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Top 10 tips from a modern quilter’s first journey into me-made clothing | Shannon Fraser Designs x Hovea Coat

Top 10 tips from a modern quilter's first journey into me-made clothing with Shannon Fraser Designs | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

Hello, lovely sewist! I’m Shannon, the modern quilter and pattern designer behind Shannon Fraser Designs. I’m popping in from Montreal, Canada to share my first ever me-made clothing experience with you! While I know my way around cutting up fabric and then piecing it back together in a fun new motif, showcasing those designs in the form of wearable art was a technique I’d yet to dive into. And, while quilt coats have been on my radar for years now, getting over the intimidation of whether I could get the piece to actually ‘fit’ took a minute – ha! Maybe you know your way around making clothing but are unsure of the quilty bit. Or, like me, maybe you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the thought of combining both quilting and garment making in one project. I get it, there’s a lot of steps to tackle. Which  is why I’m excited to share my top 10 tips for diving into your first quilted coat journey :) More on that in a minute, but first I wanted to share with you how this quilt journey began.

 Shannon Fraser Etched Diamond quilt design | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

HOVEA QUILT COAT

Has this ever happened to you – you have an idea you’re super curious to explore, but you’re feeling a little unsure of where to get started?

So, you ponder the idea. And then ponder it some more. Until you realize it’s been a few years and you’re still ‘pondering’ your options!

That’s where I was when Megan reached out to collaborate on her new Hovea coat pattern!

I’d been wanting to make myself a quilted coat ever since I started quilting back in 2015. So, to say I was excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Megan is an understatement. What’s so funny is that I had just ordered a bunch of linen in anticipation of diving into a quilted coat project. The timing couldn’t have been more kismet!

HOVEA COAT OPTIONS & SIZING

After Megan sent me the pattern, I was so surprised to see several options to choose from.

I love a pattern with options! Don’t you?

Since I knew I wanted a long jacket, it didn’t take me long to narrow down my selection to the Hovea Coat View D in a size 6.

The sizing definitely gave me a moment of pause.

I think this might be one of the scariest bits to make a decision about – fabric I know, thread I have a good handle on, but what size should I make my quilt coat???

Here’s how I tackled that dilemma.

I started by reading the pattern! Megan mentions the design of the Hovea coat skews a little roomy, meaning, it’s not supposed to be super fitted, which I was both thrilled and relieved to read! No expert tailoring knowledge required for this project – what a huge sigh of relief!

From there, my next important concern about fit was that I wanted it to be functional – i.e.  I’d actually wear it to keep me warm. Novel concept with a quilt coat, I know! But I didn’t want to go through all the steps of making the coat and then end up not wearing it because – it didn’t fit right, or I didn’t like the fabric I featured, or the quilt design, or…did I mention the fit?! And since I live in Montreal, Canada where it’s seriously cold (as in double digit sub-zero temperatures cold) a solid 4 months of the year, I need my coat to be able to accommodate expanding layers.

So, while I probably could have gotten away with a size 4, I’m really happy I stuck with the slightly oversized size 6.

Besides, I love wrapping myself up in a quilt, I figured if it skewed too big, I’d just have more quilty goodness to wrap myself up in!

Shannon Fraser shares 10 tips for beginner quilt coat makers | Megan Nielsen Patterns

I figured it if skewed too big, I’d just have more quilty goodness to wrap myself up in!

In the end, the fit is exactly what I wanted. It’s loose and oversized, without feeling like I’m drowning in it.

QUILT DESIGN

As you can see, I spent a good amount of thought just on the coat size, in contrast, deciding on a quilt motif for my quilt coat didn’t take me long at all.

In fact, when I designed the Etched Diamond quilt pattern back in 2018 there were some additional motifs that I’d designed at the same time. I’d been having visions of exploring those elements further, specifically featured in a coat.

Figuring out the size of the motif took some time to figure out, but once I had the math down, I was ready to finalize my fabric selection and start cutting!

We’re excited to share that you can make the very same Hovea quilt coat as me by picking up the Etched Diamond Quilt x Hovea Coat pattern! The pattern includes several additional colourways to help get your fabric pull juices flowing! There’s so many ways to add your own personality to the pattern – fabric is just one of those ways! Plus, if quilting is new to you, the pattern features step-by-step graphics so you know what your blocks should look like at each stage! Easy peasy!

Etched Diamon Quilt Pattern by Shannon Fraser | Megan Nielsen Blog

HOVEA COAT PATTERN PIECES

When it came time to print out the Hovea coat pattern pieces, I was a little intimidated!

I remember thinking to myself how happy I was that I was familiar with piecing large paper templates together from my experience with Foundation Paper Piecing (tutorial here if you’re curious). And even with that knowledge, I was still a little overwhelmed.

Here’s how I managed those feelings:

  • Instead of allowing the overwhelm to get the better of me, I took it one step at a time.
  • I found one page with a letter that matched, and I prepared that piece. I found the next one and joined those together. I kept going one piece at a time until I had the back, front, arms and pocket pattern pieces joined together. It was a satisfying moment.

