Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rag Quilts

 I realized near the end of last year that within the next two years almost half of my nieces and nephews will be heading off to college and then they will be starting families and becoming adults. So, just before Christmas last year I decided that I need to make my nieces and nephews a special present that is representative of their individual personalities. After a lot of thought I decided to put my sewing talents to go use and to create unique quilts for each of my nieces and nephews. The quilt I am starting with is a Dallas Cowboys denim rag quilt for my oldest nephew who is a die hard Cowboys fan.

A few years ago I found a pattern for making rag quilts in the shape of turtles. I had never made any sort of quilt at this point but I was dying to learn how. Once I mastered the turtle I branched out and tried my hand at making large denim rag quilts. Denim rag quilts are heavy duty, super warm, comfy and are a great way to put to use old shirts and jeans.

First you need to decide how large you want your rag quilt to be, now you need to decide size and design before you purchase fabric.

I design my denim rag quilts with a pencil, ruler and a piece of paper.

After I layout the dimensions of the quilt I can determine how much fabric I need to purchase.

***Warning this post contains math! (I know UGH!)***

 Now most denim comes in a 60in wide piece. So 1 yard (36 inches) of denim at 60 inches wide will produce 24 9x9 inch squares. You will be cutting the fabric into 9x9 inch squares, once stitched these will become 7x7 inch squares that have a 1inch seam all around for creating the rag effect.

For this 63 x 70 inch quilt you will need 4 yards of denim.

On to the cotton fabrics, which can range in width from 45-60 inches wide, if you are working with a 45-52 inch wide fabric you will need 4.5 yards. If you are using a 60 inch fabric then you will be able to use 4 yards of cotton.

 ( If  you want to use more than one fabric/pattern remember to get your fabric cut so that you can achieve multiples of 9, meaning if you get 3/8 of a yard of fabric you will only be able to get one row of 9x9 inch squares from that cut of fabric. You would get more use out of a half of a yard .5 yrd = 2 rows of 9x9 inch squares)

When you start cutting make sure your edges are straight and your size is accurate, to do this I use my rotary cutting tool and mat with ruler to cut the fabric and have nice clean straight edges that line up easily for sewing. You can pick one up on by clicking here plus you will save $19 right now.

Start cutting your squares out.

Once you cut all of your squares out now you can lay out your pattern. My pattern for this quilt is a simple checkerboard pattern with dark blue alternating with white on the top side of the quilt and the denim is all the same color on the back side.

Now that we have the pattern laid out we will take each square and draw an X across the top of it. This X will guide your sewing when you stitch the top and bottom pieces together. Now take your marked squares and stitch over the stenciled X you marked out. You will also need to add a stencil for the 1 inch seam for the outside edges and corners of your quilt.

Stitch the outer edge seams. Make sure to back stitch every seam you make, the denim is heavy and with repeated use the seams can work themselves loose.

Once you have all of your top cotton layers stitched to the bottom denim layer and it is time to stitch the squares together into rows. Lets get started!

Stitch the bottom edge of one square to the top edge of the next one to create a row. It is easiest to do this by placing one square on top of the other with denim sides facing each other. ( I prefer to make my quilt rows from top to bottom in other words I stitch down the length of the quilt first then I stitch the width)

Continue making your rows


Once your rows are finished you will stitch them together

Rows laid out

Stack the rows just as you did the squares one on top of the other with denim sides facing. Stitch up to the intersecting seam and stop.

Stitch your first section together, don't forget to back stitch your seam. Then fold the intersecting seam (I am holding said seam in my hand above) away from you and begin stitching the next section, don't forget the intersecting seam on the underside.

When your quilt is finished you will take a pair of sturdy scissors or snips as seen below and cut the 1 inch seam edges of the quilt.

There is no uniform distance between cuts because the more uneven the cuts are the more they will fray and leave the quilt looking beautiful. Just make sure the cuts are not less than 1 inch apart because the frays will rip away from the quilt if they are too thin.

Now that you have your quilt edges cut you need to wash the quilt to create a beautiful frayed look. I use my front loading washer to wash these heavy blankets, if you have a top loading washer or do not want to have to clean denim lint out of your washer and dryer for weeks then I suggest taking your quilt to a Laundromat.

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