How to Make a Rag Quilt: Step-by-Step Guide

New to Quilting? Don’t Fray! Learn How to Make a Rag Quilt in Our Guide

Actually, we shouldn’t have told you not to fray in the first place! How to make a rag quilt that looks great? Use at least one fabric that will fray a lot—you want to achieve the characteristic frayed effect on the seam allowances.

Inspired already? Keep reading—more appetizing pieces of advice are yet to come.

We’re about to reveal:

    • how to make a baby rag quilt,
    • what is the average size of a baby quilt,
    • how many 5 inch squares to make a lap quilt, 
    • how to quilt as you go, and more!

How do you make a rag quilt?

According to Janet Panic, to make a rag quilt, you should ‌follow these steps:

    1. gather your sewing supplies and materials,
    2. cut your fabric,
    3. assemble the quilt stacks,
    4. mark the stack for quilting,
    5. quilt the squares,
    6. plan your design—you can make your design organized or random, with all the mixing up involved. Ensure that the same fabrics are not too close together for a random feel.
    7. sew the stacks together,
    8. create and attach the rows,
    9. sew around the quilt,
    10. clip the seams,
    11. wash and enjoy!

Gold and blue quilt
Image source: Suzy Quilts

What makes rag quilts unique is that they have exposed seams that fray when washed. 

We’ll typically use two to four layers of fabric—one of which should fray for a frayed effect on the seam allowances. You can also use fleece on the back to make your creations softer. (read more on Sew Can She)

How to make a rag quilt with fleece?

Fleece is a soft and warm material frequently used for crafts to keep your rag quilt warm for years to come.

When making the bottom layer of your rag quilt, use fleece, minky, or another layer of flannel, to give it an extra-soft but less frayed look. 

How to make a rag quilt
Image source: Pinterest

The frayed decorative effect is far from being hard to achieve while being oh-so-fancy to look at. 

Some high-fraying fabrics to use are

Medium-fraying fabrics (by Sew Can She):

    • high-quality quilting cotton,
    • linen,
    • cotton sateens,
    • high-quality silk (a pretty costly choice to make, though);

Speaking of using old fabrics found at home, check out our takes on upcycle meaning and definition, upcycling fashion, and upcycle fabric scraps. You may also fancy these upcycling ideas

Lea from Inspired Quilting by Lea Louise notices that these cozy accessories can become outstanding personalized memory quilts by simply using 

    • your old shirts, 
    • baby blankets,
    • flannel sheets,
    • children’s clothing, or even
    • old school uniforms;

You can use everything, from old clothes to fabric scraps that you particularly like—memory quilts are a brilliant way to preserve the memories of special people and moments.

Rag quilt kits
Image source: Pinterest

How to make a rag quilt with batting? 

Here’s a neat guide by The Cottage Mama to help you grasp the idea. 

    1. Cut (42) 10” x 10” squares of backing flannel fabric and 3 ¼ yards of fabric to cut (42) 10-inch squares.
    2. Cut (42) 8 ½” x 8 ½” squares of batting (use white battling for the light-colored squares to ensure it doesn’t show through). 

With lots of fabric blocks and squares of batting, you’re one step from having a finished quilt. Also, you can make rag quilts without batting.

    1. Lay a flannel square wrong side up and center a batting square on the flannel and top with a layer cake piece right-side up.  

On The Sewing Loft Blog, we read that a “layer cake” is a sewing term used to describe a collection of 42 10-inch squares of fabric grouped by pattern, color family, or design line in a pre-cut pack of fabric. And since we’re talking about fabric sets, there are also quilting fabric bundles to discover. 

You now have two wrong sides of the fabric, and the batting is inside. Pin this mini creation together with two pins. 

Rag quilt step by step quide
Image source: The Cottage Mama

    1. Sew an “X” across each square. 

A walking presser foot can be helpful when stitching your X. Yet, if you don’t have it at hand, pin your fabrics tightly and simply lift the presser foot from time to time to keep the layers from sliding. 

You can get imaginative at this stage. For instance, transform your plain squares into an inventive embroidery personalization—it may even be a distinct pattern for each block. Learn how to sew or find out how to applique on a quilt

    1. Arrange your blocks six blocks wide by seven down and stitch them in rows with backing sides using a 5/8 inch seam. 
    1. Stitch the rows together and then stitch all the way around the quilt 5/8 inch from the edges.
    1. Clipping time! Clip all seams and outside edge at about 3/8 inch intervals (don’t clip the seam’s stitching).  
    1. It’s crucial to wash a rag quilt to get the exposed edges fuzzy and make your project soft and cuddly. Consider using a commercial washer and dryer for a vast quilt instead of stuffing your home appliance to the extreme.

How to sew a rag quilt
Image source: Sew Can She

How to make a strip quilt? Dig into Stitchin Post In Sisters for “Quick Strip Quilt Tutorial” to explore this fresh and exciting idea. 

