Make It: Rag Quilt for Baby


Several years ago, the girls at our church began making these quilts for each new baby.  A baby boom occurred soon after, so we began limiting it to the firstborn child of each family (simply because the two of us who had sewing machines couldn’t keep up).  I think I have sewed probably around 25 of these quilts in the last 6 years or so.  We too were blessed to receive one of these beautiful quilts from some wonderful friends at Big Brother’s baby shower.


Please note:  Just like any loose blankets, these rag quilts should never be used in a crib with a newborn baby.  They make for a great tummy time blanket (especially if you have various textures) or play blanket.


The great thing about rag quilts is that they are very forgiving.  If your pieces aren’t cut exactly right, that’s okay!  You won’t even notice because there is a one-inch seam that allows for lots of mistakes!   A couple years ago, a good friend and I took a quilting class.  Although it was super-fun because I had amazing company, I soon realized I was in over my head!  I kept trying to take the shortcuts I am used to taking with rag quilts and quickly found that regular quilting requires near-perfection.  Since I’m not a perfectionist in the least, I think I’ll just stick with the taggie blankets and rag quilts from now on!

Although they take quite a bit of time to make simply because all the steps, they are really pretty easy.  And the end product is totally worth it!  They’re a perfect way to start off learning how to sew (after the taggie blankets, of course).

Two of my best friends from childhood recently had their first babies–one friend had a boy and the other had a girl.  Since these friends will always be super-special to me, I wanted to make their sweet babies something special as well!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • About 8-9 yards of coordnating fabric (I like to use flannel because it “rags” well, but cotton fabric works well too…I would suggest using at least 6-7 coordinating fabrics with a couple solids)
  • Batting
  • Multi-purpose thread (I always just use white, no matter what)
  • Sewing machine
  • Rotary Cutter*
  • Rotary Mat*
  • Quilting Ruler*
  • Pins
  • Sharp scissors that can cut through several layers of fabric

*If you don’t have and don’t wish to invest in a rotary cutter, mat, and quilting ruler (which will make your life so much easier), you can simply make 6 sizes of patterns (3 for the fabric, 3 for the batting) and use scissors to cut them out.  It will take MUCH longer this way, however.

Sizes of squares and rectangles:

Fabric (2-sided:  cut 2 layers at a time and then put the wrong sides together):  9″ x 9″ square (21 count), 5.5″ x 5.5″ square (42 count), 9″ x 5.5″ rectangle (21 count)
Batting: 7″ x 7″ square (21 count), 3″ x 3″ square (42 count), 7″ x 3″ rectangle (21 count)

I’m writing this all from memory (I don’t have a pattern), so if it seems I skip a step or my instructions don’t make sense…leave a comment and I will clarify!

1.  Gather your materials (and bask in the beauty of coordinating fabrics)!
2.  Use your rotary cutter, mat, and quilting ruler to cut out the fabric into the squares and rectangles.  I kept my material folded together  (so that I was cutting through 2 layers at once).  Plus, it’s easier once you go to the next step if the pieces are already sandwiched together (with right sides facing out).  You will need to cut 21 sandwiched 9″x9″ squares, 42 sandwiched 5.5″x5.5″ squares, and 21 sandwiched 5.5″x9″ rectangles.  Make sure to cut various sizes of EACH fabric (DON’T cut one whole yard the small squares, etc. because it won’t look right when you put the quilt together.
2.  Then cut the batting (again using your rotary tool, mat, and quilting ruler).  You will need 21 (7″x7″ squares), 42 (3″x3″ squares), and 21 (7″x3″ rectangles).
3.  Place the batting centered between the two pieces of fabric.  Remember…the RIGHT SIDES SHOULD BE FACING OUTWARD.  You could pin it (if you want)…but I’ve found they normally hold together pretty well without pins (or maybe I’m just lazy).
4.  Sew an “X” through each square/rectangle with the batting in between.  It’s your choice whether or not you want to backstitch.  I normally do (out of habit), but it’s really not necessary.
5.  Place each size of squares/rectangles in their own piles.
6.  Then clear a large area (on the floor) to begin laying out the pieces.  Start by placing the 9×9 squares in a checkerboard pattern with 3 large squares in each row (for a total of 7 rows).
7.  Then add the rectangles (making sure that fabrics of the same pattern don’t touch).  Place one of the rectangles in each “empty” part of the checkerboard.
8.  And finally add the small squares.  You’ll use 1 rectangle and 2 small squares to make the equivalent of one large square.
9.  Begin sewing each row together, leaving a one-inch seam.  You’ll want to sew the rectangle and 2 squares together first and then sew those together with the large squares.
See?  One row done!
10.  Once you have 2 individual rows sewn together, you’ll want to use your pins.  Place the top row with the seams facing down (touching the ground…not as shown in the picture).  Then place the second row on top of the first and line them up.  Pin them together (about 1 pin per large square is sufficient).
11.  Begin sewing, again leaving a one-inch seam, down the entire length of the row.  Make sure you backstitch this time!  Continue with steps 9-10 until all 7 rows have been sewn together.
12.  Then sew around the perimeter of the quilt, leaving one inch on each side.
You’re done sewing…  I didn’t take a picture of the backside, but it WILL NOT be ragged, it will just look like a plain quilt.
13.  Now it’s time to rag!  Cut each layer using a pair of very sharp scissors about every 1/4″.  It’ll take a while.  Pop in a movie and get to work (but take a break for your hands in between).  :)
14.  Wash on the “gentle” cycle and then dry on “low”.  Be sure to clean out the dryer vent afterwards.
That’s it!  Now you have a wonderful keepsake to bless friends and relatives with!
You’re seeing green!  I made these back in October and am JUST NOW getting to posting it.  :)
This is the quilt that our sweet friends made for Big Brother.



