Learning how to make a rag quilt is easy! Rag quilts are a wonderful for a first time quilting project. They’re simple to make! Are you itching to try your hand at rag quilting but not quite sure where to start? Whether you’re a seasoned quilter or a complete novice, with its cozy texture and rustic charm, rag quilting is an incredibly rewarding hobby.
But don’t let the thought of frayed edges and unconventional techniques scare you off! In this post, we’ll break down the basics of rag quilting so that even beginners can confidently create beautiful blankets. From choosing fabrics to finishing touches, we’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to get started on your own stunning rag quilt project!
Rag quilting is a type of quilting that uses ragged, or frayed, fabric instead of traditional piecing techniques. The end result is a quilt that has a unique, shabby-chic look. Because it doesn’t require piecing and is made with individual blocks or strips putting together an entire quilt is possible for a novice quilter.
YOU WILL NEED:
Please note that you can make different combinations of fabric and batting. You can make the blanket without minky and just use flannel which is more traditional.
- Flannel (this fabric frays the best/ softest) (See free guide at the end of the post for yardages)
- Minky (optional for backing – See free guide at the end of the post for yardages)
- Batting (adds weight and warmth I prefer a thin one for rag quilts)
- Ragging Shears (Optional, but highly recommended)
- Rotary cutter, ruler and mat (available here)
- Walking Foot (necessary for heavier blankets with minky)
- Sewing Essentials (scissors, pins, etc.)
Fleece Fun has over 60 FREE patterns – and many come with a video tutorial. See the Master list here.
How to make a rag quilt (easy beginner’s guide)
Basic Overview Video Tutorial Here, More Detailed Videos Below:
Step 1 – Design your quilt
Before you even begin cutting out fabric ( Or even buy fabric!), you need to decide on what block size you want your quilt to use. The traditional blocks sizes are 12, 10, 9, and 6 inch. Each size has it’s advantages and disadvantages.
The larger the block the less fabric the less ragging there is, the smaller the block, more ragging. While more ragging gives it a beautiful shabby chic look it also eats a lot more fabric. So two quilts that are the same size but one has a larger block and one has smaller. The quilt with the smaller blocks will require more fabric.
You need to decide on the size of the ragging. I like 3/4 of an inch (~2cm) but if you want less you can make it 1/2 and inch.
Using my handy guide (available at the form below) design your quilt and calculate the how much fabric you will need.
There are different combinations you can use to make the rag quilt warmer/ softer/heavier. If this is your absolute first time I recommend the flannel batting flannel, flannel combination as this is the easiest and lightest to sew.
Just so you know…
I like to add a layer of flannel to the block as it makes the ragging look more full. You can make a block slimmer/ lighter by not having this layer, just bear in mind that the ragging won’t be as full as the example quilts.
If you choose to use minky you REALLY want a walking foot. It will make the process much less frustrating. If you plan on sewing with minky a lot a walking foot is worthy investment. It’s also handy for machine quilting too!
Step 2 – Cut the Squares to the rag quilt
No need to wash the fabric – you can just get going! Let’s cut out the squares to the rag quilt.
Start by cutting a strip the size of your chosen block across the width of the fabric the fabric.
Turn the strip – make sure you trim off the selvedge (it won’t fray!)
Cut the strip int the block size you need. Continue until you have cut all the blocks you need.
When cutting minky I recommend having a lint roller near by. A mini vacuum and an apron can also help you keep your sanity. The little fuzzies from the minky get everywhere.
Cut the mink squares in a similar fashion as above – they are the same size as the flannel squares.
Finally cut the batting squares. The length of the ragging will determine the size of the batting in the center. So for example I have a 6 inch square I would subtract the ragging ( or seam allowance of .75 x 2 so the interior batting square would by 4.5 inches in size.
Step 3 – prep the Quilt Blocks for sewing
Before we get started we need to quickly talk about minky fabric and nap.
Minky has a nap to it – meaning when you push it in certain directions it feels like pushing against or up and the color changes slightly. Ideally when making a minky quilt the nap all goes in the same direction.
So when you begin to build your block (if you’re using minky in it) It’s a good idea to chekc the nap and have it all going in the same direction. Now if you mess up, it’s really not the end of the world, this is a nice to have but not must have.
With the minky or bottom of the block the right side should be face down on the work surface. The wrong side facing up at you. Next place the batting in the center of the block.
Next add a layer of the plain flannel so make the ragging thicker on the quilt. It doesn’t matter which direction this filler section faces.
Finally place the top of the block on your quilt sandwich with the fabric facing right side out.
Pin or safety pin your block into place. Repeat this process with all of your blocks.
Just so you know…
Tip on how to make a rag quilt: For easy and quick assembly make the block the same color on the back. For blocks that have minky on the top and bottom: double check the nap of the minky to make sure it’s going the same way on both sides of the block.
Step 4 – Sew the Quilt Blocks
Blocks bigger than 6 inches need to be sewn together using an “x” from corner to corner. You can draw and x on each block using a ruler and a washable pen to help keep you lines straight.
If sewing blocks that are 6 inches you only need to sew one diagonal line across the block to finish it.
Unlike most quilting rag quilts have a lot a wiggle room. if you sew it and it’s not perfectly squared up through all the layers – it’s fine! If it’s really off ( like by and inch or if the batting isn’t centered, then there’s a problem and you’ll need to unpick the block and sew it again.
