How to Make Rag Quilts

By Pamela Martin
The seams of a rag quilt are supposed to show.

Rag quilting gives even the most timid seamstresses and seamsters a chance to show off their quilting skills. Unlike with traditional pieced quilts, the pieces used for rag quilts are the same size -- plus, there’s no extra stitching required post-construction.

Cut a 7 1/2-inch square from the cardboard to use as a template.

Cut 168 squares each from the face and back fabrics.

Cut 168 6-inch squares from the cotton batting.

Sandwich the batting between the fabric squares, with the right sides of both the face and the back facing out. Pin the edges to hold them in place.

Begin at one corner and stitch a diagonal line across each of the square bundles. Repeat from the remaining corners to make an X on each square.

Pin two squares together with the wrong -- or back -- sides together.

Stitch the squares together with a 5/8-inch seam allowance.

Pin another square to the row, again with wrong sides together. Stitch it into place.

Continue adding squares until you have a row that contains seven squares.

Repeat to make a total of 12 rows, each containing seven squares.

Pin two rows together, wrong sides facing.

Stitch the rows together with a 5/8-inch seam allowance. Repeat until all of the rows have been joined.

Sew around the outside edges of the entire quilt, using a 5/8-inch seam allowance.

Clip the seams to make a fringe, making the slits about 1/2 deep and about 1 inch apart.

Wash and dry the quilt to fraying the exposed and clipped seams.

Tip

For the best results, use 100-percent cotton fabric or other loosely woven fabrics that will fray. You can use other fabrics -- such as fleece, flannel or knit -- but the seams will look like fringe, rather than getting fluffy.

When you are joining the rows, be sure to open the seams on each square so that one side points to the left edge and one to the right.

These instructions will produce a 30-by-54-inch quilt of 6-inch squares. For a twin quilt, make 20 rows with 15 squares in each.

You can also make larger or smaller squares. Remember that the finished piece will be about 1 1/2 inches smaller than the cut size, due to the seam allowances and the shrinkage from washing.

Warning

Be careful not to cut through the stitching when you clip the seam allowances.

About the Author

Pamela Martin has been writing since 1979. She has written newsletter articles and curricula-related materials. She also writes about teaching and crafts. Martin was an American Society of Newspaper Editors High School Journalism Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching in elementary education from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Arts in curriculum/instruction from the University of Missouri.