Charming Rag Quilt

Hi everyone! I'm Maria Wallin from Not Only Quilts and I'm super excited to be sharing my second tutorial here on Moda Bakeshop! This time I'll be showing you how to make my favorite kind of Rag Quilt. It's made a little bit different from other rag quilt's and it's so much quicker to make as this quilt uses brushed cotton or flannel as batting as well as backing. Making it much easier to construct as it eliminates the need to sew precise squares of batting into each little quilt sandwich. It makes for a lovely, heavy, and super cozy type of Rag Quilt with extra full and fluffy raggy seams due to the extra layers of fabric in each seam.

4 Charm Packs (Northern Cardinal by Holly Taylor)
6 yards of coordinating brushed cotton (or flannel)

Step 1 - Cutting
Cut 42 strips 5" x width of fabric of the brushed cotton.

Sub-cut each strip while still folded into (4) 5" squares. Each strip will yield (8) 5" squares. Your cutting mat will get very hairy from cutting this fabric, so every once in while I suggest you run a normal eraser over it to bring up the fibers quite easily and allow the mat to heal for easier cutting.

Step 2 - Making the little quilt sandwiches
Since you will be using the brushed cotton for both batting and backing, you don't have to worry about cutting batting smaller then the fabric like you normally would. This way of making a rag quilt makes assembling your little quilt sandwich super easy and you just place one square of brushed cotton right side down, one square right side up and place your charm square on top, right side up.

If you want to "kick it up a notch" you can always use a contrasting fabric for your "batting fabric", this can create some really fun effects as your rag seams then become two colored. If you wish to do that, just buy 3 yards of each color instead of 6 yards of one color for the brushed cotton or flannel you're using.

Step 3 - Chain quilting your sandwiches
I've chosen to quilt my little sandwiches a simple cross. You can quilt as desired.

For my crosses, I chose a neutral light beige thread that blended quite nicely with most of the colors. Then I simply placed my pile of charm squares and pile of brushed cotton squares next to my sewing machine and made my little sandwiches there while sewing. And then I "chain quilt" them all by sewing first one diagonal seam from one corner to the next using a walking foot. No pinning or drawing required. Then clip the thread joining your pieces and chain piece the next diagonal seam for maximum efficiency.

You will end up with 168 of these:

Step 4 - Choosing your design
To help me get a design I was happy with, I choose to do a real layout instead of just randomly sewing blocks together. I piled my squares up in color-coordinated piles and laid out my desired pattern. In the end I went with a 14x12 blocks design, so not the one in the picture.

Step 5 - Sew your rows
To avoid messing up my design and avoid risking sewing my squares right sides together (when you've spent a life sewing right sides together, you'll quickly notice how easily it is to forget oneself and do it here too), I quickly pin together my rows and sew all my rows together. Make sure you're careful and sew wrong sides together so that your seams are on the front of the quilt. Keep the walking foot on for this work too.

I use a scant ½ inch seam allowance, which I think gives a nice rag feeling without cowering up too much of the squares or making the raggy seams fall to the sides instead of standing up. Use a very short stitch length to prevent the seams from unraveling.

Step 6 - Joining your rows
While a rag quilt is very forgiving when it comes to not matching up your seams perfectly on the front (the shaggy seams will cover it up), you'll probably want a nice backside too. When joining your rows, you'll want to nest your seams to avoid pinning. I find this very easy if you first have assembled your rows and just are piecing them together. You do this by carefully placing one seam allowance "up" and one "down" like in the photo below. Wiggle them a little until you feel them lock in place with each other.

This will become second nature very quickly even if you've always pressed your seams apart and pinned before. Your seams will lock very nicely and you'll get a perfect intersection on each seam.

Now you're probably wondering why I don't press my seam allowances apart reduce bulk (because yes, it get's very bulky ^^), it's because I find that when one does that the raggy seams don't stand up anywhere near as nice as they do otherwise, but instead lay to the sides. So for me, this kind of seam is the only way to go for the right "raggyness".

When you've joined all your rows and your top is finished, you'll want to do a final seam around the entire perimeter of the quilt to close it up.

