Monday, April 7, 2014

HOW TO MAKE A RAG QUILT

Our NNL quilting group decided to make baby quilts for Project Linus for our next project. (We are waiting for our quilt of valour to be machine quilted.) When I found out we could make rag quilts and that Fran and Janice both wanted to learn how, I decided I would teach them and make a tutorial to publish here on my blog.

I first started making rag quilts several years before I retired. My friend Ruth brought me a picture of a rag quilt kit in a catalog and asked me if we could make one. I had never seen a rag quilt before, but it looked simple enough in the picture. Well, I decided to do a search and found a site where a woman described how to make one.  

After reading the woman's directions, I told Ruth we could make them easier. Instead of using batting and cutting it a half inch smaller than the size of the square, we were going to just use flannel and cut it the same size. We would also use cotton for the top fabric but flannel for the backing. Another important thing we would do is wash the material before cutting.

Well, this worked out great and that is how we continued to make them. The other change we made was closely clipping the seam to "rag".The third quilt I made, I used both flannel and cotton on the top. Ruth made one and used flannel for the top. This made a very warm quilt, but a heavy one.


*For the baby quilts for Project Linus, we decided to use only two layers since we were going to use flannel for the top and back. We didn't want the quilt to be too heavy. You can see how nicely it "ragged" with just the two layers.














When I go shopping for fabric, I take along with me several ideas of different possible pattern designs. I really enjoy designing different patterns. I also can go on and figure out how much fabric I will need to buy to make each pattern. This saves a lot of time in the fabric store.


Since I only found 3 fabrics to coordinate, I decided I would use the "checkerboard" pattern. I would use the blue for the backing and then alternate the other two prints on the front. I thought the blue would look really good "ragged" on the front with the brown and cream.



After prewashing the material, I cut 5 inch wide strips across the width of the material using the fold as my guide for the straight of the material.



Then starting from the selvage ends of the strips, cut 5 inch squares.

You want to start from the "ends" because you might have enough left at the fold, that if you opened it out, you could cut another square.


You will be sewing "sandwiches" together to make the rag quilt. Normally this would be three layers, but for this rag quilt as I mentioned earlier, we would only use two layers - both being flannel. (I usually use one layer cotton and two layers of flannel when I make rag quilts.)

Always lay the backing square with right-side DOWN. Then place the front over the backing square with the right-side UP. (If you are using a square of flannel for the center, it doesn't matter which way you turn it. The color from the center will show either way. In fact, you chose the center for the color that you want to see on the top in the "rag".)

Since we were only using two layers for our Linus Project rag quilt and the squares were only cut 5 inches, we could have skipped sewing the two layers together, but I think it gives the blanket a "quilted" look. See....when people use actual batting for the center, the batting is cut 1/2 inch smaller than the cut fabric squares because it wouldn't look good in the seam when you clip it to "rag". The layers (sandwich) need to be sewed together to keep the batting in place since it is smaller. To do this, most sew diagonally across the "sandwich" both ways making an X.

Here are some TIPS to make it easier to make the sandwiches with an X:


Using a piece of blue painters tape, mark along the stitching line of your machine.




It is okay to start a little in from the edge....




When you start diagonally across the "sandwich", just keep the other point moving along the edge of the tape. That's where I keep my eye, not on the needle and where it is going down.


You can save some time by making a chain if you like... 





and then just cut the thread between... You don't need to backstitch at the beginning and end of this X.



After you have made the diagonal one way, make it the other way.



















Now you are ready to sew the "sandwiches" together to make the quilt. This is one of the nice things about making a rag quilt, when you sew the blocks (sandwiches) together, all you have to do is just clip the seams.


I lay the "sandwiches" down in the pattern to make sure I sew them together correctly.  











This next step is probably the hardest one for traditional quilters to get use to....the seam will be on the top not the back. So..to sew the blocks together, you will match up the backs facing. When you get ready to sew, have the block on the left on top. This will keep them in the right order.






Another thing to get used to is taking a 1/2 inch seam. Since I had my painters tape down, I decided to just draw a line 1/2 inch in from the edge. (Why? Because I started sewing the rows together before I had all of the sandwiches made and I didn't want to keep moving the tape.) Just like when sewing the diagonal, I could keep my eye on the end of the "sandwich" and the line I had drawn.


This is what it looks like after you get two "sandwiches" sewed together.








Then just keep adding the "sandwiches" until you have the desired number for the row.



Once you have two rows completed you can sew them together.  


Once you have two rows completed, you can sew them together.









You will need to match the seams together 












and I pin one side....









then stitch them together once again with a 1/2 inch seam.








