Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My First Rag Quilt - A Tutorial (And a Giveaway)

Hello all you stash Enthusiasts, Melissa from Happy Quilting here.  So did the tile get your attention??/  Don't you all just love giveaways!!!  I know I do.  So, I will start by saying the giveaway information is at the bottom of this post.  So, if you have no interest in rag quilts, or maybe chuckling on and off at my quirky humor feel free to just surf on down.  It won't hurt my feelings, and honestly, how am I ever to know :)

So a few weeks ago I was pondering on what to do with these.  They are a bunch of HST's that I have left over from my Happy Quilting Quilt A Long :)  I wanted to try something new and different.  The next day I was reading one of the many quilting blogs I follow and a pictures was posted of a rag quilt.  Light bulb!!!!


It was the perfect idea!!  I could use them to make a Rag Quilt.  But not just a plain old square rag quilt, a pieced rag quilt, with a cut little pattern.  So here is where I admit something kind of crazy, I have never made a Rag Quilt before.  I know, lots of people start with these, but somehow I missed them.  So a quick trip to google, and I have more info on rag quilts then I would ever need.

So using the cumulative knowledge, I set out to make my First Pieced Rag Quilt!!  And I thought you might like to come along for the ride :)  I learned a lot along the way and will be sharing those thoughts as well.  So look out for Italics, those are my inner thoughts on things I wish I would have done different, helpful tidbits, and just plain quirkiness 

STEP 1 - MAKING HALF SQUARE TRIANGLES


So, In order to make a "Pieced" rag quilt you have to start first with making the pieces.  Makes sense, right.  HST's are a great piecing tool because they give you so many design options.  So, here is how to make one :)  I very much doubt there are many of you who haven't done this, but I wanted to be thorough :)

Start with 2 squares that are the same size.  I like one being solid and one print to help the design show up but it isn't necessary.   These can be any size, charm squares work great for it!!!


Lay the 2 squares with right sides together and draw a line diagonally from corner to corner on the wrong side of the fabric on one of the squares.


Now sew a 1/4" seam on the left and the right hand side of that line. I always forget to trim my threads before taking pictures.  


Now using your ruler and cutter, or your scissors for that matter, as long as you can cut semi straight, cut along the drawn line creating 2 separate pieces.


Press your seam.  I like to press my seams to the print side.  You can press them any way you prefer.  I really need to buy a new iron, mine leaks water like a sieve.


Now, it's just trimming your block.  You will be trimming it to a 1/2" smaller square than you started with.  So, since this started as a 5" square, I will be trimming it to 4 1/2".  To do this, align your ruler so that the 45 degree line is along the diagonal seam of your block and that the left side edge is on the 4 1/2" line of your ruler.  Trim the excess on the right that is sticking out.


Rotate your block, this is where I wish I had one of those spinning mats, and align your ruler just like before.  Trim away.  Sometimes, there isn't a whole lot to trim away.  Keep rotating your block until you have trimmed all 4 sides and have a perfect square :)


So Now you know how to make a HST!!!  Now, just decide how many squares you want in your rag quilt and make up your HST's.  It helps to do them assembly style, but you already knew that.  I am doing a 7 x 7 layout so I need to make 49 HST's blocks or have 25 sets of charm squares.  Oh, and if mine look smaller from here on out it is because they are.  They are actually 4" blocks going forward.

STEP 2 - MAKING THE PIECED RAG SQUARES

Okay, so now your Pieced HST's are ready you need to get the rest of the parts of your rag quilt squares ready.  Here is where there are like a million options.  Basically here you are looking for a backing and a center.  People use snuggle flannel, flannel, minky, cotton, the sky is the limit.  It just depends what "feel" you want.   I choose to do a cotton print backing, so that it matched the front, and a felt square center.  If I had it to do over I would have used snuggle flannel instead of felt, it was stiff and hard to work with, but it was what I had on hand.  

Now, You want to cut the same number of squares out of your backing and center as you have for your top.  Now here is where there is another option. Some people cut the same size squares, and some people cut their center, the batting piece, a 1/2" smaller.   I went for the same size as I wanted the red felt to really stand out in all those little cuts.  Although, I have to admit, when dealing with the bulk, you tend to wish you choose different, but it was worth it in the end.


So, now you should have a stack of backing squares, a stack of center or batting squares, and a stack of pieced top squares.  And you are ready to go.  Oh, and one more mention, you can just do 2 layers, but goodness, as there weren't enough options already.