Step 7 - Clipping your seams
Once you've finished your quilt top, you have the massive task of clipping each and every seam left. Be careful to not clip into the seam though! I clip somewhere in between every quarter inch/half inch and I leave about 1/8 inch from the seam. I fold my seams before clipping like you see in the photo below to not risk a nip in the squares, so no, that's not the edge of the quilt but in the middle. This is finger killing job if don't have spring loaded scissors. I highly recommend getting a set of those; I know I will as soon as I can. =)

Step 8 - Washing and Tumbling
This step is where the magic happens. When I wash my rag quilts the first time, I put them into an old pillow case and close it up with a running stitch because that first wash you're going to get a lot of lint in your machine otherwise. I always toss in a large number of color catcher sheets (to prevent color runs) too into that pillow case, these sheets are an especially important quilt saver when you use a lot of red colored fabric like I did in this quilt.

When it's time for the tumble drier, you might want to stop a couple of times during the cycle and clear out your filter because it sheds a LOT during the first few tumblings.

The best thing about Rag Quilts I think is that they just get prettier with each wash, more raggy and lovelier. In the photos it's only been washed once, it's so much prettier now after a few more washes.

You get one ~ 50" x 60" super snuggly, heavy, but simply Charming Rag Quilt!

Or in other colors and different layout, here using Kate Spain's 12 Days of Christmas:

I hope you've enjoyed reading this tutorial as much as I enjoyed making it! If you end up making one of these thanks to this tutorial - I'd love to see it! Please send me an email {} with a picture as I'd be so happy to get to feature it on my blog =)

Maria Wallin


Anonymous said...

Really neat and pretty. I just tried my hand at rag quilting, and I loved the way it turned out!

Cyndi Frailing Nelson said...

WOW! I loved the way you pieced this quilt together! I will definately give it a try. Thank you for your post : )

Sue said...

Rag quilts are very moreish aren't they? Plus good stash busters, too! I'm currently making one as a lap quilt using 10in blocks. It is the second one I've made and it won't be the last. Your tutorial is great. Really well detailed. :)

mary said...

This is a well done tutorial- I love the way you quilt these- I love the look of the finished project. I live in the South , and I'm wondering If this wouldn't be almost as pretty with only 2 layers of fabric? Think I'll try a picnic quilt done that way... LOVE THIS!!

Connie said...

Love this quilt. It looks perfect for curling up in on cold winter mornings. And the tutorial makes it look easy. Thanks for sharing.

Judy said...

I want to say thank you for a great and helpful tutorial. I have had many problems with rag quilts. I have learned by experience. Thank you for all your help. I was never going to buy flannel again. Now I will make another.

Gr8life59 said...

I just finished making 3 rag quilts for my grand girls, same fabric different layout and colored backing flannel. You are right it goes much faster using flannel as batting and backing.

Shirley Ann said...

This rag quilt is stunning. I have not tried my hand at rag quilting yet, but you have inspired me to try!

annmarie said...

Great tutorial! Love your easy method. Thanks.

Kimberly said...

Nice! This is going on my list of things I want to make!

Colleen Greene said...

Nicely done! I'm a huge fan of raq quilts (having made a flannel baby rag quilt, and used the rag quilt process for my holiday homespun table linens). But, I never would've thought of using regular charm packs -- great idea! I can't wait to try that out!

- Colleen @ Made By Colleen

Lyn said...

Great instructions and tips, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I love the Christmas rag quilt and I know know how I am going to use my "ready, set, snow" charm packs. One question, though. Do you pre-wash the flannel? It seems like it would shrink more than the cotton fabric.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Maria Wallin said...

Thanks everyone for all your kind words <3

Mary: I think it would look nice with just two layers too, I mean, traditional rag quilts with batting only has two layers and that looks nice? Maybe it will feel very thin, almost delicate though?

Colleen: Your baby quilt is beautiful!

Kerri: I don't pre-wash the flannel, and so far all my quilts have come out looking great from the washer without issues from different shrinkage. It also seems to me that pre-washed fabrics fray less and that's not what I want with this project ^^

donniesgirl said...

Ok crazy question: the charm packs yield 168 squares but your final quilts look like they are 10 x 14 squares, which is only 140 total squares. What do you do with the other squares?

Rachel said...

Best rag quilt tutorial out there. Thank you so much! I'm making one for my son for Christmas. This is supremely helpful!!!

Alexis Hudson said...

Thank you so much for your instructions on how to make this quilt! It was super easy, and fun. I made one to donate to a Relay for Life Team to raffle off. Now that I made it I am having a really hard time giving it up. Guess that means I need to make another one huh?

Here is the picture of mine.

Thank you again. God Bless.


Centralia, MO.

GrannyPaddy said...

Thank you for the pillow case idea-I was wondering if my washer could handle all of the lint and threads. I am making my first rag quilt as we speak.