Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Flannel Rag Quilt

     Today I wanted to share the gift that I made for  my son's girlfriend's birthday. I've made several rag quilts before, and they are great to snuggle under while reading a book or watching television. Lisa loves butterflies and her favorite color is pink. So, when I found flannel in these prints and colors I knew they were just destined to be made into a quilt for her.

     I wish I could tell you that I am a seasoned quilter or sewer, but I'm not. I do have a love for hand made quilts however and truly admire those who make them. It has been a goal of mine to learn this craft, and a few years ago a co-worker and I took a class after work that taught you how to make a rag quilt. That style has to be one of the easiest and quickest ways to make a quilt and is a great way for beginners to try their hand at quilting. The beauty of this design is that you "quilt as you go", rather than assemble the individual pieces and then quilt the finished top to the batting and bottom layer later. This style quilt, while simple to make, is really warm and soft. I've made these quilts with plain cotton fabric as well as flannel, and while either fabric is fine, the flannel just adds to the coziness.
     For this project, I used a total of 5 patterns and purchased 2 yards of each fabric. I cut the fabric into 9x9 inch squares and the batting into 7x7 inch squares.
     My daughter wanted to help with making this gift so as I was cutting the fabric she began to sandwich the material and batting together and pin it so it would be ready to sew. For this step, simply place the squares of batting in the center between two flannel squares. We used the same pattern flannel for both the top and bottom of each square.

   Once all of the squares are pinned together, you begin by sewing an X on each square from corner to corner. When I took the original class they told us you didn't have to back stitch at the beginning and end of each line, but not wanting to take any chances, I always do.
     We then laid all of our finished squares on the floor so we could decide how we wanted to arrange them. For this type of quilt I usually choose to line up the fabric to create diagonal rows of of the same pattern.
     Once we decided on the final pattern, we then pinned the individual squares together to form the horizontal rows. Our finished quilt was going to be 9 rows long with 7 squares in each row. After the 9 individual rows are sewn, the next step is to pin and sew the rows together.  You want all of the sewn seems to be facing on the same side of the quilt, as this will ultimately become your "ragged" side. The other side has the traditional clean finish as seen below.

     The next step is to create the fringe that will ultimately become the ragged seems. To do this, it helps to have a pair of spring loaded scissors as you will be making a lot of cuts, but it is not necessary. You simply cut and fringe every seem, being careful not to cut where you sewed the fabric together. This can take a while as there are a lot of cuts to be made. I personally do not like my fringes to be cut too wide. I think smaller cuts create a nice look, but that is purely a matter of personal taste. The weather was gorgeous when we were making our quilt, so Pam and I sat out on our deck as we did this part. This photo allows you to see the difference between the "raggy" side of the quilt (below) and the smooth side (photo above). You can also see how far apart we decided to cut when making our fringe for this quilt.
     Once we had cut all the seems we laid the quilt on the floor again, just to be sure we hadn't missed any. I know that sounds silly, but there a lot of seems to cut and it is possible to skip an edge of a square if you are not careful.
     Once you are sure that all the seems have been snipped, it's time to create the final soft rag finish. You simply do this by washing and drying the quilt. I will tell you that the fabric will fray a lot during this step and lots of loose threads come off all of those frayed edges. Depending on your washing machine and dryer, you might want to take the quilt to a laundromat for this step. If you choose to do it at home, be sure to check and clean your washing machine when done, as there are bound to be many small pieces of thread inside. I would also suggest that you stop the dryer several times during the drying process to clean your lint tray. However, when you are done, you will be rewarded with a super snugly feel to  your quilt, especially if you chose to use flannel fabrics.
     We had some squares left over after making our quilt, so I decided that rather than toss them, I would make a matching pillow. For one side of the pillow, I used 4 squares of the butterfly printed fabrics and I made a yo yo out of the floral fabric.  For the other side of the pillow I used the two pink print fabrics and made the yo yo decoration out of the smaller print. Have you ever seen a fabric "yo yo" before? I think that generations ago, frugal women used them as a way to be sure that they did not waste any fabric. My friend told me that her grandmother would save all her scraps of fabric and make these yo yos out of them. As she finished them she would keep them in a basket until she had enough to create her next project.
                       So, would you like to see the finished quilt? Here is the smooth patchwork side.
            Here is a view of the "raggy" side

          Doesn't it just make you want to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea?
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