I recently had the opportunity to create my first rag quilt. The closest I had come to making one is this rag quilt made out of polar fleece.
Rag quilts are created by creating blocks of multiple layers. They are pretty forgiving, so a fun project to try if you’ve never quilted before. There are many tutorials available, but I started with this chart and site to design a memory quilt for a client. She had a number of denim and flannel shirts as well as a jeans. To make a throw size, I chose to use 8.5″ blocks because I already have that size cutting block. I planned to make it 8 blocks across by 10 blocks down for a total of 80 blocks PER LAYER! Yes, that’s 240 blocks to cut!
Cotton fabrics are the best fabrics to use for a rag quilt because they will fray. Some people do choose to use minky fabrics for the bottom layer for softness. Since you sew the blocks together with the seams upward, the back of the quilt is smooth. You have to consider what fabrics you want on both sides of the quilt. My client wanted most of the memory blocks on the top side. We also needed to supplement the shirt fabrics with purchased fabrics. She selected a number of fabrics in an Americana theme. I prewashed those fabrics.
I started my process by cutting as many squares as possible from the memory shirts and pants. My client chose to use ticking in the middle layer. I bought both red and blue-striped ticking. I don’t think the colors really mattered. Flannel is often used and I could have used solid white, red, blue or a mixture of those fabrics.
Once I had the memory fabrics cut, I laid them out on my table to spread them out. I then filled in with the purchased fabrics. Because I wanted the back to look nice as well, I had to lay out the back side. This gets a little tricky in terms of putting all three layers together. Once I had the layouts settled, I gathered my stacks.
Some tutorials suggest sewing an “X” on each block to hold the layers together. I decided to jump into sewing the blocks together with a 1/2″ seam. You have to sew the wrong sides together. I sewed each collumn and then sewed the columns together.
And then the snipping begins! I purchased these snips from Joanns and after just a few snips the spring mechanism stopped working. Fiskars immediately sent me a new set – apparently they had a known issue with a batch of these. The new ones were much better and the process of snipping continued. I broke it into batches and it was easiest to do at a cutting table with a solid surface below. I cut about every 1/4″ and tried not to get too close to the stitching line.
I was nervous to put this into my washer because I am not sure if I have a filter and didn’t want all the threads to clog it up. However, curiosity got the better of me. So I sprayed all the edges with water and then tossed the quilt into the drier with some damp towels. I cleaned the filter every 5-10″ or so because it filled up quickly!
The result is pure fun! I love the result and look forward to making one for myself some day!