Rag Quilts – Do I Like Them?

I used to do a lot of patchwork and quilting but I don’t seem to have the time nowadays.    Quilts are very time consuming and also cost a lot to make.  There is a lot of fabric in the average quilt and, if you are using top quality quiliting cotton, lovely soft batting and a big expanse of quilting cotton for the back it will cost a lot of money.  Then there are the hours and hours of work that you have to put in. 


Anita's Quilt

Basically, for me, quilts are a labour of love.    Last year, for instance, I made one for my sister-in-law’s 40th birthday but only because she had admired some others  I had made and said that she would love to own one herself (and I quite like her!).  As I have learnt the hard way, you have to be sure  that the person you are making a quilt  for appreciates the work that has gone into it and actually likes patchwork quilts – not everybody does – otherwise you might suffer the indignity of  seeing the result of all your  blood, sweat and tears being used as a dog blanket – something that really happened to a friend of mine once.   Imagine! 

Enormous Superking Size Sampler Quilt

HOWEVER!  Now I have discovered rag quilts which still take loads of fabric but are much quicker to make.  Basically, for a simple block quilt, you make a sandwich from the backing, the batting and the front, in whatever size you want your blocks to be, sew the ‘sandwiches’  together by placing the right sides together in order to end up with the exposed seam on top, snip the seam and wash and dry the quilt and watch it get raggier every time.   Lovely, soft and  cuddly, perfect for babies and children.

Personally, I really like quilts that look like they’ve already been around the block a few times and, for that reason, use cotton batting for my quilts as it shrinks a bit and gives the quilts a slightly battered look.  So, for this first rag quilt, I used some vintage cottons in very delicate colours, used flannel cotton as a batting, and some more vintage cotton in a stronger colour on the back.  I’m quite pleased with it although I haven’t got a tumble drier and wonder whether that would speed up the fraying process.  I would ask my neighbour if I could use hers but I don’t want to be held responsible if she has trouble with her filter afterward!

 My First Rag Quilt


I’m definitely going to make another one but, this time, with smaller squares and a stronger colour palette.  This one is sweet and pretty but was really an experiment to see whether or not making rag quilts is something I  want to do.  I don’t think they will replace pieced quilts in my affections but, when I want to make a soft, cuddly quilt for a baby or a gift, it’s good to know that I can make one relatively quickly.


  1. #1 by MaggieB on April 20, 2010 - 04:28

    You are correct, quilts can be time consuming and can, depending on what you select, costly. But they can last for a very long time, and bring love to our families… they will, or should, outlive their maker.

    • #2 by tialys on April 20, 2010 - 09:37

      Yes Maggie, that’s one of the reasons they make such wonderful gifts isn’t it? They are heirlooms which are meant to be used and they become more comfortable and comforting with use. The fact that so much time goes into them is a lovely way of reminding the recipient how much you think of them. When I recently made the rag quilt my daughter, who is sixteen now, got all nostalgic and said she likes it when I make quilts as it reminds her of 6 or 7 years ago when I was a member of a patchwork group and seemed to have one on the go all the time. It made me think I want to start again! I have made both my daughters smallish quilts but I would definitely like to make them both a large one which they will, hopefully, take with them into their own future homes.

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