To make a prayer quilt, you must first determine the size of the quilt that you wish to make. Typical sizes are listed below:
- 1) a throw quilt – 56″ x 72″
- 2) a twin size – 63″ x 87″
- 3) a double size – 78″ x 87″
- 4) a king size – 100″ x 92″
- 5) a baby quilt – 42″ x 52″
Typical squares are 9″ each. You are going to need to leave a seam allowance of ½” on each side so in calculating how many squares you need, you would divide by 8″ rather than 9″. For instance, if you desire to make a throw quilt that is 56″ across, you would divide the 56″ by 8″ and come up with 7 squares across each row. To calculate the length of 72″, you would need 9 rows (72″ divided by 8″ = 9 squares). So all together you would need 63 squares (7 squares across times 9 squares down = 63 squares) cut to 9″ x 9″.
A baby quilt would use smaller squares. I cut 6″ squares, making them 5″ when sewn together. Baby quilts are great using flannel.
This prayer quilt is like the old “rag” quilts so you must use 100% cotton fabrics or you can use flannel. The squares for the top of the quilts can be as many patterns as you desire. Usually, you would make the squares for the back of your quilt all the same color. After cutting all of the squares for the top and back of your quilt, you will need to cut squares of batting for inside each square. These will be 8″ each since that is the size of the finished square. You will also need to buy enough muslin to cut 63 squares of 8″ pieces of muslin for the prayers.
After getting all fabric, batting and muslin cut, you need to get a permanent sharpie and write a prayer on each piece of muslin. You do not have to write a prayer for every square if you do not want to. If you are going to make your quilt on the sewing machine you will need “machine quilting” thread. Buy one neutral color thread that works with all the colors in your quilt.
You are now ready to assemble your quilt. Take one piece of the back material, right side down. Place a piece of batting on top of that followed by one of the prayers. You place the top piece on top of the muslin the prayer is written on – right side up and put a few pins in it. Assemble all squares the same way.
When that is finished, take the first square and sew from corner to corner to make an “/” across the square. You may leave the thread attached if you like and sew from corner to corner of the next square, and on and on until they all have one seam across from corner to corner. If you left them all attached, cut them apart now. Next you are going to do the same thing from the other corner to corner making a “X” across each square. This anchors your batting and prayer inside each square. After this is finished, you are ready to assemble your prayer quilt.
Lay all the pieces out on the floor or some other surface and mix your patterns around until you have it the way you like it. Then pick them up in order. I pin a piece of paper with the No. 1 on the first square of the first row. Then stack the second row in the order you had it laid out. You can pin a piece of paper with the No.2 on the first square of the second row if you like. Continue in that manner until you have all the rows carefully stacked. Put them somewhere where they will not get mixed up.
Take the first and second square of row one and sew them together back sides together. Yes, your seam allowances will be on the right side of your quilt. Then sew square three onto the second square and then square four onto square 3 and etc until the row is completed. You are then going to take a sharp pair of scissors and cut the seam allowance every ¼ inch or so all the way across each seam. You are cutting from the outside edge of the seam with the scissors pointing towards your seam. The closer the clips, the more your quilt will “rag”. Sew each of your rows together and clip all the seams. It is recommended to clip seams as you go. If you leave all of the clipping until the end, your hand may get very sore.
After the first row is clipped, pin the second row to the first row. Again you are putting the backs together so that the seam allowance will be on the front of your quilt. All seams should always be on the front of your quilt. Clip all the way across that seam. Then sew row three onto row two and clip all the way across that seam. Continue this until all rows are attached to the quilt. Remember, all seams should be on the front of your quilt.
You are almost finished. You then need to sew a ½” seam around the entire outside of the quilt and once again clip all the way around the quilt. You then want to wash your quilt two, three or maybe even four times. Each time you wash it, the clippings will unravel and make your quilt “rag” Another variation is to use a 1″ seam allowance for more “ragging”. Just remember that your 9″ squares would then become 7″ finished squares so you would need to divide the finished size by 7″ rather than the 8″ we were using above. Then your muslin squares and batting squares would also only be 7″. Your prayer quilt is finished and a precious gift for any occasion or for yourself on a cold, wintery night.