Rag quilts usually consist of a large number of medium-sized blocks sewn together in a patchwork-like design. The size of the blocks generally ranges from between 7 inches and 12 inches. Following are instructions for making a rag quilt.
1. Decide on the size of the quilt you want to make.
2. Cut your fabric into square blocks. The number of square blocks required depends on the size of the quilt you are planning to make.
3. The finished size of each square will be about 1 1/2 inches less than the size you started with, so make appropriate calculations before cutting the fabric.
4. Now cut the same number of batting squares. The size of these batting squares should be 1 3/4 inches smaller than the fabric squares which were cut previously.
5. Put a batting square between two fabric squares and use pins to hold them together.
6. Now stitch across all three layers, from one corner to the other, forming an X and using a machine stitch (be sure to use a small and really tight stitch).
7. Repeat the first six steps on all the squares.
8. Stitch the layered squares together, making a 5/8-inch seam and ensuring that the batting stays within the squares. You should also make sure not to extend into the seam allowance.
9. Start stitching the rows together in a way that matches the seams on each row.
10. Piece all the squares together as described above.
11. Now stitch around the outer edges of the quilt, keeping all the seam allowances about a 1/2-inch deep and about a 1/2-inch apart. This includes the outer edge as well.
12. After you have finished stitching all the squares together, wash the final product in the washing machine on cold, letting it work on loosening the threads. If necessary, use some liquid fabric softener or some other similar product.
You should also clip the edges around each block before washing to facilitate loosening threads.
13. Just before drying, take it out and shake it really well.
14. Shake the quilt once again after it's dry.
15. Now you have your very own rag quilt (also known as a ragged quilt).
I have one caution with these wonderful raggedy quilts. I made a twin size one out of flannel and plugged up my sewer drain to the tune of $600 plumbing bill. Then thought maybe it was just a fluke, so I made a standard double size and did the same thing. $600 more. My advice...take it to the laundromat!
Machine Quilting - How to Prepare Your Quilt
Machine quilting is much easier and faster than hand-sewn quilting. These quilts are also more durable and can sustain much more wear and tear. However, when comparing the two processes, machine quilting requires a lot of pre-preparation. These preparation steps are essential, as they bring out the best in machine quilting. Following are a few tips on how to make a perfect quilt by machine.
The Top of the Quilt
To begin with, let's start with the top; make all the seams flat, then press. There will be a lot of loose threads. Make sure that you cut all of them; otherwise, these threads can show through the top, and if your quilt is light in color, this will make your quilt look like it has varicose veins. Mark a point on the quilt indicating that this is the top of your quilt. Check for any biased edges. If you have biased edges on the outside of your quilt, then you have to create a stay stitch with a straight 1/4-inch seam around the sides of the quilt.
Unlike with hand-sewn quilting, machine quilting will shrink the quilt. For example, you should allow for an extra 1 - 2 inches of space all around when machine quilting to account for shrinkage.
Buttons and Beads
Buttons and beads should not be attached before the top has been quilted. This could cause your needle to break as the quilt passes under the rollers. To be on the safe side, attach any embellishments after quilting the top.
The Back of the Quilt
Now that we have finished the top, let's begin on the back. You should keep in mind that the same thread that was used for the top should also be used for the back. You should also remember how much of the quilt will be exposed on the back. Normally, any kind of fabric (color, pattern, etc.) can be used. Remove any selvages and press the back where the seams will be to one side. Mark the top and the bottom of the fabric by turning a rotary cutter into a square cutter. Allow at least an extra 4 inches of backing on all four sides of the quilt. Mark the top right-hand edge with a small bell pin on a piece of paper; this will avoid confusion when you are loading the backing.
Prepare the batting and make sure that the back is as flat as possible. Check to see that the ends are even and the corners are squared off. As with the backing, maintain an extra 4 inches of batting all around the quilt. If you are using bag batting, remove from the bag and hang to remove all the wrinkles.
Storing the Quilt
Once you have finished your quilt, store it in a dry place where there is no moisture.
Quilting on Tissue Paper
You may have heard how many people quilt on such materials as rags, blankets, or even Quillows. But have you ever heard of quilting on tissue paper? It's true! You can quilt on tissue paper. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
You can purchase tissue paper in the form of pads, as individual sheets, or on a roll. For example, you could use the tissue paper that comes on rolls for making borders and designs, as well as long lashes for free motion quilting. One of the main benefits of tissue paper quilting is that you can see through it, making tracing easy, and you can make any number of designs by just simply reversing the original design, thus making it a new design.
How to Begin
First, you have to draw around the patch along the seam line. Then, you will have to trace the motif in place. You should make many copies of these motifs since tissue paper can be used only once. Here is a simple technique on how to do this. Layer up to 10 sheets of tissue paper with your chosen design on the topmost piece, and then pin them together. Now sew along the lines of the design with a medium stitch length. The design that is made is most visible when placed against darker colors. You may also need to connect the holes lightly with a pencil.
Pin all of the drawings to the basted quilt, aligning them to the seam lines. Preferably, longer stitches should be used. Later, you can easily tear away the tissue paper during quilting. Now quilt around all the lines of the motif with lock stitches and tear away the paper carefully.
With tissue on a roll, you can easily space motifs evenly to fill a border. Cut a length of tissue as long as the border and fold into equal lengths. Center and trace the motif in each section. Draw extra curves or loops to join the motifs.