Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rag Quilts and Ramblings

It's hard to believe that just a few days ago I had the air conditioner on... and now I have the heat going again!  I finally gave in and turned the heat on when the thermostat in my house dropped to  62 degrees and I was freezing.  We have warmer weather on the way again, but evidently the circuit board for my air conditioning unit hasn't come in yet, as the repairman hasn't been back to fix it.  He rigged it so it works, but the fan runs continuously.  He said it is actually preferable to run the fan always, as it circulates the air better whether it is heating or cooling, and is minimal in cost, estimating around an additional $15.00 per year.  He also said it is less stressful to the furnace or air conditioning unit to run the fan continuously.  My oldest son was here when the repairman came, and he said from an energy standpoint, he thought it's preferable to put the strain on the unit rather than further deplete our energy sources!  He's the quietest of my children, but has always been an activist for human rights and our environment.  He's the one I go to for advice, politically, also.  He's informed and not shy about expressing his opinions to me.  

Cool weather brings thoughts of quilts again.  Our quilting group at church has made a lot of Rag Quilts for Project Linus, which distributes them to babies in hospitals.  A few of us do the actual sewing, while others do the pinning and snipping.  I have learned through experience NOT to wash and dry them in my own laundry room, as I clogged the dryer and had to have a repairman come and fix it.  Next time, I will bring them to the laundromat and do them there... and save my appliances.

Supplies needed:
sharp scissors
rotary cutter
cutting ruler/guide
cutting mat
sewing machine
neutral colored thread  (white or off-white)
quilting pins

You will need:
7" squares of flannel for the front and back of each square and 6" squares of batting to sandwich between.  You can use any weight, but should be consistent throughout the quilt.
You might want to use the same fabric for the backing squares, with a variety of prints for the front.  This is a quilt where just about anything goes and you can use up your leftover fabrics and pieces of batting left from other projects. 
 Amount of fabric needed (Figures are based on fabric that is 44” wide):
Each 7" strip of fabric will yield 6 squares, and your finished block size will be 6", with 1/2" seams on all sides.  You can compute the total yardage needed by figuring out how big you want your quilt, how many squares of fabric you will need, and multiplying it out. 
Baby quilt, 36" square:  36 squares of backing flannel and 36 squares for the front, plus 36 batting squares = 6 squares per 7” strip, and since you need 36 squares, that is 6 strips, so you will need a total of 42” of fabric each for the backing and front (7” strips yielding 6 squares each, 6 strips X 7” = 42”), approximately 1-1/4 yards each, front and back.  Baby quilt, 36 X 42":  42 squares of backing flannel, 42 squares front squares, plus 42 batting squares.  Fabric needed:  approximately 49” (approximately 1-1/2 yards each).
Of course, you can make them bigger, using these guidelines to figure the amount of fabric needed.
Sandwich batting square between a back and front square, with the right side of both pieces of flannel facing out and the batting on the inside.  Pin at each side of the square through all thicknesses (4 pins parallel to the edges) and sew diagonally across all thicknesses, stitching an “X” on the square, corner to corner.  When all “sandwiches” have been completed, sew them together in strips (I use 3 pins on each seam, with the 1/2” seam on the right side.  The back side will look finished when it is sewn.  Sew strips together to form the quilt, and sew around all four outside edges, ½” from edge.  Clip ALL seams just to stitching, every ¼”, including the outer edge.  Be careful not to clip into stitching line, but clip as close to the seam as possible.  When all seams have been clipped, wash and dry your quilt to form the shaggy look.  
 Note:  You can use any size squares or rectangles you wish.  Just make sure your batting is about 1” smaller than the front and back, and that the front and back are the same size.  You can also use denim or homespun, as these will fray easily, as well.  I do not pre-wash any of the fabrics.  

I found some special "snippers" at JoAnn Fabrics made especially for snipping these types of quilts, and they really simplify the job and make it much less stressful on the "scissor hands".  These quilts are soft and as colorful as you want to make them.  Since I quilt, I like having a pattern that uses up all the little pieces left over from quilting bigger quilts.  I sew pajamas for my grandchildren and lounge pants for my children, so the leftover flannel is put to good use in these Rag quilts, also.  My granddaughter, Maddie, made one of these Rag quilts for her nephew when he was born, almost a couple of years ago.  It was a fun project for her, and a good way for a beginner to learn to sew.  

I was planning to make a trip to Minnesota this coming weekend to help Quentin celebrate his 7th birthday on April 2nd, but cancelled my plans today.  (The photo to the right is Quentin Howard with my father, Howard, his namesake.  It was taken about 3 years ago... would you believe my dad was just a few years from 90 there?)  I will go at the end of April instead, and babysit all three of my Minnesota grandchildren while their parents take a romantic weekend trip together.  They think I'm doing them a favor... and I KNOW I am the one on the receiving end... they are giving me a wonderful opportunity to be a live-in grandma, enjoying my grandbabies for that time!  Perhaps I will have to do a little spoiling, while I'm at it!  I hope you have children around you, too, reminding you to look at the world through their eyes of innocence and wonder.


  1. Alaena,
    I didn't know you expanded your talents!!! I crochet some,knit dish clothes and embroider, and I would really like to make the lacey scarves that seem to be the rage around here!!! Glad your doing okay!!! You go girl!!! Love, Sue

    1. Hi, Sue...
      I've done all of these things since I've been an adult! I have crocheted and knitted dish cloths... give them to my kids for Christmas every year, along with the net scrubbies. Are you talking about the knitted narrow ribbon scarves? I have the pattern for those.