Rag Quilting Tips
Rag Quilting History: When rag quilting first became popular the recommended fabric was either all flannel or a mixture of homespun and flannel. As quilter’s began experimenting with different fabric combinations, the use of regular 100% cotton or even chenille products such as “minky” combined with flannel have produced some stunning rag quilts.
Fabric Selection: When using a variety of fabrics for the quilt top such as a mix of 100% cotton, flannel, and minky if desired, it is recommended you use all flannel squares for the back of the quilt. (This will give you softness on the back of the quilt and a nicer “bloom” on the front side of the quilt.)
Patterns: If you have never rag quilted before, check out our Store for a selection of rag quilting patterns.
To Bat or Not to Bat: Some do, some don’t. This is totally a personal choice. Batting does add extra weight and warmth. If you live in a warmer climate you may wish to forego batting.
Types of Batting: You can either use traditional quilt batting (many prefer 100% cotton) or flannel as batting which is sometimes referred to in patterns as “the middle layer”. If you use traditional batting, cut the batting squares twice the seam allowance smaller than your fabric square, e.g., if you are using a 1” seam allowance on an 8” fabric square, the batting square should be 6” (1” + 1” = 2” 8” – 2” = 6” batting square). If using flannel as the batting, it should be the same size as the top and back square. Using flannel will give you an extra couple of layers of “bloom” on the front side of the quilt. This is a popular option for baby quilts.
Seam Allowance Size: The size of the seam allowance is another personal choice and can be anywhere from ½” to 1”. The general rule of thumb is the smaller the square, the smaller the seam. If your fabric squares are 5” or under, you probably want to use a ½” seam allowance, between 6” & 7” consider using a ¾” seam, and over 8” try a 1” seam. You don’t want to have a seam so large that it covers most of the center portion of the square, nor do you want to have a seam so narrow that it makes the ragging look skimpy. If you are new to rag quilting, you may want to experiment with some scraps to achieve the look you prefer.
Sewing Machine Foot: It is recommended you use a sewing machine presser foot designed for sewing through multiple layers. This foot is often called a walking foot, dual-feed foot or even-feed foot.
Sewing those X’s: For some of us (not me) you can pretty much eyeball that perfectly straight line when stitching an “X” on the fabric sandwiches. If you need a little help, finger press or iron* a light crease on each top square by bringing the diagonal corners together. (*Don’t do this on minky squares). Speaking of the X’s, you don’t need to sew them all the way to the ends. As long as they are past where you intend to have your seam allowance it will be fine. For instance, if you will be using a 1” seam allowance, start and stop your “X” ¾” in from the corners. (This will allow for easier clipping and a little less bulk at the intersections.)
Sewing Seams Together: If you are using traditional batting, make sure to “barely” catch the batting in the seam allowance. This is especially important when making a quilt with larger squares. The “X” doesn’t always hold all the batting in place. In the washing process the batting can shift and twist causing unsightly lumps and bumps which cannot be removed without ripping the seams apart. Don’t ask me how I know this!
Clipping the Seams: It is recommended you invest in a pair of spring-loaded scissors especially designed for rag quilting.
If you have any other tips or tricks you would like to share with others, I’d love to hear from you and include them in future editions. And remember, don’t do all that hand clipping in one sitting!
2010. All rights reserved. These tips are for personal use only and are not to be posted on other eBay sites/websites (reportable violation of eBay's Images & Text Policy) or photocopied for resale, distribution or commercial purposes. Prepared exclusively for Cozy Cabin Charm.