You are now ready to make what I like to call square sandwiches.  It is just like making a quilt sandwich but you do it with each individual block.  Take a backing square, a center square, and a pieced top square.  Stack them up so that the backing square is wrong side face up, the center square you can face any way you like, and the pieced square is faced right side up.  Then go ahead and pin along either side of your seam to make your square sandwich.  Repeat this with all of your squares.


Now, here is where we have some more options.  Seriously, I have to admit, I was a little overwhelmed when taking on this project with how many decisions I had to make to come out with pretty much the same product.  You are going to sew your pieced sections together.  You can sew a X through each square set, you can sew a border around the whole square set, or you can sew nothing at all and just keep the pins.  This is not pictured, obviously.  I choose to sew a single line down the seam line of my pieced square so that it enhances the design.  You don't see it much on the front but it looks cute on the back.


Start by feeding your first squares set into your machine.  Sometimes it is hard to start right on the edge because the layers want to bulk up so I recommend starting about 1/8" in from the edge.  No worries, it will all get sewn into the row seams.  Sew down the seam line.  Just keep feeding in square after square until you have sewn them all.  If you have a walking foot, put it on for this step and leave it on for the remainder of the project,  It helps a ton!!!  Trim the threads between your square sets so you have a stack of squares.  Leave the pins in.



STEP 3 - CHOOSING A LAYOUT

So, now all of your square sets are nice and sewn together and you are ready to choose a layout.    The possibilities are quite numerous.  Here are a few ideas.  



I tend to love pinwheels so that is what I decided to go with.  Layout your blocks (in however many rows and columns you decided on) in your choose pattern.  I like to take a little time here so that I get a nice mix of color that is pleasing to the eye.


STEP 4 - SEWING THE ROWS TOGETHER


Once you have the layout down you are ready to start sewing your rows together.  This is a little different than sewing normally as you are going to be putting wrong sides together.  Ya totally backwards, it took me a minute to wrap my head around that.  Grab your first two pieces in your first row and place them wrong sides together.  I didn't bother with pins, I rarely do for things under 5" that do have seams to worry about.


Now sew a 1/2" , Yes, a 1/2" not a 1/4", seam along the side of your square.  If you have a heavy duty needle available I would highly recommend it.  It took me 2 broken needles to figure that out.  


Now you are ready to attach the next piece in the row.  Once again, place your now sewn together squares 1 and 2 and place them wrong sides together with square 3.  Sew your 1/2" seam.  Continue this way down the entire row.


So this is what a row looks like.  So now, move on to the next row.  I found it helpful to stack mine up slightly so that I could take an entire row at a time to my machine.  I can only get up and down so much in a short period of time :)


So, here are all your rows sewn together.  I know, not much now but just give it time :)  Go ahead and remove your pins now.  I add a pin in each row on the number square of the row to help me keep my rows straight.  Just fyi



STEP 5 - SEWING THE TOP TOGETHER

So now, onto taking those rows and sewing them together to make a top.  This is done in the same way as making a row, just on a longer scale with seams to worry about.   Grab row 1 and row 2 and place them wrong sides together.

This is where the pinning gets important.  I found it easiest, and actually quite helpful when you get to the cutting stage, lucky break, to open your seams both front and back to pin them rather than to do a traditional "nested" seam.  Align the seams and pin both sides of the seam down.  Then pin the edges of the rows.

Hopefully this close-up helps a bit with the idea of opening the seams. Yes, that is a lot of bulk to sew through on those seams, once again, kicking myself for not going to the store to buy something other than felt.  Now, Sew a 1/2" seam down the length of the pinned side of the row.  Don't go over pins, take them out right before you get to them.  Seriously, I busted a third needle when I got lazy.  


So here is your first two rows sewn together.  You an see that design starting to form.  Just keep on with this process, adding one row after another until you have all of your rows sewn together.  I have little helpers in my sewing room who like to stick their toes in photos :)


So here is your top now.  Only one more sewing step to go.  And then it is on to sore hands :)


Lastly, sew a seam 1/2" in from the edge of the quilt around the the entire quilt.  I pinned all of my edges open so that the cutting would be the same.  However, it really wasn't necessary to pin, it would have been just as easy to lay them flat as I went around.  


