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Thread: Newbie with Rag Quilting Worries

  1. #1
    Member AllTheLovely's Avatar
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    Newbie with Rag Quilting Worries

    Hello Everyone! Thank goodness for boards like this... not too many people out there quilt anymore and I have questions.

    I'm making a rag quilt as a gift for my sister. Cotton top, flannel batting, flannel backing. I am also fairly new to sewing and this is only my second ever quilt (my first was a 'quilt' quilt and took me forever and almost mentally and emotionally killed me - I'm a perfectionist with horrible math skills... so I took up quilting for fun... ha! )

    Here's my question. As I'm making my rag quilt sandwiches and sewing the 'x' on each, I've got a lot of shifting of the 3 layers. I'm using a walking foot (which maybe isn't walking as well as it should). But nonetheless, I'm concerned that I should address this issue - trimming each sandwich by getting rid of the exposed layers before I start sewing my rows together. Make everything look neat and tidy, etc.

    This is where I would attach pics, but I can't figure that out either... I'm suprised my family lets me leave the house on my own...


    I've read that rag quilts are very forgiving, so I'm hoping this is just me worrying too much. I'd hate to spend all the time trimming, only to discover I've created other more serious issues that pop up later. Anyone else have this problem? Should I just leave as is and have a glass of wine to relax?

    Thanks so much!
    Sarah

  2. #2
    Super Member woody's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry about trimming each square, when they are clipped and ragged it will not be noticable at all. Have a glass of wine and relax, quilting should be fun and not stressful
    The biggest risk is the one not taken

  3. #3
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    Please don't stress over this, you won't even know that it's not "square" by the time it gets through ragging, but one word of advice, take it to a commercial laundramat to wash and dry it.

  4. #4
    Member AllTheLovely's Avatar
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    Thank you! Feeling better, but if I could figure out how to post pics, you'd see that some of the worst edge/corners have almost a half centimetre of exposed flannel sticking out... I hope these quilts are as forgiving as I've been told they are.

    I was so careful with my cutting. I used a rotary cutter and the June Tailor "Shape Cut" tool for rotary cutters so I could make sure my cutting would be straight and I still ended up wonky. I think you either have the magic cutting touch or you don't. If this one works out, rag quilts may be my only future quilt projects.

  5. #5
    Super Member quilts4charity's Avatar
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    Can you loosen the pressure on your foot a bit???? That might help......

  6. #6
    Super Member carolaug's Avatar
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    pin them together...or you also cound use a spray bast or glue.

  7. #7
    Super Member tesspug's Avatar
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    I put some little stick on rubber dots on my shape cutter to keep it from sliding. I've heard you can put sandpaper dots on the back too. After you wash and dry your rag quilt if anything is noticeable you can trim it then.

  8. #8
    Member AllTheLovely's Avatar
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    Good ideas, everyone... thanks again so much!

    How do I loosen pressure on the walking foot? I've been having trouble beginning my 'x' lines - the foot doesn't want to walk with so little fabric behind it - all the fabric starts binding/waving up. Lots of cursing in my craft room today. I've been holding the sandwich down tight on either side of the foot at the beginning of my 'x' to keep the fabric from waving. Then I can relax once the fabric is far enough behind the foot. But I still can't start the stitch line right at the beginning corner, or the fabric will wave up on me.

    How important is it that the 'x' reach the edge of each corner? I have maybe a 3 to 4 mm space before my stitch line begins on each sandwich (finishing the line is not a problem... the lines go right to the corner where I end my stitches.)

    I washed the flannel in hot water twice and dryed it hoping it would tighten up the weave a bit and I wouldn't have so many stretch issues with the flannel... guess it didn't work. I will have to try the sandpaper or rubber dots ideas. I did all of the cutting on our living room floor (hardwood) on a rotary cutting mat, with my body weight on top of the Shape Cutter or ruler to keep the slippage down. Guess that didn't work either.

    It's nice to know that you have all had these issues (you have, right!?) yet still love to quilt.

