Monday, June 10, 2013

Tutorial - Personalized Baby Boy Flannel Rag Quilt/Cuddle Blanket

It is interesting to see what brings people to your blog.  Even though I have only made one previous rag quilt, "baby boy rag quilt" is one of the top three things that bring people to my blog!

I know there are a ton of rag quilt tutorials out there, but since mine is a little different with the name personalization, and since I was making another rag quilt for my son, I thought I would make it easy for those who come upon my blog in their search for a rag quilt and write up a tutorial for how I make mine.

Finn rag titile cover

(This tutorial will make a small, lovey-type quilt, about 32x36 inches.  It is the perfect size for a small child to carry around and cuddle with!  The quantities I list here will be for that size.  To enlarge, simply cut more flannel squares until you have enough for the desired size.)

(To see a few more pics of this quilt, CLICK HERE to view my original post.)

You will need:

 - FOR THE TOP - Various scraps or cuts of flannel to equal roughly 1.5 - 1.75 yards - (most of mine were already-cut squares that I saved from my earlier rag quilt, and scraps from some other flannel blankets I had made for my twins, so this is an estimation.  If you do purchase cuts of fabric, I would recommend getting 1/3 yard (or 12-inch) cuts.  A quarter-yard cut would only be 9 inches long - not enough to get two rows of 5-inch squares out of!)

- FOR THE BACKING - 2 yards of coordinating solid flannel

- FOR THE NAME STRIP -  2 strips of flannel, 5-inches x WOF (width of fabric) - 1 in your desired top fabric and 1 cut from your backing fabric

- 1 strip of "batting"
flannel, 4-inches x WOF

-  contrasting flannel scraps for the letters - choose scraps that have high contrast to your background fabric to make the name stand out and easily readable.

Equivalent of 2 yards flannel scraps OR batting for the middle of the quilt - For the quilt pictured, I used scrap flannel for the "batting".  I did not want this quilt to be heavy or too warm, since it was intended as a cuddle blanket for my 2-year-old son.  For my earlier rag quilt, I used actual low-loft quilters batting.  (You can view it HERE if you want to see the difference in thickness, etc.)  The color or pattern for the "batting" flannel doesn't matter since it doesn't show on the outside of the quilt (I used a medium-toned blue, again leftover from my previous quilt), making this a great opportunity to use up random scraps you might have lying around!

- Wonder Under, or other light fusible webbing 

- Sewing Notions - sewing machine, thread, rotary cutter and mat, acrylic ruler, scissors and iron.


First: Prepare your fabric - If you would like, you can wash your flannel.  I usually do, simply because I have found that flannel shrinks quite a bit, and I don't necessarily want it to shrink unevenly or excessively once this type of quilt is finished.  But it is totally up to you.  If you do wash it, I recommend clipping your cut edges with pinking shears to minimize fraying in the wash.

Next, whether you wash your fabric or not, iron your fabric and square it up before cutting.  (If you do not know how to square up your fabric, HERE is a good tutorial you can follow.)

Second: Cut your fabric - Once I have squared up my fabric, I line it up on my mat and cut it into strips 5 inches X WOF (width of fabric - about 42 inches).

I then carefully stack 2 of my (still folded) strips on top of each other, matching all my edges, and line the stack up straight on my cutting mat.  Then, placing my ruler on top of my stack, I line up the edge of my ruler  to the line on my mat closest to the raw edge of my fabric and make a straight cut through all the layers of fabric.   

I them move my ruler down 5 inches, line up my ruler again, and cut again.  Repeat until you have cut the entire length of the strip into 5-inch squares.  

I continue this process with all my TOP and BACKING fabrics until I have 64 squares of each (128 squares total).

I repeat the process with my middle "batting" flannel, EXCEPT I cut it into 4-inch squares.  You will need 64 total "batting" squares.

Here I cut two rows of fabric stacks at the same time. It makes the cutting go so much faster!

Cut the name strip TOP and BACKING fabrics the same as the other 5-inch x WOF strips, but DO NOT sub-cut them into squares.

Cut the "batting" flannel strip the same as above, only cut it 4-inches x WOF.

Here is what you will have when you are all done cutting:

Third: "Sandwich" your squares - Place one BACKING square, wrong side facing up, on your surface.  Center one "batting" square on top.

