Rag Quilt Instructions


Making a rag quilt was one of the first quilting projects I tackled when I first started sewing again. There are so many things that I love about them, but the best part is that they don’t require too much thinking. All of your cuts are the same, and you only sew straight lines. Rag quilt instructions are really quite simple, but I hope this tutorial makes it even easier for you.

The most difficult part of making a rag quilt is deciding on your fabrics. If you have just a few fabrics that you are working with, you will want to draw out your design on a piece of paper to figure out how you want the blocks to lay in the pattern. If you are wondering what kind of fabrics to use to make a rag quilt, check out this post —> Best Fabrics for Rag Quilt

Here are a few example rag quilt patterns using 2 or 3 different fabrics:

how to make a rag quilt


If you are using a charm pack of pre-cut fabric squares, then you will want to use your eye to lay out the squares once you have them sandwiched together.

How to make a rag quilt

Before you get started, the other thing you need to know is the number of squares you will need to cut and sew in order to get the quilt to be the size you want. This sounds pretty simple, but can get confusing. Refer to the chart below to figure out the total number of fabric squares (the number you need of each fabric depends on the quilt pattern you decide upon).rag quilt instructions


You probably noticed that the smaller the squares and the larger the quilt, the more cutting and sewing you will be doing! I like to work with a 6″ cut square most often, but that is just my personal preference, and there is no “standard” size, so pick the one that you want to use.

Now is a good time to also think about what you want to use as a batting (the part that is sandwiched between your face fabrics and the backing), and what fabric you want to use for the backing. My preference is to use all natural needled cotton batting, but many others like to use a flannel. For the quilt back, I most often use muslin. Other options would be a solid color, a printed cotton, or even a fleece or minky fabric. (I caution new quilters on using fleece or minky as it is harder to work with.)

So now that you’ve decided on fabrics, size, and pattern for your rag quilt, it is time to get to work.

How to make a rag quilt

CUT: face fabric, batting, and backing fabrics to the size you determined that works best for you – you will need the same number for all of them

rag quilt instructions


how to make a rag quilt

SEW: make little quilt sandwiches and start sewing from one corner diagonally to the other corner, making an X on the quilt square. (To save time, you can ‘chain piece’ these.)


how to make a rag quilt


Once you have all of your quilt sandwiches ‘X’ed, lay them out in the pattern you decided on. When you lay them out, keep in mind that the finished quilt will be much smaller than what you see now.Take the first 2 squares and put the wrong sides together. Sew a 1/2″ seam. (You want to see your seams exposed! It feels wrong when you are sewing it, but that is actually right.)

Keep adding on to this row until it is complete.


Start your next row, and so on until you have completed all of the rows in your quilt.


Now you will sew your rows together. At this point, you will be sewing through a lot of layers and I definitely recommend using a walking foot. With my first couple rag quilts, I didn’t use a walking foot because I was too scared of it. Now, I won’t sew one with out it. It really does help with moving all of these layers of fabrics through your machine. Even though I now have the Baby Lock Unity machine with the Digital Dual Feed Foot (read: giant walking foot), I’ve made plenty of rag quilts with this traditional walking foot.

Instead of a traditional 1/4″ seam, you want to use a generous 1/2″ seam allowance as this is what will fray nicely when you’re finished.

how to make a rag quilt


There is one tip that I want to share with you when it comes to sewing the rows together. You need to make sure that where your seams meet, you are opening the seams so that they ‘nest’. The easy way to do this is to let the machine push the bottom seam out towards you while you feed the top seam under the presser foot.

When you’ve all of your rows sewn together, you can see it is almost a finished rag quilt!

Now you want to sew a 1/2″ seam around the outside edges. After that you get to start snipping the ruffles. I do relief cuts at the corners, but I don’t like to put a lot of ruffles into the seams. It just depends on the look you want to achieve. You can see the rag quilts in The DesigNest Etsy shop that do not have a lot of cuts in them. But if you want a lot of fraying, you will want to cut the seams every 1-2 inches.

As you can imagine, there will be a lot of cuts that you need to make. Make sure that you have scissors capable of handling cutting through all of those layers. I like to use these Fiskars scissors (affiliate link) because they have a shorter blade and it allows you to see what you are cutting. It also requires less of a grip to cut all of those layers. If you have shoddy scissors, your hands will let you know quickly!

how to make a rag quilt

The last step is to throw it into the washer & dryer. When it comes out of the dryer, it will have started the fraying process and you will be ready to snuggle up with it or wrap it up as a present.



