Rag Quilt Table Runner
Finished Size: 12″ x 32″

I’ve wanted to try rag quilting ever since my sister-in-law made a rag quilt for my father-in-law. Recently, Traci, our dear administrator at CHK, mentioned she would like to sew a rag quilt for her guest bedroom. That was just the inspiration I needed! I have a friend with a birthday coming up who loves new things that look old. A rag quilt project seemed just the thing to try out for her gift.

What an easy project this turned out to be. I spent about 15 minutes cutting out the squares (not including washing and pressing the fabrics), about 20 minutes to sew it all up, and another 30 minutes to clip the raw edges. That’s a little over an hour, total! What an easy, rewarding, and very pretty item to keep for yourself or give as a gift. If you do what I did, make two of them so you’ll have one to give away and one to keep.

I chose 4 uncoordinated floral fabrics for the top. I went for the unstudied look, but coordinated fabrics would turn out scrappy looking in a rag quilt, too. You should play around with what works best for you.

Floral fabric for the top squares — uncoordinated for an “unstudied” look.

If I were making an actual quilt, I would choose warm flannel for the middle layer. For this project, I desired the look of a rag quilt but not necessarily the thickness or warmth, so I chose a cotton sheet for the middle layer. The backing came from a floral printed sheet I bought at the thrift store.

Backing fabric — from an inexpensive thrift store sheet purchase.

For the two table runners I made — one as a practice to keep for myself and one for my friend — I organized the top squares differently. One I arranged in a diagonal pattern and in the other, I distributed the squares randomly.

ragquiltorderly.JPG ragquilttablerunner.JPG

Top squares can be arranged orderly or randomly.

Have fun with this project! Please let me know if you have questions, comments or suggestions.


Note: All the sewing will seem backward because you are going to sew stacks of squares together and the top squares will be facing right side out. All seam allowances are 1/2″.

Supplies Needed

  • (24) 5″ squares of random prints (top)
  • (24) 5″ squares cut from a solid color cotton sheet (middle)
  • (24) 5″ squares cut from a printed cotton sheet (backing)

1. Lay Out Quilt

Lay out top squares in a 3 x 8 grid in desired fashion — in a pattern or randomly.

Lay out tops in a 3 x 8 grid.

Turn all top squares to the wrong side. Put one middle square, wrong side up, and then one backing square, right side up, on top of each top square. Each stack, starting from the bottom, should now be in this order:

a. top square, wrong side up
b. middle square, wrong side up
c. backing square, right side up

2. Construct the Rows

Turn the stacks over so the top squares are now on top, right side up. You will sew each row of 8 stacks together. Sew the first 2 stacks of the first row together, top squares right side out, with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Tip: Before sewing the first seam, check to see that the stacks are in the right order. The two stacks placed together right sides out should be in this order, from the bottom up. When you’re sure they’re in the right order, sew through all 6 layers.

a. 1st stack — top square, wrong side up
b. 1st stack — middle square, wrong side up
c. 1st stack — backing square, right side up
d. 2nd stack — backing square, wrong side up
e. 2nd stack — middle square, right side up
f. 2nd stack — top square, right side up

Open it up so the backing squares, right side up, are facing you. Place the 3rd stack, top square right side up, on top of the 2nd stack and sew the 2nd and 3rd stack together. Repeat with the remaining stacks of the 1st row. Set the 1st row aside. Complete the 2nd and 3rd rows in the same manner.

The three rows, each constructed.

3. Sew the Rows Together

Pin the bottom of the 1st row to the top of the 2nd row together, right sides out with seams opened up. Sew the rows together using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Pin the top of the 3rd row to the bottom of the 2nd row, right sides out with seams opened up. Sew the rows together using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Sew a 1/2″ seam around the entire outer edge of the table runner, keeping seams opened up.

Completed table runner top — all three rows sewn together.

Tip: When all sewn together and opened up, the top should have all the raw edges visible, while the back doesn’t have any raw edges visible.

4. Finishing Up

Clip all raw edges perpendicular to the seams. Space the cuts 1/4″ apart. Each cut should go through all layers and extend about 3/4 of the way from the raw edge to the seam. Clip the seams around the outer edge of the quilt, too.

Wash and dry with other similarly colored cottons. The raveling of the raw edges begins with the first washing and sets in with subsequent washings.


© Copyright 2006 by Wardee Harmon. Used with permission from the author.