This Rag Quilt Flag Pillow is my newest pillow.
And I do mean mine. I created this one just for me!
So often, the pillows I make are for others. But not this time.
This one’s staying here!
If you follow me on Pinterest…and if not, I’d love for you to
…you may have seen the rag quilt ideas I pinned onto my Project Ideas Board. I combined this concept with the desire to make a flag pillow and the result is the Betsy Ross inspired Rag Quilt Flag Pillow!
Today, I’m going to share all the how-to’s so you can make your own flag pillow! Or if sewing is not your thing just me an email to purchase one.
The Betsy Ross pillow consists of 13 stripes and stars. So the first and most tedious part is cutting the strips of fabric.
You’ll need 1/2 yd each of three fabrics for the face of your pillow. An ivory cotton, a taupe cotton and a flannel or cotton batting used for quilts. (Because I have it on hand, I used a flannel backed lining which I use for window treatments instead of the cotton batting.)
6 @ 2.25″ x 24″ ivory strips
7 @ 2.25″ x 24″ taupe strips
13 @ 2.25″ x 24″ cotton batting strips
taupe fabric for the back side of pillow
*3 @ 10″w x 9″h piece – 1 from each ivory, taupe and batting fabric
*1 extra 10″x9″ piece in ivory
*I suggest waiting to cut these pieces until you are ready to sew them in place. I’ll explain later.
The batting or flannel will line each piece of fabric.
Begin by paring up one strip of lining with one strip of fabric.
One tricky aspect in sewing a rag quilt is the seam allowance side is actually the front of your quilt. This is often easier said than done.
Sew your strips of fabric wrong sides together (batting side) using a 1/2″ seam, alternating ivory and taupe making sure you end with one taupe strip at the top and one at the bottom.
This is how the back side of your pillow face will look.
The next step is to cut away part of your stripes to allow for the stars.
Now, because this was a prototype, so to speak, and I was winging it, I didn’t take the time to figure out 6 stripes at one size and 7 stripes at another size the way a seasoned quilter might have done.
*See comment below from the clever Miss SheliaG for a better way to accomplish this step.
*This is where I have to sheepishly admit that due to my winging it, this pillow did not end up the size I originally planned.
I planned to have a 16.25″ x 24″ piece at this point.
Logic tells you that 13 @ 2.25″ strips sewn together with a 1/2″ seam allowance = 16.25″.
Logic, however, does not explain why I cut my strips at 1.75″! So at this point my piece is now approx 14×24.
(Which still doesn’t make sense mathematically!)
This is why I suggest you wait until this point to cut the layers for your stars. I’ll be sure to come back and edit this to give you my exact measurements once I’ve made a second pillow!
Count up 6 stripes from the bottom and separate your seam allowance. Come in 10″ or so and cut the remaining 7 strips.
The next step is to layer your 3 @ approximately 10″w x 9″h pieces of fabric.
I chose to use three layers here not knowing exactly how the stars would turn out. The layers are, top to bottom: taupe, batting, ivory.
Sew your layers in place wrong sides together.
Now, remembering I’m winging this, I grabbed the closest thing handy that happened to be a circle and used it as a guide to mark the stars.
You may use your own handy canister lid or a more scientific method of marking the placement for your 13 stars.
Next, cut tiny star-like patterns, through all 3 layers, at each of your markings.
Not knowing exactly what would happen when I washed my pillow cover, I chose to machine stitch a figure 8 pattern around my cuts in the hopes of securing them a bit.
You could forgo this step if you choose.
On the back side of your pillow cover, pin your last piece of ivory fabric in place. From the front side of your pillow cover, topstitch this piece in place. This allows your star cuts to not be open to your pillow insert.
Trim pillow to desired width if necessary. Opening up each seam allowance, topstitch around the entire pillow top.
Next, carefully cut snips in your exposed seam allowance approximately every 1/2″.
At this point cut a piece of fabric for the back of your pillow. Sew pillow top and back together, right sides together, leaving an opening along lower edge.
Wash pillow cover in warm water and tumble dry.
You may consider washing your fabrics prior to sewing, as well. It’s not necessary but shrinkage will need to be considered.
The wondrous result of washing the sniped and exposed seam allowance is what gives this process the Rag Quilt name.
I love this result!
Last sidenote…you’ll have lots of strings in your lint catcher! I also took my pillow cover outside and gave it a good shake to remove the lingering threads.
Make your own pillow insert OR (if you’re lucky and your pillow turns out the exact size you intended) use a ready made pillow insert.
Machine or hand stitch the opening closed.
I truly love the way this pillow turned out. Measuring issues and all.
In fact I have plans to use this technique again! And hopefully, I won’t be winging it the next time!
I’d love to hear if any of you have tried the rag quilt technique.
Also, you seasoned quilters are welcome to pass along any much-needed quilting tips to us non-quilters!