Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Tutorial - Rag Quilt #2

I decided to make a quilt for a friend of mine whom I felt deserved something nice. This one is quite different from the green/purple rag quilt -

  • I decided on the size of the squares and the quilt in advance, instead of leaving it to chance
  • Only the outer edge is ragged.  The inner seams are sewn in the traditional way
  • There are only 12 large squares instead of many small ones
  • It's much faster to make, as the middle and bottom layers are in one piece.
The principles are the same, however, and this is a brilliant quilt to make in a hurry.  You will need about 3 dozen medium-sized safety pins for this design, if you have carpet, or masking tape if you have hard floors - you are going to lay the quilt out on the floor to sandwich the layers together.

I started with an orphaned queen sized sheet, and a pair of men's pyjamas.  I measured and tore a 15" strip off the sheet, and tore that into  6 so I had 15" squares.  After removing all the seams, I also had enough pyjama fabric for 6 15" squares.  I tore the remaining sheet in two so it would be big enough to form the middle (batting/wadding) and back of the quilt. The whole quilt will be 42" by 56" (107cm by 142cm).  Click on the photos to enlarge them.

I chose red and grey as the quilt colours, being ones that my friend likes.  Using the previous instructions, I dyed the quilt squares Scarlet,  and one of the large pieces with Basic Red, while the the pyjama squares and the other large piece were dyed with Warm Black.
These were left overnight as before, then rinsed in cold water and washed in very hot water.  As soon as the fabric was dry, I started to sew.
The squares were put in rows of 3 with alternating colours.  They were sewn in the ordinary way with wrong sides together, using a large seam allowance of 2cm (3/4 inch).  Continue this for all 12 squares.
Then pin the rows together, alternating the colours.  Open the seams out and match them to ensure they'll line up.  You may find, as you can see above, that there are some differences in the size of your squares.  We're not cutting these exactly so this is to be expected - you can adjust the seams if needed.  The size difference can be caused by several things:-
  • irregularity when measuring before tearing
  • distortion caused by tearing, particularly in smaller pieces of fabric
  • possible shrinkage from the very hot wash, particularly if the fabric had only been cold washed previously.
When stitched together, your quilt top will look something like this.  It looks pretty unprepossessing at this stage!  
Now iron the top from the reverse side, ensuring all the seams are pressed open.  Iron the large pieces too.

Lay out on your floor whichever piece you have selected to be the reverse, ensuring that it is FACE DOWN to the floor, then hook  safety pins into the carpet to hold it flat (or tape the corners and edges if using a hard floor).  I had pins in the corners, one in the middle of the width and 2 along the sides of the longer piece.  This is just to ensure that your quilt doesn't have puckers in the back when it's sewn.
Put your middle layer (the batting/wadding) on top, face UP.  Hook the safety pins through it as well so it sits smoothly.
Place the top face UP as well, on top of the other layers.  Pin the 3 layers together with pins at every seam edge and another in the middle of each square.  You can see that my quilt edge is uneven - this is not a disaster.  We are not making a family heirloom here, or a gift for the queen - this is a gift of love that will be used.  This is the quilt that Nanna will pull over her knees when she has  a snooze with the cat, that will wrap around a sick or upset child, that Dad will grab when he's watching the Rugby or the Olympics in the middle of the night or a young mum might snuggle under when feeding the baby. In the end, it's going to look fine,  Trust me.

 Now we can start sewing - and the quilt will come together really quickly.  Use a suitable colour of thread - mine is grey top and bottom.  Using the sewing foot as a guide, sew along each seam on BOTH sides .  NOTE - Sew down in one direction, turn the quilt around and then sew back the other way.  This avoids distortion.
 This is what you'll end up with.  See why we ironed those big seams open?  They're now sewn flat.
 After you've done that, sew lines from one corner of each square to its opposite diagonal.  If you click on the photo above, you'll see that mine are wavy.  If you really want to, you can rule lines lightly and follow them, but there's no need for these lines to be perfectly straight - they are just keeping the 3 layers together and preventing the fabric from sagging.  And we don't want anything sagging, do we?
 The back should look something like this.  Now sew a seam all the way aaround your quilt, about 2 to 2.5 cm (3/4 inch to 1 inch) in from the edge.  If your underneath layer is a bit smaller than the top - which can happen - sew this seam from the BACK.

 Here you can a close-up of where my layers were slightly different sizes on the front.  You don't need to trim these!  Leave them as they are, unless there is a huge difference, in which trim them a bit to make them more even.
 Then clip all the outer edges closely as before - this is a much quicker job than for the quilt in the first tutorial.  Make sure you don't clip through that outer seam, though.

Throw the quilt into a hot wash, and then into the dryer to fluff up the edges.  Here's the end result - soft and warm and inviting!

PS - if you're making this for someone else, don't let them see the quilt as you go along.  It really doesn't look great until the very end, and they will not be very impressed so see it when only partly made.  


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