Two rows together...




Once you have three rows together, you can start clipping the inner seams (if you like). When I leave all the clipping til the end, it seems like it takes forever to finish...I know, it really doesn't. I guess it is just a mental thing.) I clip the seams across the quilt first and then come back and do the  vertical seams. Save the outside edge to clip last. 

A "Must Tool" when making rag quilts is a pair of spring-loaded sharp pointed scissors. I have gone through several pairs in my life. The pair still in the package on the left is a new pair I found at Home Depot in the garden department by the check-out. They are labeled for pruning, but they are exactly like the pairs I have always used. AND at a much cheaper price. I like the plastic cover that came with them, also.

I like the looks of the "ragging" when the seams are closely clipped. It is important to remember to clip close to but not into the seam. If you accidentally do clip the seam, just resew the seam at that spot. You don't want to just leave the seam cut. It can easily get worse when the quilt is washed....and you don't want a "hole" in the seam.


Once all the rows are sewed together, stitch a 1/2 inch in from the edge all the way around the quilt. 







I should have told you to clip out a square at the corners.



Then you will clip around the edge also.




Once you have clipped the whole quilt, this is what it will look like.




I throw the finished quilt in the dryer to start the "ragging" process. You can use a low temperature setting on the dryer but will need to clean the dryer vent often.

Then I washed it in the washing machine. You don't have to use any soap or if you do, very little.


This is what it looked like after drying it this time.




Front and back...You can see the seams are "flat" on the back and nice and "fluffy" on the front.
















Specifics for this particular rag quilt:

3  different flannel prints 
9 squares x 9 squares or a total of 81 "sandwiches"
Each square is cut 5 inches
For the top, cut 40 of one print and 41 of the other print
For the back, cut 81 squares
Fabric needed (42 inches wide) - backing 1-5/8 yards
                                             top - 7/8 yards of one print
                                                      3/4 yards of the other one

The pattern design is

1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1
2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1
2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1
2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1
2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1

*1 - print (41 squares - 7/8 yards)
*2 - print (40 squares - 3/4 yards)


I hope this tutorial has been helpful for you and maybe even convince you just how easy it is to make a "rag quilt".  Would love to hear your comments.

REQUIREMENTS FOR MAKING A LARGER SIZE QUILT/BLANKET 

TWIN SIZE

For the least amount of clipping, I would recommend cutting the squares 9 inches. This will give you a finished 8 - inch square. With the increased size of this project, I would suggest that you clip completed sections as you go along. This way the task of clipping isn't so monumental. Just leave the outer edge to clip at the end.)

You probably will want to use three layers for extra warmth. The top layer can be either flannel or a cotton fabric. I would use a flannel for the middle layer and the back layer. The print does not matter for the middle layer. You want to choose color(s) that will look good in the clipped seam.

The quilt will be 8 squares x 11 squares. The odd numbered strips or rows will begin with print 1 and the even numbered strips or rows will begin with print 2 (to give you the checkered board pattern). With eight squares across you will be beginning the row with one print and ending the row with the other print. (Sorry it isn't symmetrical). If symmetry is important to you, the good news is the first and last strips or rows will be the same.

Material requirements: (Be sure to prewash material)


Print       # of 9 - inch squares         amount of material to buy (42 - 45 in wide)

Top:
 1 & 2          cut 44 squares                         2 - 7/8 yards 

Middle layer:
 3                cut 88 squares                         5 - 5/8 yards

Backing:
 4                cut 88 squares                         5 - 5/8 yards

FULL/QUEEN SIZE

I would recommend cutting the squares 10 inches for the full/queen size for a finished 9 inch square. The finished quilt/blanket will be 9 squares x 10 
squares. 

Material requirements: (Prewashed)

Print        # of 10 - inch squares      amount of material to buy (42 - 45 in wide)

Top:
 1 & 2           cut 45 squares                        3 - 1/3 yards

Middle layer:
 3                 cut 90 squares                        6 - 1/2 yards

Backing:
 4                 cut 90 squares                        6 - 1/2 yards

You will be making 5 strips/rows of 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 

and 5 strips/rows of 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2.

You will sew these strips together alternately to make a checker board pattern.  

General instructions are the same. 

UPDATE:  


I finished the second one recently and used a different pattern that I call An Overlapping Nine Patch. You can find that pattern HERE. I used a white flannel with lime polka dots for the back. You can see the white in the middle of the seam. You always want to think about what the color will be on the front when choosing the material for the back.










