Frayed Edge Rag Throw Quilt Tutorial

May 1, 2013Allison Murray
Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

Some months ago I found some blue, purple and teal fabric that just floored me. It was perfect. I snagged up half a yard with the idea that I wanted to make a rag throw quilt with similar fabric. I had little swatches of everything I had in my purse and when I went to a new place I’d add to the quilt stash.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

Now as it turned out, not all of them worked out together. That is a disappointing aspect of carrying little swatches when your patterns are mostly huge florals but that’s okay. Fabric always gets used around here. I decided that this would be a good project to test out my new Brother sewing machine.

My Mimmie (grandmother) was a seamstress and managed a dry cleaners for most of her life. She knows sewing and she knows machines. My Singer started acting up and she would have me do this or that while she listened OVER THE PHONE. (she is crazy talented) Turns out that my machine went off time and it was going to cost $90 to have it looked at, or I could buy a new tricked out Brother for $130. Now I have 90 stitches I can use, yeah! Even though I’ve only used 2, yeah!

Now, I’ve never machine quilted before and so my quilt is less than perfect. My Mimmie sort of explained what all I’d need to do and showed me some of it at my parents’ house. But when I called her to ask a question she informed me that she didn’t know what I was talking about and that she ccouldn’t tell me how to make something she’s never even heard of. Great. But it worked out in the end as imperfect as it may be.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

For this project you will need:

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

To cut your squares you can either use a rotary tool and go around your square or trace the square shape onto your fabric with a marking pen and cut out with scissors. There are a lot of squares to cut out (and this is just a throw!) and the rotary tool is much, much faster. In fact I purchased a rotary tool just for this project.

You’ll need to cut 7 inch squares out of your patterned fabric. If you purchased 1/4 yard you’ll have about an inch on either side of the square and you’ll be able to get 4 out of each quarter yard with a little bit of scrap left over. Be careful, though. I got shorted several times and my square was really close to the edge sometimes.

Then cut out 36 7 inch squares out of your solid fabric and 36 5.5 inch squares out of your batting or flannel. I went batting.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

Sandwich the pieces together with fabric, batting, fabric. Center the batting as well as you can. You can use basting spray to keep everything all together. This will keep your back bit from doing weird scrunchy stuff while you sew.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

Sew from corner to corner, creating an X over all 36 individiual squares.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

Next you’ll need to lay out your squares as you want it to appear when it is sewn together. You can also just grab and go, but this ensures you don’t have any of the same pattern right against itself or all of one pattern on one side or something.

I laid mine out in the living room floor and then took a picture with my cell phone. I saved it as lock screen so that I could just tap the button on the top and have this picture pull up. Since my cell phone is always right there, I always had access to how I wanted my pattern to look with no muss, no fuss.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

Now I sewed my first two squares together 3 times. THREE TIMES I had to rip out the seam because I kept doing it wrong. It was so frustrating. So listen up. You want the seam to be on the pretty side. It goes against everything I know and I had the hardest time remembering.

Put the backs of two squares together and sew on the pretty side to attach.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

Sew together your columns in strips of six. Then you can sew three of your columns together so that you have the two halves of the throw. Then sew the two halves together and smile because this project is winding down!

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

I suck at binding quilts. I suck at bias tape. It. Is. Awful. So I decided to give something else a go. I folded the quilt over on itself with the teal from the backside framing the front of the quilt. I pressed it down for a nice, crisp edge.

Take this opportunity to square up the quilt, also. I trimmed up any excess on the edges so that I had about an inch of binding all around.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

Then I sewed the fold at about a quarter of an inch all the way around.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

Next I took some nippers and made cuts all in the seams edges. I found that I got the best results where I made the most little nips closer together.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

Next I washed my quilt and washed it and washed it until it frayed up. I really should have taken it into town so I would have only needed to wash it once. But I wasn’t feeling well and all I didn’t even think about the fact that my washer doesn’t have an agitator. Because of the always gentle wash, it took forever for this sucker to fray out.


I had the hardest time getting good pictures of this silly quilt. Case in point, Liddy kept running back in forth across the quilt one day, so I gave up. Then it rained and was gloomy out for days. It was awful.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

My last and most successful attempt I dealt with Max desperate to lay on the new thing and I finally just let him. He sacked out looking all regal and I just snapped away. Look at him up there. He is one awesome little cat.

Now to be honest, my quilt is less than perfect. My rows don’t all match up and It’s obvious when you look at some squares. I called my Mimmie to tell her it was finished and give  her the details of the results including the not so great points.

