How to Make a Patriotic Patchwork Quilt Flag
This Memorial Day, I wanted to pay my respects to our nation's fallen by making something thoroughly American - a patriotic patchwork flag. I decided to sew a quilt flag from a few fat quarters and some fabric scraps I had lying around. Using a sewing machine (and not adding a backing) made this project fly by. Plus, it's perfect for first-time quilters.
Step 1: Choose Your Fabric
The fat quarters I used were in red, aged white and blue tones. I used aged whites instead of bright white, because I wanted to give my flag a more historical, respectful feel. I matched my cotton fabrics with cotton thread. It's important to match thread fiber to fabric fiber, so that the thread won't rip the fabric, pull, gather, etc. Step 2: Cut Your Fabric into Squares
I used a rotary cutter to quickly cut my fabrics into strips, but scissors would have done the job just as well, though a little slower. I made sure that each piece was 3" in height - this will be important when it comes time to connect them.
Though the height of all my rectangles was the same, I cut the lengths of each strip at random. Patchwork looks so much better when each piece is a different length, so I didn't even bother measuring them. It's always a good idea to cut more pieces than you think you'll need. Having a few extra scraps is much better than needing to stop and cut more because one of the strips isn't long enough. Step 3: Lay Out Your Design
I laid all my pieces out on the floor so that I had plenty of space to arrange them. I played with it until I got the pattern exactly how I wanted it. To save time, I did this step next to where I was sewing. Keep in mind that the finished flag will actually be much smaller than what's laid out, because each rectangle will have a seam on each side. Step 4: Sew Your Rectangles into Strips
I gathered up all my rectangles in order from last (on the bottom right) to first (top left). I gathered all the rows up at once, but I think (after dealing with a lot of scraps) that it would actually be easier to gather and sew the rectangles row by row, leaving the loose rows laid out on the ground in the meantime.
I laid one fabric piece on top of another, so that their patterned-sides were facing each other, and stitched them together. I wasn't very particular about where I sewed the pieces together, because the length of each rectangle didn't matter.
Once I had two rectangle connected (like in the image above), I added a third rectangle the same way to the outside piece. I continued sewing each rectangle together until the entire row was completed. Step 5: Sew Your Strips into a Quilt
After I sewed each row, I laid them out again just to check the length. At this stage, you can still add length to the end of a row, if it's not as long as you wanted.
I sewed the rows together the same way I had sewed the rectangles, by laying each row pattern-to-pattern and sewing the edges together. I made sure to get my blue fabric mostly in a straight line so it would make a nice, solid square. Step 6: Finish and Hang Your Flag
Once the rows were together, I trimmed the ends so that they were all the same length. Hold onto those scraps for your next red, white and blue project! When my flag was complete, I sewed a ribbon onto the top two corners, so that it would be easy to hang. I thought about not trimming the edges for a more rustic look, or hemming them all for an even more finished look, but I'm really happy with my decision. It turned out simply beautiful and because it's so light, it waves nicely in the wind.
This would also be a great Fourth of July project, but I would probably choose brighter shades of white. I'm also thinking about putting on a border and turning it into a quilt later on.
Wishing everyone a happy and meaningful Memorial Day!!!
- Red, White, and Blue fabric
- White cotton thread