With most of our projects, we’re always emphasizing how you should pay attention to finishing your seams – how you want the inside to look as nice as the outside. With a rag quilt, there’s no need. You actually want your seams to sew. 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 very soft and cuddly feel. Our design features scalloped outer edges, also ragged, which creates a unique, soft shape to the entire perimeter.
If you can sew a straight line, you can make this quilt. We offer three templates to download to help with the cutting: an edge scallop, a corner scallop, and a square. Of course, you could also simply measure to cut the 25 center squares.
The trick to a good rag is to choose cotton and other natural fabrics, which are more likely to ravel when washed and dried. Anything with a loose weave will work well. Flannel is always a favorite for rag quilts because it's soft to start with and rags up wonderfully. Our sample combined three coordinating quilting cottons for the top with a flannel for the backing.
We originally used Bunny Tales by Lucie Crovatto for Studio E, which is no longer readily available at retails. Some new cuties from Hawthorne Supply Co. are (click a swatch for more detail):
For our sample we liked experimenting with a unique color palette. Nursery items tend to dominated by the classic pastels of baby pink and blue, for this blanket we combined mint green, soft yellow, and unexpected pops of coral. It’s such a pretty alternative.
Our cuts were made with pinking shears, which is sometimes used as an option to prevent fraying. Hey! It allowed us to more easily handle all the pieces that make up this little quilt (98 altogether not counting the straight cut batting squares) without a mountain o’ messy bits. Pinking is, of course, optional. You could certainly straight cut all the pieces.
In addition to the pinking, we made some clips in the finished seam allowances to further help initiate the fraying. The rag effect will continue to soften the more the quilt is laundered, but with a quilt that may be a gift, it’s nice if the ragging is well established when first presented.
We did not pre-wash our fabrics, waiting instead to launder once the quilt was finished. One caution: this will leave a lot of thread and fabric pieces in your dryer (and even in your washer) so don't forget to clean out your lint trap.
Our quilt finishes at approximately 35” x 35”.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Walking or Even Feed foot; optional but helpful for the quilting and keeping all the layers from shifting – or use your machine's built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ¾ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the outer scalloped panels; the "dots" in our sample
- ½ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for 13 of the inner squares; the "yellow bunnies" in our sample
- ½ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for 12 of the inner squares; the "mint butterflies" in our sample
- 1⅓ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight flannel for all the back pieces; the solid cream in our sample
- 1⅓ yard of 45” wide low loft batting
- All purpose thread to match fabric
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Small, sharp scissors for clipping
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Pinking shears, optional
Pattern Downloads and Cutting Templates
- DOWNLOAD AND PRINT: The three Cutting Templates, which have been bundled together into one PDF to make the download easier.
IMPORTANT: This pattern download consists of THREE 8½" x 11" sheets. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each sheet to confirm your printout it to scale.
- Cut out all the templates along the solid line.
- From the fabric for the outer scallops (the Mint Dot in our sample), cut the following:
Using the Side Scallop template, cut TWENTY
Using the Corner Scallop template, cut FOUR
- From the fabric for 13 of the 25 inner squares (the Yellow Bunnies in our sample), use the Square template to cut THIRTEEN, or use your ruler and cutting mat to cut thirteen 6” x 6” squares.
- From the fabric for 12 of the 25 inner squares (the Mint Butterfly in our sample), use the Square template to cut TWELVE, or use your ruler and cutting mat to cut twelve 6” x 6” squares.
NOTE: As mentioned above, you can use pinking shears or regular scissors for your cutting.
- From the flannel (solid Cream in our sample), cut the following:
Using the Side Scallop template, cut TWENTY
Using the Corner Scallop template, cut FOUR
Using the Square template, cut TWENTY FIVE, or use your ruler and cutting mat to cut twenty five 6” x 6” squares.
- Trim each of the templates along the ½” dotted stitching line, then use these trimmed patterns to cut the following from the batting:
Using the trimmed Side Scallop template, cut TWENTY
Using the trimmed Corner Scallop template, cut FOUR
Using the trimmed Square template, cut TWENTY FIVE, or use your ruler and cutting mat to cut twenty five 5” x 5” squares.
- On each of the scallop templates are two DOTS. These dots are the starting and stopping points for your outer stitch lines. Transfer these marking points to all the outer scallop pieces in the print fabric (the Mint Dot in our sample), using either pins or a marking pen.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Match up your fabric and batting pieces according to size and shape.
- Using a fabric pen or pencil, draw a large “X” across each of the print pieces. Both the 25 squares as well as all the scallops.
NOTE: Whenever you’re working on the right side of your fabric, make sure your marking tool is one that will easily wipe away or will vanish with exposure to air or the heat of an iron.
- Make a quilt sandwich for each of the blocks. To do this, first place a flannel piece wrong side up on your work surface. Then center a matching batting piece on top of the flannel. There should be ½” of fabric showing beyond the batting all around.
- Finally, layer a cotton piece on top, right side up.
- The outer edges of the top and bottom layers should be flush all around, sandwiching the batting between. Pin through all the layers.
- Attach a Walking or Even Feed foot or engage your machine's built-in fabric feeding system, such as the Janome AcuFeed Flex™ system
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the front fabrics in the top and to best match the flannel in the bobbin. We used a cream thread in both the top and bobbin.
- Slightly lengthen the stitch.
- Follow your drawn guide lines to stitch the X through all the layers of each block. First stitch across in one direction.
- Then remove the block from the machine and re-position it to stitch across in the opposite direction.
- When all the blocks are stitched, arrange them into seven rows as shown in the diagram above.
- The top and bottom rows are made up of all scallops. The center rows contain five alternating squares with a side scallop on each end.
- Pin together the blocks to complete each row. Remember, you are pinning so the seams will show, which means it is the flannel that is right sides together.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the six short vertical seams that make up each row.
NOTE: You are stitching the STRAIGHT SIDE EDGES ONLY at this time - leave the curved scallop edges unsewn.
- Repeat to complete all seven rows, again – just the straight seams.
- With all the rows complete, stitch them together top to bottom.
- Align the first and second rows. Again, you are placing the flannel layers right sides together.
- Be especially careful to align all the vertical seams.
- Alternate the direction of the vertical seam allowances as you move across the row. In other words, flatten and pin the first seam allowance so it is facing the outer edge, then pin the next seam allowance toward the center. Follow that with the next seam allowance again facing the outer edge, and the one following it to the center.
- Continue in this manner across each row.
NOTE: For both the short vertical seams as well as the long horizontal seams, don’t stress at all if all your layers don’t match up perfectly. Once the seams rag, this all disappears and rather than looking like individual layers, it will appears as one fluffy line.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch across the rows.
- Slow down as you cross over the vertical seam allowances so they remain flat.
- Repeat to assemble all the rows.
- The final stitching step is to go around the outer scallops to secure theses edges, using a ½” seam allowance and stitching from dot to dot (the marking dots you transferred above using either pins or a fabric pen).
- Yes, that does means you will be starting and stopping on each block.
- To increase the rag, we clipped along all the seams every ¼” - ½”.
- And also along the outer scalloped edges.
- When complete, wash and dry your quilt one to three times to initiate the ragging.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild