Rag Quilt Letters & Numbers Tutorial

In a line

These have become an instant hit in our house! My daughter just hasn’t stopped playing with them (she’s really getting into learning her abc’s and all now).

Teaching Toys

And, my husband like that these don’t hurt his feet like the wooden alphabet blocks she normally will have scattered all around the house. I have many ideas for rag letters in the future. I am going to make a Merry Christmas banner with them for sure and maybe a Happy Birthday one. Here is the quick how to. Mine aren’t firm at all, but if you wanted more stable ones you could add some interfacing to the layers as well. Also, you could add felt as the backing they could stick to a felted board, etc.

What you need:
-Letters to trace (Pattern Here Available for Download Now)

Rag Quilt Letters Pattern Available Now
(Made with batting in middle)

Lower Case Pattern Now Available Here to Download! They are smaller to complement to the larger letters.

Download LowerCase Pattern for Rag Quilt Letters Now
(Made with felt in middle)

And lastly, the numbers pattern is available as well. Download here.

Rag Quilt Numbers Pattern Available for Download
(Made with interfacing in middle)

-Scrap Fabrics for front
-Fabric for back (I used vintage chenille)
-Quilt batting (I used felt on the lower case letters to make it more stiff and interfacing on the numbers.)
-Fabric pen
-Sewing machine, scissors, etc.

Directions:

1. Print out letters to trace. I used Microsoft Publisher to create the letters and made them all the same size and used the same font. You could do this in Word as well, or Photoshop. You could also just free style it, etc. Cut the letters out.

Printed Out


2.
Trace the letters onto the fabric that you will use for the top.

3. Cut the letters out in square shapes.

The Cutting


4
. Cut out squares of quilt batting and backing that will be the same size of the letter.

5.
Make a sandwich of the fabrics and quilt batting. Place the back fabric right side down. Then place the piece of interfacing on top of that. Next, place the top fabric right side up. Pin together. Sew on the tracing.

The sandwich


6.
If you desire, you can quilt it or just leave it.

7.
Trim the edges of the three layers. Leave at least 1/4 inch around the edges of the letters.

Raw Edges Clipped and Ready to Wash


8.
Clip the raw edges. Make clips straight into every seam allowance. Stop before you reach the seam allowance.

9.
Throw it in the washing machine and then the dryer. They will come out all raggedy around the edges.

Rag Quilt Letters Tutorial

Playing with her letters

Picking them all out!

It's raining the alphabet!

Covered
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Comments

  1. says

    What a great idea and fun mix of fabrics. I’m thinking of making a banner out of these when I turn Thomas’s room into a playroom. Thanks!

  2. says

    I think this is such a great idea! And kids learn things better when they can use as many of their senses while learning! I’m totally doing this one for my girls. Thanks!

  3. says

    These are just too cool! My oldest knows her ABC’s, but this would be a fun way to learn to read by spelling out words! I’m really going to make these! TFS!!

  4. says

    Hi Jessica! I’ve been a reader of your blog for awhile now. You always have such lovely projects and tutorials! I’m thinking about making these for my niece who is 1 1/2. Do you think this would be age appropriate, or is she too young? I loved the idea! About how big would you say each letter is? I’m worried about not having enough scraps. Thanks!!

    Sarah at http://www.comeandseetheseitz.com

  5. says

    I’ve scoured the Internet for clever, non-obvious (bibs, burp cloths) handmade baby gifts and these are wonderful! Love that you can make the ABC’s, or personalize by spelling a baby’s name.

  6. says

    “…who is 1 1/2. Do you think this would be age appropriate, or is she too young? I loved the idea! About how big would you say each letter is? I’m worried about not having enough scraps.”

    I printed out two letters on a page and they came out at almost 7″ tall and almost 4/5″ wide. You can make them as small as you like, or bigger! My daughter is 23 months and started getting some letters down around 1 1/2. It’s never to early to present letters, numbers, reading, etc. to little ones. They learn so much in their first four years of life.

  7. Anonymous says

    Superb idea!

