Need a last second baby shower gift? This rag quilt is super fast and easy. In fact, it took much longer to write this tutorial than actually make the quilt. It really does work up in 3 hours from first cut to last clip. Perfect for beginners or old pros at quilting. Simplified down to the fewest pieces possible, and taking advantage of traditional quilting technique to enhance the look of larger pieces, this 3 hour rag quilt pattern makes a crib size quilt and is sure to be a welcome gift.
Basic sewing machine
Rag Quilt Scissors (optional but very helpful)
Sewing machine thread (white is fine or you can use a contrasting thread of your choice)
Pins and/or clips
Straight Edge (I use a metal TSquare I removed the bar from because it is heavier than craft products and doesn’t slip.)
White Cotton Fabric (Yardage depends on the width of your fabric.)
4 Pieces 16″ x 32″
4 Pieces 16″ x 16″
1 Piece 9″ x 9″
3 Pieces 9″ x 16″
1 Piece 9″ x 32″
Contrasting Cotton Fabric (Yardage depends on the width of your fabric.)
1 Piece 9″ x 9″
3 Pieces 9″ x 16″
1 Piece 9″ x 32″
Batting of Your Choice
2 Pieces 14″ x 30″
2 Pieces 14″ x 14″
1 Piece 7″ x 7″
3 Pieces 7″ x 14″
1 Piece 7″ x 30″
Cut Fabric and Batting
Everyone has different ways of cutting fabric. If you are used to cutting fabric, there’s no need to read my way of cutting for these. You know your fabric, get to cutting and then hop to the next step of the instructions. If you are unsure of how to cut pieces though, read on for how I cut this set of shapes.
Personally, I like to cut my contrasting fabric pieces first as there are fewer of them. On 42″ wide fabric I cut a 9″ strip down the width of the fabric. Then cut the length to 32″. This leaves me with enough fabric at the end to cut my 9″ square. Now I have the 9″ square and the 9″ x 32″ piece cut and only need 3 9″ x 16″ pieces. Cut two more 9″ strips down the width of the fabric. Again cut the length down to 32″. Now cut each 32″ piece in half for 4 9″ x 16″ pieces. You’re sure to love this pattern enough you’ll make more than one anyway…right? After all, quilts are like potato chips, you can’t have just one. Set aside the extra piece for your next quilt.
For the white fabric I usually wind up with 44″ wide fabric. This means there is a little extra fabric at the end of each cut but that is a good thing as it leaves larger pieces for cutting in other projects. You do save all your scraps right? Cut 6 strips 16″ wide across the width of the fabric. Cut four to length of 32″. Set your 4 large 16″ x 32″ blocks aside. From the scraps of those blocks you can cut your 9″ x 16″ pieces (and again have one left over to start your next quilt). Now, cut 2 of your 16″ strips at 16″ intervals down their length. This will give you the 4 16″ x 16″ blocks. Now cut one strip 9″ wide across the width of the fabric. Cut this strip off at 32″ for your 9″ x 32″ piece and then cut the scrap for your 9″ square.
I usually buy rolled batting so for projects like this I make a cut across the width of the batting without unfolding the batting as it is rolled. Just unroll enough to cut a width and cut through all the layers. In this case that would be a 14″ strip and a 7″ strip. Then I cut them to length as I unroll the newly cut strips. I repeat this until I have enough of the size I need. There is always scrap left over but I use a ton of batting with sewing so I can always find a place for the leftovers.
Marking the Stitch Lines
We are using a set stitch pattern on the largest blocks of this pattern instead of just a big X like most rag quilts (remember I said we were using some traditional quilt techniques) so we need to mark out our stitch lines. This is actually really easy and fast so don’t panic. You actually only have to mark two lines on each of the large blocks and then there is an easy way to go from there when you actually start sewing.
Take a point 1″ from the corner on any of your large blocks and find a point 2″ from the diagonal corner. Don’t panic about those measurements being exact. The point is just for the line to slope. Now fold the fabric on this line and run your iron across it to set the fold. Unfold the fabric and repeat on the other side of the diagonal. This should give you two folded lines that radiate out from near one point of the fabric. At this point you can move on with just the two large guideline folds or make further folds using those first lines as a guide.
We will sew in these folds to set our first seams later. Repeat with 1 piece of fabric from all four large blocks. These will be your top pieces.
Sewing the Quilt Sandwiches
I always seem to wind up hungry when talking about rag quilting. I guess because somewhere along the way someone started calling the stacked fabric sets sandwiches. Anyway, now you need to assemble the quilt sandwiches.
Place your white fabric good side down (if it had any texture difference between the sides), lay the coordinating piece of batting centered on top of the fabric, and then place the top fabric (facing up) on top of that. Just like a sandwich. With the large pieces we are using, you’ll want to pin this in several places and probably use fabric clips around the sides to keep everything lined up.
Once you have all your pieces pinned and clamped so that they couldn’t move in a hurricane, it’s time to move on to sewing.
Sewing the Cross
Because they are the smaller pieces, I start sewing with the cross sandwiches (now there’s an odd phrase). Instead of an X shape (like most rag quilt patterns) we are going to sew a box shape in each cross piece. Because our pieces are 9″ wide, we’ll sew our box shape 3″ from the edge of the fabric. Pick a point 3″ in from each corner of your cross piece and drop the needle. Sew a couple of stitches and then backstitch to where you originally dropped the needle so that the seam will be secure.
