The Rag Quilt Tutorial

Posted on April 01, 2014 by Greg Skov

On the day of my baby shower one of my dearest friends handed me a huge box, excitedly she waited as I untangled all of the ribbons and flowers she had tied around the package. Finally when I opened it I was overjoyed with the most beautiful baby quilt I'd ever seen. This was no ordinary quilt, it's edges were tattered and looked like it could have been made many years ago, the back was minky and so cozy to cuddle up to. Even though it was brand new it looked like an heirloom passed down for generations. It was perfect.  Since receiving that Rag Quilt I have replicated them for numerous friends and family members and the reaction upon opening is the same as mine. They can't believe I made it just for them. But the secret is that they are incredibly easy to make. Below is a simple online tutorial to follow and soon you will be creating a cozy little slice of heaven to give to a friend, baby or just keep for yourself.




Step 1                           Step 2                           Step 3

Step 1 Picking out your fabric

-Try to pick quality fabric, the last thing you want is to go to all this work to have your fabric fall apart after a few washes. For this Tutorial I'm using Backyard Baby from Michael Miller and Moda's dottie collection.

-When selecting your fabrics try to have between 7-9 coordinating fabrics. If you are making a smaller quilt it's nice to use smaller prints that will read well in smaller squares.

-Choose a backing fabric at the same time, Flannel or Minky are my personal favorites but you could also use Fleece or quilting cotton. If your backing fabric is thin you will want to purchase batting to put in between the two layers. (Batting would need to be cut 1" smaller than your front and back fabrics)

Step 2 - Sizing and Preparing

- Determine the size of your quilt, 6-8 inch squares are the perfect size. 6" for baby quilts & 8" for lap quilts - for a bedspread you could even go as high as 10".

-Cut both the front and back pieces into equal squares. Remember, if you are putting batting in between cut it 1" less so that it will fit perfectly. i.e. if your front and back squares are 6" your batting should be 5" squares.

Step 3 - Assemble your squares -

-Pair your front and your back together, ugly sides facing each other.

-Sew a perfect X, corner to corner on each of your squares.

-If using batting (not seen in this tutorial) place the batting, one inch smaller, inside before sewing the X.


Step 4                         Step 5 A                       Step 5 B                         Step 5 C

Step 4 - Quilt Layout

-Lay out your quilt and arrange it to look exactly the way you'd like it to look when it's completed. Sometimes this takes a while, but don't over think it, just have fun with the designs. Random or in a pattern - it will look great.

Step 5 - Sew your Rows together

Step A - Facing two squares together, backing touching/pretty sides out, sew them together at 3/8" - 1/2"allowance. If your quilt is smaller go with a smaller allowance, bigger quilts look good with a bigger allowance. Just make sure your allowance is consistant throughout the quilt.

Step B - This is what your essembled quilt squares should look like.  Are the pretty sides facing up?  Is the seam also facing up?  Now continue to essemble your full row the same way.

Step C - Double Check that all of your completed rows are straight and are in the pattern you had originally intended before sewing the long rows together.  This is a great time to make sure that the rows are almost perfectly the same size. If they are slightly - don't worry - it will still look great. I'll show you how to clean it up at the end.


Step 6                             Step 7                             Step 8

Step 6 - Essemble Long Rows

- Sew one full row with it's neighboring row, again, backing sides together and pretty sides out. The seam allowance should be on the front of the quilt.

Step 7 - Correct your mistakes & Sew Perimeter

-When you've completed sewing your long rows together you may find that their are rows that are slightly longer than others, simple trim them up to make a straight line.

- After trimming the edges, sew the perimeter of the quilt with a running stitch at the same seam allowance you've been using.

Step 8 - Clipping & Snipping

- Clip and Snip EVERY seam allowance and the perimeter. Be very careful not to cut your running stitch.

- The closer you clip and snip the more raggidy your quilt will look. I prefer to use an angled scissor but there are spring loaded rag quilt scissors and fringe scissors that are wonderful too.

The Final Magic Step

Step 9 - The Magical Step. Wash, Dry and Enjoy

-Your final step is to Wash & Dry your rag quilt. This step is like magic, your quilt goes into the machine looking disheveled and uninspring. When it comes out of the dryer it looks beautiful, fluffy and cozy. The more you wash it the cozier it looks.

I hope you enjoyed my first sewing tutorial. I'm sure there are questions you may have, remember I'm happily imperfect so shoot me a comment if you have questions. 

Happy Sewing ~ Monica


Final thoughts on our tutorials! We’re not perfect, and we’re not professional pattern creators! We’re just a group of gals who want to create some FUN & FREE projects for our sewing community both in West Seattle and afar. Once in a while you might not understand the instructions, or we may even make a mistake or two. Just drop us a line and we can give a better explanation or re-write our tutorials. We appreciate you coming to the site for some inspiration and we hope you find something you love here.