Ragged Edges – a new pillow

Earlier this year I made a rag quilt for our local daycare. I like rag quilting because it is easy and quick. The end results are cozy and have a tactile appeal that improves over time and with washing.

A reader asked how I did the seams. “Ahh,” I said to myself, “this sounds like an excuse to spend days in the sewing room and use up some more of my stash of fabric, with the additional bonus of creating a comfy pillow for my couch.”

We use standard sized bed pillows (about 16 x 24 inches) on our couch because I like a good nap. I made this pillow with an envelope back so that it can be removed for washing.

It is important to use fabric that will fray. 100% cotton or cotton flannel is ideal. I used four different colours of 100% flannel for this project. The green was from an old flannel sheet set, the burgundy flannel was left over from a Christmas project, and the beige was left over from the Kaleidoscope quilt I made myself. The backing fabric was gifted to me by a friend when she cleaned out her sewing room:

Yikes! Definitely not my style! But the flannel was of good quality and the colours worked for this project. I knew it wouldn’t be visible in the final project so I added it in. Adding a backing fabric makes for a sturdier end product and provides more fabric for the frayed seams.

I wanted the patches to be 4 inches square. I use a ½ inch seam allowance when I make a rag quilt so that there will be enough fabric for a nice frayed seam. This means that 1 inch was added to the measurement for the patches. In other words, I cut each patch as a 5 inch square to end up with a 4 inch patch. I needed 8 patches of each of the plain flannel fabrics and 24 patches from the Slimeheads print.

I took a plain coloured patch and placed it over top a Slimeheads patch with the WRONG sides together. I then top stitched an “X” on each patch to keep the two layers together.

When all the patches were top stitches, I started sewing them together in rows. To do so, I made sure that the Slimeheads or backside of each patch was touching. I used a ½ inch seam allowance to leave enough fabric to fray. I found that the sewing process was improved by using the walking foot on my machine.

The goal is to have all the seams exposed on the front of the pillow.

I then stitched all the rows together. I find that it is easier to keep everything lined up if I press my seams open.

Here is the front. Fortunately the random creepy eyeballs were not obvious when the pillow was finished.

And the back.

Notice that no raw seams can be seen from the back. This part of the pillow is hidden inside the pillow case. Good thing, cause I think this print would give me scary dreams!

I cut two pieces of green flannel and backed them with more Slimeheads fabric to make the back of the pillow. I sewed the the front of the pillow to the back with the WRONG sides together and with a ½ inch seam allowance.

Now it was time to start snipping! To get a nice frayed edge, I snipped both sides of every seam allowance every ¼ inch or so. Be very careful not to snip through the stitches.

I used these scissors to snip the seam allowances. I was lucky enough to find mine at our local thrift store but they can be ordered online. Regular sewing scissors will work, but if you plan on doing a lot of rag quilting, these scissors will save your hands.

When the seams were all snipped, it was time to fray the edges. To do this, I threw the pillow case into the washing machine and dryer with a load of jeans. I love hanging my laundry to dry but it takes a bit of abuse to get the fabric to fray properly when making a rag quilt. This part of the process is messy and you may need to wipe out your washing machine when you are done. Be sure to clean the lint filter on your dryer both before and after any rag edged project is dried. There will be a lot of loose threads and lint.

Once dry, I slipped the pillow into the pillow case and called it a day.



Each time I wash this pillow case, the frayed edges will fray even more and become even softer.

Now its time for a nap!


6 thoughts on “Ragged Edges – a new pillow

  1. That’s beautiful ! I am in the process of making matching sock monkey slippers for Dustin and his girlfriend. I did go buy yarn for them but that will just add to my yarn stash for another blanket !! I am also using my scrap yarn to make Sandra a granny skull crochet blanket. I’ll post pictures of that one when I’m done !


  2. Thank you for this!
    I have a collection of old unusable flannel sheets , portions of which will be perfect to give this a try,

    Random Creepy Eyeballs sounds like a punk group from back in the day!

    Must admit I laughed out loud at the yarn shop sign. I have been that person….more than once, alas.


  3. Pingback: Frugal Endeavors – Dentist | hip roof barn

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