    Upper case letters may be traditional for tots learning their letters in the US, but lower case makes a lot of sense. The lower case shapes are more distinctive and help more when the time comes for books.

  8. charly says

    That’s a really great idea. Thanks for sharing, I already know a few things I could do this way.

    ~charly

  9. says

    “Wonderful idea, thanks! Would you please tell us what kind of interfacing you used?”

    Thanks for catching this. I meant to write quilt batting, but if making a banner, I would suggest adding a craft interfacing (it’s stiff and will help hold up the letters like a G better).

  10. says

    Thank you for sharing this cool idea! My friends are in baby boom mode and I’ve been looking for interesting gift ideas. Love this one!

  11. says

    I absolutely love these! They are now on my list of what to sew next. These would be a perfect present for my daughter’s preschool teacher, too. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Anonymous says

    May I ask what kind of font you used in Publisher? I have publisher and would love to make some. Thanks

  13. says

    “May I ask what kind of font you used in Publisher?”

    I did it using word art and chose the Arial Black font. I think it’s the default one, but I liked it the best.

  14. Anonymous says

    Happy,

    This is the cutest, most clever idea I’ve come across in a long time. I have many grand nieces and nephews at the ages that would love these. Thanks so much for sharing the tutorial.

  15. says

    I think I’ll have to make a couple of banners! There’s never enough selection in the party store for me. And then they’ll be customizable too!

    Where did you get the clothespins? I’ve been looking for wooden clothespins in stores, and it seems like most stores only sell plastic ones nowadays, if they even sell clothespins at all.

  16. says

    “Where did you get the clothespins?”

    My husband picked them up at a local grocery store (Publix). Does Walmart of Home Depot not have any wooden ones? Interesting. Maybe look in the craft section for some?

  17. says

    These are soooooo awesome!!! I wish I knew a little kid who would use them lol! I’m gonna make them anyways! Thanks for sharing!

  18. says

    Hi Jessica, these are so nice. I’m going to add a link to the instructions from my Web site at About.com. I hope that’s ok. My readers will love these. -Janet Wickell

  19. says

    What a fantastic idea! I am a former teacher, now stay-at-home-momma to a 19-month old little boy. I can’t wait to make these! :)

    mjsmith723(at)gmail.com

  20. says

    I just love this! I am visiting from “For The Love Of My Home And Life” and just had to let you know that I am off to my sewing machine right now! :o)
    Sincerely ~ Tricia Anne

  21. says

    Thanks for the tutorial on the rag quilt letters. I think this one is more useful for us and the main thing which i like the most that is the detail explanation how to make them.

  22. says

    I’m working on these now. A Christmas gift for my niece (who is only a few months old right now!) I think I made them a little too small – just 3″ high – but it will do! I’m going to make numbers for her too!

    I’ll post pics to Flickr when I’m done! Thanks for the idea!

  23. says

    These are really cute. Someone gave us a store bought set for my son when he was a younger but I’d really like to make a set for little brother. Much more personal to make it yourself, and you can chose the fabric!

  24. says

    Eighty-seven kinds of brilliant you are. Thank you for sharing–they will be perfect for my boy. And another little pink set for my niece for Christmas. I’ve been looking for a little something to to go with the books she loves and this fits the bill perfectly.

  25. says

    Jessica, Just found your blog and I am loving it. I am working on my letters and having a hard time finding a pen/pencil that will write dark enough so I can see it when I sew the letters. Do you have any suggestions for that? I’ve got light and dark fabrics! Thanks

  26. says

    “I am working on my letters and having a hard time finding a pen/pencil that will write dark enough so I can see it when I sew the letters. Do you have any suggestions for that?”

    For the fabrics I couldn’t see the fabric pencil I had, I just used a ball point pen. But maybe chalk? I know quilters sometimes use soap leftovers to make their quilting lines. It does work and washed right out.

  27. says

    I have been struggling to teach my almost five year old his letter sounds. One of my friends made these letters and referred me to your blog. Thank you for this great tutorial! I can’t wait to get started!

