Designer Julie Lawrenson-Wood used 50% recycled fabrics hence the name Rag-bag.
- One worn 100% cotton sheet or two large worn light coloured 100% cotton shirts
- Dylon Hand Dyes Black (12), Royal Blue (26), Olive (34), Dark Green (09)
- 8oz/250g salt
- 45 x 60cm ( 18 x 24in) wadding
- Stitch ‘n’ Tear 36 x 46cm (14 x 18in)
- Temporary fabric adhesive e.g. 505
Note: The edges of sheets don’t wear as much as the centres, so you get quite a
lot of useable fabric from one. Polycotton mixes will give lighter shades. If you
don’t have any suitable ragbag fabrics two FQ will be enough for the main front
and backing and you could use scraps or charm squares for the other pieces.
15 1⁄2 x 21 1⁄2in (39.5 x 55cm)
To find your local stockist of Dylon
products call 020 8663 4296 or visit the Dylon website.
Julie dyed a threadbare cotton sheet along with several old cotton shirts
and as a result she now has yet another stash of fabric!
The background fabric for this wallhanging was traditionally dyed in a bucket using
Dylon Hand Dye. The fabrics for the flowers, leaves etc were all micro-dyed in the
microwave also using Dylon Hand Dyes. Micro-dyeing is fast, fun, satisfying and
highly addictive! But colours cannot be guaranteed, in fact you can get some
surprising results. To get darker shades use less water or more dye powder, and more
water or less dye powder for lighter shades. Julie keeps a rough record of approximately
how she achieved each colour and affect created, so she can get something similar
if more fabric is needed at a later date. Micro-dyeing is for special effects only, you
will not achieve a uniform colour with this method, and hence the background fabric
was dyed in a bucket. Children love using this technique, under strict supervision of
course, to dye their clothes/fabrics. Both Julie’s youngest son and her grandson
enjoy dyeing tee shirts and clothes this way, and the results are almost instant!
- Cut off unsuitable sections, i.e. collars, cuffs etc, then cut into separate elements
sleeves, fronts and back. Now cut off or unpick the seams to give usable pieces of fabric.
- Before dyeing wash the fabric and leave damp but do not use fabric conditioner.
- Dye two shirt backs and one shirt front with the black dye in the traditional
bucket method, see manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll need one back each for
the background and backing fabric with the shirt front for the binding. Alternatively,
from a sheet you’ll need enough fabric for the background, backing and binding.
Meanwhile, micro-dye the fabric for the leaves, petals and borders.
Figure 1: Pinning the leaf fabric in place
Dyeing the fabrics
- Scrunch up a piece of damp fabric and squash it into a small microwaveable
tub about the size of a yoghurt pot, do not use an actual yoghurt pot, they melt!
- Wearing rubber gloves mix up the dye; add a teaspoon of dye powder and
mix with warm water until dissolved. Add cold water until pot is about 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 full and
stir. Pour over the fabric in the microwave tub, squelching the fabric into the dye.
Cover the tub with a plastic bag and put in the microwave for four minutes on full
power. Tip into the sink. Rinse fabric in cold water until water runs clear
- Repeat with the remaining fabrics using different colours.
- As these are such small pieces of fabric, Julie recommends hand washing in the sink in hot
soapy water (it’s quicker than waiting for the washer) and rinse. When the fabric is
almost dry press with a hot iron. You should get some interesting patterns and shades.
TIP! If you prepare a few dyes they can all go into the microwave together.
- Enlarge the design so it measures 16in (about 41cm) from top to bottom.
Trace onto the Stitch ‘n’ Tear, as this is the back of the hanging the image will
be the reverse of what will appear on the front (our diagram has been reversed for
you). Attach the Stitch ‘n’ Tear to the background fabric WS together, using temporary
adhesive so that the drawing is visible on the back.
- Appliqué the flowers using reverse machine appliqué technique. First apply the bud
leaves and stems, then the flowers following the sewing order on the template. Beginning
with the bud lay the chosen leaf fabric RS side down. Lay the background fabric
on top also RS down over the leaf shape. Working from the back pin around the outside
of the leaf shape through all the layers (Figure 1). Turn the work over to check
the shape is totally covered by the leaf fabric, adjust as necessary.
- On the back of the fabric, using a darning foot, and with the feed dogs lowered,
stitch around the leaf using small stitches exactly on the traced outline.
- Turn the work over and using small sharp scissors carefully trim away the excess
fabric close to the stitching. See Figures 2 and 3.
Figure 2: Cut away the excess fabric from the front
- Repeat steps 2 to 4 building up the appliqué until the motif is complete. The quilt
can be finished by satin stitching the appliqué and then quilting, alternatively
make up the quilt sandwich and use the satin stitch as quilting.Set the sewing machine
to satin stitch and working from the RS stitch around each motif in the design.
If you stitch in the same order as the pieces were applied, most of the ends will
be covered giving a neater finish.
Figure 3: Pieces 1 and 2 in place
TIP! Pull the bottom thread to the top of the work to avoid getting a mess of
thread showing on the front.
- Remove the Stitch ‘n’ Tear. Press. Trim to 12 1⁄2 x 18 1⁄2in (33 x 49cm).
- Cut 44 2in (5cm) squares from the remaining fabrics. With 1⁄4in (5mm) seams, join
the squares randomly into two strips of 12 squares and two strips of 10 squares.
Attach one strip of 12 squares to each side of the quilt and press towards the border.
Add one strip of 10 squares to the top and bottom of the quilt (see Figure 4). Finally
press the whole quilt top thoroughly.
Quilting and finishing
Figure 4: Attaching the borders
- Mark the quilting pattern – Julie used diagonal lines for the centre and leaf
motifs joined by a meandering line in the border, which could be either marked on
the quilt or stitched free hand.
- Cut a piece of backing fabric 2-3in (5-8cm) larger all round than the quilt top
and a piece of wading the same size. Sandwich quilt top, wadding and backing fabric
in the usual way.
- Using invisible thread quilt very close to the satin stitching around the flower
motif using free machine quilting. However, if you did not satin stitch the flowers
before layering set the machine to satin stitch and cover the raw edges of the appliqué
using matching machine embroidery threads. Stitch in the same order as before. With
this method the satin stitch doubles as a quilting stitch.
- Quilt a diagonal line pattern behind the flowers, followed by the border pattern.
Note: Use a walking foot if available for the diagonal line quilting, to give an even
- Binding: from the shirtfront cut enough 2 1⁄2in (6.5cm) wide strips to go around
the quilt with approximately 10in (26cm) extra for allowances. Join into one long
strip. Fold the strip in half WS together and press. With raw edges even attach
the binding to the quilt. Fold to the back making neat mitres at the corners and hand
stitch in place. Attach a label and hanging sleeve and admire your handy work.
First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 12 Number 9 - August 2004