Make a rag quilt with frayed edges - tutorial

And this is what she told me: Why in the world would you have made a quilt yourself if you were looking for perfection? You want perfection, buy a (expletive) quilt from the store that was made mostly by machines. Machines and robots will make you a perfect quilt almost every time. But you’re human and you’re not perfect and that is what makes that (expletive) quilt special.

So there. Make your quilt and be happy with it no matter the outcome. Don’t be afraid to fail. If this is your first (it was my second) it’s not going to be perfect, but it will be loved for its asymmetrical beauty and warmth it provides anyway.

Comments (64)

  • Jackie

    May 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    I've never quilted before, but I like the look of the frayed edges, very shabby chic!

  • Allison Murray

    May 1, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    Thanks, Jackie! This would make a great first quilt. It's really pretty forgiving!

  • Christine

    May 1, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    Hi! I'm a new reader from Perth, western Australia! Just wanted to say hi and also to thank you (& your mimmie) for showing anything made with love and passion is perfect. :)

  • Allison Murray

    May 1, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Thanks so much, Christine! My Mimmie is full of sass and hard truths but she will always tell me what I need to hear. Thanks for reading, I am so excited to have you!

  • Elba :: Live Colorful

    May 2, 2013 at 1:23 AM

    Hi Allison!
    How cute! I have always wanted to make a quilt by my own, maybe I will try it soon. It looks like the kitties love it. Xo. Elba
    live colorful

  • Allison Murray

    May 2, 2013 at 1:48 AM

    Thanks, Elba. The cats absolutely adore the quilt! You definitely should make one :)

  • Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    May 2, 2013 at 5:27 AM

    Your Mimmie sounds like a wonderful and wise woman. And I'm so impressed that you tackled this! I'm so intimidated by quilting of all kinds…but after reading this and being reminded that I'm human and not perfect and "that is what makes that (expletive) quilt special"….well…it has me seriously considering tackling a rag quilt of my own. Thanks Allison! Thanks Mimmie!

  • Fiona

    May 2, 2013 at 6:46 AM

    I love this and such a good way to use up fabric scraps that have been sitting around for too long, ahh I'm definitely guilty of doing that :P

  • Allison Murray

    May 2, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Me, too, Fiona. I think that there are many rag quilts in my future. At least one us going to be a stash buster!

  • Allison Murray

    May 2, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    Thanks, Lauren. Mimmie is definitely her own woman. Her opinions are often unpopular with the family and she's got no problem letting me know when I've screwed up, but she is one of the most supportive people I have ever known in spite of all that. Definitely make a quilt! And definitely show it to me when you are done!!

  • wmbg

    May 2, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    great post!


  • pam harris

    May 8, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Fabulous tutorial! I've seen a few of these frayed quilts appear here and there and always was attracted to the idea. I've made up my mind to make one in denim – that is where I am right now – planning to make one one day!!!! This is by far the best tutorial I have come across and I just had to write and say Thank YOU! I am feeling much more confident now!!!

  • Allison Murray

    May 8, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    I am so excited, Pam. I love denim rag quilts. Have you seen them with denim and flannel plaid (like lumberjack red)? You must send a finished pic!

  • Jenny

    May 11, 2013 at 3:08 AM

    What was your seam allowance for sewing together yor squares? Did you use the standard 1/4 inch or was it bigger for bigger frays?

  • Allison Murray

    May 11, 2013 at 3:41 AM

    Hey, Jenny, my seam allowance was 3/4 inch. Sorry I left that bit out!

  • Carmen

    May 15, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    Just wanted to say that I think your frayed quilt is darling, I have made a few of these and they are always welcome as gifts. My husband cuddles under one every evening while we watch TV – it's made of recycled denim from jeans and flannel that I picked up at a thrift store. They're great made from soft flannel for babies too. Your Mimmie is a wise woman – something made with love is special and you can't buy that at a store.

  • Allison Murray

    May 16, 2013 at 1:20 AM

    Thanks on all accounts, Carmen! I am giving this one to my momma for her Birthday. She's seen it online and I hope she enjoys cuddling it as much as your hubs enjoys his!

  • Charlotte

    May 19, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    Did you use regular 100% cotton quilting fabric? I have been wondering if it would fray enough to look good. I have made several flannel ones but never used !00% cotton fabric. Love yours.