Sew a straight line until you reach 3″ from the end. Raise the presser foot and turn your fabric. Lower the presser foot and sew across until you reach 3″ from the edge again. Repeat until you return to your first stitch. Backstitch to secure and then remove the fabric from the sewing machine (cutting thread leaders of course).
NOTE – Without a walking foot you have to hold the fabric taut or you will get small folds of fabric at some points. Instead of sewing with your front fabric facing up. Sew with your front fabric facing down so those small folds will be on the back of the quilt.
Repeat with each cross piece.
Sewing the Large Blocks
Now we need to sew the large blocks of white that will surround the cross. This is where our ironed folds on each block will come in handy. For these blocks you can sew from the edge of the fabric and your stitches will be sewn over again later so there is no need to backstitch. If you have a walking foot, it is very helpful for this part. If not, just be sure to keep the fabric taught to avoid gathering and shifting.
Line up your needle with one of the ironed folds. Start sewing as close to the edge as possible and sew down the length of the ironed fold to the other edge of the fabric. Sew off the side of the fabric. Remove and cut thread. Repeat with the other ironed fold. You now have two sewn seams. These sewn seams will now be your guidelines for all the other seams on this block if you didn’t make additional folds. If you went ahead and made all of the fold guidelines just keep following the folds to fill the fabric.
If you only made two folds, align your needle roughly 3″ to the outside of one of the seams and sew a parallel line across, using the sewn seam as your guideline for keeping it straight. Repeat by moving another 3″ out and using your new seam as the guideline. After you can no longer add seams (you run out of fabric). Repeat on the other side. Your end result will look like rays. You can vary the width between these rays if you like as well.
Repeat on all large blocks.
Beginning Assembly – Bottom of Quilt
Line up one of your largest white blocks (16″ x 32″) with the long side of your 9″ x 32″ piece and pin in place. Remember to place the two BACK sides together. We want the seams to show on rag quilts. We are using a 1″ seam allowance (the part that will rag up) on this quilt. Sew the two pieces together using a 1″ seam allowance.
Now, line up your other 16″ x 32″ block with the open long side of your 9″ x 32″ piece. Be SURE your sewn rays on the white piece point in the same direction towards the cross piece as the first sewn block. Sew with 1″ seam allowance again.
You should now have your three largest blocks sewn together lengthwise. White – contrast – white
Beginning Assembly – Cross Bar
Next we sew the three horizontal cross pieces.
Line up one of your 3 cross bars (16″ x 9″) with the cross square (9″ x 9″) piece and pin in place. Remember to place the two BACK sides together. We want the seams to show with a rag quilt. Use the 1″ seam allowance (the part that will rag up) again. Sew the two pieces together using that 1″ seam allowance.
Now, line up your other 16″ x 9″ block with the opposite side of your square (9″ x 9″) piece. Sew with the same 1″ seam allowance.
This is the long horizontal part of your cross.
Beginning Assembly – Top of Quilt
Line up one of your smaller white blocks (16″ x 16″) with the long side of your last cross bar (9″ x 16″) piece and pin in place. Remember to place the two BACK sides together. If the seam doesn’t show on the front, it isn’t a rag quilt. We are still using a 1″ seam allowance as you sew the two pieces together.
Next, line up your other 16″ x 16″ block with the open long side of your last cross bar (9″ x 16″) piece. Make SURE your sewn rays point the same way towards the cross piece as they did on the first white square. Sew with 1″ seam allowance. Back sides together as always.
This completes the top quilt section assembly.
At this point you should have 3 large block assemblies. Now we just need to sew them together.
Line up your bottom quilt block group with the cross bar group. Start your alignment in the middle to ensure your seams are lined up where the cross piece meets the cross square. Pin (and use fabric clips if needed) as you go, working from the middle to the edges. Then sew with a 1″ seam allowance again.
Repeat this process to sew the top quilt block group to the other side of the cross bar group. Remember to pay special attention to lining up the center cross seams. Also, check your sewn rays, they should all point towards the center of the quilt.
Now your quilt is assembled. Do NOT panic if your cross seams look off. Because of the way the fabric folds to the side when you sew across the exposed seams, it creates an optical illusion that the cross is crooked.
Look on the back of your quilt to check your cross seam alignment. After you rag the quilt it will all look fine from the front as well.
When you need to sew across a seam allowance from previous assembly, just fold the allowance to one side and sew straight over it.
Now all you need to do is sew around the outside of the quilt with a 1″ seam allowance. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end since you don’t have other seams running over this border stitch.
Note how your seam allowance crosses the stitches where you sewed off the end of the fabric earlier. This is will hold those stitches and is why you didn’t have to backstitch earlier when you sewed pieces together or created the ray stitches.
Now all you have to do (before washing and drying) is create the rag. Clip all the exposed seam allowances about 1/4″ apart. Be careful not to cut your actual seam threads. I like to keep one finger behind the exposed fabric seam allowance so that I can make sure my scissors don’t clip anything behind the fabric that they shouldn’t.
Wash and Dry
That’s it. Your quilt is finished! All you have to do now is wash and dry it to start the ragging process on the clipped fabric. Enjoy!