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Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow of The Weekend Quilter

Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend Quilter | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

The quilt jacket trend is making its way back on the runways, high-end fashion magazines, Instagram feeds and more. With Megan Nielsen’s Hovea Jacket pattern and a few tips from me, Wendy Chow of The Weekend Quilter, you can create your own showstopping quilt jacket. The following blog covers beginner quilting concepts, tips and tricks to give you the confidence you need to get started.

Wendy's Hovea Jacket | Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend Quilter

We’ll cover:

  • Choosing fabrics and batting
  • Prewashing
  • Preparing pattern templates
  • Working with patchwork panels
  • Quilt sandwiches
  • Quilting
  • Cutting quilted jacket exterior

Choosing Fabrics and Batting

One of the joys of the quilting and garment making process is picking out fabrics for your next project. You can mix and match different colours, prints, patterns and textures to form something special and unique. Quilting fabrics are usually made of 42in-wide woven cotton. For quilt jacket projects, especially on the exterior where the patchwork takes place, quilting cotton is recommended. Quilting cottons tend to be crisper and hold its shape when cut into smaller squares and rectangles in comparison to apparel cotton.

When choosing the colour and prints of the fabric used on the exterior of your jacket, you may want to consider the colours in your wardrobe. For versatility, you may want to stick with neutral and muted colours, simple prints and / or solids, and 2 to 3 different fabrics.

Wendy Chow's Hovea Jacket | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

Wendy Chow's Hovea Jacket | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

Batting (also known as wadding outside of the US market), is the insulating layer of the quilt or quilt jacket. It is placed between the quilt top and back. In this instance, it is placed between the jacket exterior and lining. Batting is usually made of cotton, wool, polyester, or bamboo.

Price, breathability and warmth varies between these different types of batting:

  • Price – Polyester is the most affordable out of all the options, followed by cotton, wool and bamboo.
  • Breathability – The natural fibres such as wool, cotton and bamboo are more breathable in comparison to manmade fibres like polyester.
  • Warmth – Wool is the warmest out of the options, followed by polyester, cotton and bamboo.

You may want to take these different characteristics into consideration when choosing batting for your quilt jacket.

For extra warmth and cosy feel, use flannel for the lining. If you do choose to incorporate a flannel lining, go up one size. The additional layer of batting and thickness of the flannel material are going to add some bulk, making the jacket a little tighter on the inside, and harder to layer up during the cooler months. I’m normally a size 2 and I went up to a size 4 in the Hovea Jacket pattern because of the flannel.

Materials used on my Hovea Jacket:

  • Exterior: Peppered Cottons in Fog and Ashes of Roses
  • Batting: The Warm Company, Needled Cotton Batting – 87.5% cotton and 12.5% polypropylene
  • Interior: Robert Kaufman, Shetland Flannel in Solid Peach

Choosing Fabrics and Batting | Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend Quilter

 Prewashing

Sometimes manufactures skip the prewashing (or preshrinking process) to speed up production time. This is why the question, prewash or not to prewash, comes up time and again – especially among quilters.

Quilters prewash their fabrics to avoid the ‘antique’ crinkled look after washing their finished quilt and to ensure none of the colours printed on the fabrics run. See photo for crinkled look.

Crinkled Look after washing | Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend Quilter

Often, you’ll find me in the non-prewash club when it comes to starting a quilting project. I simply can’t wait to get started on cutting into the fabrics. I also don’t like how the fabric can get a little limp after washing, making it a little it a little finicky to work with when cutting and piecing the quilt top. However, when it comes to making a quilted garment, I am happy to make the compromise to prewash all my fabrics before any cutting and sewing commences to factor in any shrinkage. Shrinkage can cause the garment to not fit properly or lose its shape.

In a nutshell, there’s no wrong or right way when it comes to prewashing. Just be weary of the risk of shrinkage and don’t be disappointed with the ‘antique’ crinkled look after your put your quilt jacket into the wash, if you don’t prewash your fabrics. You may also want to go up one size to factor in the fabric shrinkage after your first wash.

