I went to a site called Etsy one day and fell in love with a blanket. It was too rich for my blood, but boy did I pine for that blanket. I think God can and will use the desires of our hearts to not only enrich our lives but the lives of countless others.
He did this for me with sewing. I never thought I could or would be able to sew anything, let alone a blanket. Around Mother’s Day several years ago, after discovering the beautiful rag-style blanket on Etsy, I decided to invest some time in a sewing class (1/2 price at Joanne’s!) and thus began my love of fabric and sewing as I pray over each stitch. I can (AND so can you) do amazing things with God’s help. You CAN sew!
I’m going to walk you through how to make a RAG QUILT.
I generally buy 6 different coordinating fabrics when I make my rag quilts. I buy 2 yards of each fabric and this makes a nice size to cuddle up with on the couch. (I have found most of the flannels are 46″ wide. This will give you approximately 144 squares or 24 squares of each fabric). If the fabric is not 46″ wide and is less, buy more of the fabric. Also, be aware that fabric with patterns may need to be put together so the pattern isn’t upside down. Be sure your fabrics are upright when you make your squares and when organizing your rows.
Here is your supply list (with links to products found on Amazon):
- 2 yards each of 6 different coordinating fabrics. (I use 5 flannel fabrics and 1 minky.) See Fabrics on Amazon.
- One color of coordinating thread, have 3 spools handy. (I tend to use ivory for all of my blankets.)
- Sewing Machine (my first machine was a Singer and lasted me several years.)
- Three boxes of straight pins with heads.
- An acrylic quilting square. (I use Omnigrid, 9.5 x 9.5 inches.)
- A gridded cutting mat (large enough to cut your 9.5″ squares on).
- A rotary cutter.
- Spring-loaded scissors (optional) or regular fabric scissors
Rotary cutters look like this. I prefer the largest size.
SIDE NOTE for blankets for babies: I have made blankets from fleece. This fabric is much more baby-friendly. I have read that the rag quilts made from fabrics with finer threads can cause a baby to choke, so if you are making a quilt for a baby, you will want to use fleece. Also, you will want to half your fabric amounts as you will only need to use one piece for each block. It has a finished back and front with one square. Here is a picture of a rag quilt made from fleece:
Gather your fabrics. Set up your mat on a firm table.
Cut each fabric into squares by putting your acrylic quilting square down and cutting each side with your rotary cutter. I work from the bottom up; meaning, I have the fabric length falling off the opposite end of the table and cut my pieces from the bottom closest to me. This part of the process can take a while. Each square will be 9.5 x 9.5 inches or however large your quilting square is. Tip: You can double-up your fabric (2-layers of the same fabric folded) and cut two squares at once.
After the squares are cut, put two of the same fabric squares back to back, meaning the design faces outward on each side. You are making the front and back of your quilt simultaneously. Pin these two together. I put a pin at each corner and one in the middle of each side. Pin all of your squares.
Get ready to sew! Most sewing machines have marks for the seam allowance. When I first began sewing, I put a piece of painter’s tape on my machine where I wanted my seam. This way, each of the seams on all four sides of my squares were the same. In general, you want a seam allowance that is about 3/4 of an inch. Choose your seam allowance remembering that that is the part that gets “ragged” at the end of this process.
Sew each side of your square, taking the pins out as maneuver the material through your machine. Do not run over your pins. They can become projectiles and hurt you or someone else or can jam your machine.
Once all of your squares have a seam allowance on them, you have your quilt foundation. At this point, I lay out my squares on the floor and fiddle with my pattern. The kids love this part and always help me come up with a design we all like. Make sure your vertical patterns are all facing the same way.
Before I go any further, I sit with a pen and paper and write down my rows, my “map”. Example: 1. Minky, stripe, dark pink, flower, mint, dog 2. Dog, minky, stripe, dark pink, flower, mint And so on.
Next, I sit on the floor and pin my rows. When pinning, you want your seam forward. (See picture.)
Sew your squares together to form your rows.
Next, pin your rows together with the help of the “map” that you wrote down. After pinning, sew your rows together and you have your almost* finished rag quilt.
The last step is cutting the fringe that you created by sewing with the seams forward which are now the front of your blanket. Try not to cut through your seams. I have used regular fabric scissors for this or you can buy quilting snips that have a spring-loaded handle so your hand doesn’t tire as quickly. Wash and dry your quilt to start the ragging process. Some recommend going to the laundromat so you don’t get so many threads in your washer and dryer. I haven’t found that they are too excessive or cause any problems to my machines.
Happy Rag Quilting!
If I can clarify any directions, please leave a comment or leave feedback on how I can better improve this tutorial.
Below are pictures of my son’s Coast Guard blanket made out of fleece.
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