In the months leading up to Halloween my sewing corner is full of wild colors, crazy textures, and just plain fun fabrics as I design the year’s Halloween rag quilts. Halloween is my holiday. Lots of fun, crazy costumes, and kooky color combinations. Halloween is my time to do things my way without worry about what anyone else thinks. The rag quilt design in this tutorial combines two of the more recent colors associated with Halloween, along with an old standard. Green, purple, and black fabrics make this quilt really pop.
Finished Size roughly 55″x65″ – Perfect for car travel or curling up on the couch
8 Rectangles 5″x16″ in purple fabric
8 Rectangles 5″x15″ in purple fabric
4 Rectangles 5″x27″ in purple fabric
4 Rectangles 5″x28″ in purple fabric
60 Squares 11″ in size of green fabric
60 Squares 9″ in size of batting
20 Squares 8″ in size of black fabric
4 Rectangles 4″x15″ of batting
4 Rectangles 4″x14″ of batting
2 Rectangles 4″x26″ of batting
2 Rectangles 4″x27″ of batting
Applique Patterns (Bat click here and Hat click here)
Black cotton thread
Straight Edge (I use a heavy Tsquare from the hardware store that I took the T part off of)
Regular Fabric Scissors
Rag Quilt Scissors
Material Notes: Why don’t I list yardage? I don’t list yardage for quilts because it all depends on the width of the fabric you buy. 10 yards of 44″ fabric is completely different from 10 yards of 108″ fabric.
Cutting the Pieces
I like to cut everything in batches so I can sew later without slowing down. For 11″ squares (green fabric in this quilt), I cut 11″ strips across the width of my fabric (44″ fabric means 4 strips). Then I cut across the strips to finish the squares. For the batting I follow the same method. Strips and then squares from cross cuts. Remember your batting is smaller so it will not show through the exposed seams. Then I follow the same procedure for my smaller 9″ squares that the appliques are cut from later.
This quilt has a contrasting edge to it so you’ll need to cut rectangles as well. To maintain the rag quilt appearance the edge strips are cut smaller than the quilt so you keep some seams in the mix. When cutting the rectangles for this I again cut strips. I began with 5″ strips and then cut them to the length needed. Starting from a strip help ensures the width of the border is uniform across all the pieces. Once you have your purple fabric rectangles, follow the same procedure to cut the rectangle batting but with 4″ width. Remember to check lengths in the list above.
Once you have all of your squares and rectangles cut, print out the applique patterns I’ve made for you.
Click HERE for the Bat applique pattern.
Click HERE for the Witch Hat applique pattern.
Pin a hat applique print out to a black square and start cutting around the edges. Repeat 10 times. For the bat applique, cut the bat in half. Then pin to a folded black square with the fold against the cut edge. This way your bat wings will match up.
The first part of any rag quilt is to assemble the quilt sandwiches. Rag quilts are quilted as you sew rather than made as a top and then quilted later. To assemble the quilt sandwiches, place your fabric squares as you want them when the quilt is finished. That is, backing fabric facing down, batting, and then top fabric facing up. Since the background squares and front squares are both green, and the front and back edging rectangles are all purple, you don’t have to worry so much about patterns matching as just getting the right sides facing out.
When pinning large sandwiches, I find it helpful to pin in the middle and each of the four corners.
Quilting the Rag Quilt Sandwiches
The usual way to quilt the sandwiches is to make a large x from corner to corner. However, you can quilt these sandwiches any way you like. If you have free motion capability and want to create flowers, swirls, or other random shapes, please try it. The entire purpose of this step is to keep the batting from moving and bunching within the sandwich as it is cut small enough the edge seams will not hold it in place.
For your purple edging rectangles, just make sure you match lengths so that you wind up with 4 sandwiches 5″x16″, 4 sandwiches 5″x15″, 2 sandwiches 5″x27″, and 2 sandwich 5″x28″. When quilting the long purple rectangles you can either make multiple X shapes or just sew a straight line down the middle of the rectangle if you aren’t using free motion sewing.
Adding the Appliques
No you can sew the appliques onto squares. Pin the appliques and sew around the edges about 1/8″ to 1/4″ from the edge. The edge will rag slowly over time and fit with the rest of the rag style of the quilt. Take your time when sewing around curves so you don’t overshoot turns.