    Sarah

  9. #9
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllTheLovely View Post
    Hello Everyone! Thank goodness for boards like this... not too many people out there quilt anymore and I have questions.
    This part of your question made me laugh. Take look at this survey from 2010. http://www.quilts.com/announcements/...0_OneSheet.pdf

    Quilting is a $3.58 billion industry, with over 21 million quilters. They estimate that 14% of US households are home to at least 1 active quilter. That's a lot of quilters!

  10. #10
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    Sometimes our machines want to "eat" the corners where we start the stitching, as in where you begin your X. Try holding on to your threads behind the foot, maybe pull a little, as you start to stitch until it gets going. Or try using a starter piece of fabric just in front of your block. Then you can start in the middle of the starter piece instead of a corner and just keep sewing right on to your block. I like pulling on the threads the best. Good luck!

  11. #11
    Member AllTheLovely's Avatar
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    Hi dunster,
    I have one living family member who still quilts (she lives on the other side of Canada) and one person I know who is just an acquaintance I could ask questions, but no one I could just pick up a phone and get answers from asap. Everyone is so busy or working, etc. I have seen, from going into a couple of the (smaller) local quilt/fabric stores in my area of Niagara region, Ontario, that the women who run the stores are so pleased to see new blood taking up this art form. It's like being welcomed into someone's family with no questions asked, no judgements. (one woman gave me a hug!) I've also had some kind of negative experiences in bigger stores where they just don't seem to care for my questions or are not happy I had to bring my young boys shopping with me. I know the 'stink-eye' when I see it.
    That's why, for me, a forum like this in invaluable.... some of those 21 million quilters are on here!

    And I have to add - you quilters in the States are so lucky to have access to such amazing fabric selections. I have to order most of what I love thru Etsy. Even with major Canadian cities fairly close to me, I still can't find Tula Pink or Kate Spain, Sandi Hendersen (Secret Garden I'm using in this rag quilt), etc. Maybe one or two pieces in a collection, but not the whole thing. And fabric is so much more expensive up here. Very frustrating.

  12. #12
    Member AllTheLovely's Avatar
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    Great idea, suern3... have to try that tomorrow as I finish the sandwiches!

  13. #13
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    When I made my rag quilt, I also used a layer of cotton for the front, flannel for the batting, and flannel for the backing. I didn't sew the "X" on the individual blocks. The "X" is used when you use batting because the batting is cut smaller than the other fabrics and needs to be held into place. Without the "X" the batting would get all wadded up inside the pocket made by the front and back fabrics. Because the batting layer is flannel and cut the same as the top and bottom, it will be secured in the seams. My rag quilt is washed at least every 2 weeks during the cooler months and it has held up beautifully!
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    Read up on Bonnie Hunter's Leaders and Enders to help with the issue of starting and stopping. Her website is www.quiltville.com and is a great site for info and free patterns.

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    A smart seamstress told me the beginning of a denim or thick fabric sandwich is uphill for the pressure foot and needs the same thickness to begin easily. So, a small scrap near the same thickness as you wish to sew as a starter would eliminate that struggle at the beginning of a block. I learn this 60 years after I learn to sew...It just goes to show how a quilting board like this can be so useful.

  16. #16
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    Maybe this is a dumb question but did you pin your layers together and are your feed dogs up?

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    As already stated you do not need to sew an X is you are not using batting.

    Also if you want to sew an X on the rest of your sandwiches, you do not need to start in the corners. You will be having a big seam allowance (up to an inch/2cm) and you do not need to stitch into the seam allowance.

    Your flannel layer will show when you do the snips, (unless you cut it smaller than the outer layers (then you would need an X). The flannel will add to the ragged edges and it will look good.

    When you get to the snipping stage your snips do not all have to be the same distance apart. The closer the more ragged the result.
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  18. #18
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    Don't stress and don't bother trimming your squares. I would suggest you might want to lengthen your stitch length a tick. That might help with the shifting.