If you do prewash, the golden rule is: prewash everything (excluding the batting), unless you’re mixing higher-quality cotton fabrics with less-expensive or vintage cotton fabrics. The reason being is, fabrics of varying quality shrink at different rates, causing the completed quilt or quilted garment to have wonky seams once it has been washed.

Preparing Pattern Templates

Swedish tracing paper. If you haven’t heard of it, you need it in your life. With Swedish tracing paper, you don’t ever cut your actual paper patterns or printed PDF patterns. The best way to describe Swedish tracing paper is, it’s similar to a thin interfacing without the fusible characteristics. It drapes softly, and it is able to also hold its shape and strength while moving it around the workspace and working with it.

To use the tracing paper, lay it over the pattern, carefully trace and cut the desired pattern size. In doing so, you can reuse the pattern templates without having to purchase the paper pattern again, or reprint and tape the printed PDF pattern when you want to recreate or make the pattern in a different size. And as one would know, printing out the PDF pattern and taping the paper pattern pieces together takes time. That’s why I highly recommend Swedish tracing paper. This can be found at local craft stores or on Amazon.

Tracing your pattern pieces | Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend QuilterTracing your pattern pieces | Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend Quilter

Another reason to trace the pattern templates on to Swedish tracing paper is, the transparency of the paper allows you to see the patchwork design on the jacket exterior relative to where it is going to actually be before you cut out your fabrics. See example below.

Cutting out | Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend Quilter

Working with Patchwork Panels

For the exterior of the jacket, treat each pattern piece (jacket front, back, sleeves, collar and pockets) like their own ‘mini quilts’, but keeping in mind all the quilt panels need to be joined together at the end and must look in unison. See example shown in the photo. The dark purple quilting seams and the rows of patchwork rectangles line up on the side seam of the jacket.

Flat lay of Wendy's Hovea | Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend QuilterCreating individual ‘mini quilts’ for each jacket exterior pattern piece also allows you to be able to control the placement of the patchwork design, i.e., centring a quilt star block on the back of the jacket (this comes back to my point about using Swedish tracing paper and its transparency properties).

Planning out your quilt panels| Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend Quilter

When creating patchwork panels for the jacket exterior, start from the largest piece and work your way to the smallest – back, front, sleeves, pockets, (and collar). The back of the jacket is the largest patchwork panel you’re going to make, and that’s going to determine the placement of the patchwork pieces on the remaining panels.

When you’re done creating your patchwork panels, do not cut them out the pattern pieces just yet. You’ll need to create a ‘quilt sandwich’, baste and quilt it to stabilise the patchwork and for accurate piecing when it comes to sewing the jacket exterior together. Quilt sandwiches, basting and quilting will be discussed in more detail in the following section of this blog.

Quilt Sandwiches

Once all the patchwork is done, the next steps in the quilt making process are: basting (also known as quilt sandwich making) and quilting.

In the quilting world, “basting” is a term used for temporarily securing all three layers of a quilt – quilt top, batting and quilt back – while permanent decorative quilting stitches are sewn on. These three layers together are called “quilt sandwich”. If we’re talking quilt jackets the three layers are: jacket exterior with the patchwork, batting and lining. Unless the lining is attached to the jacket separately and at a later step. And if that is the case, the quilt sandwich is made up of two layers instead: jacket exterior with the patchwork and batting. For my Hovea Jacket, I went with the latter route of basting two layers.

There are various basting methods including pinning, handing stitching and spraying. However, I won’t bore you with those details. There are several tutorials and resources out there on how to baste.

Before any basting occurs, make sure there’s a bit of batting overhanging the jacket exterior (as shown). A couple of reasons why:

  1. In case the jacket exterior shifts while you’re sewing your quilting stitches on. The piece of batting needs to cover the entire jacket exterior with the patchwork.
  2. To ensure no thread nests are incorporated onto the jacket exterior when laying out quilting stitches. Essentially the batting is a leader fabric. To do this, when sewing quilting lines onto the jacket exterior, start approximately 1 to 1½in from the edge of the jacket exterior and on the batting.