Sewing the Sandwiches Into Rows
If you have only done traditional quilting or sewing before, this step is going to take concentration. Rag quilts are sewn with WRONG sides together. That is, the backing of each sandwich faces each other. Remember, we WANT the seams to show on the front. This quilt is sewn with 1″ seam allowance so that you have a nice thick ruffle when you are done. The 1″ seam is also a bit more forgiving for those new to sewing.
I used a diagonal pattern for the applique placements on this quilt. If you prefer a different layout, then feel free to adjust it to your liking. Following is the order of green square and applique squares by row that I used. Remember to be careful that all your appliques face the same way so you don’t wind up with one upside down.
Row 1: Hat, Empty, Bat, Hat, Empty
Row 2: Bat, Hat, Empty, Bat, Hat
Row 3: Empty, Bat, Hat, Empty, Bat
Row 4: Hat, Empty, Bat, Hat, Empty
Row 5: Bat, Hat, Empty, Bat, Hat
Row 6: Empty, Bat, Hat, Empty, Bat
Assembling the Quilt
Now that your rows are created, you need to sew the rows together to finish the quilt assembly. While you may not have needed to pin the sandwiches in the row assembly, you will need to pin the larger rows together to keep the alignment straight. I like to start pinning from the middle of a row and working my way out to better align my seams.
The rows are assembled using a 1″ seam allowance again. Refer to the row listing above to help get your rows in the right order.
Adding the Border
Since this is a rag quilt, we want to keep the ragged feel in the border as well. To keep that feel, each side of the border is 3 pieces.
Assemble the 4 border pieces as follows.
5″x16″ is sewn end to end (1″ allowance just like the other sandwiches) to 5″x27″. Then the other 5″x16″ is sewn (1″ allowance) to the free end of the 5″x27″ piece. Repeat so you have two strips 57″ long. These are the top and bottom border.
5″x15″ is sewn end to end (1″ allowance just like the other sandwiches) to 5″x28″. Then the other 5″x15″ is sewn (1″ allowance) to the free end of the 5″x28″ piece. Repeat so you have two strips 56″ long. These are the two side borders and will be added first.
Now, pin one of the side borders to a side of the rag quilt. This is back to back, same as all rag quilt assembly. Join with a 1″ seam. Repeat on the other side of the quilt.
After both side borders are added, your top and bottom borders will fit from the outside edge of the border across to the other outside edge of border on the other side of the quilt.
Pin a border to the top of the quilt and sew, using the same assembly method you’ve used for the rest of the quilt. Repeat with the bottom border.
Once the quilt is assembled, sew around the outside edge with a 1″ seam allowance to create your border.
Using the rag quilt clippers (I promise, these are well worth the small purchase. The spring-loaded open helps your hands and the snub nose makes it less likely you will accidentally clip too far.), carefully clip all of your seam allowances. You will clip about 3/4 of the way down the 1″ allowance and clip every 1/4″ or so. This starts the fraying process.
When clipping, I like to keep one finger under the allowance and against the actual stitches on the other side so I can feel the edge and make sure the fabric underneath does not bunch and get caught in the scissors.
I wash and dry my rag quilts at home. There are a few precautions I take to protect the quilt and the plumbing. First, wash the quilt with a few CLEAN white towels. Add 1/4 vinegar and no detergent to the wash. If you have a fabric you think may bleed, be sure to use color catchers. The vinegar wash helps set colors but better safe than sorry. To dry, I dry rag quilts in stages. I dry them on medium in 15 minute bursts and clean the lint trap each time. Like with the wash, the towels will gather many of the cast off threads as the fraying process continues.
Copyright and Use
After several recent discussions with quilting friends I realized how confusing this is to many so I want to take a moment to spell out the uses of this pattern in super easy terms.
Do hit the share buttons below to pin or share to social media.
Do copy the link to this pattern to share it.
Don’t sell this pattern.
Don’t copy and paste this pattern elsewhere.
Don’t copy the photos and paste them elsewhere.
Don’t claim this pattern, instructions, or photos as your own work.
Do feel free to sell quilts made with this pattern/tutorial (although it would be a nice gesture if you’ll donate a quilt of some size to a worthy cause if you do).
Why do I care when I posted this without cost to you? Well, like many Internet writers, I get paid based on advertising. The more people click this page and (hopefully) do business with the advertisers on this page, the better chance I have of paying for the fabric that went into this quilt and paying for groceries. Think of it like TV. You watch TV for free because the advertisements pay the TV providers.
Thanks for reading. Go, quilt, enjoy your Halloween rag quilt!!!