Rag quilts remind me of vintage bedspreads that had exposed seams. This started me thinking of vintage colors and lots of white for a shabby chic feel. This vintage shabby chic style cross rag quilt was originally made for an elderly church member who had to move into a nursing home. That was the inspiration for the antique style print chosen for the cross of this quilt. Experiment with your colors and find what fits your personality when you make this quilt following the tutorial.
Finished Size roughly 83″x65″ – suitable for a twin bed
10 Squares 11″ in size of cross fabric
102 Squares 11″ in size of white fabric
56 Squares 9″ in size of batting
White or off-white cotton thread
Straight Edge (I use a heavy Tsquare from the hardware store that I took the T part off of)
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 than 10 yards of 108″ fabric. What fabric did you use in the example? The cross material is called Papillon and comes in 45″ width (44″ after selvage). The white is just white quilting cotton.
Cutting the Squares
To cut this many squares I find it easiest (and fastest) to use my rotary cutter to cut the fabric into 11″ strips. Then I make the cross cuts at 11″ to create 11″ squares. When cutting the batting, your cuts do not have to be as precise but try to get close to a 9″ square. The idea is for the batting to not show through the exposed seams.
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. For this quilt, the white direction shouldn’t matter so much but make sure you have your cross fabric facing out. Assemble 10 cross squares (white, batting, cross fabric) and then assemble the remaining 106 white squares into 53 sandwiches.
When pinning this size sandwich 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 even more crosses, go for 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.
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.
For this quilt, I find it easiest to start with the row that has the most cross fabric. That is, the cross arm row, row 4. This row should have 5 cross fabric sandwiches and a white sandwich on either end. After that, assemble the other cross fabric rows. They will all be 3 white, 1 cross, 3 white. When you run out of cross fabric you are down to the two all white rows. Of course, if you prefer to start at the top and work your way down, that’s fine too. I’m just a bit of an assembly line style person so I like to sew all similar patterns at in bulk.
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. Rather than starting on an end when you pin rows together, start in the middle to ensure your cross squares line up just right. If you are off a touch where white meets white it isn’t a big deal, but you want the cross itself straight.
The rows are assembled using a 1″ seam allowance again. Refer to the grid chart above for layout help if you need it. NOTE that because of the way your seam allowances will fold over during the row assembly process, your cross my look crooked when it isn’t. Stop, take a deep breath and don’t panic if they look crooked. Flip over the quilt and look at your back seams to reassure yourself it is just the allowance folds. Once the quilt is clipped, they’ll stand up instead of being folded over and the optical illusion will stop.
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 few dollar investment. 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 as your own. A cross is by no means an original design but my photographs and instructions are original.
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!!!