A flannel rag quilt — just in time for summer

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.

Jeanne Marie's Sewing Studio. Snipping a rag quilt.

I snipped seam allowances for three days. There’s a tool designed specifically for snipping rag quilts. It was a huge help during this tedious step.

After all the snipping of all those quirky seam allowances, the front of the quilt looked terrible. TERRIBLE!

Jeanne Marie's Sewing Studio. Snipped rag quilt.

I had no confidence this caterpillar of a quilt was going to turn into a butterfly after washing.

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!

The quilt fabrics were picked out to match my family room.

How pretty is this? I just followed the process, and the process worked beautifully.

When fall comes back around, the quilt will live on the family room couch.

The quilt fabrics were picked out to match my family room.

I picked out the fabrics to match my family room. Fifteen different flannel prints are used for this quilt.

And here’s the reverse side:

The back of the quilt doesn't have any seam allowances.

The back of the quilt is smooth but not nearly as pretty.

Here’s an up-close look at the fluffy seam allowances:

The seam allowances end  up looking surprisingly tidy, almost like a ruffle or braid.

The seam allowances end up looking surprisingly tidy, almost like a ruffle or braid.

Binding is optional. You can actually snip the edges and let them ruffle as well, but I prefer a tidy edge.

Binding is optional. You can actually snip the edges and let them fluff out as well, but I wanted a tidy edge.

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

Fee: $30

For information on registering, visit http://www.countrysewing.net/.

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8 thoughts on “A flannel rag quilt — just in time for summer

  1. Grandma jeannie June 23, 2015 at 9:21 am Reply

    Beautiful, just beautiful. Way to go Sweet Pea! I could never follow instructions, I have no patience. You always did.


  2. Carol in Denver June 23, 2015 at 10:48 am Reply

    What a pretty effect. It makes me want to make one of my own.


  3. bird June 23, 2015 at 2:51 pm Reply

    Love it! I just ordered the pattern from Linda Bergmann–can’t wait to make it! Thank you for your great write up and ongoing inspiration!


  4. Bonnie Edwards August 4, 2020 at 10:56 am Reply

    do you have a pattern that you can share for the Flannel rag Quilt with different sizes of blocks in blues, yellows dark reds and white>???please


    • Jeanne Marie August 4, 2020 at 5:06 pm Reply

      Bonnie, I’m afraid I don’t. No commercial pattern was used. The “pattern” was instructions from a class I took at a local quilt shop that has since closed. I believe the instructor created this specific design herself. I haven’t seen another rag quilt quite like this one. I can tell you that the current measurements (including the ruffly parts) of the big squares are 9×9 and the small square are 5×5. I needed 1/3 (weird, I know) of a yard of each fabric, and 15 or 16 different fabrics.


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