Place one of your TOP squares, right side up, on top of  "batting" square, matching the sides with the bottom square.  

 This is your square "sandwich".  Repeat this process with all your TOP, BACKING and BATTING squares.

I stack my sandwiches, turning every other one at an angle (as illustrated in the photo below), to make it easy to grab each sandwich while chain sewing.

Fourth - Chain stitch your sandwiches together - The photo below is the only one I took while I was chain-sewing the "x's" through the square sandwiches, so hopefully I can explain the process clearly without any additional photos!  Basically, you want to sew an "X" through each square sandwich  from corner to corner. The easiest way to do this is to chain sew them.  (You can use a matching or contrasting thread.  I used a medium turquoise on all the squares.)  

Place your stack where you can easily reach, and, taking one at a time, begin sewing diagonally, starting at one corner down through the opposite corner.  Without cutting your threads, immediately begin feeding your next square sandwich through your sewing machine, corner to corner, and repeat the process until all your squares have a line of diagonal stitching through them.  They should still all be connected and you will have a chain of 64 squares that you will now separate by clipping the stitches between the squares. 

Once they are clipped and re-stacked, you will repeat the chain sewing, this time sewing down the opposite corners to form and "X" through the squares. Once all your square sandwiches are sewn together, clip them apart and set them aside.

Fifth: Prepare the applique name strip - Prepare a word document with the name you will be appliqueing.  The easiest fonts to applique (and read) are thick and fairly simple.  (I used the font "Rojo".)
Print out a sheet with the letters in the name sized to about 2.5 inches at the tallest point.  Cut each letter out right on the line.

Take your scrap that you have set aside for the letters and make sure your letters will fit on them.  Then cut out a piece of Wonder Under the same shape, but just slightly smaller than the scrap (You don't want any of the Wonder Under to hang over your fabric, otherwise when you fuse it to the fabric, you will also fuse it to your ironing board wherever it is overhanging!) 

Place your scrap flannel onto your ironing board, WRONG side up.  Iron the Wonder Under onto the flannel, rough side DOWN.

Let it cool, then trace your cut out letters BACKWARDS onto the Wonder Under. (You can also trace your letters before you fuse your Wonder Under to your fabric.)

Cut out letters and carefully peel the Wonder Under paper from your applique letter.

Decide where you want your name to be appliqued on your name strip.  I placed mine so that the last letter was  about 2 inches from the right-hand edge of the flannel strip.  You will also want to make sure your name is straight.  Simply line up your ruler evenly along the bottom edge of the flannel strip (In this case, I measured it 1 1/8 inch from the bottom edge) and line up the bottoms of your letters along the top edge of your ruler.  You want to keep in mind that you will have a 1/2-inch seam on the top and bottom of this strip, so place your letters so that they will not get caught in the seams.  Play with the spacing until it is pleasing to your eye.

CAREFULLY remove the ruler without disturbing the letters.  Gently place a hot, DRY iron (NO STEAM!) onto the top of the letters and leave on WITHOUT MOVING the iron for about 6-10 seconds.  Lift the iron directly up and again place on top of any remaining letters, without moving the iron around.  Repeat this process until all your letters are fused to the fabric.

Take your fabric strip to your sewing machine and with a matching (or contrasting) thread, applique each letter down using about 1/8 inch or less border.  This will allow the edges of the letters to eventually get a slight ragged look, as well, after it has been washed a few times.  (If you don't want a ragged effect on the name, you can applique it with a zig zag or buttonhole stitch instead.)

I then make another fabric sandwich with the strips, layering the backing fabric (right side down), the batting fabric, and the top fabric (right side up).  With the strip, however, instead of securing it with an "X" like the squares, I just sewed a line along the center of the strip, ending just before I got to the name, and then sewing another short line through the middle of the strip on the other side of the name.  ( I also basted the top and bottom of the strip to avoid any shifting, as you can see in the photo, but I don't really think it was necessary. So feel free to do that step, or skip it, whichever you prefer.)

Sixth - Lay out your quilt and sew your rows -  Take your sewn squares and name strip and arrange them how you would like them to look in your quilt. 

Gather them up by row and label the rows. 

(I take a picture of the layout with my phone so I can refer back to it if I get confused.) Then I take the stack of labeled rows to the sewing machine and and start sewing! 