Here a couple pictures of rag quilts I’ve made

How to make a rag quilt

rag quilt patterns


rag quilt patterns


rag quilt patterns


And I’ve created this Chevron Rag Quilt Pattern that is for sale on Etsy & Craftsy:

Rag Quilt Pattern

Chevron Rag quilt project



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Hi, I'm Robin, founder of The Designest, the place for tutorials, printables, and ideas to inspire you to create. A wife, mother, entrepreneur, and a true maker at heart. Most days you will find me in my studio listening to Spotify & making products for The Designest Shop.

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85 Replies to “Rag Quilt Instructions”

      1. Hi Pam

        Thanks so much for the feature! I hope you get around to making a rag quilt soon. I just love them. If you find a charm pack you like, that makes it easier to pick your fabrics because you get a lot of patterns in the same color way.

  1. Best tutorial and information BY FAR!!!! Thank you!

    Do you have any tips on how much fabric to buy? I’d like to do a throw size quilt with 3 fabrics — 7″ squares.


    1. Thanks Alysha!

      If you are using 3 fabrics equally, you will need 30 7″ squares of each fabric. If you buy fabric that is at least 42″ wide (not including selvages), you will get 6 squares from every 7″ you buy. So, you will need to buy 35″ of each fabric. I would certainly bump that up to at least 1 yard per fabric (if not more) just due to the fact that it is rarely cut straight off of the bolt.

      Hope that helps!

      I have a couple of precut charm packs (6″ squares) in my Etsy shop right now if you want to take a look! https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheDesigNest?section_id=12793327

  2. Great tutorial! Thank you for sharing!

    Do you recommend washing the fabric before cutting? Some do some don’t…not sure which is best.

    1. I do recommend washing before sewing if you are using flannel. Flannel will have significant shrinkage after washing – much more so than a regular cotton. If you are just using a regular cotton – I probably wouldn’t pre-wash.

  3. On the precut fabric squares, the edges are cut with pinking shears…. Will this work for a rag quilt? Will it “rag up” when washing?

    1. Angie – My very first rag quilt was made with a charm pack from Tula Pink that had pinked edges. To answer your question … yes, it will ‘rag up’ eventually, but it will take more washings than if they are not pinked. The pre-cuts charm packs in my etsy shop are straight cut so that they will fray better when washed.

    1. Lynne – Yes. The batting does show through. If you take a look at the pictures in the post, you can see it there. It is the white part in the ‘grid’. You don’t have to use batting, especially if you don’t want that color to show through in your quilt. I’ve seen a middle layer of flannel used instead.

  4. Hi, there.

    I’m attempting my first rag quilt and have a question. Someone suggested that I use a “pinking” rotary blade to cut my 5 inch squares to get a good “fraying” for the fabric. Do you agree with this, or do you think this would keep me from having the rag quilt look? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Judy

      Yeah! I know you are going to love this project. As far as using a pinking blade, I don’t recommend it. The reason for a pinking cut is to prevent fraying of the fabric. Now, it won’t elimate the fraying, but it does help to stop it. I’ve used charm packs to make rag quilts before and those edges have been pinked. It works either way, but a pinked edge will take more washings to get more fraying. Good luck on your rag quilt!!

  5. This is my first rag quilt…I was told to cut batting squares smaller than fabric squares. Does batting fray, or it simply doesn’t matter? I have squares from 5 different fabrics, and it is for a crib. What size should it be and how many squares will I be using for that size? Thanks SO MUCH!

    1. I don’t cut the batting smaller. I cut all 3 layers the same size. The batting that I use does not fray, but you can use flannel instead of quilt batting in your middle layer, and that will fray if you prefer it that way. If your squares are 6.5″, you will want to have 7 columns, and 10 rows. A total of 70 squares.

  6. I’m getting ready to make my first rag quilt. I’m so excited. My question is in your measurements for a 6 inch block do I add the additional 1 inch for the seam allowance? I don’t want to make it 6 inches and then end up with a smaller quilt than I wanted.

    1. Diane – the measurements listed in the sizing chart are calculated using 1/2″ seam allowance. If you want a larger seam allowance,you will need to cut your squares 6.5″.

