Flannel and Denim Rag Quilt

flannel and denim quilt hanging

When I lived in Nebraska, I did a fair amount of quilting.  I went on two or three “shop hops” to independent quilting fabric stores with women from my church.  The quilting world has trends like fashion and other designed things do, and one trend that was big were rag baby quilts.

Like this:

bright flower quilt

That one is unusually bright, however.  They were more often pastels, with squares all the same size.  Usually they were flannel on one side and either chenille or this soft fabric with little raised bumps on the back.

Minkie, very close up

I liked them a lot, but I didn’t have a baby in my life to make one for and the quality fabrics were expensive, so I just mentally added it to my “someday” list and moved on.

Another kind of quilt I always intended to make was a denim quilt out of my old jeans.  I had been saving ripped and holey and too-small-but-not-worth-dontating and too-small-but-I-love-these-pockets jeans.  In Nebraska, we had a huge basement of storage space, so I just threw a bunch of giant Rubbermaid tubs down there and filled them up with random crap (I don’t recommend this).  When we were getting ready to move, I had to sort through these tubs and donate or repack the contents.  I decided that I should cut up all the jeans before I moved to save space.  I cut and cut and cut, making a huge pile of squares and throwing all the interesting pockets and trim into a shoebox.  Then my husband saw what I was doing and, in the clearing-out mood himself, started handing me his old denim.  Soon I had many, many squares, far more than one quilt’s worth.  I packed them up and moved them across country.

So last fall, thinking I had extra denim squares to “use up,” I bought a bunch of pink flannel on sale to pair with it.  I like the combination of pink and blue-jean blue and I decided I didn’t care if I made something that looked like it was for a preschool girl.  I could justify it as practice quilting or just making good use of scraps, and besides, I am too old to worry about what people think any more.

I used the Denim Rag Quilt instructions from Patchwork-and-Quilting.com.

I lay out the squares the way I wanted them, and then I labeled them with tape on the backs so I could recreate the order later. I called the fabrics ABCDE, so the first row had A1 B1 C1 D1 E1 A2 B2 and the second row started with C2. I saw this method somewhere described as an “ABC” quilt, but when I tried to Google instructions for you, I didn’t find any (just lots of alphabet quilt patterns). It’s pretty self-explanatory, though, I think.

Percy on pink flannel squares

Percy helped, of course.

close up of flannel side of quilt

I think I actually like the denim side better. The darkness of the green and yellow stripes stick out a little too much I think.

denim side of quilt

The flannel is rougher than I expected. Maybe because it was cheap and not the nice quilt store stuff.

close up of flannel and denim quilt

It’s also heavier than I thought it would be. I’m not sure why that surprises me. I guess I just expected the raggy-ness of it and the repeated washings (I’ve washed and dried it three times now) to make it softer and fluffier.

But I still like it.

full view of flannel side of quilt

Update (January 12, 2011): I see that the link to Patchwork-and-Quilting.com now points to a page offering a pattern for sale. To be clear, I didn’t buy it, and I don’t think you need to either. This is a really standard and easy method that’s out in the public consciousness and has been for a long time. I think if you have experience with quilting you can figure out from my pictures (and the ones in this entry) how to do it. Or, I’m sure there are other instructions online. If you have a specific question, email me!

Comments

  1. [...] had been thinking about making a rag quilt and so I decided I’d experiment with that method. I made this before I dove into the denim [...]

  2. N says:

    That gray tabby of yours is so handsome! Post more pictures of him!

  3. [...] I had a lot of flannel left over from previous projects, some in very husbandish colors and some pink. My compulsion to save all little leftover bits comes in [...]

  4. Veronica says:

    While I love the denim quilt, I have fallen in love and have searched all over the internet but cannot seem to find the Flower Power Ragtime Kit that you have in this post.

    Can you remember where you got the picture (or where you took the picture) I would love to see if I can track it down and make it for my little granddaughter (who is only 7 months now, but I am sure will fall in love with the quilt as she grows older)

    I love reading what you have to say keep it up.

  5. carol says:

    Thanks for the kind words!

    I took the photo, but we went to several stores that day, it was several years ago, and I’m not that familiar with the area. I have been looking at websites and maps, and trying to remember, and I think it might have been Log Cabin Quilts, in the Omaha area. (http://www.logcabinquilts.com/)

    I will email a couple of the women who went on the “shop hop” with me and see if they remember. Perhaps one of them might recognize the pattern packaging and know who the company is too. I might also have a flyer or something from the event, and I will continue to look around. I’m sorry I don’t have a more definitive answer, but I will keep trying and will check back in.