  19. #19
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    Are you sewing the squares without basting, might be why there is some shifting i would try a little basting spray
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  20. #20
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllTheLovely View Post
    Hi dunster,
    I have one living family member who still quilts (she lives on the other side of Canada) and one person I know who is just an acquaintance I could ask questions, but no one I could just pick up a phone and get answers from asap. Everyone is so busy or working, etc. I have seen, from going into a couple of the (smaller) local quilt/fabric stores in my area of Niagara region, Ontario, that the women who run the stores are so pleased to see new blood taking up this art form. It's like being welcomed into someone's family with no questions asked, no judgements. (one woman gave me a hug!) I've also had some kind of negative experiences in bigger stores where they just don't seem to care for my questions or are not happy I had to bring my young boys shopping with me. I know the 'stink-eye' when I see it.
    That's why, for me, a forum like this in invaluable.... some of those 21 million quilters are on here!

    And I have to add - you quilters in the States are so lucky to have access to such amazing fabric selections. I have to order most of what I love thru Etsy. Even with major Canadian cities fairly close to me, I still can't find Tula Pink or Kate Spain, Sandi Hendersen (Secret Garden I'm using in this rag quilt), etc. Maybe one or two pieces in a collection, but not the whole thing. And fabric is so much more expensive up here. Very frustrating.
    Oh, well, you didn't say you were in Canada. We are indeed lucky in the US that we have so many fabric stores, and our fabric is not as expensive as elsewhere. I lived for 4 years in northern BC, and during that time was not a quilter, but I did have one occasion when I needed to buy fabric to make curtains. After trying to shop locally (closest big down, Prince George - only 2.5 hours away) I wound up buying it online and having it shipped to my son's home in the US. A few of my neighbors made a quilt for a raffle every year to benefit the community center (small community named - you'll never guess - Dunster!) Those quilts were genuine folk art. I always bought tickets, but never won. I wish I had asked them to teach me to quilt, because they were true artists.

  21. #21
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    I've always had better luck starting seams like that when the needle is down (in the fabric). Whenever I don't do that, inevitably the fabric and thread bunch up in a wad and I have a mess to pick through for the next five minutes.....

  22. #22
    Super Member lalaland's Avatar
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    Just wondering, is your middle piece smaller than your top and bottom piece? It kind of sounds like you cut all 3 pieces the same size. If you put a pin in the center, that should keep the 3 pieces from shifting.
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  23. #23
    Member AllTheLovely's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for your replies and ideas. I guess I deserve a collective eye roll. No - I did't baste/pin my layers. Every tutorial I watched on the 'net showed the quilter zipping thru those sandwiches, easy peasy. Of course, if you're posting a video tute on the 'net, you probably have more sewing experience than me! I had thought, "wonderful, a step I can skip!"

    Will have to invest in the basting spray. I hate pinning.

    To dunster - isn't it crazy how hard it is to find designer prints in Canada!? I also do needle felting and wet felting and was dismayed to find how difficult it was to find supplies in my area. Also dismayed by the expense. My husband, too! Credit card company loves me, though!

    I was chatting with a woman thru Etsy who makes rag quilts. She lives in Saskatchewan, so I was curious about where she bought her fabric cheaply when I can't find it here and not for any price where I could sell a quilt for the prices was listing. She said that every few months, she drives a few hours to get into the States and then stocks up on hundreds of dollars worth of fabric. Is it just me, or is that just kinda sad and unfair to us Canadian sewing enthusiasts? Sometimes it feels like Canada is on the other side of the world.

  24. #24
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    I have made several rag quilts recently. I will post a picture of one I made with cotton for the top, osnaburg for the middle, and flannel for the back. I cut all three the same size and put my x through each square. Turned out great. I am a new quilter and find the rag quilts to be very forgiving. The most important thing is to use the laundromat! Have fun with your quilts!

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  25. #25
    Member AllTheLovely's Avatar
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    Sue1765 - Your quilt is gorgeous! Love the hot air balloons and boy theme (I have 2 little boys)! Question for you - what is osnaburg?
    I know I don't need the 'x' if all of my pieces are the same size, but I love the 'quilted' look it gives... and I'm using 8" squares to begin, so that added texture the 'x' gives is so appealing to me.

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