  7. Hi. My grand daughter has just finished a huge rag quilt which took her 1.5 years. I made I e for her cousin and used the wrong fabric and it wouldn’t stop fraying and made a dreadful mess. We threw it away in the end. This one is made of flannel. Will the fraying stop. I’ve not washed it yet, but I’m scared it will be horribly messy like the one I made. Will it settle down?

    1. Hi Dorothy

      Yes, the fraying will stop! It will take a few runs thru the washer and dryer, but it shouldn’t continue. I will warn you though, make sure to clean out your lint tray in your dryer each time! Since I do not cut my edges a lot, my threads are longer when they fray and they tend to make big nests of knots. When that happens, I just get the scissors out and start trimming them up.

  8. hi just thought i would mention an error in your sizing chart for 7 inch queen. it shows 13,13 and 169 i believe that would be the sizing for 8 in squares and 7 in would be 15,15 and 225..pls do not take offense

  9. Hi! Just wondering if you have problems when sewing over glossy parts of t-shirts? Even using a walking foot my square tends to bunch up and I am not sure what to do. thanks so much!!!! Beautiful and great tutorial!!

    1. Nancy- grab a piece of tissue paper and have it next to your machine. When you are sewing along and you have one of these sections, just before it feeds through, put the tissue paper on top. Sew thru the tissue paper and when you’re done, you can just rip it off. It should tear out pretty easily. That will help the fabric slide along under the foot instead of getting bunched up.

      1. Thank you so much! I just now came back to check what answer you may have given. That’s a great idea. I will try that next time. In the meantime, I did try just using zigzag stitch for the “x” on each square and that worked very well (most of the time). I a now done with 2 quilts. Great tutorial and I appreciate that you monitor it for questions. Merry Christmas!!

    1. Yes, I cut them the same size. If you don’t want the batting to show thru, then you will want to cut them 1″ smaller. So for a 6″ square you would cut the batting 5″.

  10. Hello Robin, Love your tutorial for your Rag Quilt. I’m a newbie to quilting. I’m making a King size with 6 inch squares with 3 different materials. Can you give me a ball park figure on how much material I would need to buy? Thanks for you help.

    1. Dawn – by my calculations, if you use the same amount of each fabric, you will need 3 2/3 yards of each fabric. I prewash my flannels due to shrinkage so I would buy 4 yds of each & wash the fabrics before cutting. In case you are wondering how I figured that out, this is how I did it. Looking at the chart above, I took the number of squares required (396), divided it by 3 (fabrics) = 132. From 1 yard of fabric, you should be able to get 36 6″squares. So take 132 / 36 = 3.6666 yds of each fabric.

  11. I have a question.I just made my 4th rag quilt for my mom the question is I noticed at the end that it had made some skipped stitches.Will the stitch be falling apart?I can’t go back and sew them since I was at the part were I start snipping?Please help.
    Thank u

    1. King- 108″x90″ (12, 10) 120 squares total, divided by 4 fabrics = 30 squares of each fabric

      I estimate you’ll need about 2.5 yds of each fabric to get (30) 10″ squares

  12. I have made 3 rag quilts so far and I am not sure in your directions regarding asewing the rows together. When coming to the seams on the block sides, should you open up the seams or should you keep them going all in one directionand the other seam all going in the opposite direction so you can butt the seams up to fit in together?

    One other question is I did keep one seam going in one direction and the other all going in the opposite directions and did not leave the seam open, but I don’t know if I should cut diagonally into the double seam part as it is bunched up with all the layers of the seam going in the one direction.

    I do have acouple hints that I have found.
    1. I do have an Accuquilt with the rag 8 1/2″ die. I can cut 64 times 2 total 128 blocks in maybe just a little more then an hour and all the fringe is already cut by the die. It cuts 3/4″ cut into fabric deep every hmmm a little more then 1/4 apart.
    2. If you don’t have an Accuquilt, I have used my seam ripper to work very well. I am a blind quilter and cutting into a seam is not the best for someone who can not see anything. The seam rippers works really good as it has a point that will go thru the layers of fabric and I can feel where the seam is so I can estimate so I don’t hit the seam and then you are jst pulling away from the seam toward the edge. . It works well for me. Joyce

    1. Joyce

      The directions that I’ve given on the website is the way that I sew rag quilts, but it is by no means the only way to sew them. Some people prefer to open their seams when they sew the rows together, but I prefer to ‘nest’ or butt the seams together. I think that opening your seams and laying one seam on top of the other is difficult to get them to stay lined up perfectly.

      I’m not sure I understand your question about cutting diagonally into the seam. You don’t really want to cut the seam, just do relief cuts on either side.

