Monday, February 8, 2010

Making a Rag Quilt - Free instructions

Recently I started making rag quilts.  My first venture was to make a rag quilt for a friend who is expecting the end of March.  I saw my first Rag Quilt at Just For Fun Fabrics and decided I just had to try it.  The great thing about Rag Quilts is the more you wash them, the softer and more comfy they get.

After a lot of research, and visits to the fabric store, this is what I did. 
Here's what you need: sewing machine, matching thread, 4-8 types of coordinating fabric, batting or filler material (used Warm & Natural), rotary cutter & mat or scissors, ruler or template of the size squares you need to cut.  I recommend spring action Micro-tip Scissors as they will save your hands and time.

1.  Determine the size of quilt you want to make and select your material. At Learning to Quilt, I found some handy charts that tell you what standard sizes are for quilts and Block Math Charts (takes all the guess work out of how many squares you can get depending on the size). Here is an awesome Quilter's calculator that I found after I killed my brain thinking it all out.
  • I used 6 different fabrics with 5 inch squares for the baby quilt.  12 rows wide and 15 long. If you do 5 inch squares, you can get almost 60 squares from 1 yard of material.
  • For Only's Twin size, I am using 5 inch square - 20 square wide and 24 squares long.  This makes it about 4-6" bigger than a regular twin comforter. For a Twin sized quilt I used the following to figure out how many total fabric squares.  I can only hope it makes sense for you because this is the only way it makes sense in my brain! For example:
    • 20 x 24=480  480 ÷ 8 (or the number of different fabric patterns) = 60 squares each
    • 20 x 24 = 480   480 ÷ 5 types different fabrics = 96 squares each fabric.
    • For the queen size denim rag quilt, I'm using tons of misc denim from old jeans and heavy decorator type fabrics with 6" squares. I wanted our quilt a little bigger, so I'm making it 18x18 squares, so I will need 324 squares.  Because it is so big, it is taking me a while gather that much material and cut the jeans up. You can make a quilt like this with square up to 10" so you will need less total number of square. I don't recommend making a large quilt with squares smaller than 6" or it will take FOREVER!
    2.  Cut your fabric squares for the front. The size of your squares depends on the size of quilt you want. I used my rotary cutter, mat, and ruler to make it a breeze.  If you use this, you can cut multiple layers at one time - a real time saver. You can make a template from an old cardboard box if that is what you have.  You can buy a heavy quilt ruler template at your local fabric store/Hobby Lobby etc. or if you are lucky you may find a fabric store has an AccuQuilt GO!™ Fabric Cutter that you can use.

    3.  Cut the squares for the back of your quilt.  It is easier if you keep this one type of fabric.  It can be flannel, a matching print from the top fabric, or something totally different.  If you are using 480 squares to make your quilt, you will need to cut 480 - 5"squares for the back.  For Only's quilt, I used the brown with pink polka dots, so I bought enough material of this to cut 480 squares.

    4.  Cut your batting/lining squares 1" smaller than your fabric squares - I made mine an easy 4". I made my Rag Quilt out of quilter's cotton and used Warm and Natural batting.

      5.  I then made an “open sandwich” – place one batting square in the center of the wrong side of a fabric square. Next I “quilted” the two layers together by sewing an “X” on the right side of the fabric block.  I repeated this process until I had all the blocks "quilted".  A handy hint:  If you stop the stitching just before you reach the end of the square, this will help when you sew the rows together and also when you snip the seams later.

    56.  Arrange the pieces.  You need to see what pattern you want your quilt to have.  Maybe a diagonal, or no specific pattern - a little crazy and unpredictable.  I chose to do a diagonal for simplicity. If you have fabric that have a definite pattern and not just random dots, decide if you want them to be horizontal or vertical or both.

    7. Now let's put those two sandwich pieces together.I like to stack my pieces in the correct sequence within easy reach so I can grab and back and front and sew them without having to think too much if I have something out of order.

    8.  Now it's time to start putting it together!
    • Take a quilted back and a plain back (wrong sides together).  Make sure the edges match as it will make a difference when you are constructing your quilt.  (pix on right)
    •  Do it again, using the next pattern piece.  Put the backs together and sew a neat seam 
       9.  The next step is to join the rag quilt sandwiches in rows,       attaching the back to the front, and sew the rows.  This isn't as complicated as it seems. Let's take it step by step.   
    • Take a quilted front piece and lay a back piece (wrong sides together). You have a small sandwich. and use a 1/2″ seam allowance. You’ll need the larger seam allowance – this becomes the raggedy edges. Take care to make sure all the exposed edges will be on the same side. Open this up and you'll see the exposed seam
    •  Keep going with this until you have an entire row of however many wide you need it.  
    • Sew another row just like the last one.  If you are doing a particular pattern with the quilt squares, make sure you are beginning with the correct one. After you finish the 2nd row, sew it to the 1st row, making sure you continue to sew them together backside together = seam showing on the front of the quilt... Which is exactly what you want
      • Something that helps with making it look great is to make sure the seams from each square match.  This will make sure you don't have too much left over in the end. Which is something you don't want!
    10. Sew a stay stitch or a decorative stitch around the outer edges to stabilize you quilt and "seal" the edges so they don't unravel all the way.  You want to make sure this is the same seam allowance as you used on the rest of the quilt.

    11.  Clipping the seams.  When you have all the rows sewn together and it is the size that you want,  the fun begins.  If you don't have spring-loaded scissors that I talked about earlier, you need a pair of gloves to wear to protect your hand.  You are now going to clip all the seams.  Caution: Do not cut through the seams! 

    When you have all the seams clipped, throw it in the washer and dryer. The more the rag quilt is washed the more soft and cuddly it gets.

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