REQUIREMENTS FOR MAKING THE OVERLAPPING NINE PATCH:

TWIN SIZE

This pattern requires three different prints for the top - five total prints. (You can refer to the link above if you need to see the pattern drawn out) As with the checkered board quilt above, I would use three layers for extra warmth for a quilt/blanket. The fabric for the top can be either flannel or cotton, but I would use flannel for the middle layer and the backing. Choose the middle layer print for the color(s) that will show in the clipped seams.

Once again for the least amount of clipping, I would recommend cutting the squares 9 inches for a finished 8 - inch square.  (You can make the squares smaller - just remember it will be a lot more clipping because of the finished size of the quilt. With a project this big, I would also recommend that you clip in completed sections as you go.  This way the task of clipping doesn't seem so monumental. Just leave the outer edge to clip at the very end.)

The finished quilt will be 8 squares x 11 squares.  The pattern is basically two rows/strips - 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 and 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3.  You will make 5 of these sets and then the last row will repeat the first row. 

Material Requirements: (Remember to prewash fabric before cutting)

Print       # of 9 - inch squares         amount of material to buy (42 - 45 in wide)

Top:
1                cut 24 squares                          1 - 5/8 yards
2                cut 44 squares                          2 - 7/8 yards
3                cut 20 squares                          1 - 1/3 yards

Middle:
4                cut 88 squares                          5 - 5/8 yards

Back:
5                cut 88 squares                           5 - 5/8 yards

FULL/QUEEN SIZE:

For this size, I would recommend cutting the squares 10 inches for a finished 9 inch square. The quilt will be 9 squares x 10 squares and be made of five (5) rows/strips of 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 and five (5) rows/strips of 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2. You will sew these strips together alternately to complete the pattern.

Material required: (prewashed)

Print       # of 10 - inch squares       amount of material to buy (42 - 45 in wide)

Top:
 1                 cut 25 squares                         2 yards
 2                 cut 45 squares                         3 - 1/3 yards
 3                 cut 20 squares                         1 - 1/2 yards

Middle:
 4                 cut 90 squares                          6 - 1/2 yards

Backing:
 5                 cut 90 squares                           6 - 1/2 yards

General instructions are the same.

As always I appreciate your comments and will get back to you with your questions as soon as I can. Thanks.

44 comments:

  1. I can do this!!! I have tons (well lots) of flannel material! Thanks for the tutorial!

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    1. You will have to show me a picture of them when you finish. ; )

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  2. I enjoy making rag quilts. I made one for my granddaughter that was a strip quilt with four total layers of flannel and one for my great niece with cotton prints in squares on top and bottom and two flannel layers in the middle. Nice and heavy for our cold winters. The next one is all about me. Dr. Suess!

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    1. I can't imagine four layers of flannel. It must really get cold where you are.

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    2. DoDo when you made the strip rag quilt how did it turn out? Did you do straight strip across the width of the quilt?

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    3. I bet they were pretty. It would be easy to do. If you were making a lap/throw size , you could make the strips the width of the fabric. Depending on the width of the strips, you wouldn't have to make any stitch to hold them together besides the seams. If the strip was 6 inches or wider, I would just sew the layers together with a stitch down the middle of the strip. You would want something to hold the thicknesses together. Sounds like a fun rag quilt. Hopefully she will let us know the particulars.

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  3. I would love to make one of these for a double and queen size beds. How do use 9 inch squares and how many. Your directions for the baby size was very explicit. This is what I need. My e-mail address is rmmartz@yahoo.com

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    1. Will try to send you an email tomorrow with amounts. Thanks for your inquiry.

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  4. Hi, love your directions. Very clear and easy to understand.
    Would like to make these quilts for my kids (single beds) how many 9" squares am I looking at and how much material would that be?
    Your assistance is very much appreciated. :)

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    1. I would love to help you. Are you talking about a finished 9 inch square or a cut 9 inch square? Will it be used as a blanket or spread?

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    2. Hi. It doesn't really matter what size the squares are (finished or cut). Just like the comment before me, I really loved the directions for the baby size ones. Would really appreciate directions like that for the single size blankets.
      As this is my first time attempting a quilt, I'm quite clueless.
      They will be used as blankets.

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    3. The other question I forgot to ask you is which pattern do you want to use? The tutorial is for the checker board using only two prints on top. The updated one with the link is the overlapping nine patch. It requires three fabrics for the top and is especially good if you have a focal print. Both are equally easy.

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    4. Hi. Just the 2 prints on top is good.
      My email is ngjulin@gmail.com
      probably better to 'chat' on my email.
      Dont want to be 'disturbing' your blog. ... hehe

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    5. Will be contacting you. Thanks.