STEP 6 - CUTTING

Okay, so onto the cutting.  Basically, anything sticking up has to be cut.  So go find your favorite Jane Austin flick and stick it in.  You will be here for a bit.

 I found the easiest way to cut is to fold the seam line I was working on in half so that I would cut through the whole width and still see the seam so as not to cut through it.  But if you happen to do this, and yes I did, no worries, You can just resew the seam again.  


So basically there are three types of seams to deal with when cutting, at least that is what I found.  Straight seams, which are the easies.  Just cut a nice little fringe like so.


Well call these seam centers.  Lots and lots of fabric.  I was seriously debating going and buying a pair of spring loaded scissors at this part.  You can cut these the same way as you do the straight seams.  It is okay if you cut the vertical seam, just don't cross the horizontal seam.


And lastly, The open seams in opposite directions.  Don't you just love these terms I am making up.  I found it easiest to first snip right next to the horizontal seam on both sides of the square on top and bottom.  This allows you to now fold your piece in half along the seam line and cut it just like all the other seams.


So now everything has cut little clips in it.  Make sure you also clipped around the outside edge.  And go massage your hand for a bit.  



STEP 7 - WASH AND ENJOY

Now just throw the blanket in the washer and dryer. And Ta Da!!!! It comes out in a cute, adorable little blanket.  Mine is small, the perfect size for a car seat snuggler and then to be drug around as a toddler when Mom doesn't want to cart around a huge blanket.


I hope you enjoy making up a Pieced Rag Quilt as much as I did!!!  I think I will be making another one very soon.  Although, I will be using larger squares and will not be using felt as the centers.  Thanks for joining me and if you happen to whip one of these up, please feel free to add a picture to my flickr group here :)  I would love to highlight it on my blog some time!!

SO ONTO THE PART ABOUT A GIVEAWAY!!

It just so happens that Happy Quilting has recently started having Sponsors and is celebrating the introduction of it's first sponsor, Burgundy Buttons, with a giveaway!!!  So, How about a chance to win 2 charm packs of your choice from the following options!!  They would be perfect for your own rag quilt!!!  Interested???  Just click on over to this post  and comment there (according to the guidelines) to enter :) Good Luck!!!
and don't forget to leave me a comment here, so I will be welcomed back..



Thanks to Madam Samm for having me and to you for joining me on my First Rag Quilt journey.  
 Happy Quilting to you all!!!


85 comments:

  1. I too have never done a rag quilt, but my sister has been talking about it a lot. Maybe it's time. Thanks.

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  2. Too funny - we all have those personal conversations with SELF when working a project and I love how you included yours. I have never done a rag quilt, but I remember my MOM doing them by the dozens - and my DAD complaining how she was ruining the washer.

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  3. Thank you for the tutorial and for the generous giveaway.

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  4. Great tutorial! And nice use of pictures! Good job!
    These rag quilts are so snuggly....love them.

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  5. I haven't made a rag quilt in a long time...maybe it's time to make an updated one...Thanks for the great tutorial!
    Deb from ClutteredQuilter.blogspot.com

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  6. Oh Melissa! I just love your tutorials! This is going to be awesome. I've never made a rag quilt either so thanks for showing the way. :) I really appreciate you throwing in your hints and tips.

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  7. I made a rag quilt with flannel and my kitties love it, great tutorial!

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  8. Great tutorial. I've been working on your quilt along tutorial. Your rag quilt came along just in time to inspire me with an idea for my left over HSTs.

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  9. Great tutorial, so clear and concise. Brilliant

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  10. Fantastic tutorial! I've been looking at some other rag quilts lately, but as their squares were just full squares of individual fabrics I haven't really been inspired ... until I saw yours with HSTs! I Love this adaptation to the 'traditional' rag quilt and am keen to get on to one of my own versions!!!
    Thank you for the clear and concise tutorial - I'll be 'saving' this page under my 'to-do tutorials' folder!!!

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  11. I've never made one of these! But... Ive never made one that's in your quilt along either... hmmmmm. Great tutorial on both of them :)

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  12. Lovely... I have done one of these but never with half square triangles... gives a completely new look... I love it...
    Hugz

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  13. Love the hst addition to your rag quilt. A very sweet quilt! thanks for sharing.

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  14. I've never made a rag quilt but your great tutorial makes me think I'll have a go!

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  15. This tutorial is so easy to follow - must be the great pics! I haven't done a rag quilt yet but it is on my list now :).

