The first time I heard the term “Rag Quilting,” I though it had something to do with using big, long rags of fabric and somehow weaving them together to make a quilt.
Boy, was I wrong!
It turns out that rag quilting got its name from the ragged edges on the quilt. No doubt in my mind that this quilt design was created by a quilter as a variation of a Quilt as You Go kind of pattern – whether it was intentional or accidental is something only that quilter knows.
Wide seam allowances are common for rag quilting – usually at least 1.” So, if you would like each block to be an 8″ square when finished, you should cut 10″ squares of fabric and 7¾” batting or flannel.
To make a rag quilt, you take 2 squares of fabric (could be triangles or any other shape, but squares are most common), and a piece of batting for each block in your quilt. You could use a piece of flannel instead. The batting or flannel should be cut about 1¼” smaller than the squares of fabric.
Place one square of fabric right side down on your table. Place the piece of batting or flannel in the center of the fabric. And then place the other piece of fabric right side up on top of the batting. You now have a stack with 3 layers, and the right sides of the fabric are facing out.
Stitch through all of the layers, to secure them in place. Usually these squares are machine stitched, using a simple straight stitch, making an X through the square. To do that, you begin in one corner and stitch to the opposite corner. Take your square out of the machine, and repeat the process on the other corner. You could do some fancy quilting in each block if you would like.
Continue this layering and stitching for as many squares as you would like – depending on how large you would like your quilt to be.
Once you have all of your squares/blocks stitched, it is time to begin to sew them together to make your quilt.
The process is the similar as if you were sewing blocks together to make a quilt top, with just a slight twist or two. Take two blocks and place them WRONG sides together. Stitch them together using a 1″ seam allowance. Sew the seam along the entire edge of the fabric, and do not backstitch.
Sew the blocks in each row together. Now you have a bunch of rows of blocks with all of the seam allowances facing to one side (usually the front side).
Once that is done, open the seam allowances, and sew the rows together, continuing to place the WRONG sides of the fabric together, so your seam allowances will face the top (right side) of the quilt.
After all of your blocks are sewn together, clip the seam allowances – that is what makes the “ragged” edge, or fringe. Take a very sharp pair of scissors and cut about ½” into the seam allowance, making sure not to cut into the stitching. Make these slices about ¼” apart from each other.
Once all of the seams are clipped, shake your quilt out to remove as many of the loose threads as possible, then wash the quilt and place it in the dryer. This will cause the clipped seam allowances to fringe even more.
And, now you’re done!