I decided a while ago that I wanted to learn how to sew, and for my birthday, I got a sewing machine. So, to try it out and learn how it worked, I decided to attempt quilting—specifically, to make a rag quilt for my niece for Christmas. And, while it’s not perfect, I have to say that I think it came out great, especially since I’d never sewn anything before. After looking at several different ideas, I even came up with my own Rag Quilt Pattern based on the size and type of rag quilt I wanted.
My quilt came out to be 75″x95″ for a good size twin quilt that will have a nice overhang on the bed. For the front of the quilt, I chose Free Spirit Essentials Fat Quarter bundles, mixing two patterned bundles with a designer solids bundle that I found on Craftsy. For the back, I just went to JoAnn and picked out one yard of patterned material and one yard of solid material in each of the seven colors I used (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink). And then, I used this pattern that I adapted after looking at several other rag quilt patterns:
Yields 1 Twin size rag quilt (75″x95″ or 19 rows with 15 squares in each row)
Material of your choice (you can make any pattern and color combo you’d like)
Coordinating quilting thread
Batting (in whatever weight you’d like)
Scissors (very sharp ones)
Cardboard or Plastic squares measuring 5″, 6.5″ & 7″ to aid in cutting fabric
Begin by using a rotary cutter to cut out 285 squares of fabric measuring 7″ for the front of the quilt, then repeat for the back of the quilt. Depending on the pattern and fabric you want to use, you will have to determine how many of each color of fabric to cut. For my fabric, it was roughly 20-22 squares of each color for the back, and roughly 5-7 squares per fat quarter for the front. You should have a total of 570 squares of fabric. You don’t need to be too precise at this point, so don’t waste too much time getting them to be exactly 7″ (they will be cut down).
Using your 285 squares for the top of your quilt, lay out the pattern you want to use for a total of 19 rows with 15 squares in each row on the floor. Then gather each row into a stack. Next, match up each square for the front with a coordinating square for the back, keeping each stack of squares in the same order for each row. You should now have 19 stacks of squares containing 30 squares of fabric each. Label each stack with a number 1-19 to keep them in order.
Now cut 285 squares of batting measuring 5″ (be precise). Next you will begin sewing.
Working one stack of squares at a time and being careful to keep the stacks in the correct order for your pattern, take a pair of squares (one front square, one back square) and place a square of batting between them, centered with a 1″ margin on each side. Line up the squares, pin them, and then sew an X across the pair. Repeat for the remaining squares in the stack and then for the remaining stacks until all of your squares are sewn into pairs with a square of batting in the middle. Again, don’t waste too much time being super precise. Just line the batting and squares up as best you can and sew an X across.
Now, using a 6.5″ square template, trim each set of squares and batting so that it measures precisely 6.5″ with the batting centered in the middle. There should be 3/4″ of fabric around each edge of the batting. You should now have a total of 285 sets of squares with batting sewn in between measuring 6.5″. Doing it this way ensures that you end up with nice, even sets of squares with the edges perfectly aligned.
Next, for your first stack of paired squares, sew the row together as follows: Line up your first two sets of squares, placing the first set face up and the second set face down beneath it. Pin the squares, then sew a straight line along one edge with a 3/4″ seam. Remember, this is a rag quilt so you want the seams to be on the top. Now place the third set of squares face down and line up the second set of squares face up on top. Pin and sew a line along the edge with a 3/4″ seam. Repeat to the end of the row and for the rest of your stacks. You now have 19 rows of 15 squares sewn together.
Now, sew together your rows. First, place the second row face down with the first row on top of it. Line up the seams and pin each seam together. Sew a straight line down one edge of the row using a 3/4″ seam. Repeat for each row until all rows are sewn together.
Lastly, take a very sharp pair of scissors and and clip all of your 3/4″ seams into small tags and trim off any excess thread from your sewing. Then wash and dry your quilt several times so your tags will fray up to give you the rag effect.
Here’s what your quilt will look like:
For a great picture tutorial on the steps above (though not using the same dimensions that I did) take a look at this great post from Creations by Kara: Rag Quilt Tutorial.