Rag quilts, these can be lots of fun. I like that you can turn the quilt over and have a slightly different look. Totally reversible. I discovered though that they are also quite a lot of work even for a little baby quilt. So to save time here are my tips.
- Most people sew the batting inside the two layers of fabric in a cross pattern.
My #1 tip is use fusible batting. It works wonderful and it is one step that is easier than sewing and saves some time. Not only that but the quilt will be softer.
2.With rag quilts you cut the batting to the size you want the finished square to be. With my first rag quilt I followed instructions saying only to cut the fabric an 1/2″ larger than the batting (just as you would with a seam allowance). This I did, but when I washed the quilt I had holes along the seams. I would recommend to cut your fabric 1 1/2″ to 2″ larger than your batting. Then be careful when you are snipping to avoid snipping the thread that holds the pieces together.
3. Get a nice pair of snipping scissors, These Fiskars work great. I would recommend these over regular scissors where you have to put your fingers through holes. These will save you hands from a lot of fatigue when cutting the edges of your squares. Plus the small blades give you the maneuverability to cut small and not accidentally cut your stitching.
These are my three tips for making this kind of quilting go quicker and to save your hands.
Rag Quilt Instructions for Beginners:
Choose your fabric: A lot of people would say choose homespun fabric because it frays nicely. Yes it does, but there are not many choices in homespun materials. They are getting more interesting colors I will admit, but it drastically limits your creativity. You can use cotton as well, it doesn’t fray as well as homespun fabric does, but you have more choice in fabric patterns/colors.
Cut your batting: Decide how large you want your finished squares to be. Cut your batting into squares of this size. For example you want you finished square patches to be 5″. Cut your batting 5″ x 5″ in as many squares as it will take to make the size quilt you want. I would recommend power cutting ( see my page on cutting there is a link on power cutting) So cut your batting in strips then cut your strips into squares.
Cut your fabric: Cut your fabric 1 1/2″ to 2″ larger than your batting squares. This is just like when you have a 1/4″ seam allowance, just it is larger. Remember you will be using this fabric for both the front side and back side of the quilt squares. Take this into consideration when purchasing or choosing your fabric. Often this means figuring out how large your finished quilt will be and then doubling the fabric amount because you are doing the front and back at the same time. Also remember to figure in your large seam allowance, add in that extra 1 1/2″ to 2″ when figuring out your size and needed fabric amount. For example you have a 5″ x 5″ batting square you would cut your fabric (if you wanted a 2″ seam allowance) to be 7″ x 7″.
Putting together your squares: If you have fusible batting set your iron on no steam and layer your fabric, batting, fabric like a sandwich and iron them together. If you are sewing layer them the same and sew across one way from corner to corner. Keep feeding your squares into the sewing machine until your are done. Cut the strings then sew from opposite corner to corner making an x across your square. Sew until all squares are sewn.
Sewing your squares to each other: Now it is time to sew all of your squares together. Put 2 squares together and sew along the batting’s edge You will have you seam of 1 1/2″ to 2″ put together 2 more squares sew along the edge of the batting do this until your desired length. You will then go back and sew all of those sets of 2 together, make sure all of the seams are facing the same way. You will then have two rows of squares. Continue until you have as many sets of rows you want. Then sew your rows together. When you have sew all your rows together sew around your edge to close the squares on the edge of the quilt.
Cutting your Seam allowance: All of your seams should be facing up on one side of your quilt. Now is time to snip these to make your “rag” look. This may take a long time, so grab your favorite movie or show and snip away. Remember don’t snip your stitching, this could cause holes in your seams. When you are done snipping, it is time to wash your quilt to finish the rag look.
Washing your quilt: A lot of quilters will tell you to wash your fabric before sewing. I never do. I always wash my quilts after they are quilted with a anywhere between 1/2 cup to a cup of vinegar to set the colors. When you wash your rag quilt your edges will fray and you may need to trim off some stray pieces once you remove it from the dryer.
Well I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions just write them in the comments and I will answer. Enjoy Quilting!