    Here’s another link to the photo if you want a shorter URL to email someone to ask about it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolrain/8936123

  6. Terrie says:

    I found this post on your blog while I was searching for some flannel rag quilt ideas for my 1st grand-baby-to-be quilt. Looking for something different. I can’t believe that I’ve found that Flower Power Rag Time quilt…I too have looked for that pattern and can’t locate it. If you do, let me know….I’d love to make one! Nice quilts…making a denim rag quilt is on my to-do list. Did you put batting in between the flannel & denim on that quilt?

  7. carol says:

    No, no batting. It’s already really thick without, and I’m not sure how you’d do it because you’re sewing squares on opposite sides of the quilt together as you piece rather than creating one side, then the other, and combining. It seems like I’ve heard of people using batting, though, so maybe I’ll look around and see if I can find where I’ve read of it.

    I’m still trying to track down more information about the Flower Power Rag Time quilt. It is a pretty one! I wonder if the pattern sold well. I will definitely come back and report.

    Thanks for reading!

  8. Terrie says:

    I have made lots of flannel rag quilts, but none with the denim. I was thinking that the denim would make it heavy enough. When just using flannel, I sandwich the batting in between the flannel. I can tell you how to do it if you need more info. I’m searching the internet now to get pattern ideas for a quilt for my grandbaby. I want something different, not just squares. Love your quilts! :) I finished 3 this last week and hope to post about them soon!

  9. Tracy says:

    Veronica – you can find the pattern for the “Flower Power Ragtime Kit” at http://www.canadianquiltshop.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=42_44_208

  10. Cathy Hopson says:

    I have been wanting to make one of these quilts for both of my children. My son is 21, and daughter is 20. After finding the picture and seeing how you had done this, I am now on my way! I’m hoping mine turns out as cute as yours.

    Thanks!

    Cathy Hopson

  11. carol says:

    Aw, thanks, Cathy. (I’m sorry, I just now saw your comment in the comment list waiting to be approved–for some reason, I didn’t get the usual email notice.) I hope it is going well.

    And I appreciate the help tracking down the pattern, Tracy!

  12. Mary Ann says:

    Veronica,

    I don’t know if you are still looking for it, but I found the Flower Power Ragtime Quilt pattern in 2006 at the quilt shop/material shop Lolly’s in Shipshewana, Indiana. I made it for my step-daughter’s graduation. It came out beautifully! It’s one of the prettiest one’s I’ve made!

    Hope this helps!

    Mary Ann

  13. carol says:

    Thanks for the information! It sure is a nice pattern and I get the impression that several people are trying to hunt it down.

  14. Carolyn H says:

    Did anyfind the pattern for the Flower Power quilt currently available? I trie the Canadian shop mentioned above and no luck. Thanks!

  15. Karen says:

    I think this is just what I’ve been looking for! Thanks for posting. May I ask how big you cut your squares? I’ve never made a quilt before but this looks great and I have lots of denim. Does it work to use cotton blends instead of flannel? I’m trying to use what I have if possible. Hope to start on this soon. Again, thank you so much!

  16. carol says:

    I cut the squares 6.5 inches, which means they ended up a smidge over 5 inches when finished.

    I think cotton would work, but you’d lose some of the raggedness. Both denim and flannel have a nice fray that creates the fun look and fluffiness at the seams. You could experiment with a couple of seams and see if you get the effect you like before you commit to a whole quilt. That said, I combined two flannels and a plain cotton in this quilt, and I was surprised at how well it worked.

    A couple of tips: I bought needles specifically made for sewing denim, and I bought a pair of scissors like these. (I’m sure I didn’t pay that much–I probably used a 40% off coupon or caught a good sale.) They also make fancier spring-loaded scissors that would make cutting through the thick layers a lot easier than your standard sewing scissors. I’ve never tried doing this with regular needles, so I don’t know how much of a difference that makes.

    Good luck!

  17. Sue says:

    How do you get your ragged edges to look so fluffy?

  18. carol says:

    Both flannel and denim unravel and fluff up easily. After I put all the pieces together, I used scissors to cut every half inch or so, stopping short of the seams I sewed. When I washed the quilt and put it in the dryer, the cut threads (in the cloth) that were parallel to the seams came out, leaving the remaining threads of the cloth to tangle up with each other and create that ragged look. I may have dried it more than once. I think I also spent some time just sitting with it and “picking at” the loose threads as I watched television. I think it will fluff up on its own, but those things will speed up the process.

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