Quilt Sandwich | Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend Quilter

Quilting

The word “quilting” is versatile and an be used to describe different actions throughout the quilting process. For this particular point of the process, “quilting” is sewing together and securing the three layers of the quilt sandwich with straight lines or decorative stitches.

Quilting stitches and thread colours can accentuate the shapes and colours on the jacket exterior with the patchwork, as well as add another visual dimensions and excitement to the overall look of the jacket. Therefore, before any quilting commences, use careful planning and consideration when deciding how to quilt your quilt. Coming up with a quilting plan could mean drawing lines on a piece of paper with the quilt design, or you may simply have a general idea in mind. For this particular project, I sewed a simple straight-line grid by following the patchwork design and using a darker purple thread to make those details pop.

Once you feel like you have a quilt plan ready, mark your quilting guidelines with a hera marker or a dull kitchen knife. Use a quilting ruler to achieve straight and evenly spaced lines. You may need to go back and forth on the same area multiple times with pressure and the hera marker or dull kitchen knife to ensure the quilting guidelines are visible.

A couple of adjustments on the sewing machine will need to be made before quilting:

  1. Attach walking foot onto the machine for straight-line quilting (free-motion quilting requires a free-motion or darning foot). A walking foot is an attachment on the sewing machine that helps evenly feed layers of fabric and batting through the sewing machine while quilting.
  2. Adjust stitch length to anywhere between 2.5 to 3.0 and use 50-weight thread.

These adjustments and suggestions on the stitch length and thread weight will showcase the quilting stitches.

Cutting Quilted Jacket Exterior

Once you’re done with quilting your jacket exterior, carefully lay paper pattern pieces or Swedish tracing paper pattern piece on top of the patchwork, pin and cut. Then sew approximately 1/8″ away from the edge of your quilt sandwich to provide additional enforcement between the layers.

Cutting out Panels | Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend QuilterThat’s all from me, folks! Hope you have found these tips on fabric and batting selection, prewashing, pattern template preparation, patchworking, basting, quilting and cutting your quilted jacket exterior pieces insightful and it is the confidence boost you needed to create your own runway look with Megan Nielsen’s latest jacket pattern, Hovea.

For quilting tips, free quilting patterns, inspiration and the latest projects, head to the-weekendquilter.com and follow me @the.weekendquilter on Instagram and Pinterest.

Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend Quilter | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog Beginner Quilting Concepts with Wendy Chow The Weekend Quilter | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

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About Author

Wendy Chow is an Aussie modern quilter based in New York City. She is the founder of The Weekend Quilter, and designs modern quilts and writes quilt patterns to share her passion for quilting and inspire a new generation of quilters. She is the author of Urban Quilting, and co-hosts a quilting podcast called Quilt Buzz. Wendy’s designs feature bold, unique colour combinations and geometric shapes inspired by architecture, interior design, and nature. Her work has been featured on various craft publications and blogs including Mollie Makes magazine, Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine, Curated Quilts journal, LoveCrafts.com, and Fabric.com. For quilting tips, inspiration and the latest projects, head to the-weekendquilter.com and follow her @the.weekendquilter on Instagram and Pinterest.

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Linda (ACraftyScrivener)
Linda (ACraftyScrivener)
4 months ago

This was fascinating, Wendy. I would love to see the inside of your pieced fabric. As a garment sewist, I recently made a pieced cushion cover and overlocked the 1/4” seams, as I knew it would be washed often. However, it made the seams bulky and I wasn’t able to actually quilt the pieced cover. Do you recommend finishing the seams on a pieced quilt made for garments?

Linda (ACraftyScrivener)
Linda (ACraftyScrivener)
4 months ago
Reply to  Wendy

Thank you so much Wendy for your reply. I tried to google it but couldn’t find it addressed anywhere, I will check out your blog post. I hadn’t thought about the fact that the seams are not against the body, and I guess when you quilt it your adding stability to the seams as well. It’s just a reflex to finish the seams going from garment sewing!!

I really appreciate your reply and have already bought a couple of quilting patterns as well as the gorgeous diamond pattern by Shannon Fraser, lol!!

Shruti
Shruti
4 months ago

Is the coat pictured View B with the cuffs turned up?