How to Make Prayer Quilts

By Elizabeth Tumbarello

Things Needed

  • 4 yards cotton quilt fabric
  • 2 yards polar fleece
  • 2-inch wide ribbon
  • Polyester batting
  • Cutting board
  • Rotary cutter
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Tapestry needle
  • Yarn
Prayer quilts look like ordinary quilts, but mean more.

Prayer quilts are functional items, pieces of art and good wishes brought to life. The basic construction of a prayer quilt does not differ from that of a traditional quilt. Any pattern is usable and the quilt can be hand- or machine-sewed to the quilter's preferences. The thing that sets prayer quilts apart is the intention of the crafter; throughout the crafting process, the quilter thinks good thoughts and says prayers for the recipient of the blanket. This is symbolically represented by knots that hold the quilt together. Each knot represents a hope or prayer for the health or well-being of the blanket's future owner.

Wash and dry the yards of fabric according to the manufacturer's instructions. This pre-shrinks the fabric.

Lay one of the fabric pieces on a cutting board. Measure and cut 60 5.5-inch-by-5.5-inch squares . Do the same for the second swatch of fabric.

Arrange your fabric squares. Lay out 10 squares of fabric in a line, with the “right” or patterned sides facing downward. Alternate between the two patterns of fabric.

Pinch ¼ inch of fabric from the right side to face you from two adjoining squares. Pin the squares together with this pinch of fabric. Do this across the row.

Sew the squares together. Align, pin and sew 12 rows of 10 squares. You should have 12 strips of fabric, approximately 50.5 inches long.

Place two strips parallel to one another, right-side down. Pinch ¼ inch of fabric from the right side to face you on each strip. Pin the strips together with this pinch of fabric.

Sew the strips together. Join all 12 strips to create a quilt top measuring 50.5 by 60.5 inches.

Wash and dry the quilt top to even out the stitching. Cut any loose threads.

Cut a 60-by-50-inch sheet of polyester batting. Cut a piece of polar fleece to the same measurements. Layer the polyester batting over the fleece. Layer the quilt top, right-side facing upward, over the batting, sandwiching the batting between the quilt top and the fleece.

Cut two 6-inch pieces of 2-inch wide ribbon. Cut two 50-inch pieces of 2-inch wide ribbon.

Fold ¼ inch of the quilt top under toward the wrong side of the fabric. This hides the raw edges. Do this along all four sides of the quilt top. This sizes down the quilt top to 50 by 60 inches, the same size as the batting and fleece.

Pin the ribbon over all three layers of the quilt, around the edges. Sew the ribbon in place.

Thread a tapestry needle with an arm's span of acrylic yarn.

Insert the needle down through the quilt top, batting and polar fleece at the bottom-right corner of the first quilt square, where it meets the bottom-left corner of the second square and the top corners of the squares beneath that juncture.

Leave a 2-inch tail of yarn hanging from the beginning of the stitch. Do not tie a knot.

Push the needle up through the polar fleece, batting and quilt top, several millimeters away from where you inserted the needle initially. This creates one stitch.

Cut the yarn, leaving a 2-inch tail.

Make one stitch at each point on the quilt top where four blocks meet. Be sure to sew the yarn through all three layers of the quilt. Leave 2 inches of yarn at the beginning and end of each stitch.

Knot the tails together with a square knot. Say a prayer for the intended recipient. Do this for each pair of yarn tails.

Wash and dry the quilt. Cut all loose threads. Leave the yarn tails long.