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Making Rag Quilts

by Penny Halgren

If you are a beginner quilter looking for near-immediate gratification or an old pro who wants to create a different look, why not try making a rag quilt?

Frayed seams are a characteristic of rag quilts. Fraying the edges give a rag quilt a soft, vintage look simply by clipping the seams and washing and drying the quilt. Rag quilt patterns can be adaptations of traditional quilt patterns or, totally new designs that will be accented by the frayed edges.

Rag quilt patterns do not need to be expensive. As a matter of fact, many rag quilt patterns are available for free on the Internet. Use your favorite search engine to find rag quilt patterns. If you've already been exploring the Internet, chances are your favorite quilt sites also have rag quilt patterns available, or links to some. The best how-to-quilt websites offer rag quilt information as well as patterns.

Variations of the Nine Patch are popular rag quilt patterns. Strips are another popular rag quilt pattern. Keep in mind that while intricate designs could be converted into a rag quilt pattern, the fraying might distract from the quilt pattern.

It's possible to complete a rag quilt in a weekend! The biggest challenge in making a rag quilt is getting accustomed to sewing backwards. In traditional quilting, we generally stitch the right sides together then turn them so the seams will be hidden on the underneath side.

With rag quilt patterns, the seams are sewn to the top so they can be clipped and frayed.When assembling your rag quilt, you will make a fabric sandwich: place the first piece right side down on your table. The middle layer will be a piece of flannel or batting, and the top piece will be your fabric, right side up.

Once you have all your fabric sandwiches ready, you will sew the block together, again keeping the right sides up. So, instead of sewing with the right sides together, your rag quilt pattern will be sewn with the wrong sides together. This will keep your seams on top of the quilt.

Unlike traditional quilting, having uneven seams won't be noticed once your rag quilt pattern is complete. So, even if you can't sew a straight line with your sewing machine, you can make a gorgeous rag quilt! That is another reason rag quilt patterns are so popular. They can be sewn together rather quickly using your sewing machine. The machine stitches will lock in and add stability to the quilt.

Since the blocks are sewn with the seams on top, there is no need for additional quilting of your rag quilt pattern. That makes rag quilt pattern projects move along at a nice speed!

Completing your rag quilt will take a little patience once all the sewing is Clip straight down the seam (perpendicular to the stitches). You will need to make these cuts about every quarter of an inch. Your hand will get tired! To avoid hand cramps and blisters on your cutting fingers, you might like to use a pair of spring loaded scissors as you complete your rag quilt patterns. Spring loaded scissors automatically pop open after each snip has been made. They also usually are made so they are held on the outside, rather than putting your fingers inside scissor holes. If you don't already have a good, sharp pair, expect to pay $15 or more. If you plan to do much rag quilting in the future, it might be a good investment!

Once you seams are snipped all around your rag quilt, throw it in the washer on a delicate cycle. It's not necessary to add soap, but it's okay if you do choose to do so. After the wash cycle, give your rag quilt a double check to make sure you've snipped all of the seam allowances. If you find a place you've missed, this is the time to add snips. Once you are satisfied with the snipping, toss the quilt into your drier. Once it's dried, your rag quilt will be complete!

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