  • Tammy Gericke

    May 19, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    I love making rag quilts. I've found one HUGE time savor. Accuquilt has dies especially for rag quilts. You cut your squares and fringe them at the same time. I can make the entire quilt in the time it used to take me just to fringe it. I also found that washing them in my home machine was really bad for the machine so I take it to a laundry. They will do it for me for $1 a pound and then I don't have to worry about clogging my home machine with all the loose threads as the fringe blossoms. I've got a queen sized flannel bedspread made this way on my bed now. It's so soft and wonderful.

  • Joyce White

    May 19, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    The quilt is beautiful. Your Mimmie was so right. I have made a few quilts and always worry about the perfection. I have been asked to make a t-shirt quilt and was stalling because of wanting something that looked fun. The shirts are a collection from a young lady through out her high school years. Has anyone tried a t-shirt rag quilt.

  • Allison Murray

    May 19, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    Charlotte – I did use 100% cotton. I've not washed it since the original trying to get it to fray business (it's a gift for my mother) but I think it would have frayed better in a different machine. I spoke to my Mimmie and she said that "look at old jeans cotton frays like all sh*$" :)

  • Allison Murray

    May 19, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    Tammy – I'll have to look into that. This was pretty quick but I'd love it even more if it was faster! And I DEFINITELY will take it somewhere to be washed next time I make one.

  • Allison Murray

    May 19, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    Joyce – I've not tried a tee shirt rag quilt, but I've done a fair bit of snipping on jersey and it doesn't fray at all. it kind of curls up on itself. You would have to be okay with the fringe you snip on it (kind of like the fringed tee shirts from the 80s that are coming back!).

  • Kathy

    May 19, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    I'm making a rag quilt and will need to do all the cuts soon. Where did you get your nippers?

    Thanks and great job!

  • Allison Murray

    May 19, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    Hey, Kathy –These are the exact nippers that I use. They are cheap (around $1.50 a pair) so I bought 5 sets since I am forever losing them. I've purchased fancy brand name nippers and gotten some from craft stores and sometimes they don't even match up to cut. I was really surprised that these little cheap-os worked out so well for me! I seriously recommend them!

  • Karen

    May 20, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    You will never believe this – I woke up this morning, wanting to do this and have spent the morning looking for a book I have which I know has instructions for making a rag quilt in it. Couldn't find it, came online to check my emails and FB posts and found this!! Obviously meant to be! Yours is beautiful and I love your Mimmie!
    Karen x

  • lyn

    May 20, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    I have been making these quilts for years for kiddies in flannelette and backing them with polar fleece. They are great kids quilts and I have made them for people who have sent them overseas.

  • Allison Murray

    May 20, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    It's truly fate, Karen! Thanks so much and I'm definitely going to be sharing the outpouring of love for my Mimmie with her :)

    I love the idea of backing them with fleece, Lyn. I just might keep that in mind for Christmas gifts this year!

  • Kathy

    May 22, 2013 at 3:50 AM

    Got my nippers on order! Thank you so much.


  • Allison Murray

    May 22, 2013 at 4:00 AM

    Fantastic, Kathy!!

  • Fiddly Fingers

    June 5, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    You are soooo me! I've never quite been able to put it into words before. My name is 'Alison' also, albeit slightly different spelling. I am in the process of making my first ever quilt. I've realised now it is called a rag quilt (the seams show) . What a handsome 'putty cat' Great post, stumbled upon it by mistake :) So glad I did :)

  • Allison Murray

    June 5, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    We do sound an awful lot alike, Alison. It is great to "meet" you :) send me a pic of your quilt if you think of it. I would love to see it!!

  • Anna

    June 11, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    I'm making my first quilt. A denim rag quilt for a single bed….I never start small. Although I'm still cutting squares, I'm worried about how to finish the edges. I love your suggestion. Thanks for clear instructions with pictures.

  • Allison Murray

    June 11, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Hey, Anna – the cutting is a pain in the neck, isn't it? The longest part of the whole process for sure. Good luck with your project. Go big, or go home!

  • Theresa

    June 13, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    Oh my gosh….I have always wanted to do a rag quilt. You make this sound SO EASY. I am really going to try to make it. Don't know when, or with what material, but I truly LOVE IT! Thank you for posting. (by the way..Grammies ROCK!)

  • Allison Murray

    June 14, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    I'm so glad that you're going to give it a go, Theresa. I totally stressed about it and it was unnecessary. This really is a very simple quilting project to try out!

  • Peggy

    July 3, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    The advice from your Mimmie is about the best quilting advice ever! It shuld be posted in every quilters work area.

  • Allison Murray

    July 5, 2013 at 11:09 PM

    I agree, Peggy. Thanks so much for saying so :)

  • Erin M

    July 9, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    Hi Allison – what are the dimensions of your rag quilt? It looks beautiful!