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  5. Hello could you please tell me what yardage I would need for a rag quilt using 3 fabrics cut squares will be 8 1/2 before sewing. Front and back the same?? Thanks so much my email is doinitoo13@gmail.com

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  6. Sorry forgot to let you know I'm interested in a queen size! And the pattern of how many squares and layout! This is my first experience of putting anything on a blog so please be patient with me 😄

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    1. Thanks for your request. I have sent you an email and will email you the information as soon as I figure it out.

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  7. I love your tutorial and I have a question. I made a my first (and only) rag quilt a while back. I don't remember if I washed the flannel before I made it but the seams didn't fluff out much. I love your tutorial and I decided to try it again. Can you explain why it is necessary to wash the material before making the quilt. (I rarely wash my regular cotton material first). (I am working on a (my own) design using more than one size of patch.)

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    1. Thanks, Mizpax for your question. It is a good one. I will have to make sure I address this in my post. I always washed my material before I made anything....mainly clothes. When I started quilting, I continued the practice. (It also removes any sizing in the fabric. And of course the dyes are a consideration, also. You don't want to make a beautiful quilt and then wash it and have some of the colors "bleed" and ruin the quilt.)

      I think it is important to prewash flannel because different qualities will react/shrink differently. Generally speaking the less expensive flannels will draw up more. I sometimes will use the less expensive flannel for the middle layer because all I care about is the colors of the threads. A couple of times early on, I had to go back and buy additional fabric because the material drew up so much that I didn't have enough to cut the squares I needed. (When I recommend how much fabric is needed to make a quilt, I try to make allowances for shrinkage.) If you are using different "grades/qualities" of flannel in your quilt, they may shrink by different amounts. This could cause the quilt to look distorted.

      It is fun to make a quilt using different size blocks. I did this with two quilts I made using a traditional pinwheel quilt square and then made the "sashing" around the square 4 rectangles for the sides and then 4 squares for the cornerstones. I also did a western theme quilt for my cousin using a traditional 4 patch with western prints and then black flannel for the sashing. I believe I have shared these quilts on my blog. As for as the "ragging or fluff", I am not completely sure why your seams didn't rag much. I do think when you clip the seams closer together than the common 1/4 - 1/2 - inch as some people do, the seams rag more. Some people say you shouldn't use cotton because it doesn't rag, but I disagree. I also know you can use cotton and flannel in the same quilt, as that is what most of time I do. All flannel makes a heavy quilt. That's why unless you want a really heavy quilt, I recommend using only two layers if you are going to only use flannel.

      I hope I have answered your questions. If I missed something, please let me know. Good luck with you design. I love that aspect of making quilts.

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    2. I forgot to mention a product I use when I prewash the fabrics called Color Catcher from Shout. You put the sheet in the bottom of the washer and wash the clothes with it. Any dyes from the materials will be caught in the sheet. There are dyes that will bleed in more than just reds. My friend Kay told me about it and I have used it ever since. It would also be useful with clothes that you think might "bleed".

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  8. Thanks for your comment on the strip rag quilt. Thanks I wondered about tacking them together if the trips were wider than the 2 1/2 strip bundles.

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    1. Generally speaking in traditional quilting if the area is larger than your hand, you should have some stitching. For rag quilts, the X was necessary to hold the batting in place since it was cut an inch smaller. Since I use flannel for the middle layer and cut it the same size as the squares, I don't use batting, but like how the X stitching gives it more of a quilted look. For a rag quilt using strips, a stitch down the middle of the strip will give it an extra quilted look. Thanks for your comment.

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  9. Love this rag quilt tutorial! So informative and concise. But may I add that you will do yourself the biggest favor if you buy some rag snips (I got mine at Joanns and they are made by Fiskar, but there are other brands). They are much, much easier on your hands (and your sanity) than regular scissors. No matter how sharp you scissors are, the snips are better for these projects. Happy quilting!!

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    1. Thanks, Sue, for you kind words and for reminding me about the scissors. I can't believe I didn't show them when I wrote the tutorial back in 2014. I can't even imagine using any other scissors. Thanks again so much. I took a picture and added it to the tutorial.

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  10. Hi, I am looking to make my first rag quilt and I have a question! If you are only doing 2 layers of flannel do you need a walking foot? I don't have a walking foot yet and am wondering if i need to get one. If you do the layer of flannel on the inside instead of batting I'm assuming you will need the walking foot?

    THANK YOU!!!

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    1. Thanks for your question. Actually you don't have to have a walking foot to make a rag quilt no matter how many layers you are using. That is one of the fun things with beginners and making rag quilts. If the squares don't match up perfectly, it is okay. When you snip the seams so that the material "rags", you will never know if the squares weren't perfect. I just get used to using the walking foot with my other quilting, and didn't change it out. Most of the rag quilts I have made, I used the general foot attachment. Good luck and thanks so much for stopping by and asking your question.