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  16. Thanks Melissa for the tutorial. I have always wanted to make one and having the HST makes it ever so interesting. Love what you do and especially the lovely quilts appearing on MBS.

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  17. I've never made a rag quilt either. Thanks for the tute and all the guidance - I might just try it!

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  18. I really want to try this! I have been wanting to for sometime! Thanks for sharing! It's a great quilt!

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  19. I've made rag quilts before, but not with the 1/2 square triangles. Great tutorial. Thanks!

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  20. I too skipped over rag quilts when I started quilting. It has only been recently that they have caught my attention. Mainly because I have some gifted fabric and tons of leftover batting. So why not put those together to make something useful.
    I'm also a big fan of pinwheels. Thanks for sharing.

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  21. Fantástico tutorial!!!! GRACIAS!!!!

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  22. Super cute! Now I have another quilt on my "sommeday" list.

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  23. That was one extensive post...wow...you put alot of work into that...thanks!!

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  24. Thanks for the very informative tute. Congrats on your first rag quilt. It went together totally different than I would have thought. In the end it came out lovely. Thanks again! ;>

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  25. Melissa,

    Great tutorial! I have made 2 Rag Quilts. One is done and needs washed. And the other one still needs some cutting completed and then washed.

    Darlene at I Quilt Scarlet and Gray

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  26. Thanks for the great tutorial and I love your comments! Who knew felt was hard to deal with?

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  27. Great tutorial. I have made one rag quilt and look forward to using your tutorial to make something different.
    Thanks

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  28. Thanks for the tutorial. I have tons of hst just lying around and this is perfect for them.

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  29. Thanks for the tutorial, Melissa! I follow your blog, so I'm already signed up for your giveaway. I love the little mental notes and asides that you included in italics....I think we must all talk to ourselves like that! Lovely finished blankie! Thanks for sharing!
    Jacque in SC
    quiltnsrep(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  30. A fun tutorial! Love your conversations with yourself...I made my rag quilt using flannel...it is very snuggly.

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  31. Love the rag quilt and the colors are nice too!!

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  32. Great tutorial. I have never done a rag quilt but maybe now I'll give it a try.
    Thank you!

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  33. Thanks for posting all the HST layout options! Sometimes, I forget that they're so versatile.

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  34. What a cute Rag quilt! I have always wanted to make one. Great giveaway too. I hopped on over there already :) Thanks for sharing these goodies :)

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  35. Rag quilts are so simple, but always turn out cuddly and bright! Love it!

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  36. I've never done a rag quilt. Good pictures. Easy to follow. Very good tutorial.

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  37. Good Morning Melissa...ahhh rag quilts...my very first rag quilt is still around this day...I made one 30 some years ago...of course I had no idea what I was doing....where were you then?> Ahhhh probably not born yet lol...Just a delight you are...sew pleased you are here today

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  38. I love rag quilts - wonderful post. Judy C

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  39. I have done a few rag quilts now and have bought the short bladed snips - much easier on the hands! I also use flannel in my center. I hadn't thought of making a small, 'drag along' quilt - but it's a perfect idea. Think I'll be making one for my 15 month old GD to carry round in the stroller or car seat - thanks for the idea!

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  40. Great tutorial Melissa! I've actually never done HST's before, so thank you for making it so simple! Love how your quilt came out.

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  41. Loved the posting - very real and informational too.

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  42. I've never made a rag quilt either. Looks fun. Love the red felt idea.

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  43. Wow! That's a lot more work than I thought! Anything with the word rag in it always seemed super fast to me...but it's adorable and I just may have to make one myself! Thanks for the great tooooot! xo, Nan

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  44. I love all that red poking thru, and thanks for the tutorial!

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  45. Great job on the tutorial. I've made several of them, but always with just squares, no half-square triangles. I like the way the triangles add to it.

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  46. Great tutorial, Melissa. I've never made a rag quilt, but after seeing how easy it is, I might decide to do one.

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  47. Melissa, you are so funny! Great tutorial! I have never thought of using felt as the center of a rag quilt - and now I probably won't ! ;) Turned out Adorable!!

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  48. Wonderful tutorial. I love making my half squares by sewing first, easier for me and then I can play with the pieces to make all sorts of designs.

    Debbie

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  49. Great tutorial - great pictures - great quilt! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  50. Great Tutorial! The windmill effect these 1/2 square triangles gives reminds me of my childhood and a quilt that was on my bed.
    Thanks for the memory!
    Deb

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  51. Fun tutorial, never thought to use regular cotton fabric for the rag quilt.