  28. says

    So I just finished mine and posted about them (of course giving you much credit) but I can’t figure out how to post a picture in the flickr group. I guess I am not flickr savvy yet lol

  29. says

    Hi, Jessica! These letters are so adorable! I made one as an applique for a shirt and I would love your thoughts on it…search for me on facebook at Fiddle ‘N’ Bow and check it out in my For the Prince album!

  30. says

    Hi Jessica,

    Thanks so much for the tutorial. I made a Wall Hanging with my first grandson’s name. I wanted something better than the traditional wooden letters, so you inspired me. I posted a picture on your flicker group as well as on my blog. Of course I gave credit to your wonderful idea. Again thank you!

  31. says

    We are adopting a little boy from China and are making a 100 good wishes quilt where 100 people send you a piece of fabric and a wish. This would make a great quilt, and he could learn his ABC’s. I thought I could put 1-9 on it as well! Great idea!

  32. says

    You are so creative and inspiring! I love these letters, what a great idea. I started making some this weekend, but my letters seem to be smaller than yours and I couldn’t figure out how to make them larger with the pdf file. Did you stitch and extra layer around them to make them bigger?

    Thanks again for sharing, so excited to see the end result :)

  33. says

    “Did you stitch and extra layer around them to make them bigger?”

    The sewing line is the exact line of the leters. Maybe you are sewing further in than this? You could make your own letters in Word, Publisher, etc. by using Word Art if you want to make them bigger. Hope it all works out for you :)

  34. says

    Maybe they are the same size and I was just getting confused. Either way I’m almost done and they are looking great! So excited for my daughter to play with them. Thanks again for the tutorial, you have wonderful ideas!

  35. says

    Thanks for the “oohs” and “ahhs” I got at a shower last fall with these.:) And I only did four letters! (“Quin.” I just put pics up on my blog with a link to your tutorial. http://bit.ly/bwPxC6 ) I LOVE the pics of your daughter playing with them! What a fab toy. And a cute kid.:)

  36. Anonymous says

    I’m kind of a beginner so I had to ask- I know you said to throw them all in the wash together when you are done, but do you recommend still washing all the fabrics separately before sewing? Or is washing the fabrics for the first time what helps give them the ‘rag’ effect? Thanks so much, I can’t wait to make them for my daughter!

  37. says

    “I know you said to throw them all in the wash together when you are done, but do you recommend still washing all the fabrics separately before sewing? Or is washing the fabrics for the first time what helps give them the ‘rag’ effect?”

    There is really no reason to wash the fabrics prior. It’s washing them after you have made them and clipped the edges that the wash will make them raggy. The more washed the more raggier. The seam you sewed will keep the fabric from fraying no more than the edges. I only worry about washing the fabrics prior to making clothing, because I don’t want to make something and then it shrink and I can’t wear it any more. :)

  38. says

    Just found this today – thanks so much!!! I’ve got a 2 year old’s birthday party in 2 days and my tutu idea went south (south to the trash can, so sad…). These letters will be a great gift!

  39. says

    Thanks for sharing this idea with your fellow bloggers! What a GREAT idea! I am a mommy of five boys 10,9,7,3 and 1. We’re homeschooling next year and I was looking for some fun ” educational things ” to do for my youngest boys. This is perfect!!! Thank you so much. I can’t wait to tackle these letters and even numbers!

  40. says

    Thanks so much for this really cute idea. :)
    I used pinking shears to cut around the edges and it saved me a bit of time. They still came out frayed in the wash.
    My 2 1/2 yr old son loves letters and calls them all “I’s” or “E’s” or “S’s” so hopefully this will help him get them straight. :)

  41. says

    I LOVE this idea!!! I’m going to try them soon, but I am also interested in these types of fabric letters as bean bags. Have you ever tried these with some sort of filler inside? I’m just curious to hear your thoughts on it. Thanks!