      Great to hear about the Accuquilt! I know others love the rag dies. (The Accuquilt is on my wish list!) Did you know that they have a rag quilt die that removes the corners so that you don’t end up with that bulk? This is the link to it on Amazon (affiliate link) http://amzn.to/1CAzQ9y

  13. Hi, I love this so much, I have picked this to be my first project to sew since High School. (we won’t talk about how long that has been) ha ha. Do you have a video on youtube to follow along? I am great until it comes to the sewing the pieces together..right side, left side..ha ha…then the post above..I get confused. I am going this weekend to buy the material. Would you recommend doing flannel all around, top, batting, and bottom? How cozy does that sound? 🙂 thank you so very much! Carla

    1. Hi Carla! This is a great project to get you back to your sewing machine! I don’t have any videos up right now, but I’ve been thinking about making some. I know that doesn’t help you right now though! When I reference the ‘right side’ in the post above, I’m referring to the side of the fabric that has the print on it, the ‘pretty’ side, and not the right-hand side of the fabric. Flannel for the top middle and bottom works well, I think you’ll love it! Enjoy sewing!!!

  14. Robin,
    I am a beginner and have picked a rag quilt for my first project. I finished my quilt but the centers on every block (where the material was the bulkiest) has opened up. I used a walking foot and don’t know why this happened. I hope I am making sense. I was hoping to find out why this happened so it doesn’t happen again on the next one I have started for my granddaughter. Please help!
    Thank you!

    1. Only a guess, but you might take a look at your thread. If it’s old, you will be able to break it pretty easily when tugging on it and with the bulk and weight of a rag quilt it could be too much pull on it. Perhaps trying a stronger type of thread would help.

  15. Hi! I am looking forward to making my son a star wars rag quilt for his 6th birthday. Before I begin, should I wash the fabric first? It is 100% cotton with star wars characters printed all over it. I don’t want to make a mistake as I only have 6 weeks to finish and I have two little ones as well so I don’t have lots of free time to start over!!!

    I really liked your tutorial and will be using it as I make my rag quilt!!!

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Amber – The best thing about a rag quilt is that it is so forgiving! It is really up to you & your preference as to if you pre wash or not. Many rag quilters say that you have to and many others say not to. I recommend pre washing if your fabric is a flannel, but regular cotton I don’t prewash. I do for flannel simply because it does shrink up much more than a traditional cotton and you’d rather have that happen before your quilt is finished. Another time I would pre wash a fabric (both cotton and flannel) is when I’m using colors that might bleed. Then I’ll throw some color catchers in with it when pre washing. Good luck with your rag quilt, I’m sure your son will love it!

  16. I am afraid That the cuts I made where it will ravel are too narrow….they are about 1/4 inch apart.
    Also, the outer edge thickness is much less, so will it ravel nicely anyhow?

    Thanks so much!!

  17. Also I was advised to use the iron on batting…so I put one on each square before assembling the quilt. Do you know I’d the iron on will perform the same as the batting that is usually used?

  18. I want to use precut handwoven fabrics from jubilee.com wich I don’t want to prewash. But do I have to prewash the batting (cotton) or not?
    Thanks for your good tutorial!

  19. I have a panda pattern rag quilt, a friend wants me to make. All pieces are cut out, like four pieces of fleece for each pattern pieces. so much fleece. Not sure how to do this. Do I make a front and back panda?

  20. Sorry if a question that was already answered but I am interested in making a Throw size quilt. I would like to know total yards of fabric and batting needed? Thank you.

  21. The chart you made showing columns, rows, sizes, etc. helps me so much. It stops at 7″ and I want to make 8″ squares. Since my brain is math-challenged, would you supply the same info for 8″ squares? I would be forever grateful! Thanks for the excellent information here.

  22. where can I find a chart on how much yardage is needed to make a lap blanket 50 x 60 using 6 inch blocks. I found it once and can not find it again. thank you

  23. Hi!
    I love your tutorial! I’m trying a rag quilt as a first project for sewing. I have kind of a silly question, but I just don’t know the answer:
    When making the X’s on the squares – do I need to back-stitch or secure the thread in any way? Thanks for any info anyone can provide!

  24. Hi, I am a beginner(oh no) lol, for the 66×90 size you quote above, are the 234 6″ squares the total amount of fabric I’d need for BOTH sides of the quilt or just the front? Sorry if that’s a dumb question…….Thanks for explaining the making of this quilt so well, you make it very easy to understand!!

