilt but this will help so that you can play around with your color design a bit.

 To cut out my 4.5" cotton batting squares, I printed out a square using my computer and then used that as my pattern piece.  I used Microsoft Publisher to print it out but you could use some other programs.  I got tired of cutting with the rotary cutter after the flannel so I pinned my paper square to the cotton batting and cut them out that way.  These don't have to be perfect since they will be sandwiched inside our flannel squares.

This picture is to just show you that the flannel squares are 6" square.

Quilting Your Squares:

First, you want to layer your squares and pin them.  First take two flannel squares and one batting square.  Place one of the flannel squares on the table with the wrong side up, then place a batting square right in the middle and then place the other flannel square with the right side up.

Next, pin the squares together.  I typically pin each side of the squares to help hold them together so they don't shift around while you are sewing.  And the pins are out of the way while you sew.

Now we will sew an "X" on the squares which will quilt them.  I have a walking foot for my sewing machine which I use when doing this step.  If you have one, I would recommend using it.  This foot helps to make sure that all the layers go through at the same time (the feed dogs like to push the bottom layer through faster).  Here is what my walking looks like:

If you don't have a walking foot, then just use your regular sewing foot.  Starting in one corner (try to begin sewing about 1/8" to 1/4" away from the corner edges), begin sewing a straight stitch (don't forget to reverse stitchat the beginning and then end) until you reach the other corner. 

Some folks struggle with sewing a straight line at first.  Either you can draw a line with a fabric pencil and then sew on that line OR you can put a pin in that other corner and then aim for it as you sew (this is what I do the first few squares). 

So, in order to make this process go by a little faster, I do what is called chain sewing.  After each side of the "x" that you sew, pull your square out the back but do not cut the thread.  Then put the next square in the machine and sew your line from corner to corner.  You will end up with a chain of squares all attached.  Once you have done about 20-25 or so, cut the threads to separate them.

Do this process until all the "x"s are sewn and your squares are quilted.

Sewing Your Quilt:

Now you will lay out the squares on a table (or floor) the way you want them to look in your quilt.  If you want to do the same design as mine, please refer to the next three pictures when laying out your squares:

Once you have your squares laid out, you might want to take some pics to remember how they go as I did unless you are able to leave them laying there until they are all sewn together (and if you are able to do THAT, I am completely jealous).
Now we will begin to sew the squares to together.  You will need to be alert to do this and keep it all straight so I suggest not doing it late at night (I am a night owl and do most sewing late at night but I struggle with doing this).   
Start with a corner section of your quilt.  I like to sew 6-9 squares together in sections and then sew those sections together instead of sewing the squares in long rows.  By sewing sections togethers, you will have shorter seams to match up.
The "right side" of your quilt will not have the seam allowances showing.  So begin by placing your squares with the right sides together and then stick a pin along the side that you need to sew to help you remember (it is very easy in this quilt to get all turned around).  Sew your squares together using a 1/2" seam allowance.
Then sew those sections together as you work through the rest of the quilt.
Don't fret too much about your seam allowances if they get sewn down in some spots.  This will be taken care of in a minute.  When you are all done sewing all of your squares together, the "right side" of the quilt will really show off your design and the other side will have all of the seam allowances and later on the "ragging".
Next, sew around the outside (perimeter) of your quilt using a 1/2" seam allowance.  Do this before you clip any of your seam allowances (I forgot to take this picture before I started making snips).
Now, you are all done sewing so settle into your favorite chair and put on some soothing music or turn on your favorite show and grab some REALLY sharp scissors.  You will now make snips into the seam allowances of your quilt, a half an inch apart.  Do this around the perimeter as well to help it rag.  Make sure that you don't cut into the stitching!

Now comes the time to finally wash it!  Wash and dry it by itself.  I use a little detergent to make it smell nice and then when drying, keep an eye on the lint trap as it really puts out a LOT of lint!
Out will come a soft and snuggly blanket for a special little one!

Please let me know if I have missed anything or if you have any questions!  I will be posting more rag quilt designs that I have used but this tutorial also gives the instructions for constructing these fun, soft quilts!


Cathy Aldinger said...

I've done rag quilts with squares cut from old jeans for one side and flannel on the back. It makes a very heavy but very warm and sturdy quilt for cold evenings watching kids' ball games.

Chris Allison said...

Just started quilting, so I love your tutorial. Thank you. Hope you haven't had problems with the rain like Charlotte. Thank you again.

Chris Allison said...

Just started quilting, so I love your tutorial. Thank you. Hope you haven't had problems with the rain like Charlotte. Thank you again.

Annie B. said...

This looks like so much FUN! Can't wait to try this, have two twin babies just born in our family, a boy and girl, so this looks like what I will be doing for them very soon. Have quilted on and off for years, have had successes and some not quite 'square', but all are warm and appreciated.