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    2. Thank you so much for your quick reply! I'm excited to get started on making my first rag quilt! Thank you for the great "how to!!"

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    3. You are welcome. Would love to see a picture of your finished quilt.

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  11. would love to see the flip and sew method sewen step by step

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  12. would love to see the flip and sew method sewen step by step

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    1. Beth, I did show a step by step with pictures of what you call flip and sew and I call sew and quilt in one in this post making a baby quilt. Check it out. If you have any questions, please ask me. http://patriciaspatchwork.blogspot.com/2014/08/sew-quilt-in-one-baby-quilt.html

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  13. Great instructions and pictures to follow! Just finished a lap blanket sized strip rag quilt with batting and the snipping took forever and was so hard on my hands. Didn't know snipping scissors existed! Will definately have to get myself a pair for the squared one I am making! When you snip, about how far apart do you make the snips? I think I may have made mine excessively thin on my first attempt.

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    1. The clipping is definitely the worse part of making a rag quilt. That is one reason why I clip as I go along. After you have done 3 rows you can start clipping the middle row. You just don't want to clip to the end of a square that you will sewing the next row to. It is definitely a killer without the snipping scissors. Most people will snip farther apart than I like. Some directions/people will snip as far as 1/2 inch. I started out clipping at about 3/8th of an inch. It was my friend Ruth whom I was working with that first started snipping closer. We liked the looks of the closer snips. I probably clip about 1/8th of an inch. As the quilt is washed and used it is a smoother look and you just see the colored threads. If you are using 2 layers of flannel, don't try to clip though both sets - 4 thicknesses. Try it and if it is hard, just do one side (2 thicknesses) at a time. May take a little longer, but your hands will appreciate it. Did you like using the batting? Having to cut it smaller so it isn't "caught" in the seam would drive me crazy, but that is just me. I am glad you found my tutorial and made a quilt. The next one will be even easier.

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  14. I've only ever made one rag quilt. It was a baby size made from scraps. It was fun and turned out really nice. Now I want to make a larger one for my son but I can't get the calculations right in my head. I have 3 fabric colors(44in)I want to cut them 11 inches for a 10 inch finished block (correct?)I want the finished quilt to be 80x90. How much fabric do I need front+back?

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    1. Sorry Dodge, I have been busy all day today and just saw your comment. I will do the math in the morning and get back to you. Sorry about the delay.

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    2. Hi Dodi, Sorry about the name before. I was using my phone and didn't notice the spellchecker changed your name. Would you email me at mypatchworkquilt@gmail.com. It would be easier since I have questions to ask you about the design you will be using and fabric choices. Thanks, Patricia

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  15. Your instructions were VERY GOOD! I followed them easily & made my first rag quilt that turned out amazingly! I changed it up a little and used 4 different prints and used them on front and back of each square, which also made a patchwork quilt on the back with smooth seams! Thank you for putting instructions out there for us beginners !!

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    1. So glad to hear Sandy. I would love to see a picture of your quilt. There are so many different patterns you can use. I have shared pictures in other posts of different rag quilts I have made. Would love for you to check them out. Thanks again for your comments. I started this blog because I would read different tutorials for making a rag quilt and would think - It is so much easier to do than this shows. Glad you found mine and it was so helpful.You can always email me a picture at mypatchworkquilt@gmail.com if you do not want to share it here.

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  16. Thanks so much for the fabulous instructions. My aunt was cleaning out her basement and found a bag of old pajamas that had been manufactured by her father's company and worn by her children when they were young. She felt sentimental about them and asked me to make her something from them. I used the flannel pairs to make a rag quilt. The back is a gray plaid flannel that I bought. I started with 8.25 inch squares (the best size for maximizing the limited pajama fabric I had) and the quilt finished out at around 44x58. It just came out of the dryer and you can see it here! https://goo.gl/photos/tpPoj28zmpNDE2R1A

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    1. Beautiful Rachel. What a marvelous way to show off the fabric and be remembered by the family. I am so glad my instructions helped you and especially glad you shared your picture with me. You have made my day! Patricia

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  17. Would it look okay to put a binding on it to make it look more finished? Could you do tee shirts this way?

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    1. You could certainly put a binding on it to give it a more finished look.i would probably cut away the top and bottom edges of the seams so it wouldn't be so bulky. The tee shirts wouldn't rag the same but if you clipped close as i do, they wouldn't look too badly. Thanks for your questions. Patricia

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