  25. Hi Robin. Now that I’m sewing the rows together the blocks aren’t matching. I’ve tried pinning, making sure the seams match but after 3 rows the blocks are still wonky.
    Any help is much appreciated.

  26. I’m making my first rag quilt and fear a few things. First, I’m worried I’m going to have the same problem as Julia (above comment). Secondly, I’m concerned that I may have a problem with my squares unraveling incorrectly and excessively because, in my great wisdom (not)I thought the only way to make a perfect square would be to rip the fabric because it would follow the warp of fabric. So, I ripped all my squares, flannel batting included. Now, after reading these comments and your tutorial, I’m concerned that the threads in the squares will just keep coming off and not just ravel so that we get that nice ruffly edge. Will this be circumvented if I slash/cut into each 1″ apart as you recommended? Also, I didn’t pre-wash my flannel because I thought that washing after the quilt was finished would accomplish the same thing. I didn’t take into account shrinkage. That said, I’m wondering how much shrinkage I can expect so that I can add more to the quilt before I finish and wash it. I’m afraid I’ve made all kinds of errors and I haven’t even begun to sew all my squares together yet! I think I did do one thing right though, I made sure all the fabric layers had their fabric grains going in the same direction. I figured the quilt may not wind up very square if the blocks had their grains or bias going in opposite directions. Yeah me! I scored one out of four correctly! If you read this post in time, I hope you can help me with solutions to compensate with my other failures. Thanks you so much for your great tutorial!

    1. Hi Diane!

      No, I wouldn’t recommend using a button instead of the X. The X serves to hold all of your fabrics together and I can’t see a button working quite the same way. If you want to embellish with a button afterwards, I think that would be fine. 😉

  27. Hi Robin- I love your quilts. Also, thank you so much for the tutorial it is awesome. I am a crazy women I have thought about making these for my 2 kids and 7 nieces & nephews for xmas for the past oh say month but did not start yet LOL Joanne Fabric sparked me with a awesome sale so I think I may attempt this. I was thinking about making bigger squares like 10″ to cut down my cutting time. What do you think? Also how many row and columns would I do to make it good size for all these diff. ages? The ages are 4,7,9,12,14,20,21,22,27.. Thought maybe a liitle smaller one for 3 little ones and bigger for older 6. Is it a must to pre wash all flannel first? sorry to be a pain. love making special things for family. Thank you for any help

  28. hi there! Found that my quilt somehow turned out smaller than I had anticipated, I cut squares 7″ batting 6″ and did a 1/2″ seam allowance and snipped all the seams . Found some of my “x”s were off ( ) . Blanket looks way smaller. So, I bought more fabric to add to the present quilt. I had washed and dried the quilt x2. The outside border did not fluff up very well. So Have taken all my seams apart. I will be ironing and re-sewing the squares. thinking about taking the “x”s out of the squares and re-sewing them too and then add the new material. What do you think I could do to fix this?

  29. Thank You SOOOOOO much for all of the great information! Especially the chart for the rag quilts! I am just starting to sew again at the age of 45. I remember sewing with my Mama and Nanny when I was younger. So many things have come back to me already and I wish I had paid more attention but you just don’t appreciate things like that when you are young! I have a quilt my Nanny made me that is falling apart and once I have a little experience I want to try and recreate it! Thank you for remembering the little tips and tricks for the ones of us that are beginners! So many blog writers have been sewing for many moons and do not remember that some of us are just beginning and need to be reminded of the little things and need easy projects for practice!

  30. Hi! I’m making a rag quilt using muslin for backing and batting for the middle like you suggested. I bought all cotton batting but see that my quilt will be thinner than I’d like if I use that. Is there a certain type of batting that works best for bedding use- to keep a small child warm, but not too warm? Another question- will the quilt look funny if I use 2 layers of my thin batting instead of buying thicker batting? Thanks!

  31. So I’m making mine with flannel and pinning with just a white flannel do I trim the pinning back or do you leave it to show when you do your cuts around the squares?

  32. Hi
    I’ve just finished making my first rag quilt .So happy with it i have so much flannel left I’m making another one in strips not squares .

    Happy Quilting ☺

  33. Have you ever put together one of the rag quilt animal pillows??? I do a lot of rag quilts and have cut out the pattern for the penquin pillow… but the directions are horrible.. any tips if you have???

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