A Mystery in the Making

Thursday, December 23, 2010

RAGGY OR SHAGGY?

A rose is a rose, by any other name ...  It's the same with this technique of quilting.  When I saw my first one I nicknamed it "Shaggy".  There are many tutorials all over the Internet explaining how to make a Rag quilt.  I was intrigued when I first read about them but didn't want to waste a bit of my good expensive flannel and find out I despised this method (this happened with a stack and whack quilt!).  Instead I used old PJ's, old sheets, old flannel shirts, I even used scraps of batting (different weights and fiber contents).  It was the quilt that hooked me.  This sample quilt was confiscated by my husband, who sleeps under it every night  and sometimes carries it into the TV room.  It is the softest shaggy I have ever made. BTW, A month later he decided it wasn't long enough and asked me to add 2 more feet to it.  This was the first and last time I have or will add another row to a shaggy.  An already clipped and washed shaggy is a night-mare to sew another section to. 

I love to make them.  I have learned several tricks to keep them from getting boring (I have made over 100 of them). I will share what I have learned with you. 

This is one of the most recent Shaggies I have made.



It was made from scraps and stash.  Even the batting was scraps from the sides of quilts I had quilted on the quilt machine.  On the back is the last of 4 flannels I had in the stash (Dark blue, light blue, mint green and white).  The front is blue flowers with green leaves,  When you use a color on the back of the shaggy it shows through in the clipping very pastel from the original colors.

I am a big on, not wasting fabric.  I want to use every square inch.  I  decided to try 5/8 inch seams (instead of 1 inch) and clip seams every 1/8 inch (instead of the 1/4 inch or more suggested).  A narrower seam and closer clipping gave a chenille like feel to the exposed seams of the quilt.  Making them softer looking with a less peasant look.
This shaggy was made at the same time as the other quilt.  Hurray, my stash is totally void of all these flannels.  I used the Dark blue on the back. Solid dark colors on the back give an outlined look to the blocks on front.  Paring down my stash is my main objective during this strained economy (also a good excuse to buy more if I don't have the color I need..lol).

What size do I make the blocks:

How do I decide on the size of the blocks?  This is usually decided by the width of the fabric.  I divide the width and decide which size square will make the best use of the fabric and not have left over flannel, which I feel guilty about throwing out.  The other consideration is if I have a limited amount of the flannel I use the largest size I can cut, this means I will have less wasted yardage in the ragging of the quilt. (baby quilts will be so fancy when made with tiny 4 inch blocks and no batting, but you will be clipping for what seems forever...lol)  Needless to say the only fancy baby quilt I made was for my first granddaughter.

If I am making a New-Born's shaggy I like to use 5 inch blocks (this size has lots of clipping too), no batting (double flocked flannel makes the nicest new born shaggies).  Double flocked is what I call flannel that is fuzzy on both sides.  When you use this kind of flannel it is totally unnecessary to add batting, especially if using the smaller blocks.  When making a New-Born's shaggy you might consider a poly batting.  The reason I suggest this is because it is warm and very lightweight.  You don't want to have a heavy quilt for the baby  (This is also a point to consider if you are making a quilt for the elderly or someone convalescing).  I haven't been batting shopping lately.  There may be new very light weight cottons available or possibly the new bamboo ones come in the lighter weights.  I am all for using only products from renewable plant resources.  I have also found the expensive tightly woven flannels getting an even harder finish when washed and do not give a soft shaggy. 

Daughter's King Size Shaggy, front and back (2 rows are over the back of the fence.)
I made the King/Queen size shaggy for my Daughter from from expensive flannels and I used 100% thin cotton batting.  The quilt is so heavy it can not be washed in a home machine.  It is coming up ten years old and it still does not have the softness I prize in my Shaggy quilts.  This quilt was one of my first Shaggies.  I used the 1 inch seam allowance.  Harder finished flannels and those that are tightly woven do not fray as nicely.



Constructing a Shaggy:



When I make my blocks, I stack the sandwiches (the front and back fabric with the batting)  together before I start.  When I start Xing them I only "X" the amount I need for one row the length of the quilt.

