Rag Quilts - How to make a Denim Rag Quilt

Making a Denim Rag Quilt

 I had been thinking about making a denim rag quilt for awhile, but I never really had enough old jeans to have enough denim. Because it does take allot. 

But I got lucky, One day I visited a Saint Vincents thrift store, I love going to those stores cause you never know what you will find.

What I found was this huge denim couch cover set.  I was in perfect condition and only cost five dollars. So bingo I bought it.

It was shaped differently than my own couch, so I couldn't use it for that. But I was determined to put all that fabulous material to use. So I set out to cut up the denim couch cover.

The first thing I did was remove all seams and zippers so all I was left with was big panels of denim. It came to quite a bit of fabric so this would be enough to make the quilt I wanted to make.

I also had some red and blue patriotic fabric about four yards of each so I had plenty of that for the back of the quilt. I opted not to use batting for padding for this quilt, since denim is already pretty heavy.


Denim Rag Quilt
Denim Rag Quilt


Rolling cutter, 6"x6" acrylic block, sharp snips
Rolling cutter, 6"x6" acrylic block, sharp snips


 Now that I had the material I had to cut all of it into blocks, I used a rolling cutter and 6" x 6" acrylic block to cut the fabric. You will also need a small pair of very sharp scissors later to snip the seam allowances.

I used just my plain old sewing machine to put the blocks together, and a 100/16 size sewing needle for heavyweight fabrics.


Cutting the Blocks

The first thing I did was cut all the blocks.  A 6"x6" block will make a 5" block if you allow a 1/2" seam allowance so that is what I did. 

So this quilt was made 12 blocks x 14 blocks, which would be 60" wide x 70" long. This size quilt will be big enough for a twin size bed or in this case my husband has already claimed it for his sleeper in his big truck.

But using these simple measurements you could add or take away depending on how big you want your quilt to be.  This quilt used a total of 168 blocks for the front and 168 blocks for the back.

Cut Quilt Blocks

Cut up denim couch cover
Cut up denim couch cover
Cut Denim squares
Cut Denim squares
cut blocks of blue and red material
cut blocks of blue and red material

Arrange the Blocks

 Once all the material is cut up into blocks, you will then want to lay out each row the way you want the material to show. In this case I wanted a completely denim quilt top, with red and blue repeated blocks on the back of the quilt. 

Lay out one row of twelve of the backing fabric, with right sides of fabric facing down. Rotating blue then red or whatever pattern you wish to accomplish.  Then you will layer a block of denim over the backing material, with wrong sides together, this means the right side of denim will be facing up.

Do this at 10 rows of 12 blocks, So looking at it you should have all blocks to be one backing fabric and one denim.

Of course this can be adjusted to the number of rows you would like to accomplish.

All blocks arranged into rows then turned by corners rotating out for easier sewing of rows.
All blocks arranged into rows then turned by corners rotating out for easier sewing of rows.

Sew Blocks Together

Once you have your rows all planned and organized you can start sewing the rows together.

Sew each block with backing materials facing each other and denim side facing out. Sew a least a 1/2 inch seam allowance, so you will have enough for snipping.

So you should in thin instance have at least 12 rows of denim on one side and alternating red and blue material on the bottom with all seams showing on the denim side.

Once all the rows are sewed you may want to press open all seams to make it easier to sew the rows together.

Backing sides face each other.
Backing sides face each other.
with denim sides facing out.
with denim sides facing out.
sewed rows with red and blue backing and denim showing seams.
sewed rows with red and blue backing and denim showing seams.

Sew Rows Together

Once all the rows are sewed you should have 12 rows. Now you can sew all the rows together.

Keep in mind as you sew the rows together, that you line up all the seams, and denim does have a little give in it so make sure that you watch that it doesn't stretch to much, while sewing.

This is a very forgiving quilt so if it is off a smidgen it won't matter to much but you do want to keep all the rows matching up as much as possible, so you don't have one row longer than the other.

Once all rows are sewed together you should now have a quilt that is the complete size.

Now sew along the edge of the whole quilt, with a 5/8ths inch seam allowance. So that all the edges will be able to fray as well.

All rows sewed together denim side with seams showing.
All rows sewed together denim side with seams showing.
all rows sewed together with backing alternating red and blue material.
all rows sewed together with backing alternating red and blue material.

Snipping all the Seams.

Now that you have the sewing complete you will need to snip the seams.

Snipping the seams will make it easier for them to fray out to get that ragged look you are looking for.

