Rag Quilt Tutorial

I found my new favorite quick gift idea, rag quilts. Thanks to my friend Kristen for introducing me to these in December. So far I have made one for my mother-in-law for Christmas and 2 baby rag quilts for shower gifts. They are easy to make and only take a few hours.

I have had a few people ask how to make them, so I am including instructions so you can create your own beautiful rag quilts.

For a baby quilt, you will use six different fabrics in the following yardage:
  • 1 1/4 yard of focus fabric
  • 1/4 yard of 4 different coordinating fabrics
  • 1 1/2 yard of solid color fabric for the middle layer.
Do not pre-wash your fabric. You will wash it after the quilt is complete .

Here is the fabric I used. The cream fabric is the inner layer for my quilt.

First, you will cut 6" blocks from all fabric. You need 84 blocks from your focus fabric and coordinating fabric and 42 blocks for the middle layer (your solid 1 1/2 yards of fabric).

After you cut all your 6" blocks you will begin to stack your blocks in layers of 3.  For example, my stack would include a red square, cream square and another red square on top. Make sure you have the front of the fabric facing out. I use the same color for the both sides of the sandwich so when you lay out the quilt you only have to worry once about whether the same color's touch. 

After you have your blocks stacked, you will need to sew an X through all 3 layers. I do not draw a line I just eye-ball it. It does not have to be perfect.

Now that you have all your blocks X'd, here comes the fun part, laying out your quilt. You can use your bed, floor, design wall or table. When I layout my quilt, I look to make sure that the blocks surrounding each other are all different colors. For example, I don't want two greens next to each other. I also have someone else, usually Seth, look at it after it is laid out and make sure my color placement is okay. The other thing I do is leave it over night and then look at it the next day to make sure I like how it looks (If I plan ahead and have an extra day).

Now, it is time to sew them together in rows. When sewing them together you use a 1/2" seam allowance. You will want to make sure when you are sewing your rows together that all your seam allowances are on one side. This may be a no brainer, but I have ripped out numerous seams!

Once you have your rows completed you will then sew your rows together. You want to try and make your squares line up and match at the points as much as possible. This will create a straight quilt when you are done. If they are a little off it is not a big deal, but, a little here and a little there will produce a crooked quilt. You will have 9 layers of fabric when your corners meat so I find the easiest way to get through those layers is to make sure you sandwich your seams so that one seam allowance goes right and one seam allowance goes left.

After you finish sewing all your rows together sew along the outside of the quilt on all 4 sides with 1/2" seam allowance. At this point, your quilt should look like this:

Now the tedious part begins to make this a "rag quilt", snipping the seam allowances. I snip approximately every 1/4" just up to the seam line, but not cutting the seam line.

I usually do this in a night or two in front of the TV. The closer your cuts together the more frayed the look. You can do them at any interval that suits your style.

You are almost done! The final step is to wash it. Wash and dry on warm/cold in the washer and medium heat in the dryer. However, you will want to clean your lint trap numerous times while drying because it will fill up. If you are doing anything larger than a baby quilt, I would suggest taking it to a laundry mat and using their machines.

This is what your finished quilt will look like.

This technique works equally well for a lap quilt, however, I use 8" blocks. For a nice size lap quilt for an adult, you need approximately 8 yards of total fabric for all three layers.

Rag quilts are very versatile because once you know the technique you can make them in any size and any color combination you desire. You can use more or less colors than I used, there is no "right" way. Just have fun and enjoy.


  1. I made three of these in two weeks at Christmas! Fun, fun, fun! I had every other square a four-patch.... that added some time! I also used batting in the middle. I think next time I will just use flannel... it was pretty thick. I love your bright colors!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Canoeing Layout

Krista Apron

Zoe Mini Album