A Beginner Guide to Learn How to Make a Rag Quilt?

This post is about the procedures for making a rag quilt, the tools necessary, and some related FAQs.

Looking for a new project to keep you busy this winter? Why not consider making a rag quilt? These quilts are made out of old clothing and towels that are too worn out for anything else. There is no need to buy fabric or batting; all the materials needed can be found around your house. Once all the materials have been gathered, it’s time to start sewing!

how to make a rag quilt

1. Gather your materials

Gather quilting materials
  • Old clothing
  • Towels
  • Scissors, needles, and thread
  • Pins or sewing clips for your headless pins.

NOTE: When cutting up the fabric you want to be sure that it is large enough to cover most of the rag strips when sewn together in a row.

2. Cut the fabric into squares

Cut the quilted fabric into square
  • For small projects, you can cut the fabric into strips that are about an inch wide. For larger, more complex quilts, it is better to cut the fabric in squares so they will stack nicely on top of one another and create a cohesive look.
  • Sew two pieces together on each side

This step should be done with care because a good cut is crucial to getting the best result.

NOTE: The more seams you have in your quilt, the stronger it will be and better able to withstand wear and tear on rough surfaces like beds or couches.

3. Sew the squares together in rows

Sew the squares together in rows

To form a quilt, you will need to sew the squares together in rows that alternate between two pieces of fabric. For best results, it is important to make sure that it is large enough to cover most of the rag strips when sewn together in a row.

Start by sewing one square with both long edges on top of each other and then do another across from it.

Repeat the same process until you are done with one row and then go back to start another. This will allow for easier sewing and less need to turn the quilt in order to sew on a new side.

4. Sew the rows together to form a quilt top

Sew the rows together to form a quilt top

Once you have sewn the rows together, it is time to sew the side edges of each row together. You will want to use a straight stitch and press your seams open as you go along.

5. Quilt and bind it by hand or machine 

Quilt and bind it by hand or machine

Now time to sew the batting in between each row and then you can quilt it or bind the edges by hand.

6. Make backing for your quilt from another piece of fabric or an old sheet

Make backing for your quilt from another piece of fabric or an old sheet

Finish the final quilt by sewing the backing on. You can either use another piece of fabric or an old sheet.


1. What is the difference between a rag quilt and other kinds of quilts? 

It is made of soft fabrics that have been sewn together to form a quilt. These materials can be old clothing and towels, which makes it easier to sew and less need to turn the quilt in order to sew on a new side.

A rag quilt has no batting or backing; instead, they are usually filled with two pcs of fabric together.

On the other hand, regular quilts have a layer of batting and backing between the quilt’s top and bottom.

Regular Quilts are also usually made from thicker fabrics like cotton, flannel, or wool to give them more body.

A rag quilt can be any size but they are typically smaller than regular quilts because you use less fabric when making them.

2. How do you make the strips for your rag quilt? 

To get a striped look, make sure to match the fabrics when sewing them together.

For all seams, you want to use a zigzag stitch or serge stitching for durability and stability. You can also sew with straight stitches but that will be more time-consuming because of the bulkier fabric pieces.

3. Where can I find patterns or instructions to create my own designs?

You can find lots of patterns and instructions for rag quilts on the internet.

On Youtube, there are many tutorials to guide you through making a rag quilt from start to finish as well as pattern templates that you can print out or use with your own design ideas!

Here is a video with a tutorial for making your own rag quilt.

4. What are some uses for old shirts, sheets, or wool blankets that are being thrown away because they don’t fit anymore?

Nothing is useless if you know how to use it properly!

There are many different ways you can repurpose old clothes, sheets, and wool blankets. For example, you could make them into a rag quilt like the one in this post or turn them into pillows or even scarves.

5. How do you transfer your pattern onto fabric? 

To transfer your pattern onto fabric, you can use the freezer paper technique.

You will need a piece of cardboard; some old t-shirts, sheets, or wool blankets to cut up for pieces of rag; and scissors or an Exacto knife.

Cut out a rectangle from the cardboard about three times larger than your desired quilt pcs and then start cutting up the clothes.

Fold one of your pieces in half and place it on top of your cardboard pattern, then use a pin to make holes all over the piece so you can see through onto the cardboard underneath.

Then cut out that rectangle and fold again to make sure you have cut out the right amount.

Place your pattern on top of a folded rectangle and iron it down, then use scissors or an exacto knife to cut up all around the edge so that you have one piece for every section in your quilt design.

6. Can I use any piece of fabric for this project or am I restricted to scraps only? 

No, you can use any piece of fabric for this project. Some people might go to a thrift store and pick out old clothes they don’t want anymore or buy some new ones from the discount bin at Jo-Ann’s. You will also need towels because these are thicker than regular clothing so it makes for better stuffing in between layers and gives you better drape.

It doesn’t matter what kind of fabric you use, and in fact, different types can help to create a more interesting pattern on your quilt if that’s something you’re interested in. For example, some people like using all one color or picking colors from the rainbow for their rag quilts, while others might choose fabrics with solid colors that will help create a more interesting pattern.

No need for fancy sewing equipment, you can use your regular sewing machine and thread or even hand sew if that’s how you roll!

7. What size fabric should I buy for my rag quilt project? 

Size can vary and you choose depends on how big you want your quilt to be.

It’s a good rule of thumb that the length should be twice as long as it is wide, but there are no hard and fast rules for this one!

8. Do I need to prep the pieces of fabric before sewing them together?

Yes, you can wash the fabrics and dry them before sewing, or you can do this after. It’s your preference!


Making a rag quilt is an easy way to bring your creativity and love of craftsmanship together for one fantastic DIY project. 

With a little patience, your quilt will be finished. We hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to make a rag quilt!


I’m Jane and I’m the editor of janesknittingkits.com! I am a long-time craft and clothing design fan who has been writing about these interests for years.

I have spent many hours studying knitting, weaving, sewing, embroidery, and quilting as well as learning about various brands and models of sewing gear and machines. In addition to this research, my work involves publishing information related to these topics in ways that will be informative for both amateur crafters like me and more experienced sewers!