How to Make a Rag Quilt

A Free Rag Quilt Pattern and Tutorial

Getting Started

A rag quilt draped on a chair
Stacy Fisher

Rag quilts are quilts that have exposed seams that fray when washed. It makes a very comfy quilt that's easy to make but impressive to look at.

These quilts make great gifts for new babies, weddings, or for the holidays. You can completely customize them by choosing different fabric designs.

Beginner quilters will love this rag quilt pattern because it's so quick and easy to put together. You'll have a completed quilt in just a few hours time!

This rag quilt sews up to be 46" x 60", making a generous throw-size quilt. You can change the number and size of squares in the quilt to make it larger or smaller. Here's a rag quilt size chart that makes it easy. 

Choosing Fabrics

Colorful fabric out on a table
Stacy Fisher

When it comes to fabrics to include in your rag quilt, you have a lot of options. You do want to make sure that at least two of your three layers are from fabric that frays easily. 

For the top layer, we like to use either cotton or flannel. Flannel does fray more than cotton, so your choice will depend on how much fraying you're going for. We used quilting cotton for the top layer in this pattern.

Our middle layer is flannel. You can use quilt batting if you'd like, but you'll need to make your squares smaller (7" in this case), so the quilt batting doesn't show up in the seam allowances. 

The bottom layer of the quilt can be done in a wide range of fabrics. You can use another layer of flannel like we've done, or you can use fleece or minky to give it an extra-soft but less frayed look. 

Gather Your Supplies and Materials

Fabric, pins, scissors, and other sewing notions
Stacy Fisher

Before you get started, here are the materials and supplies you'll need to gather for your rag quilt. 

Materials

  • 4 yards of flannel or cotton fabric for the top of the quilt (we used (4) 1-yard cuts of quilting cotton)
  • 4 yards of flannel for the middle of the quilt
  • 4 yards of flannel for the back of the quilt (we used the same color for both the middle and back of the quilt)
  • Matching thread

Supplies

  • Rotary cutter (optional but recommended)
  • Ruler
  • Washable marking pen
  • Sewing pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Walking foot (optional but recommended)
  • Scissors (spring loaded are recommended)

Cut Your Fabric

Pile of fabric cut into squares
Stacy Fisher

Cut all of your fabric into 8" squares and sort them by the top, middle, and bottom layers. 

Assemble the Quilt Stacks

A stack of fabric squares
Stacy Fisher

It just takes a few steps to create the quilt stacks you need for the rag quilt. 

  • Place a square of the fabric that you are using for the back of your quilt, right side down on your work surface.
  • Place your middle layer fabric square down next. It doesn't matter which side is down for this step.
  • Place the final fabric that you've chosen for the top of your quilt, right side up on top of the stack. 

Mark the Stack for Quilting

A quilt stack marked with an "X"
Stacy Fisher

After you've put together your quilt stack, it's time to get them ready for quilting. 

  • Use a washable marking pen to draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner, and then another line connecting the other two corners. You are making an "X" on top of each stack. 
  • Use a pin to secure the stack together.

Assemble and mark the rest of the quilt stacks.

Quilt the Squares

A stack of fabric quilted with an "X"
Stacy Fisher

Take one of the quilt stacks you've put together and take it over to your sewing machine. Sew along the "X" that you marked on the fabric.

Continue quilting the rest of the squares in the same way. 

Planning Your Design

Quilt squares in a random pattern
Stacy Fisher

Planning your rag quilt design is the fun part of this project and a way that you can make this quilt uniquely yours.

Lay out your quilt stacks on a large flat surface and put them in a design that you like, 7 squares wide and 9 squares long. You'll have 3 squares left over.

We made our design fairly random, making sure to really mix up my different fabrics so the same fabrics weren't too close together. 

Tip: Once you have your quilt stacks in a design you like, take a quick photo that you can refer to later if needed.

Sew the Stacks Together

Two quilt stacks sewn together
Stacy Fisher

Time to start assembling your quilt! Put one of your quilted stacks wrong side up on your work surface. Put another stack wrong side down on top. 

Sew one side of the stacks together, using a 1/2" seam allowance. If you have a walking foot for your sewing machine, now is the time to use it. 

After you've sewn the stacks together, you'll have an exposed seam. This is what will fray, giving the rag quilt it's unique look. 

Create Your Rows

Rows of quilt stacks
Stacy Fisher

Continue sewing your stacks together until you have 9 rows of 7 squares. 

Attach the Rows

Sewing rows together
Stacy Fisher

Take your first row and put wrong sides together with your second row. Finger press the seams open. Pin or use clips to secure the exposed seams together. Sew the rows together with the same 1/2" seam allowance. 

Continue sewing the rest of the rows together in the same way until you have all of your squares together to form your quilt. 

Sew Around the Quilt

Sewing around the outside of the rag quilt
Stacy Fisher

Sew around the edge of the quilt, 1/2" from the edge. This will act as a clipping guide for the outside edges.

Clip the Seams

Clipping the seams of a rag quilt
Stacy Fisher

Using your scissors, clip in the seam allowance between all the squares. Cuts should be 1/4" to 1/2" apart from each other. Be careful not to clip through your stitching!

Use the same method to cut slits around the edge of your quilt so they'll fray too. 

This is the time-consuming part of making this quilt. We suggest using spring-loaded scissors or these spring action snips to speed up the process and take some of the pain out of your hands. 

Wash and Enjoy

A close-up of the rag quilt after washing
Stacy Fisher

The fabric won't fray until you wash it, so do that right after you're done with your clipping. The more often you wash your quilt, the more frayed it will get.