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Use these Easy Methods to Sew a Rag Quilt
You can see two sides of a rag quilt in this photo. One is the front side of the quilt, with frayed edges. The side flipped over is the back, and has "normal" looking seams.
© Janet Wickell
A Quick Look at Making Rag Quilts
- Rag quilts are sewn after each block (or portion of a block) is assembled into lots of little quilt sandwiches... a top a batting and a backing.
- A walking foot isn't a required when making rag quilts, but its built-in feed dogs do help keep the multiple layers of the sandwiches from shifting as they move through the sewing machine.
Rag Quilt Seam Allowances
Most rag quilts are sewn together with a 1/2-inch seam allowance -- try that width before experimenting with wider seams.
How to Assemble a Rag Quilt Sandwich
Rag quilt patterns contain specific assembly instructions, but understanding a few basic concepts makes it easier to become accustomed to the process. For this example, let's pretend our quilt is made from 10-inch squares of fabric.
- Position a 10" backing square right side down on a table.
- Center a flannel batting square of the same size, or just a bit smaller, on top of the backing. if you're using cotton batting, see page 4, since instructions differ.
- Place the 10" top square on top of the batting, right side up.
- Slide a few straight pins through the stack to hold fabrics together.
- Make additional 10-inch square sandwiches until you have enough to assemble the quilt.
- Arrange the stacks in rows as desired.
Sew the Rag Quilt
We'll sew sandwiches together side by side in horizontal rows.
- Gather the first two blocks in the first row. Place the stacks backing sides together, noting which edges should be connected. Sew along the aligned edges with a 1/2-inch seam allowance.
- Add the next block, again placing backing sides together. That might sound simple, but it can be difficult to break the traditional right sides together habit.
Finish sewing the blocks in each row together. Attach rows to each other, placing rows backing sides together and matching seam intersections. I've found that frays look more balanced later if you do not press seams to one side before joining rows -- just flip the allowances open and match seam lines.
When the quilt is complete, sew a seam (or two) around the entire quilt, 1/2-inch from each side. If you stop 1/2" from ends, backstitch at each angle of the corner.