I snipped all the seam, through all the layers of the fabric. And make sure that you snip close to the sewed lines, but making sure you do not cut the actual sewing thread.

I snipped about every 1/4 to 1/2 inch, on every seam. This is the most time consuming of all the steps.

Snipping with very sharp scissors
Snipping with very sharp scissors
You will find that you will have to snip at different angles.
You will find that you will have to snip at different angles.

Wash the quilt

Now that all the snipping is done, you will have to wash the quilt to help the fraying process.

You should be able to wash the quilt in any washing machine, just be sure to clean out the machine once it is washed because you will most likely have some lint in the machine.

But most of the lint will come out in the dryer. Once you have dried the quilt for about 10 minutes clean out the lint trap, and continue drying cleaning out the lint trap after every 10 to 15 minutes of drying because this quilt will fill up the lint trap fast.

You may also need to take the quilt out every so often, and take it outside to shake the quilt out to help loosen even more of the lint.

Once it is completely dry and shaken out, you will see a significant difference in how frayed the seams are. 

Some recommend that you take a stiff bristle brush and brush all the seams out and wash the quilt again. But it may not be necessary, and it will fray more and more with each washing.

This quilt will be very durable and should give you years of use.

Finished Quilt Pictures

Finished Denim Rag Quilt
Finished Denim Rag Quilt
Finished Denim Rag Quilt Close-Up
Finished Denim Rag Quilt Close-Up
Finished Denim Rag Quilt Close-up of backing
Finished Denim Rag Quilt Close-up of backing
Finished Denim Rag Quilt with backing showing
Finished Denim Rag Quilt with backing showing

Denim Rag Quilt Complete

 Now you have yourself a complete Denim Rag Quilt.

I hope you have found these instructions useful and will be able to make your own Denim Rag Quilt.

Thank you so much stopping by.

Comments 31 comments

Willie 12 days ago

Thanks for these instructions.

I am now making a jeans rag quilt for a son and wonder - do I need to backstitch for each square or should I double stitch all seams for extra strength?

Thanks for your help.

Mary Watts 5 months ago

For years I have been saving most of my daughter's old jeans, with the plan of someday making her a quilt. Well, this was the year. My original plan was that she take it with her to college this fall, but I may have made it too large for a dorm bed. Your directions were great and easy to follow...which made it easy to complete this project. I am now making pillows with the leftover squares.

Lois 9 months ago

I have just tidied cupboards to find several pairs of jeans that we both wondered if we might fit into again one day. I now have the fabric for my first denim quilt. Even though your tutorial is several years old I think it's the one for me to use. Thank you.

Diane Inside profile image

Diane Inside 3 years ago Author

Hi Julie, sorry somehow your comment got past me. So sorry, but no you don't necessarily have to press open the seams. However while sewing you may want to separate them and line them up just so there is less layers for the machine to go thru either way works. Because in the end you will be snipping them all anyway so the look will be same nonetheless. Thank you all for your comments glad you enjoy this page. Be Safe all of you.

Julie 3 years ago

Are you pressing open the seams when sewing the rows?

Rogene Robbins 3 years ago

I've made lots of blue jean quilts, but never had the nerve to try a rag quilt. You make it look easy.

mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

A wonderful hub! I too get a fabric for sewing from second hand stores. It is a great source for cheap material. I love rag quilts and they are perfect for children. I am a member of Project Linus and enjoy making quilts for children very much.

Diane Inside profile image

Diane Inside 4 years ago Author

Sharon, yes you are correct the last row all the way around the quilt is the the denim patches front and back . I'm sorry i didn't mention this in the instructions but it can be done either way really. Thanks so much for the kind words and so glad you enjoyed it.

sharonp123 4 years ago

I think this is fabulous and can't wait to get started. On your last photo, 'Finished Denim Rag Quilt', have you swapped one complete row of patches back to front? It looks like there is a row of denim around the coloured patches - I think that's a great idea, or is it a trick of the camera angle?

Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

Cool project. I have tons of fabric so I might have to try this one.

Susan 4 years ago

Very good find of denim and so much easier to cut out squares from large panels. Beautiful quilt and great tutorial. I really like your selection of fabrics and I know your husband must be lovin it. How nice that it will just improve with washing! Not much we can say this about. Thanks!

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

I started this quilt with our old jeans but it's still in my box not finished. I would get it done if I would get off of hubpages. Voted up

kmaskreations profile image

kmaskreations 4 years ago

Great hub! Great photos and very well written. The instructions are clear and should be easy to follow by even a novice quilt maker. Thanks for sharing :)

smcopywrite profile image

smcopywrite 4 years ago from all over the web

wonderfully done. i used old blue jeans that i was going to put in a yard sale for my quilt. denim quilts are extremely durable and fun to make.

great hub.