Rag quilts work great as gifts for

    • babies (we’ll explain how to make a baby quilt in the next paragraph), 
    • newlyweds, 
    • favorite friends, even without occasion!—suggests The Spruce Crafts

Before gifting a rag quilt, 

    1. have a chat with the recipient to be about their favorite colors and patterns (without revealing the surprise!),
    2. photograph it—why shouldn’t you be incredibly proud of the projects you worked so bloody hard on?—so take a photo and publish it on your social media to get some kudos that every quilter loves,
    3. wrap it up with love—fold the quilt right-sides together, in a way that the front remains hidden before you wrap it in a nice-looking paper. Pack your rag quilt either rolled or folded. In the end, tie your gift with a fancy ribbon and place it in a gift bag. You can also add a sweet, little hand-written note including care instructions (or add care labels when you are still in the production phase);  

How to make a rag quilt tutorial
Image source: Inspired Quilting by Lea Louise

Should you wash a quilt before gifting it?

“Washing a quilt gives it that lovely wrinkly, soft look and feel”

Fabric and Flowers share a hint.

Also, if you wash your rag quilt before handing it, you don’t risk the recipient ruining it when they toss it into the washer for the first time. Wouldn’t it be a pity to learn that your gift got destroyed after only a week or two of being used?

You can completely customize your rag quilt projects by choosing different 

    1. types of fabric (check out also types of cotton fabric and types of polyester fabric), 
    2. designs—both print fabrics for more of a boho style feel and solid colors for a more elegant look, 
    3. colors, and
    4. sizes;

Another effective method for customizing and upgrading your projects—whether they are garments, quilts, or other textile-based undertakings—is adding different types of woven labels produced by the Super Label Store

are what you need if you’re a DIY/clothing crafter at home, textile/sewing fanatic, small/starting clothing brand, fashion designer, or the owner/manager of a hotel, bar, or other hospitality business. 

Customize your textile, clothing, towels, sheets, and accessories with a few simple clicks on the Super Label Store website. 

So, how to make a rag quilt?

To make a rag quilt, you will need 

    1. fabric (read fabric sewing quilting to learn about particular layers), 
    2. batting, 
    3. a sewing machine (looking for the best sewing machine for quilting?), 
    4. thread (all about quilting thread), and 
    5. scissors;  

—writes Quilters Candy

How to make a rag quilt YouTube video by Monica Skov will be an excellent introduction to the further steps:

Rag quilt fabric calculator

Rag quilt projects require some counting prior to putting these creative ideas into practice. 

So, let’s tackle the numbers! 

What size are quilt squares? Or rather, what are the best size squares for patchwork quilt?

You’ll typically need to prepare a certain amount of 

    • 5″, 
    • 6″, or 
    • 10″ 

squares of fabric to create a rag quilt. 

This quilting style requires more fabric because

    1. it includes the top and the liner,
    2. you make larger seams than in traditional quilting;

It’s essential to know that because of the seam allowance and shrinkage, the finished size of each square will be about 1.5 inches less than the starting size—reminds Jubilee Fabric.

Rag quilt tutorial
Image source: The Cottage Mama

Are you wondering how many 5″, 6″, or 10″ squares you need in order to make

    • small,
    • twin,
    • full,
    • queen, and
    • king-sized quilt? 

Check out the chart below for approximate rag quilt sizes in relation to the number of squares needed, created with the help of Jubilee Fabric:

Size How many 5-inch squares to make a quilt (how many 5×5 squares to make a quilt)  How many 6-inch squares to make a quilt How many 10-inch squares to make a quilt

Small — 32″ x 56″

288 squares

(9 sq x 16 sq) 

168 squares

(7 sq x 12 sq)  

Not recommended making

Twin — 70″ x 91″

1040 squares

(20 sq x 26 sq)

600 squares

(15 sq x 20 sq)

176 squares

(8 sq x 11 sq)

Full — 84″ x 91″

1248 squares

(24 sq x 26 sq)

760 squares

(19 sq x 20 sq)

220 squares

(10 sq x 11 sq)

Queen — 91″ x 95″

1404 squares

(26 sq x 27 sq)

840 squares

(20 sq x 21 sq)

242 squares

(11 sq x 11 sq)

King — 108″ x 108″

Not recommended making

1152 squares

(24sq x 24sq)

338 squares

(13sq x 13sq)

With this chart, you’ll answer how many 10 inch squares in a queen size quilt

If you are not a strong player when math is involved, you can use an alternative method. 

Take pieces of 6″ (or 5″ or 10″) square paper and lay them out to get the dimensions of the quilt you would like to end up with. After deciding on the size of the quilt top, calculate the amount you need for backing—suggests donna jean on Quilting Board.

You can change the number and size of squares in the quilt to make it larger or smaller.