  1. Saralee Wadsworth says

    My daughter has made a couple of twin size ones and if I remember right we used about 12 yards maybe a little less. I just made a baby with about 4 yards not exactly the same pattern as this one our squares were all the same size we did 6 inch squares turned out cute. We also don’t use batting in between the layers we just add another square of flannel between the two layers and stitched the middle. Hope that helps.

  2. Jessica says

    Hello and thanks for these instructions! Two questions: First – do I need to change my sewing machine foot when I start sewing the squares/rectangles together? Second – when I start sewing each small piece together, how does it work so that the “fringe material” doesn’t lay down when I sew on the rectangles to the 2 squares that are together? Does that make sense? Thank you!

    • says

      I do not change my foot. We just plow through all the layers. :)

      I’m having a hard time understanding your second question. You’ll basically sew one side of the pieces and then unfold it and the fringe side will stick up.

  3. says

    I always make my rag quilts with Flannel especially for the babies :) Rag quilts are really cool made from old jeans. I made a king size one with all my husband and kids old Wrangler jeans and pockets. I love making these quilts

  4. dawn smith says

    I just want to say thank you for showing me how to make this quilt. I just finished my first rag quilt. Im not very good at sewing anything but with you help I made a quilt for my daughter and I have 4 more to make for my friends that are having babies this year.

    • says

      You won’t use all of the fabric. But because there are lots of different sizes of squares/rectangles to cut, I found that I needed about this much.

  5. Elizabeth says

    I am using 4×4 small squares so my large squares would be 6×6 and my rectangles would be 4×6 right with my batting sizes being 4×4, 2×2 and 2×3 right?

  6. HannahJ says

    This is a great tutorial on a rag quilt. I have never quilted before but have wanted to for awhile. Just got a new (slightly used) sewing machine and I can’t wait to use it.

    My son is 14m now and I have all of his felt swaddling blankets from when he was little. They are still in great shape and wanted to do something with them to keep as a memory. I will be making this for sure.

    I love seeing all the pictures they are so helpful! Not many people put them up like you do. I am a visual learner so I am grateful!

  7. Kate says

    Great tutorial! Just wondering about how long it took you to make? I bought 7 1/2 yards of flannel for mine yesterday, so excited to start it. :)

    • says

      It’s been a while since I made one, but probably about 8-9 hours total (including cutting the fabric and snipping the edges after it is finished). Good luck!

  8. Teri says

    How much batting did you use / buy? It doesn’t tell how much and also how wide of batting and what kind works best.

  9. Lesley Ann says

    This is so nice, it looks really comfortable. I think you could use an old blanket for the batting, and I am not a patch worker but I think I could do this one, thank you for this tute…

  10. Linda says

    Quick question. When I sew together the two small squares and then sew them to the rectangle, do I leave all seams open, or fold to one side? Then when sewing to the next row, are seams open or folded to one side. Thank you so much for your instructions.

  11. Renea Brown says

    hi, wanted to let you know your blanets are beautiful. I have made many of these blankets in many sizes. I have found that using the june taylor cutting ruler is so much faster. It is a large square plastic rulur with slits in it ever inch and your rotery cuter fits in the slit . so you can make many cuts without moving the ruler. and note to followers. if the blanket isn’t big enough. you just add more rows. have fun sewing

  12. Melissa says

    Thank you so much for this pattern, very much a novice but found it really easy to follow. Probably not the best time to find fleecy material in summer in Australia but nevertheless I think it turned out great!

  13. Mariel says

    Hi I am trying to make this well I did few mistakes here and there and I missed out the part about the fabric. I have cotton fabric would it be alright to use that? Is the effect still the same? or should be flannel? thank you heaps.

  14. debra says

    I have made some quilts in my life, want to try this beautiful rag quilt. they seem so like from the past. will let you know when I finish one.

  15. Linda says

    I think your quilt is so beautiful that I had to try and make one. I have all my squares cut out and am laying them out on the floor to connect them. But it looks awkward, like the 2 smaller squares look bunched up in their spot. I am just wondering does it come together ok? I noticed even in you photo it looks like they are sort of squeezed in there. I will start sewing this week and see how it comes together.
    Thank you for posting it!

    • says

      Yes, it will look weird until you actually sew it together because the seam allowance makes a big difference on the squares with the large rectangle and two smaller squares. I think you will be pleasantly surprised when you get it sewn together. :)

  16. Linda says

    Yay! Yes, it is coming together great! I am enjoying the process so much, I may have one going all the time. I will send you a pic when I finish.


  17. Darlene says

    Please, PLEASE don’t plan to make these rag quilts to give to a newborn! They’re meant to produce a nice soft, snuggly finished product, and all the lint that comes from the cut-up edges can easily get into a baby’s nose and mouth. Little tiny people can’t pull things away from their faces and you’re just asking for a smothered infant. After 8 or 9 months, the story changes and quilts like this will undoubtedly be well loved and well used.

    Please do your part and spread the word of this danger to infants. I teach Beginning Quilting and am amazed at the number of new quilters who don’t know about this.

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