Diane Inside profile image

Diane Inside 5 years ago Author

Hi RTalloni, so glad you like this project. My husband enjoys his very much. I like it but it is a heavy quilt so I don't enjoy it as much as him since I tend to like lighter quilts. But he loves his and now wants me to add patches from every state he delivers to. May take a while for that. Thanks for stopping by.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

What a great project. It has my mind going down a new creative path that I can't let detour me at present, but most definitely want to keep in mind. It will be fun to plan one of these, and then enjoy it. Thanks!

Diane Inside profile image

Diane Inside 5 years ago Author

Hi Steven, good to know I am anxious to talk to you, so I can get the scoop hope to see you soon.

Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago

Hey Diane, I hope all is well. I decided to end my ban in forums, so hopefully I'll see you around. Hope everything is going well. :)

Diane Inside profile image

Diane Inside 5 years ago Author

So glad you liked it cillam and Kat its been a couple of months now since I made this quilt my husband loves it. it is very strong and can hold up to his abuse so I love it too. lol Hope you guys are able to try it, it is fun to make and so useful. Thanks to you all for stopping by.

My Kat Walkin' 5 years ago

Wow, this looks like a great way to use all of the denim that I was saving to do a crochet rug. I had started it awhile back but only got so far. It was getting very heavy to hold. So it was put aside. Now with all of the quilting going on, I was giving thought to making a denim quilt with the rest of the material. Thanks for the very easy instructions.

cillam 5 years ago

I think this article is very helpful and I will be bookmarking this page.

Diane Inside profile image

Diane Inside 5 years ago Author

Im, so glad you have decided to finish what your grandmother started. I learned most of what I know about sewing and quilting from my grandmother. It feels good to carry on such a wonderful skill, especially since she is gone and I am the only one in the family who took interest in this skill. Good luck with your grandmothers quilt I'm sure she would be pleased that you are finishing it. Thank you so much for your comment.

imatellmuva profile image

imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

Great Hub Diane Inside!!! I'm going to bookmark this hub, to use as instructions to complete a quilt my Grandmother started before she she passed away!

Thanks for posting this!!

Diane Inside profile image

Diane Inside 5 years ago Author

HI Steven, thanks for visiting, I had Thanksgiving Early It was delicious, moms cooking always is. lol Hope you have a great Thanksgiving also.

Yours Truly


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 5 years ago

Wow, thanks for the great tips Diane. I never made a quilt before but if i do someday, then I'll definitely be sure to follow your advice. Thanks again for the advice. You be sure to have a Happy Thanksgiving, in case I don't see ya.

Yours Truly,


Diane Inside profile image

Diane Inside 5 years ago Author

Thank You RNMSN for the glowing review, I really appreciate it. I never tried crazy quilt style for denim, I will have to try that sometime, I bet it has an interesting look. I really am glad you stopped by, Thank you so much.

RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 5 years ago from Tucson, Az

what a great article!! voted useful and awesome and beautiful as well! wonderful pics and steps so easy to follow!! I love denim quilts...I dont cut even squares to mine though I just crazy quilt it and never have put a backing on one...yours is so much prettier than mine!! it's a blue ribbon for sure!! be sure to enter it in your county fair if your hubby will give it up for a week or so :) way to go!!!

Diane Inside profile image

Diane Inside 5 years ago Author

skye2day, I am so glad you liked this and I hope your sister enjoys it as well. Thank you so much for the wonderful comment.

skye2day profile image

skye2day 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Diane This is so beautful Wow You laid it out in a simple guide to follow. I have never attempted a quilt. Maybe someday. I am open to it. I have linked to my siter, she is so into making quilts. I know she will enjoy this hub of love. You have a fantastic hub here. You are so gifted. To share how to is very generous of you. I pray you are Blessed 100 fold for Blessing others.

Thank You. I love ya already. Peace sister. You have a new fan and I am honored to follow u. ( - :

Diane Inside profile image

Diane Inside 5 years ago Author

Wow Delores thanks a lot. lol, patience, well, when it comes to this stuff yes I have patience, can't say that I have the same patience with some people though.LOL Thank you for your wonderful coment.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

Voted up and awesome! You've done a wonderful job of showing exactly what to do and how to make this beautiful quilt. You must have some patience!

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