I go back and pair them, until the whole row is finished.  I proceed to do the next row and then join the two rows.  I do this until I finish 1/2 the quilt (On a small quilt 48"(or less) I just "X" all the blocks first).  I began doing this to keep it from getting interminably boring. It seems to go faster.  Today I was clipping a king size shaggy I had put together last year, (we had been using it unclipped).  It reminded me how nice it was to clip half at a time when I was making them.  A Shaggy quilt this size is very hard to hold on your lap and clip.  My recommendation if making bed size shaggies is you make half at a time leaving the joining rows unclipped, then join the two halves and clip the two rows .


When Xing the blocks I use a larger stitch (why waste the thread). There is no stress on this part of the block, the stitching is just to hold the batting in place.  Some people use a walking foot.  I have found just a light tug as I am feeding the block through does the trick.  (If you get a wrinkle..it's not going to show when it is washed and shrinks up.) Another Thread hint; do not use old thread.  When you go to shake the lint out of the heavy wet quilt the thread will break. (King/Queen size need two people to shake them)

When joining a row of blocks to another row I always back stitch three times over the seam joint (don't forget to reset the stitch length to medium for stitching the seams).  I open my seams out  flat rather than nesting them.  It seems to make the clipping of the seams where they join easier.

When I join two long rows of blocks, I clip the perpendicular seams loose on both sides of the new seam.  This makes the shag clipping of the seams easier (On a queen size shaggy when you have all that quilt in your lap this is a great labor saver).  It makes it quicker to have all the seams loose so you can proceed to rag the edges. 

Washing the shaggy 

I love a regular agitator washer for Shaggies.  Fill the tub full and put your shaggy and a couple of big towels in (yes it isn't a full load).  You want it on the heavy cotton cycle.  It will really toss that blanket around in the water.  Wash only through one cycle (wash and wring out, stop the washer).  You do not need soap or hot water. Remove the Quilt and towels and take them out side and shake the stuffing out of them, lol, literally.  Return them to the washer (before putting them back in take a rag and wipe out any lint remaining on the sides of the tub.)  Restart the cycle on wash again and repeat the above moves.  I do this 4 times before I put it on a full cycle with hot water and 1/3 of the detergent I would normally use (the item isn't dirty after the four rinsings) and a shout color catcher if I have used solid colored flannels on the back.  After several uses of shout color catchers I am now using 3-4 of them in a wash just to make sure there is no bleed.  Some dark fabrics really bleed heavy...as in reds and purples are notorious.

If you want you can stop the wash during this last wash and shake the shaggy again then return it and finish the cycles (don't forget to shake those towels too).  Now throw it in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet.  check your filter every ten minutes, cleaning it. 

I now have a front loader machine which doesn't let me stop it mid cycle and remove the items.  It's the first time I cursed it.  The front loaded is a fabric pre-washers dream; it does not wrinkle the fabrics.  It does not beat up the shaggies enough so when I go to the dry cycle I put two flannel pillow cases with a pair of tennis shoes tied up inside, in with the shaggy and towels.  This helps to knock out more of the lint that the washer didn't dislodge.  (In the front loader I also run through 4 cycles but only get to shake when they finish.  BTW...don't forget to check the filter on your front loader between each use.)

I hope my suggestions to you, who are new to rag quilt making, helps the experience be more fulfilling.  A rag quilt is a use everyday quilt,  haul on a picnic quilt, throw on the floor, and make a tent quilt.  A cherished quilt by anyone who has one. The biggest plus is if you need a great gift quickly, A small rag quilt with 8 inch blocks can be made and finished in 48 hours or less. 
 
New blog here, a mystery quilt designed by me for my blog:
OCTOBER 2013

Other blog sites by me:
 
Where I have stories of my cats and other pets
a blog about my courtship with my husband,
and a blog about my most embarrassing moment.
A "Soap box" blog where I do air my opinions.
 
blogs about the wildflowers on our farm
Organic methods we use, some cooking and some poetry,
blogs about Seed sprouting, insects, and garden pictures
Blog about an endangered beneficial beetle

 

 

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