With most sewing projects, you spend a lot of time hiding seams and finishing all the raw edges. Well toss that worry out the window for this one! A rag quilt is sewn together so the seams show on the outside. After washing and drying, the seams gently fray or 'rag,'producing a very soft and cuddly feel. If you can sew a straight line, you can make this quilt. And, you can easily put it together in a single day.
The trick to a good rag is to choose cotton and other natural fabrics, which are more likely to unravel when washed and dried. Anything with a loose weave will work well. Flannel is always a favorite for rag quilts because it's soft to start with and rags up wonderfully.
Our sample was made for a baby girl's nursery, using the stunning Patty Young Andalucia collection. For information on where to buy, read Stylish Baby Nursery: Designing with Bold Colors & Patterns. This article also includes suggestions for creating an alternate fabric palette that would work well for a boy's nursery.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome AQS2009)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- Fabric for 20 top scalloped edge panels: 1 yard of 45" wide fabric: we used Patty Young's Andalucia in Kiwi Flora
- Fabric for 8 of 16 top center square panels: ½ yard of 45" wide fabric: we used Patty Young's Andalucia in Earth Flora
- Fabric for the other 8 of 16 top center square panels: ½ yard of 45" wide fabric: we used Patty Young's Andalucia in Petal Jester
- Fabric for all 36 back panels: 1¾ yard of 45" wide fabric: we used a brown flannel with small pink polka dots that we found at our local fabric store – no specific designer was noted on the bolt
- All purpose thread
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pencil or marking pen
- Template plastic: this is available at your local fabric store – you could also use cardboard, but it's easier if you can see through it
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Straight pins
- Download and print out the three templates. Cut out the template shapes.
- Using the template shapes as a pattern, cut one Corner Scallop template, one Side Scallop template, and one 7" Square template from the template plastic.
- Position the Corner Scallop plastic template on the WRONG side of the Kiwi Flora fabric, and trace around the shape with a fabric marking pen. Repeat to trace a total of four Corner Scallop shapes. Trace the shapes as closely together as possible to minimize fabric waste. Using the Side Scallop plastic template, trace sixteen Side Scallop shapes on the Kiwi Flora. Cut out all the shapes on the drawn lines.
- Repeat step 3, but this time draw the two shapes on the WRONG side of the Brown and Pink Polka Dot Flannel, cutting four corner scallops and 16 edge scallops.
- Position the 7-inch Square plastic template on the WRONG side of the Earth Flora, and cut eight 7" squares.
- In this same manner, from the Petal Jester cut eight 7" squares.
- In this same manner, from the remaning Brown and Pink Polka Dot Flannel, cut sixteen 7" squares.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Note: Use a ½" seam allowance throughout.
- Match up your fabric pieces according to size and shape. You will pair each of the Brown and Pink Polka Dot pieces with corresponding Kiwi Flora, Petal Jester, and Earth Flora fabric pieces.
- Place each pair of fabrics WRONG sides together (fabric patterns facing out) and pin.
- Stitch an 'X' through the center of each 7" square (This makes sure the fabric squares hold together through washing and drying. Without this step, your squares would like come out of the dryer looking twisted or puckered.). Do your best to stitch an 'X' in the scallop shapes, but don't worry if it isn't perfectly symmetrical.
- With Brown and Pink Polka Dot sides together, place one 7" Earth Flora square together with one 7" Petal Jester square. Pin. Stitch along one edge using a ½" seam allowance. Note: The Petal Jester fabric is directional, which means the pattern of the fabric runs in a specific line. Be sure to keep the direction of this fabric consistent as you sew the quilt together.
- Repeat step 4 to create eight two-square units.
- With Brown and Pink Polka Dot sides together, stitch two of the units created above to create one row of four squares. Be sure to alternate Petal Jester and Earth Flora squares. Repeat to create four rows.
- With Brown and Pink Polka Dot sides together, stitch the four rows together along the long sides to create the Quilt Center.
- With Brown and Pink Polka Dot sides together, stitch two Side Scallop pieces together. Repeat to make eight two-scallop units. Note: Be sure to stitch on the STRAIGHT SIDE EDGES ONLY - leave the curved scallop edge unsewn.
- Stitch two units sewn above together to make one long row of four Side Scallop pieces. Repeat to make four rows of four Side Scallop pieces. Remember, you're always stitching with the Brown and Pink Polka Dot sides together so your seams stand up.
- Stitch one Side Scallop row to side of the Quilt Center.
- Stitch a Corner Scallop piece to each end of the two remaining Side Scallop rows, making a six-square row.
- Stitch these final two rows to the top and bottom of the Quilt Center.
- Stitch around the entire outside scalloped edge of the quilt, using a ½" seam allowance.
- Using your scissors, make snips in the raw seam edges at ¼" intervals. Do the same around the outside edges of the scallops. Be careful not to cut through any actual seams.
- Wash and dry your quilt to 'rag' the seams. Caution: this will leave a lot of thread and fabric pieces in your washer and dryer so don't forget to clean out your lint trap.
Hints and Tips
We didn't use batting in our quilt, and were very happy with its light weight. It's perfect to bundle up your baby without making her sweat bullets. Batting is that fluffy stuff placed between the quilt top and the quilt backing to add definition and weight to a quilt.
If you would like to use batting in this project, choose a lightweight cotton type for best results. You will cut a piece of batting for each of the quilt pieces. Cut each piece ½" smaller on all sides from the fabric version. So you will need sixteen 6" squares, four Corner Scallop pieces and sixteen Side Scallop pieces. Cut the Scallop pieces so that they are ½" smaller than the template on all sides. Then, as you match up all the pairs of squares (that's fun to say .... pairs of squares ...) in Step 2 above, sandwich a piece of batting between the top fabric and the back fabric. When you stitch the 'X' you'll secure the batting in between. Finish your quilt following the rest of the steps as-is.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Heather Tucker
Instructional Editing: Alison Newman
Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna 5100 Profile and the Husqvarna Viking Emerald 118.
Results From Our Readers
Submitted by Kimberlee from Joliet, IL