Rag Quilts Instructions

    by Jennifer Loucks

    About the Author

    Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.


    A rag quilt is an easy-to-assemble project that's perfect for the beginning sewer. The quilt requires no seam finishing or binding and does not require quilting once the entire project is pieced together. Rag quilts are made with yardage of flannel or by recycling scraps from previous projects. Rag quilts work best with sturdy fabrics that will fray. Old denim jeans make ideal rag quilt blocks. These quilts make great dorm quilts or camp quilts because they are sturdy and are designed to stand up to repeated washing.

    Materials Needed

    The best fabrics for a rag quilt are flannel or homespun fabrics. Cotton prints, especially tightly woven batiks, do not fray easily and are not recommended. If you have old jeans, consider making the quilt from one layer of denim and one layer of flannel.
    You will need 4 to 5 yards of fabric for the front and back of a lap-sized rag quilt measuring 30 inches by 54 inches. A twin-sized quilt that measures 69 inches by 90 inches requires about 10 to 12 yards of fabric.
    If you use denim for one of the quilt layers, you will not need any batting. Otherwise, choose between a lightweight cotton batting or flannel for the inner layer. The amount you need is determined by the size of the quilt you are making.

    Cutting and Assembly

    Cut squares of fabric appropriate for the finished size desired. Six-inch squares are a good size to work with, though larger squares require less sewing and assembly and may be a good choice for a beginner. A lap quilt requires about 45 6-inch quilt blocks. A twin-sized quilt requires about 180 6-inch quilt blocks. Each block requires at least 2 layers (a back and a front). If you're lining the blocks, cut a back and front square plus a batting or flannel square for each block.
    Cut squares of batting 2 inches smaller in size than the fabric blocks. If you are using flannel for the inside layer instead of batting, cut the squares the same size as the blocks.

    Sewing and Finishing

    Make quilt "sandwiches" by putting two squares together with the wrong sides touching. If you are using batting or a flannel lining, insert that material between the fabric squares to make your sandwich. Using a marking pencil, draw two lines on the square, from corner to corner. This X marks the sewing lines. Sew through the layers of each sandwich following the lines of the X.
    Once all of the individual blocks are sewn, begin joining them together into rows, making sure to sew them with back sides together, using a one-half-inch or three-quarter-inch seam. Sew the rows together to form the quilt. All the seam allowances should be on top of the quilt. These raw edges will fray when the quilt is washed.
    A lap-sized quilt using 6- inch blocks has approximately 9 rows of 5 squares each, while a twin-sized quilt requires approximately 15 rows with 12 squares in each. To add more length or width, sew an additional row onto the quilt. Once the top is completed, sew a line of stitching around the entire quilt edge, one-half or three-quarter inches in from the raw edge.
    All seam allowances and the quilt edge must be clipped to promote fraying. Clip slits approximately one-half inch apart along every raw edge. Be careful not to clip through the stitching. Shake the quilt vigorously, preferably outside, to shake off stray threads and lint. Wash the quilt in cold water on a regular cycle with liquid fabric softener to start the fraying process. You may want to wash the quilt in a laundromat to avoid clogging your washer with lint. Before drying the quilt, shake it to remove loose threads. Dry the quilt on a regular dryer cycle, stopping once or twice to empty the lint trap. It may take several washings before the quilt is completely frayed.

    Additional Design Elements

    To make your rag quilt more interesting, you can use the pocket section of jeans and quilt around the pocket rather than in an X. You could also quilt handkerchiefs into the pockets, add a fabric "belt", or embellishing them with jean labels, rivets, or zippers.