Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fray (“Rag”) Quilt Tips

One of my 2012 resolutions was to learn how to sew. So after taking a class and making a tote bag, makeup bag, and skirt I thought – “Hey! Why not just make a whole quilt!” You know how I am… I always just dive right in! Sink or swim, baby.

It was ambitious.

I must say, though, that the sewing was one of the quickest parts. Cutting 390 squares of fabric evenly (130 patterned squares for both the front and the back and 130 squares of flannel for the middle instead of quilt batting), laying them out...

pinning the rows...

And then trimming the final product took up most of the time. Technically the quilt took four months from start to finish because I would work on it a little here and there and then put it away for weeks at a time. Homemade gifts always seem like a great idea in September, but during the week before Christmas when I was spending hours every night finishing this thing it didn’t seem so great! If I had worked on it consistently I probably could have finished it in about two weeks.

I used a tutorial on pinterest for specific instructions on how to create and sew the quilt, but have lots of tips below that I learned from my experience!

Fray (“Rag”) Quilt Tips:

I made several deviations from the tutorial. I’m apparently not very good with instructions. Or sewing. Most frayed (or “rag”) quilts have a definite front and back – with all of the fray on the front side. I, however, can’t sew that well yet and when I tried to put all of the fray on one side the back looked terrible because it showed every crooked seam and imperfect stitch.

 My experiment row… not very good!

So I just made mine double sided! I layered my squares on top of each other (one square’s edges all showed on top, the next squares edges all showed on the bottom)

And then layered my rows the same way so that fray would show on both sides. 

This made the seams much more forgiving because the fray covers them up in the end for the most part!!

I bought new fabric for this. If you do, wash and dry it all first so that it will shrink some before you sew it.

I saw this same method of quilting done with strips instead of squares after I had done all of the cutting. Considering that for next time…

Cut all of your squares to be exactly the same size THE FIRST TIME! Yeah, I didn’t do that and ended up squaring them all up again. Total waste of time.

Use a light colored thread that will blend in easily. I used chocolate brown and you can see every seam.

Use flannel as your middle pieces instead of quilt batting. It is easier to sew, warmer, and frays better.

Once the sewing is finished and you have cut off all of the extra threads, snip all of the excess fabric about 1/8 inch apart to allow for fraying. Use spring-loaded scissors when snipping the edges before you wash it (this is what allows the blanket to fray). I got a blister from my regular fabric scissors.

Don’t get discouraged when you sew your quilt together and it looks imperfect. Trust me, the fraying works wonders for the appearance of it!

When its time to wash and dry your quilt to fray it, use a laundromat. I’m pretty sure that my strings clogged my machine. Oops. 

The Finished Product:

My First Quilt!

It ended up being about 6ft x 4.5 ft which is a great size for curling up on the couch, but not quite big enough for a queen sized bed. The best part of this type of quilt is that you can just keep adding squares until it gets to the size you want! 

I gave it to my sister Allison on Christmas morning.

Ally enjoying her quilt

The main point is this – If you want to learn how to sew. Do it. Take a class. Ask a friend. And then you will figure things out as you go. As with most things, you can’t get caught up with absolute perfection and following the “rules”. I usually start projects and change directions a hundred times before it’s all said and done. My squares weren’t all even and my seams were sometimes crooked but fray quilts are very forgiving. And my sister loved it. And now I have about 3,000 requests for one. Yes, I will probably be getting better at these! 

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this!!! VERY ambitious, but a wonderful gift!