  42. says

    Hey girlie, I saw these when you first posted them and loved them. I came back in search of the post so I could share it on my new blog. So I’ll be linking up. It’s a blog dedicated to early literacy at home and I think these are perfect. Thanks so much!
    Visit sometime http://www.onthelap.blogspot.com
    Graciously,
    Aimee

  43. says

    I love these so much that I made some for my son. I teach at a Montessori school and we teach the d’nealian form of the letters, so I made mine in that form. My son loves them! I just posted pics of them on my blog, weareteamreed.blogspot.com

  44. says

    You have a great mind and have come up with a fantastic idea. Just AWESOME! Where were these when my own children were small??? I might have to make some of these for my Granddaughter soon. I LOVE this idea. Thank you so much.

  45. says

    These are so great Thank you for the template I am going to make these instead of sandpaper letters for my 2 year old who only loves fleece. I will add a link to you when I blog it. tammy from middleofthemitten.blogspot.com

  46. says

    “I love the fabric you used for the back. but I can’t find it ANYWHERE. can you please help me!!!!”

    I used vintage chenille which I found on Ebay. Most fabric stores sell new chenille fabric too. It’s usually with the “baby” fabric stuff. Most people use it for blankets. I hope you are able to find some :)

  47. says

    I found your quilt letters a few months ago. the very same day I set out gathering my fabric scraps, cutting out letters, singing zippity do da day! I have two sets of the capital letters and two sets of the lower case, washed, frizzy and done! I enjoyed the entire process!
    thank you for sharing!
    I want to wait to post photos after my niece’s birthday(2yrs. old) in early December.

  48. Anonymous says

    Thank you so much for offering these letters and numbers with the tutorial!!! These will make perfect baby gifts! I appreciate your generosity and your creativeness.
    June – NJ

  49. Sher says

    This is a great project…
    I have a quick question since I am NEW to sewing…
    I made one number (#7 – easiest!), and the quilt batting is sticking out between the last stitch and the edges. Is this correct? I have an eight month old – worried about her putting the batting in her mouth! I am not sure if I cut the batting to wide?

  50. says

    “made one number (#7 – easiest!), and the quilt batting is sticking out between the last stitch and the edges. Is this correct? I have an eight month old – worried about her putting the batting in her mouth! I am not sure if I cut the batting to wide?”

    It does stick out the way I did it. If you are worried, you can just trim the batting before clipping the edges or cut the batting smaller before sewing the three pieces together. It will just take a little more time :)

  51. says

    So cute! I have a question. Did you backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching or did you pull the thread through and tie a knot? I backstitched and can’t help but think that the threads will come loose someday. Also, I just made a set and wanted to suggest that you trace (backwards) the letters on the fabric that will be the BACKSIDE. That way, you can see it better than on the front of the printed fabric.

  52. says

    “Did you backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching or did you pull the thread through and tie a knot? I backstitched and can’t help but think that the threads will come loose someday.”

    Yes, I just backstitched. If you do it a few times, it won’t come undone. You could even hold it in place and let it go up and down a few times for even more hold. Great suggestion on the tracing too!

  53. Sharon says

    Finished my alphabet yesterday, it’s so cute and colorful. I would love to send you a picture but I don’t use Microsoft Outlook Express, Facebook nor do I have a Flicker account.

    If you want a pic., and have an alternate e-mail act., just e-mail me and I’ll send it to you.

    sharron5@yahoo.com

    On to the numbers !!!!!

  54. says

    Great project! I just wanted to let you know that we featured this project on our Facebook page with almost 12,000 fans. We’d love it if you’d use our Featured Blogger button, available at: http://www.dailycraft.com/thank-you-for-crafting/. Our audience loved the project and we look forward to sharing more from you. Please let us know if you have any questions or projects you’d love us to feature! Thanks!

  55. says

    what does “quilt it” mean? i’m kind of a new sewer…does it mean to sew more lines in the middle of the letters to help keep everything in place? did you quilt yours? can’t wait to get started!!!

  56. says

    Quilting is basically sewing the layers together. I just used straight lines, but some people use free motion quilting. If you search quilting techniques, I’m sure all kinds will show up and you can decide on what you would like to do.