Purchasing a ready kit lets you get to quilting instantly, without the monotonous counting, preparation, and cutting phrase. There are rag quilt kits, i.e., a package with the already pre-cut fabrics, ready to buy. You can find them, for example, on Etsy

Let’s see the fabric requirements for two different sizes of rag quilts

    • a baby size and 
    • a lap size;

Easy rag quilt tutorial
Image source: The Cottage Mama

How much fabric for a baby quilt?

What size is a baby quilt? A crib quilt (another name for a baby quilt) is usually 36″ x 52″. It’s a standard size—it fits nicely over a crib mattress (typically of 28″ x 52″). So if you ever ask, “how much fabric do I need for a baby quilt,” most responses will refer to this size. 

There is an important safety note: the American Association of Pediatrics recommends keeping a bare crib with no heavy quilts or blankets. Keep quilts from your baby’s crib until your little one is six months old or older for infant safety. 

What are the dimensions of a baby quilt? According to Craftsy, another two common baby quilt sizes are

    • 30″ x 30″—perfect for newborns who will outgrow it fast; the quilt can later become a play mat or a carry-along “just in case” quilt; for this size, you only need one yard of fabric for the backing (find out more about quilt backing fabric);
    • 30″ x 40″—for fans of rectangular-shaped accessories; you can still easily use yardage for the backing without having to piece it;

Yet, it doesn’t mean that you have to make all of your baby quilts using these measurements—advises Isee Stars Quilting. Get your creative juices flowing and develop your own ideas for sizes and proportions if you feel like it!

Use the table below by Silver Bobbin to experiment with sizes and discover what are the dimensions of a baby quilt:

Quilt size

Square size

Number of squares

30” X 30”

4”

49

30” X 30”

5”

36

30” X 40”

4”

70

30” X 40”

5”

48

36” X 52”

6”

48

36” X 52”

12”

12-13

46” X 60”

5”

108

46” X 60”

12”

15

How big should a baby quilt be? A 36” X 52” baby quilt, coming in at a much larger size than the average newborn blanket, will be perfect. It can stay with the baby through much of their early childhood.

What is the best size of squares for a rag quilt?

Especially when we consider smaller baby/crib rag quilts, four and five-inch squares are perfect. These size squares align with easy, approachable projects that beginners can make without complications. 

It’s a size enthusiastically used by many quilters, thus its popularity, making this size’s designs and patterns easy to find online.

Twelve-inch squares are not less popular for baby rag quilts, as you will only need a few of these to make a whole baby quilt in no time.

How to make a baby quilt tutorial
Image source: Quilting Digest

How to make a baby quilt blanket?

To find out how to make a baby quilt for beginners, watch “My First Quilt – Episode 7 – How to Make a Baby Quilt” by Quilt Videos. It’s an exhaustive and very cheerful explanation of the process:

Sara, the author of the video, not only shows how to arrange the squares but also presents two variations of the same quilt: simple or more dazzly, depending on the fabrics and additions made.

From the Silver Bobbin, we learn that the most popular fabric types to use in baby quilts are

    • organic quilting cotton, 
    • quilting cotton, and 
    • cotton flannel;

How to make a flannel rag quilt, and how to make a rag quilt with cotton fabric? Discover “One-Hour Flannel Rag Quilt! Easy Quilting Tutorial with Kimberly Jolly of Fat Quarter Shop”:

No wonder many quilters, especially those with kids, prefer using organic cotton. It’s safer for a baby’s sensitive skin and contains no chemicals or pesticides.

Cotton makes the best baby quilts fabric because you’re free to throw it in your washing machine without ruining it. Plus, there’s nothing as delightful as being able to wash your kiddo’s mess in a washer without worries. 

Cotton

    • is excellent at absorbing moisture, 
    • features top-notch breathability, and 
    • has a lovely soft feel (use a cotton flannel if you want an extra-soft cotton fabric);

Be aware that synthetic fabric, like polyester, may cause an allergic reaction in some infants. All-natural fabric like cotton is always the best choice for your baby rag quilt.

Sewing with quilting cotton
Image source: We All Sew

Lap quilt size for adults

Parents will enjoy a 50” X 65” lap quilt or throw that they can wrap themselves together with their kiddo.

46” X 60” is the most popular size for a lap quilt, notices Silver Bobbin. Yet, there are plenty of variations in sizing simply because this type of quilt doesn’t have to fit any standard-sized mattress. 

Lap quilts are petite versions of traditional quilts, yet they should be large enough to cover a seated adult comfortably. 

If you decide to use the most typical measurements, you’ll find plenty of free patterns or quilt blocking designs online!

There is a wheelchair lap blanket—discover it on Silver Bobbin

Other popular sizes for a lap quilt include: 

    • 36” X 48” and a 
    • 36” X 36” square; 

Ready to wrap yourself in your new rag quilt? 

Read “A Quick Quilt History” on Suzy Quilts and our blogs about

    1. how to bind a quilt
    2. how to make a barn quilt, and
    3. how to tie a quilt;

Have a fantastic cuddling session! 

How to make a strip quilt
Image source: Quilters Candy

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