  • Selina

    July 15, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    what are the dimensions of this quilt? 30×30? I am going out to buy the fabric needed to make one! I love it!

  • Allison Murray

    July 16, 2013 at 12:40 AM

    Hi, ladies! I'm so sorry for the delayed response – internet outages! I didn't pay terribly close attention, but I have been informed that the finished quilt is right about 40×40 inches. Best of luck making your own :)

  • Suzanne

    July 16, 2013 at 6:09 AM

    Love it !!! I will have to find some time to do this. Love your choice of colors …. such a happy feel.

  • Melzie

    August 27, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    haha your Mimmie sounds like a corker :) It is beautiful! (found you while looking for rag quilt tutorials) :)
    xoxo melzie

    1. Allison

      August 27, 2013 at 5:57 PM

      So glad you did find me, Melzie!

  • The Smelly Lady

    August 30, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    Beautiful cat. I have a black cat as well

    1. Allison

      August 30, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      Thank you. Black cats rock.

  • Peggy

    September 10, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    What Brother machine did you buy?

    1. Allison

      September 11, 2013 at 7:52 AM

      I got the Project Runway edition with lots of fun stitches. You can see it here.

  • Beth P

    September 21, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Cool! thanks bunches for these directions… I can’t wait to get started on my own! Your Mimmie sounds like a really cool grammie :D
    Beth P

    1. Allison

      September 22, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      Oh, thanks Beth! Best of luck on yours :)

  • danielle

    October 5, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    Lovely quilt! Never saw the edge turned your way – but just love it, so creative.

    Nice blog; thank you for your easy tutorial and pretty quilt pictures.

    1. Allison

      October 5, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      Thanks so much! I’m very, very glad that you like my impromptu and much easier binding method!

  • Jayne

    November 4, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    What gorgeous fabric! You have a good eye!!!☺️

    1. Allison

      November 4, 2013 at 4:46 PM

      Oh, thanks so much. I’m glad you like my bright patterns :)

  • Christine

    March 4, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    I’m going to attempt to make a king size rg quilt what size squares would you recommend? I only want to use 4-5 color blocks please let me know what you think. Thanks

    1. Allison

      March 4, 2014 at 5:45 PM

      Since you’re using 4-5 colors I think smaller blocks would be nice, though I did have a quilt that had 12×12 inch blocks with only 2 fabrics (red and white stripes and blue with white stars) and everyone always commented on how pretty it was! It’s really up to you. The smaller the blocks, the longer it will take. I think I’ve convinced myself that I’d go with 12×12 :)

  • Grace

    September 7, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Love your Mimmie’s attitude. What you made is (your) beauty!! Stop worrying what the world will think! Love it because it is your creation.! Have courage and make it!! Go girl!!

  • Caprice Bona

    September 3, 2015 at 1:05 PM

    I love your Mimmie. Great advice. Great quilt. Fabulous cat. Thank you for sharing!

  • Deb

    April 26, 2016 at 2:38 AM

    I love your project! Your Mimmie is a smart lady, too. Hand made does not equal perfect. My mom made me a really nice king size quilt for a bedspread. I wanted to try rag quilted pillow shams and they turned out great. My first ever quilting project. Rag quilting has such a beautiful, soft look once completed.

    1. Allison Murray

      April 26, 2016 at 8:02 AM

      Thanks so much :) I’m lucky to have somebody so grounded and down to earth in my life. I LOVE the texture of rag quilts and I’m hoping to make another very soon!

  • Net

    May 25, 2016 at 9:26 PM

    Can u tell me the material needed to do this blanket for a baby? I’ve never made one before and my daughter is expecting her first baby and loves this type of blanket. Help please.

    1. Allison Murray

      May 27, 2016 at 9:04 AM

      I’m assuming you’ll just need less of everything in the materials list above. You can always piece it out with paper. Cut the squares in paper of the appropriate size and lay it out on the ground. You can play with the size of the squares and find out how many you’ll need to cut out helping you with the yardage you’ll need to buy for the ideal size you lay out.

  • Net

    May 26, 2016 at 4:19 PM

    Is this size appropriate for a baby blanket? I’ve never done this before and my daughter is expecting her first.

    1. Allison Murray

      May 27, 2016 at 9:03 AM

      I think this might be a bit big. The only baby blank I’ve ever made was 36″ x 36″. This was given as a gift so I can’t measure it now but it was the same size as my favorite fleece throw I got from Walmart many years ago. It’s at least 5 feet in one direction I’d think.

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