  57. says

    I happened to stumble upon this page a little while ago, and now I am hooked on your blog! There are so many things in your tutorials that I can’t wait to make. I’m kind of new to sewing, but think this would be a good place to start. I can’t wait to work my way up to making the sailor dress!! You are so talented I can’t stand it!

  58. Anonymous says

    To use the patterns, I just print them out on old paper and pin the letters directly onto the fabric and sew along the lines, then tear the paper away. Seems to work fine.

    Also, after washing the letters, they are frayed (naturally) and there are often strings hanging off. I trim them, but do people have to worry about these threads coming off and possibly getting in a child’s mouth when they are washed a second time?

  59. Anonymous says

    Love this idea!! I was just thinking of creative and hands-on ideas for introducing the alphabet to my son. Also, a neat idea to sew onto a quilt. Thank you for sharing this!!

  60. paulette says

    I loved this idea for my granddaughter! I used fat quarters that I found on sale. Also, I made each upper and lower case “match” by using the same fabric. As a teacher, I thought it would help her learn both caes more quickly! Thanks for sharing your idea!

  61. Anonymous says

    I just found these today and LOVE them! Went and got the things I needed… I haven’t sewn in YEARS so I am hoping I can do a half way decent job on them!!!
    Thanks for the great idea!!! My daughter is quite young but I am super excited about making them!

  62. says

    I want to make these as a gift for my soon to be 2 year old granddaughter. I love the idea! I have a couple of questions. How much fraying and loose threads are there after some time of being played with? And what about trimming with a pinking sheers to help with preventing fraying?

    • says

      Hi Gretchen :) Good questions! These are now played with by #2 and I can say neither have ever gotten any threads or batting off. I would suggest cutting close to the seam, so if a child did get some off, it wouldn’t be long or thick pieces. Pinking sheers are a good idea or even sew a zig zag stitch around the edges to encase the raw edges. I was worried about this with my first as she was awful about putting everything in her mouth. At first, I only let her play with them when I was able to sit down with her. Once she got a bit older she could use them whenever, but she really liked them best when we played games with them together.

    • says

      Thanks for your reply! The pinking sheers didn’t work with that many layers. (It may be that mine is dull as it is very old.) I am doing the zig zag edging instead, as you suggested. My concern was not so much for them being put in the mouth but for the overall look and longevity of the letters. So far I love the way they are turning out. I’m about 1/2 done! Thanks again.

    • says

      Thank you for sharing your experience with the sheers :) As for the longevity, ours still look the same. They have been washed a few times too. So glad you are liking the outcome so far :) You are welcome.

  63. says

    Did you snip only the fabric or the felt too? Also, any advantage to using felt versus batting on the capital letters? Also, did you cut the batting just size of letter or larger like the fabric pieces. I’m a new to sewing so I have lots of questions.

    • says

      Hi Corrie :) I snipped the fabric and felt. The batting just makes it softer and the felt makes it firmer. I liked both ways. I cut the batting larger like the fabric pieces, although, you could do smaller and maybe try to avoid it sticking out on the edges. I just didn’t want to put that extra work into it ;) And please, feel free to ask as many questions as you need.

  64. says

    Hope this isn’t duplicated:

    Considering felt for capital letters too? Any reason to using batting instead? Did you snip felt or only fabric edges? Finally, (Sorry new to sewing) did you cut batting to just size of letter or same square size as fabrics? Thannks LOVE LOVE this…Christmas idea.

  65. Danielle says

    I love this idea! I’m starting to make them right now, but it’s difficult for me because I’m a beginner sewer. But I refuse to give up!

  66. Anonymous says

    Sewing fabric letters and numbers are my first project using ideas and instructions found on Pinterest. Your tutorial, with

    it’s clear instructions and wonderful photos are just what I needed! I hope the babies in our extended family will enjoy

    playing with the ones I make as much as your precious little one appears to have done. Happy Holidays!