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  52. I am so glad you took the time to show HST, I have made them but did not know about the diagonal line tip on the ruler. Thank you! and yes most just use squares, I love this!! and to not use flannel, great idea too. I love the fabrics you picked!

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  53. What a cute pieced rag quilt. I have never made a rag quilt either. I should really get on board and make one. Wonderful post!!!! Hugs Ariane

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  54. Very cute quilt. I have made a couple of them in the past using rather plain fabrics. Instead of making x's to quilt the blocks i practiced my free motion quilting. A perfect outlet. I do like your idea of doing actual quilt blocks. Gonna have to think on that one for a while

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  55. Enjoyed your detail. I've not made one yet - not looking forward to the cutting but sure looks good.

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  56. Those spring-loaded scissors do make a difference. They are really great.

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  57. Love the tutorial & the giveaway, thanks, headed over to follow now.

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  58. What a fun project! I would like to try this, and well given instructions! Thank you!
    kari.eide@enivest.net

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  59. Thanks for the very clear instructions! And the humor was fun too! Hope to see you back here again....piece.

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  60. Very interesting concept - HSTs in a Rag Quilt. Gotta give it a try.

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  61. Thanks for the great tutorial. I have never done a pinwheel rag and it turned out so cute. Yes, hope you can come back another time.

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  62. Melissa, great tutorial for sure!! I have a rag quilt on my list and you have made me want to do it even more now! And thank you for the idea of how to use my left over HST's! Brilliant!

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  63. Great tutorial , I've never made a rag quilt and this one looks interesting!Thanks.

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  64. Thanks for the tutorial. I have never made a rag quilt before. I may have to try sometime soon.

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  65. Great tutorial. I have made a rag quilt with flannel. Think I will have to try one with cotton & half square triangles!

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  66. My mother made an oversized throw quilt using homespuns - tattered pioneer rag quilt - but with regular fabrics and HST - WOW - it turned out great. Thanks for the tutorial.

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  67. Such a detailed tute and funny! I'm ready to try a rag quilt now. THANKS!

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  68. Terrific tutorial. My daughter saved the receiving blankets from my grandchildren to make a blanket. Now I know exactly how to make it...I will remember to make larger blocks, too.

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  69. Ooh a pieced rag quilt - that's different! Thanks for sharing!

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  70. I have made some rag quilts, they are fun! Just a quick tip that I do, I use a square ruler the size that I want it. It is so easy for me to rim up that way. I have always made the HSTs bigger and trim down. They don't come out right unless I do! LOL

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  71. You will definitely be welcomed back!

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  72. Thanks for the tutorial. Now maybe I can finish my UFO rag quilt!

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  73. Thanks for the tutorial! I am sure you will be welcomed back!

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  74. Your quilt is very cute--love the red! Thanks for sharing your method with us.

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  75. Well, now you've done it! You have made me want to take the plunge and make a rag quilt. I've a friend going through chemo and think this would be so cute for her. Thanks for the great tutorial. I think I'll be cutting our one of these this week!

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  76. A great tutorial. It explains everything. Ladies and Gentlemen: Collect the stash and get going!!

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  77. What a great idea for those HST's. I love the way it turned out.

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  78. Great tutorial! I have made rag quilts, but not with half squares, cotton or felt, so this is great! I've wondered how cotton stands up compared to flannel. Thanks!

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  79. Gee Whiz!! I'm tired just reading about making one of these!!! I'm always looking for the EASY way! But I have to admit, it looks so cool with all those little fringy thingys. I've been thinking of making one from old jeans but now I'm afraid my hand would fall off from all the cutting! What do you think???
    Blessings
    Gmama Jane

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  80. Nice use for the half square triangles. I love pinwheets too.

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  81. Great tutorial Melissa. Very cute quilt too.

    SewCalGal
    www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

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  82. Tutorial good, thanks. Not yet I used this technique, but still I go to make.
    Marlene from Brazil

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  83. I want to make one of these soon and this is the best tutorial I've seen. Thanks! I think I'm ready to tackle this project!

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  84. Melissa I love your directions on the rag quilt and the pictures as you went along. It was so informative such a great job will you have any more projects. This is ideal for a quiet Sunday Like I said Melissa great job and thank you.

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