Wrap up your Valentine in this incredibly snugly rag quilt with its special ‘secret admirer heart' appliquéd onto the bottom row. 'What's a Rag Quilt?' I was hoping you'd ask! 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 soft and cuddly look and feel. Ours is made from ten different kinds of Woolies Flannel in a collection of patterns and tones we thought were very ‘guy-like' and so qualified as an official boyfriend/hubby/dad/son/uncle/grandpa Valentine's Day project. Truth be told ... all the gals we showed it to we're ready to snap it up and take a little nap so I think it's a perfect 'everybody' project.
The trick to a good rag is to choose cotton and other natural, loose weave fabrics, which are more likely to ravel when washed and dried. Flannel is always a favorite. And our favorite flannel right now is Woolies Flannel from Maywood Studio. Find it at your favorite fabric retailer or search on line for a store near you.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Jem Platinum 760)
Fabric and Other Supplies
- Fabric for 73 squares (36 front and 36 back, plus 1 for the heart appliqué), we used: 10 different Woolies Flannel designs. See our swatch key and layout plan below for specific fabric choices and yardage.
NOTE: Each square is cut 11" x 11" - you can use this measurement to figure your own cutting plan. In general, we found if you'd like to cut two or three squares from a particular fabric, get ¾ yard; if you'd like to cut four or five squares from a particular fabric, get 1 yard. Flannel tends to shrink up a lot when you wash it, so it's always good to get a little extra to be safe.
- Thirty-six 9½" x 9½" squares of lightweight natural batting, we used: Warm & Natural Needled Cotton Batting
NOTE: We gave the dimensions needed rather than yardage because batting comes in a huge variety of options: from bags pre-cut to standard bed quilt dimensions to bolts at 34", 45", 90" and 124". We bought 2½ yards of 45" wide batting.
- All purpose thread to match your project for seams
- All purpose thread in a contrasting color for "X" quilting stitch on each square
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pencil or marking pen
- Iron and ironing board
- Sharp scissors (for clipping edges to rag)
- Rotary cutter and mat (best for cutting squares but you can also use scissors)
- Hand sewing needle
- Straight pins
- Pre-wash all your fabric. This is particularly important with flannels because they can shrink up quite a bit. When you take the fabric out of the dryer, iron it all or at least smooth out the wrinkles by hand. Trim any loose threads from the edges.
- Download and print the Rag Quilt Heart Template. Cut out the heart shape. Set aside.
- Following our cutting guide or your own, cut thirty-six 11" x 11" squares for the front, thirty-six 11" x 11" squares for the back, and one 11" x 11" square for the heart applique.
NOTE: We used one fabric for all the back squares, which is the easiest and looks quite nice. If you want to be extra fancy, you could mix and match fabrics on the back as well as the front. Just be aware this can make it hard during assembly to remember what's front and what's back.
- From your batting, cut thirty-six 9½" x 9½" squares.
- Following our layout plan or your own, make fabric ‘sandwiches' for each square. You ‘sandwich' starts with one back square placed on your work surface WRONG side up, followed by one square of batting on top of that, centered carefully so there's ¾" of back fabric showing all around.
- Finish your sandwich with one top square placed RIGHT side up.
- Make thirty-six sandwiches in this same manner. (Is anyone besides me a little bit hungry?)
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Thread your machine with the contrasting color thread in the top and bobbin (we used a dark red color).
- Stitch an 'X' through the center of each square sandwich. This holds the fabric layers together through washing and drying. Without this step, your squares would like come out of the dryer looking twisted or puckered.
- Re-thread your machine with the seam thread (the thread that matches your fabric; we used a wheat color) in the top and bobbin.
- Following our layout pattern or your own, take the first two squares of your first row and pin them, BACK sides together, along one edge.
- Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance. Your raw seam should be standing up between the squares on what will be the front of your quilt.
NOTE: Some fabric is directional, which means the pattern of the fabric runs in a specific line. If this is true of your selections, be sure to keep the direction of the fabric consistent as you sew the quilt together. And be sure to keep all lines straight and square.
- Take the next square in your first row sequence and attach it to the two-square unit you just completed. Continue until you have one six-square row.
- Make the remaining five rows following the same steps.
- When all six of your rows are done, the next step is to stitch them togther. To do this, take your first and second row and place them BACK sides together. Pin in place along one long side, being careful to line up the perpendicular seams so your corners come together at a nice point.
- Stitch together, using a ½" seam allowance.
- Repeat to add rows three, four, five and six. Remember, you always start with backs together so your seam will stand up and show on the front.
- Stitch around the entire outside edge of the quilt, using a ½" seam allowance.
- With a pair of very sharp scissors, make small snips at ¼" intervals along ALL the raw seam edges in between the squares (yep -- that's a lot of snipping; there are 60 sections to clip).
- Do the same around the entire outside edge. Be careful not to cut through any actual seams.
- Find the heart shape you cut out above. Thread your hand sewing needle with a color of thread that matches the heart but will stand out against the fabric you selected for the back of the quilt (we used our dark red again).
- Center the heart on the fourth square from the left on the bottom row. Pin in place. Hand sew a simple running stitch close the the edge through all layers (the heart edges are raw). Your stitching will blend with the heart but show through on the back of the quilt as a heart outline (ahhhhhhhhhhhh).
- Wash and dry your quilt to 'rag' the seams and the edge of the heart.
Hints and Tips
The first time you launder the completed rag quilt, you're likely to leave a lot of thread and fabric pieces in your washer and dryer so don't forget to clean out your lint trap.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Heather Tucker
Other machines suitable for this project include the Bernina aurora 430 and the Brother PC-420PRW.