    Margie

  67. Anonymous says

    I recently did a quilt for one of my granddaughters. I used the alphabet theme and used fabric for each piece with pictures of something starting with that letter, ie A with apple fabric, B with balloons. I think I have enough scraps to do the same with your letters. What a great idea…..
    Kathy

  68. Bonnie says

    These are gorgeous! So simple yet such a talented idea you had. Thanks so much for sharing your pattern t make these wonderful learning gifts for kids!

  69. says

    Hi, I love these and am making the upper case letters this weekend! Super excited. I was also looking at making the lower case letters, but how did you deal with the dots above the i and j? Did you just leave connecting fabric between them or omit the dots all together? Thanks again for the wonderful tutorial!

  70. says

    To those who made these – what did you find was the best way to get the center pieces out of letters like B, A, O .. etc. I’m having a rough time getting them to look nice. Tried regular scissors and Exacto knife but its not looking too hot

  71. says

    What size of batting did you use? (1/4, 1/2, etc…) Also, I found cheap muslin with batting attached, kind of like the back of a quilt, and wondered if it would make it easier to just sew the fabric to the front of that and eliminate one step… any suggestions?

  72. Anonymous says

    I’m right in the middle of making a whole uppercase set for my daughter. I’m using fun cotton prints/bright solids for the top side and some bright fleece for the back. Each vowel has the same color combo and the rest of the letters will be an alternating pattern of 3 other color combos. As for sewing, I have just been putting the paper pattern piece right on top of the fabric and then gently removing the paper afterwards. Thanks for the idea! I’m having so much fun with it :)

  73. Anonymous says

    I am working on two sets of these for my 2 and 3 year old niece and nephew. I’m pleasantly surprised at how quickly I am getting them done. I am gonna have to make another set for my baby, though I am contemplating placing the baby-safe crinkle paper in some of mine! Question, have you made them bigger than the pattern? For some reason the ones in the pic look slightly larger than the ones in the pics, but maybe because the girl is young the letters seem like they’d be bigger?

    • says

      Crinkle paper would be fun! I have only made them using the pattern I share. The only thing I can think of is if you are opening it in something other than Adobe Acrobat to view and it’s shrinking it. I know that the preview on Mac computers messes up sizing and pattern makers are always saying make sure to print it out when it is open in Adobe. So maybe that is what it is? You can always create your own letters very quickly using word art in Word and make them any size you like :) Just use a boxy font to make for easier cutting.

  74. says

    I love these letters and am making them for my grandson’s second birthday. Do you have a pattern for the cute bag shown holding the letters? I’m so excited to see them and have a fun project for these cold winter days.

    • says

      Hi :) I actually don’t have a bag for them, but many people have sewed one up to hold them. I have seen many people create a simple drawstring bag for them. If you do an internet search for “drawstring bag tutorial” I know you will find one that will be perfect :)

  75. Kandi Traxel says

    WOW, look at the age of this original post, but look at us still finding it! These are PRECIOUS! I babysit for a 4 year old, and it would take me a while to make all of these (and I can’t sew very well in a circle, so I may have to do mine more squared off) but I could SOOOOO make these for her birthday or for next Christmas. Take my time, give me some room for trial and error, that sort of thing. Or make her one of her name for the playroom she is getting here. I have a friend having a baby. Once she gets a name picked out, I would LOVE to make her these letters, and make a banner for her nursery! ADORABLE!

  76. Kandi Traxel says

    “Who am I at 48″…I was just thinking, what if you bought an inexpensive canvas tote and then make a colorful matching liner for the bag. Once he is “too old” for the letters, the bag would be a great book tote or overnight bag! Or even a “green” grocery bag for mom :)

  77. Jain Morrissey says

    I was looking for letter templates as I’m making bunting for my friend’s daughter’s room and I wanted to personalise it. She’s 18 months old – the daughter, not my friend – and they’ve just moved to a new house. I came across your tutorial and now I have another project to make for her 2nd birthday, what a good idea! I also have a friend who does quilting and has small grandchildren, so I passed the link on to her. The word is spreading around the south London area now…… Thank you so much!

    • Jessica says

      Awww how sweet! Thank you for sharing :) The letters I made have now been passed down to my youngest and she’s loving them now.

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