When sewing all the blocks together you can use an old quilter’s trick – chain sewing. Basically you don’t worry about locking the stitch.
You just continue to sew through the bocks feeding on right after the other. When finished simply snip the thread between them apart. No need to start and stop on each block.
Step 5 – Sew the Quilt Blocks into Rows
Now it’s time to bring this rag quilt together. We’ll start with rows and build the blanket from there. Layout your blocks in the order that you want your row to go.
If using minky, double check that the nap is the right direction and that the diagonal stitch is the right direction too.
With the bottoms of the block touching sew along the right side using a 3/4 inch seam allowance.
Since a 3/4 seam allowance isn’t a common one I sew like to mark it with some washi tape to make it easier to see while sewing the quilt blocks.
Add the blocks in the desired pattern you want. When sewing the blocks together lock the seams.
Continue to add blocks to the row on the right side until you’ve added all the blocks in a row (for this blanket I used 9 blocks in a row).
Continue making all the rows for your cozy blanket.
Sew each row of the blocks together. For a rag quilt I prefer a ¾ inch seam allowance. Double check the nap to make sure that it’s all going in the same direction on the rag blanket.
Step 6 – Sew the Rows Together
Let’s build this blanket! Take two of your rows, with the bottoms of the rows touching, Sew together using a .75 inch seam allowance. BUT>>> since we’re learning quilting I need to teach you an important trick to lining up blocks are the corner.
You nest the seams. This is a way of making the blocks line up beautifully.
To nest the seams fold the seam of the top block over ( so it’s easier to sew over). Then you fold the bottom seam allowance over so it’s going the opposite direction.
This makes it easy to line it up right at the seams of each block.
I recommend pinning it at the seam all along the row.
Continue to add rows to the blanket as shown above, nesting the seams.
At this point, be mindful that as you add rows you add weight to the quilt.
Hey it’s turned into a blanket!
Step 7 – Finishing the Outer edges to a Rag Quilt
There are a couple of ways to finish the edges to the rag quilt the easiest way is to sew a straight stitch all around the edge of the blanket 3/4 an inch from the edge and rag it like the rest of the quilt (more of that in a moment).
The more advanced way is to bind it with minky using this method here.
Both will work it’s just up to you and your skill level. I chose to bind this blanket this time so I could show the two options.
Step 8 – Snip the Seams to the Rag quilt
Now its time to cut up all your hard work. Using scissors or ragging shears snip the seam allowance about a quarter inch to a half inch apart.
Try your best to keep it even, but it doesn’t have to be exact. Depending on your size of blanket this could take some time.
Turn on a good movie or podcast and try to find some Zen in the repetitive action. Be mindful not to snip through your seams, and while you’re sitting there with scissors snip off any stray threads you come across.
Step 9 – Wash the Rag Quilt
Wash your cuddle quilt to complete the ragging process. Throw in some old towels to help with the agitation. Do not use liquid fabric softener as that will gum up the ragged edges and the minky fibers.
It may take a few washes to fully get the rag look. Enjoy your ragged quilt!
GET THE FREE Start Guide BELOW:
Download The Free pattern by filling out the form:
Other Beginner Quilting Tutorials for you to enjoy:
- Quilt As you Go, Stitch N Flip Quilt
- How to Sew a Quilt the Easy Way
- Easy Pinwheel Quilt Block
- Summer Table Topper Quilt Tutorial
- Quilted Christmas Table Topper Tutorial
More Fleece Blanket Tutorials:
- Hooded Fleece Blanket DIY (Child and Adult)
- How to Make a No Sew Tie Quilt
- How to make a no sew fleece tie blanket
- Duvet Cover
- Stitch ‘n flip quilt
- How to crochet the edge of a Fleece Blanket
- Fleece Blanket with a Satin Binding
- Self Binding Fleece Blanket
- Fleece Ribbon Throw
- You can see all of the blanket tutorials here
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Have some leftover flannel? This adorable Rag baby bib on Creations by Cara would be perfect to use it up!
You can find a quick start guide to rag quilts here.
Flannel is what is traditionally used as it frays nicely giving the fussy edge to it. Flannel can often be combined with fleece, minky or jersey knit to add more warmth and texture, but these materials do not fray.
This depends on how you want your rag quilt to look and feel. In quilting the traditional block sizes are 3″, 6″, 9″, 12″ and 15″. The smaller the block, the more blocks you will need to complete your rag quilt and the more “fuzzy edges” you’ll have. In this tutorial the block end up being 8.5″ ( taking away the 3/4 seam allowance from 10″). The truth is you can make the blocks any size you want under 12″. Anything larger than 12″ and the rag quilt doesn’t look as nice.
Wash as recommended for flannel. Be sure to toss in a few old towels with the quilt to help with balance and agitation. Do not use liquid fabric softener as this will cut up the ragging and make it less fluffy. Dry as normal, again with old towels to help agitation of the frayed seams.
A baby quilt is typically 30″ by 40″. Traditionally smaller squares are used for a baby rag quilt so 4″ work well. If you use a half inch seam allowance, You would want 140, 4″ squares to make a baby size rag quilt.
If you make larger squares your will need less fabric than if you make smaller squares as the smaller squares requires more seam allowances/ frayed edges. Also depending on how much fabric you choose to sandwich between each layer. 6 Yards of colorful fabric (exterior) and 3 yards of interior/ plain fabric should cover your needs for a traditional throw is 50″ by 65″.