Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sienna's Flannel Rag Quilt

Sienna's turns 8 tomorrow and for the past couple of months I have been thinking about making her a hand made gift.  I was looking on Pinterest and thinking about Owls which are her favourite thing but couldn't quite work out what I wanted to make.  Last week I was visiting a friend and she showed me the rag quilt that her sister had made for her son and I decided that I would make one for Sienna.  The traditional rag quilt is made up of squares however you can also do strips.  Given the short time frame I had because I had left it to the last minute I decided that doing strips was going to be achievable vs the squares.  Note:  This fabric is "Flannel" and it's needed in this particular quilt to get the effect.  I also used a really thin but very soft wadding/batting because you want the overall softness when cuddling up to this quilt.  The problem is with Flannel is there is not a huge range of fabrics like their is in normal quilting fabrics but I was very happy with these that I had purchased from a specialty quilting shop.  I did pop down to Spotlight yesterday to see if there were any boy type fannels with the hope of making one for James however there was only really baby fabrics in the flannel.  Spotlight quilting fabrics are generally much cheaper than the specialty quilting stores but I started out with the quilting store for my first attempt.  I used a rotary cutter and cutting mat and a "walking foot" as there are 6 layers of fabric doing this quilt.  If you are a quilter you would probably already own a walking foot however they are not cheap as I bought mine many years ago and I think it was $70 but my normal sewing foot would have struggled I think.  The walking foot helps get the fabric through.

I bought the fabric last Friday and cut it all up on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night in between attending a 6 year old birthday party in the morning and a School Bush Dance in the evening.  I was on a mission to have this quilt done for her birthday which was basically 5 days away with 2 of those days being the weekend when the birthday girl would be around so I was cutting it very fine indeed.

I had 6 different fabrics which were divided into 2 blue, 2 pink and 2 aqua patterns and then some white in between each set.  I cut the 6 fabrics into 5 inch strips and the white fabric which was to go in between the colour sets into 3 inch strips.  The seams for sewing the rag quilts are not the normal 1/4 inch seam but a half inch seam.  Therefore the finished strip allowing for half inch seam either side means a 5 inch wide strip less the 1 inch seam allowance (half each each side) comes back to 4 inches of fabric finished.  With the white strips, they were 3 inches wide less the 1 inch seams (half inch each side) back to 2 inches finished.  I ended up with 18 pieces of the different fabrics cut into the 5 inch wide strips.  So in other words from each fabric I cut 3 strips each (5 inches wide x the length of the fabric) and I had 6 different fabrics which gave me the 18 pieces for the 5 inch wide colours.

The main thing you have to get your head around with this quilt is that your seam is above on top of your finished piece and not under the finished piece which is the normal method for sewing seams together.  So with normal sewing we are putting right sides together ie the good fabric right sides together but with this quilt you are actually putting the right sides of the backing fabric together and the right side of your quilt is what you sew onto and not the wrong sides of the fabric.'s pretty simple but you have to think about it when you are pinning your work so you can start to sew your seams together.

I used one design of fabric to cover the back which was coloured circles on white and that little bit of coloured fabric comes through in the finished seam which looks so pretty.

There are lots of instructions on the net or just go to Pinterest and type in "Rag Quilt" and you'll find lots of ideas and instructions there.

So a recap of what you have to cut.  Strips for the top of the quilt (coloured above).  Strips of wadding/batting for the middle and then strips of your backing fabric for the back.  You are going to made a sandwich of backing fabric (lay the good or right side of the fabric facing the floor, then pop your strip of wadding/batting next and then pop on top your coloured piece of fabric facing up.  Then pop a few pins into the middle of this sandwich all the way to the bottom and set aside.  I used about 4 pins on each sandwich strip to hold it together.  Continue doing this to all of your pieces the same way.

Then next you want to sew a straight line down the middle of each of your sandwiches which basically holds these 3 layers together.  Go through and one by one sew a line down the middle of every piece you have.  You are still operating with single strips of fabric only now everything is 3 layers deep.  Once you have done that place all of your pieces in the pattern you want on the floor and I just repeated my pattern with white in between each colour.  Once they are in the pattern you want it is just a just a matter of joining one piece to the next in that order.  NOTE:  remember joining them is different to how you would normally join pieces together (see above for explanation).  There were 18 pieces of coloured 5 inch strips and if you allow 2 minutes to sew a line down the middle for each piece that's only a bit over half an hour so this process is pretty quick.  I then did the same to the smaller white pieces of fabric.