 Remember, you are putting your square sandwiches BACK sides together so that the seam will show in the front.  Using a 1/2-inch seam, sew each square in the row together until the entire row is joined.  Repeat for each additional row.  You will end up with 8 rows, 8 squares long.

Once you have all your rows sewn, you are going to sew your rows together.  Again with back sides together, pin two of your rows together along the long side, matching the seams.  I pin and sew my seams open.  

Sew your rows together.  Again, you will sew 1/2-inch seams that will be visible on the front of the quilt.  Continue adding your rows, matching seams, until you have sewn SEVEN rows together. 

For the 8th row, add your name strip, again with back sides together using a 1/2-inch seam.  You will probably have some extra length that will need to be cut off of the strip, so be sure to have the end with the name on it lined up with the right-hand edge of the quilt.  That way you can cut any excess off of the left side - the side without the applique.

Add the final row of squares to the bottom of the name strip in the same way.  Trim the left side of the name strip, if necessary.  (You can use your ruler and rotary cutter if you want, but I just used my scissors to cut the excess off.) 

Finally, sew a 1/2-inch border around the entire quilt.  You are done sewing!

Now comes the FUN part (Insert sarcasm here.)  Clipping!

This part is pretty self explanatory, but you will take scissors and start clipping all those 1/2 seams that you made on the front side of the quilt (and also the 1/2-inch border you just sewed around the border of the quilt).  Make the clips about 1/4 inch wide, or less.  Take care not to clip too far and cut the seam!  

When you get to the "intersections" of the squares,  or the corners where the seams meet, I clip the fold open.  The photo below hopefully explains what I mean.  I'm sure this isn't necessary, but it is something that I do to make sure the clips are evenly spaced and fluffed after the blanket is washed.

Once you have clipped all your seams, throw your quilt into the washer and dryer.  I would recommend checking your lint catcher about halfway through drying, and cleaning it out.  These things shed!  (You can try washing it inside a pillowcase, but I haven't tried that tip yet myself.)  

Once dry, give it to your favorite 2-year-old to enjoy :)

Finn Rag Finn



  1. Thanks so much for this tutorial. I'm still a newbie and I love all the step by step instructions!

  2. Great tutorial! Thank you for sharing!
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  3. Thank you for the great tutorial. I will make my first rag quilt following these directions for my soon to be grandson in November!

    1. You're welcome! I would love to see your quilt when it is finished :)

  4. Awesome! Can't wait to try it for my baby boy (he'll be here in October)! I've been trying to figure out what pattern I'd like to use and haven't found one I just love. However, I LOVE the idea of having the name on it. Coolest one I've seen! What type of thread do you use? Just a regular thread or do you use something special to avoid seams breaking?

    1. Thanks! I just use regular thread. I haven't had a problem with seams coming apart. I do back tack at the beginning and end of each row as I sew them together, and on the 1/2 in. seam that is sewn around the perimeter of the quilt, but other than that, I don't to anything special or use any special thread. Good luck and I would love to see your quilt if you make one!

    2. Do you also back tack when you are making the sandwiches with the diagonal stitching or when you are sewing the sandwiches together to create the rows?

  5. I'm very glad you decided to make a tutorial. You did a great job of it, too! :)

  6. Thank you for this tutorial! Here is my very first quilt for my 3 yr old's birthday!

    1. I should have back tacked a little more though! Some of my seams came undone, so I'm just patching it up before I wrap it!

    2. Thanks so much for sharing your pictures! I love your quilt! I'm sure your son will love it! And yes, back tacking is important, especially on the outside edges :) Glad the tutorial worked for you!

  7. I made this with cotton, minky, and cotton batting. It made for a warm and heavy quilt! I wanted it to fit a twin bed, so instead of making more squares, I made the squares bigger (9"x9"). Thanks for the tutorial!

    1. Your quilt is so adorable! I love the size. Thanks so much for sharing! I love to see all the beautiful quilts that are inspired by this tutorial.

  8. what font did you use for Finn's name? I am making a couple of these for new additions to our family this month and that font is adorable :)

    1. The font I used is called Cafe Rojo. It's great for appliqueing!

  9. I am newer to sewing and saw your tutorial and thought that I could do this! My concern is attaching the squares to form rows and then sewing the rows together. All of my fabric squares are 5x5 like you suggested, but I am concerned that the squares won't line up when I sew the rows together. Do you have any tips for that? Thanks!

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