My local quilt shop, Country Sewing Center, for years has had various iterations of the same flannel rag quilt on display. There’s pretty much always one hanging in the shop to promote the “Flannel With a Flair” class where instructor Linda Bergmann teaches how to make it. Every version has drawn my acute attention to its pretty patchwork pattern and fluffy exposed seam allowances. I must confess that I have fondled the displays more than once.
I finally couldn’t stand it any more and signed up for the class on a whim and bought all the necessary fabric right then and there. More than 10 yards of flannel. In April. I don’t remember why I went into the shop. I’m not even a quilter.
The process to make the quilt involves sandwiching precut squares and rectangles of something called Osnaburg (a loosely woven, somewhat coarse cotton) between matching pairs of flannel. The sandwiched layers are all sewn together in a patchwork pattern with half-inch seam allowances, and the quilt is bound in the usual way.
I don’t have a walking foot, which the instructor said doesn’t help much for this kind of quilt anyway because the flannel ends up shifting all over the place regardless. My supposedly half-inch seam allowances varied from one-fourth to three-fourths of an inch as the layers moved around. And some of the corners did not remotely line up.
All those seams allowances end up exposed on one side of the quilt. All of them are then snipped close to, but not through, the seams. Snip-snip-snip. Snip-snip-snip.
After all the snipping of all those quirky seam allowances, the front of the quilt looked terrible. TERRIBLE!
The magic is supposed to happen when you wash the quilt. All those snips are supposed to turn into fluffy seam allowances. This being my first time making one of these, I had my doubts about all the crazy seam allowances right up until the quilt came out of the dryer. I needn’t have worried. The instructor said the quilt is very forgiving, and she was right. It looked just like all the pretty samples I had seen at the shop over the years. You can’t even see the variations in seam allowances or the ones that don’t match up like they’re supposed to, so I guess they weren’t as bad as I thought.
And here it is!
When fall comes back around, the quilt will live on the family room couch.
And here’s the reverse side:
Here’s an up-close look at the fluffy seam allowances:
There were only two class sessions, with all the cutting done before the first, and some sewing done in between. After the last class, all I had left was binding, snipping, washing and drying.
The whole thing was completed within the month of May. All that flannel is fairly pricey, but, as the teacher warned us, it’s such a satisfying quilt to make that you end up wanting to make more. I can see making one for my daughter’s dorm room before she heads off to college in 2016.
I still don’t call myself a quilter, but I’ve been collecting free simple quilting patterns off the Internet for several months, so I’m hoping to dive into that really soon.
Flannel With a Flair
Country Sewing Center, Elk Grove, Calif.
Next class: September 21 and 28, 6-8:30 p.m.
Instructor: Linda Bergmann
For information on registering, visit http://www.countrysewing.net/.