I starting out doing a little TV blanket for Sienna however it ended up being the length of her bed so I just went with that as I had bought the fabric and had cut it all out. She can put it on top of her bed or drag it out to the lounge to keep warm in winter watching a bit of TV.

The thing that takes the most time and effort is using your scissors to cut all the seams to near the sewing line.  Your hands get pretty sore as you are cutting through 6 layers of fabric and 2 of them are wadding/batting.

Once all the strips are sewn together and clipped along the seam line you can sew a seam half an inch around the entire quilt for your boarder and then clip that as well.

Once it's all finished pop it into the washing machine on cold and I just put it in on the quick 30 minute cycle with no detergent.

Once it has been through the wash, pop the quilt into the dryer with a tennis ball and put it on low heat and dry away to your hearts content.  This is the process that finishes the quilt off by getting all those snipped seams to ruffle/frill up.  This is one of those things that drying your quilt on the line won't do.  I actually popped 3 tennis balls into the machine in the end and I guess it knocks the fabric about and makes those seams come alive with the lovely edge that you get when it's finished. NOTE:  Stay by the dryer and every ten minutes clean out the lint filter because there will be lots of fluff.  Half way through I took the quilt outside and gave it a good shake as well and put it back into the dryer with the tennis balls.  Just a reminder that you should be handy to your dryer while your quilt is in the dryer to clean out the fluff and also make sure there is no lint/fluff in your dryer before you pop your quilt into it.

Here's the finished quilt which I love and I know Sienna will love it.  This afternoon I showed the quilt to James while Sienna watching TV in another room and he loved it.  He said it was so warm and wanted one himself and he knew Sienna would love it.

See the colourful circle fabric as my backing fabric.  These circles are on white.

The finished quilt can sit on her bed although it's only as wide as the fabric bolt so there's no real overhang like a doona but it does cover the length of her bed but this will be her morning TV blanket.  I'm thrilled to bits with how it turned out given that I bought the fabric last Friday and didn't start sewing it until Monday.  I was busy yesterday so didn't do any and this morning I spent a few hours finishing it off so I can give it to her for her birthday tomorrow.  I have to go an ice 3 dozen piggy cupcakes now so haven't got time to proof read this to see if it makes sense but wanted to post the pictures.  I'll revisit it tomorrow just to make sure but for now....I know my birthday girl will be up at the crack of dawn so I had better ice those cakes, go and watch The Block and Biggest Loser and get some sleep.  Yes, I love my reality TV.  I love the square rag quilts but this one is quick and easy and is just as effective.  Just imagine if all those rows were 10-12 squares and how much more joining would that be so the strip version is pretty quick.  One day I might make the square one but for now I'm so happy with this one.


  1. Happy Birthday Sienna! I thought you had been quiet over the last week or so, but now I know why!
    Well done, you should be proud of yourself Kathy. Melindi

    1. Hi Melindi, that, and my sister was diagnosed with Breast Cancer so we have all been in a state of shock for the past 2 weeks. She had an operation today to remove two lumps and then the next year is taken up with chemo and radium treatment and hopefully at the end she will be good again. She is the picture of health so it's hard to comprehend it really.

    2. Sorry to hear that, is she in Brisbane where you can see her? I'm sure lots of other people have said similar already, but 2 good friends of mine have been through the same process and are now doing really well. OK, that year wasn't a fabulous year while it was happening, but they look and feel so well now. A bit like having babies waking you at night to feed in those early times - every trying day or night is one step closer to everything being good again. Try and keep positive, Melindi

    3. Thanks Melindi. She is in Brisbane so all her family are here except our other sister who lives in Perth. Kathy

  2. Kathy, This is truly a gift of love for your daughter:) You're an amazing mum too:) Wishing Sienna a very very happy birthday - the best ever:)

  3. It looks fab!!! Well done! I'm sure Sienna is going to adore it!

    1. I'll let you know what she says....James really wanted me to give it to her this morning but there were other presents this morning so saving it for this afternoon (well in half an hr anyway when she finishes school). Kathy

  4. what a great quilt! Well done :) What a wonderful present. I made a couple of these years ago and they are so snuggly aren't they? (but soo messy when you first wash them!)

    1. They sure are....but I'm sweating like a pig now as it's 28 degrees but it feels like 38 degrees to me with the sun today. Kathy