Clip the Rag Quilt's Seam Allowance to Encourage FrayingAfter your rag quilt blocks are sewn together and your seam is sewn around the quilt's perimeter, it's time to clip the seam allowance to encourage fraying.
Any sharp scissors will do, but spring loaded scissors that open automatically after each cut help keep your hands from becoming tired. Most types have handles that your fingers wrap around rather than fit into, eliminating the holes that can be irritating after lots of cutting. I use the Heritage snips shown above. They're available from many sources, including Joann. (Spring-Loaded Snips | Buy Direct).
If you buy spring loaded scissors with sharp tips, be extra careful not to clip into the seam allowance (the Heritage blunt tips make that less likely).
Make perpendicular cuts about 1.4" apart along all exposed seam allowances. Take care not to cut too close to the seam lines.
Be sure to clip carefully at the quilt's corners and seam intersections to avoid accidentally cutting away a chunk of fabric; that can happen when you're making perpendicular clips into adjoining areas.
Wash the Rag Quilt
Wash the rag quilt. I usually put a bit of soap in the wash, and use softener, because it seems to help the edges fray. That could be my imagination, so use plain water if you prefer. Some people recommend putting a filter on your washer drain to keep loose threads from building up in septic systems. My own personal opinion -- cottons disintegrate easily, and stray threads shouldn't be a problem unless you're making oodles of rag quilts.
Inspect the quilt. Did you forget to clip any seams? Clip them now, before you dry the quilt (you'll likely need to wash it again to increase fraying). Remove when dry and clip away loose threads if necessary.
Inspect the back of your quilt. Are all of the seams intact? If you accidentally clipped into one or two, fold back the frays and sew over the original seam, backstitching at the beginning and end of the new seam. For extra strength, make the repair a little longer than the original seam line.
Wash and dry the quilt one or two more times if you'd like the frays to be softer and more noticeable. Check again for loose seams and make repairs if necessary.