Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Making a Rag Quilt - Part One

Selecting and Cutting Out the Fabric

The heatwave broke tonight, and the wonderful Delta breezes came blowing in. It got me out of my heat funk and I decided to start another quilt. Once again, I failed to time the first process, so when people ask me how long it takes to make a rag quilt, the answer will have to remain, a very long time!

While these are by no means technical instructions, here is my method:

Gather your tools. A cutting mat, a rotary cutter, scissors and a template.

I didn't have a cutting mat or a rotary cutter on my first quilt, they are not necessary, but wow it speeds up the process and makes nice neat edges. Buy the largest mat you can afford, they seem to shrink the minute you bring them home. The messed up, taped up template is the one that was given to me, the nice one is my neighbor's. These can be purchased at a fabric store.
Start gathering fabric that you think might look good together. Don't sweat it, this is not rocket science, it is just a quilt. These are from all over, the thrift store, garage sales, there is even a Hawaiian shirt in there and a skirt that always made me feel huge. If it is cotton, it is fair game. These are going to look adorable, but not now, maybe in the fall when people are more drawn to warm and cozy colors.
This is what I hit on for this quilt. Lots of cool blues, greens and whites, with an adorable nautical theme. I really don't know how it will look at the end, that is what is so fun about this, but the fabrics are telling me cool, soothing and a touch of cuteness, a shabby cottage beachy look. I got these at the thrift store, a garage sale and from a former co-worker who quilts. There is some really cool Laura Ashley in here, plus some of unknown heritage. It is all cotton, that is what matters.
Cut out the squares, the neater the better, but perfection is not necessary. Place a smaller square of Warm and White Cotton Batting in the middle of the "sandwich." If you are using warm colors, you can use Warm and Natural Cotton Batting. Don't use any other material. This is the most expensive part of the quilt, which stinks because it doesn't even show. But the cheaper kind just doesn't cut it. Wait until it goes on sale. Put the batting in between now, this will save you a step later when you sew the sandwiches together.
 Give your trusty assistant some scraps now and then.
The front and back do not need to match, but be aware you have a goofy one when you lay out your pattern, so as not to put two matching squares next to each other. You can keep track of the goofies by putting a quilt pin through them.
Make a few extra squares in case you have some sewing disasters. I made 51 for a 49 square quilt. This quilt will be 7 rows by 7 rows, a square. About the biggest I make is 80, 8 rows by 10. My baby quilts are 5 by 5, or 5 by 7 for crib size.
This is the part that will make it a beach themed quilt. This is the Laura Ashley fabric I got at the thrift store on the right, the whale fabric on the left is from a garage sale.

But now, I put it aside and rest my hands. The next process can wait. I have a feeling this is going to be a really cute one!

Fiskars 95217097 45 mm Rotary Cutter
OLFA 9881 RM-SG 18" x 24" Self-Healing Double-Sided Rotary Mat
Olfa Deluxe Rotary Cutter (60mm)