I encourage you to take your time at this stage. Set aside a good hour to print the pages out and assemble them. Here’s a tutorial if you need tips on piecing large paper templates together (same principles apply to clothing patterns).

Another tip is to print out one section at a time: back, front, arms and pocket. This reduces the number of pages you have to sift through to bring everything together and helps keep some of the overwhelm at bay.

Cutting out your Pattern Shannon Fraser | Megan Nielsen Blog

PIECING THE QUILTY BITS

Once I hit the quilt piecing, I was back in my element!

If patchwork is new to you, then I encourage you to dive in and give it a go. I have a full beginner series of tutorials featuring the Shattered Star Quilt that would be perfect to help you get started quilting.

Not only is it super fun, but you can add so much personality to your Hovea coat. Everyone will wonder where you got such an ace coat ?

This step will take a minute, so be patient.

INTERIOR COAT LINING

My original plan was to line the coat in the Essex linen, but I quickly realized I didn’t have enough of the gray linen on hand. Instead of running out to get more, I decided to make it work with what I had left on hand. This meant piecing my leftover pink and burgundy fabrics together to get panels large enough to cut the lining out. Even with that strategy, I had just enough to eek out my lining pieces. Phew!

Another option for you to add even more personality to your coat!

Interior patchwork lining of the Etched Diamond Quilt x Hovea coat made by Shannon Fraser Designs #quiltedcoat

QUILTING

Quilty texture is the best! Adding a lot of quilting also means adding weight and stiffness to your quilt.

I was going for a softer drape and wanted the quilting to be minimal. 1″ straight line machine quilted lines paired with 40wt Aurifil Thread in a dark gray was my solution!

It meant I had all the coziness of the quilting, without too much extra weight – perfection!

The one thing I did was cut my pattern pieces out with a solid extra 0.5″ around the entire perimeter of the pattern piece. I did this to give myself wiggle room should things shift while basting and quilting my coat pieces. While this meant I had to go back and trim down my coat pattern pieces after quilting, I’m still really happy I did this extra step.

It meant:

  • I didn’t stress while quilting and things shifted slightly.
  • I had nice clean and crisp pattern pieces to assemble, making construction a no brainer.

Pop on a podcast or listen to some tunes while quilting your coat pieces up. This stage definitely takes a minute to complete, but you’ll find yourself getting into the quilty zone and it’s quite soothing and meditative!

Shannon Fraser Etched Diamond quilt design on Hovea Quilt Coat | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

COAT ASSEMBLY & FINISHING TOUCHES

I’m not gonna lie, I was a little nervous when it came time to pull my Hovea coat pieces together.

This was the moment of truth – would my cutting and piecing see things align as they should?

This is where I was happy to have taken my time at each step of the quilt coat making journey. All the prep work I did up to this point set me up for success!

My best tip here is to use your walking foot! There are so many bulky layers to stitch through and the walking foot made easy work of it all while keeping my pieces feeding through at the same rate – woot woot!

This step is deceptively quick! Except for…the binding! But that’s because I decided to finish her off with some big-stitch hand binding. I love the look this gives and it’s yet another opportunity to add some personality to your Hovea coat.

Shannons finishing touches on her Hovea coat | Top 10 tips from a modern quilter's first journey into me-made clothing with Shannon Fraser Designs | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

TOP 10 TIPS

While working through my Hovea coat I kept a running list of tips I wanted to share with you that I thought might help you in your quilt coat making journey!

  1. Read all instructions first. I know this is so basic, but it can be tempting to just dive in without reading through everything first. I encourage you to resist this urge! Knowing ahead of time how things come together will help you avoid piecing errors (more on this in a minute!).
  2. Test your printer settings! Megan included a test box to make sure you’re printing your pattern pieces at the right scale. There’s a lot of pages to print out, so test one page first and see that everything in on the right track. You’ll save paper, ink and fabric (not to mention avoid a bunch of frustration)!
  3. I was so thankful I knew how to attach large scale foundation paper piecing patterns which made assembling the Hovea quilt coat paper pattern pieces a no brainer. Also, just like with FPP, use card stock to help get nice crisp fold lines. You can see that in action in this video tutorial.
  4. Take it one step at a time! Again, basic, but there were a few times I got a little overwhelmed by all the information and steps that I needed to tackle. To stay motivated and focused, I just took it one step at a time!
  5. Double check your seam allowance! As a quilter, I’m so used to working with a ¼” seam allowance, that I had to double check and remind myself that clothing requires a larger seam allowance.
  6. It takes a lot of fabric. This one surprised me! Quilts require quite a bit of fabric, but for some reason I didn’t think a coat would. I was wrong – ha! Plan for more than you think you’ll need.
  7. I paid attention to the grain! This is probably important in quilting too, but it’s honestly not something I pay too much attention to normally. But for my quilt coat I followed the pattern directions and placed things on grain.
  8. Try your coat on BEFORE you attach your binding! This will allow you to make any fit adjustments before spending all that time tacking down your binding ;)
  9. Don’t press your binding in half! I was clearly on autopilot when I was making my bias binding and immediately pressed it in half. Since you attach your seam binding differently than with a quilt, you can skip the pressing in half step.
  10. Use a walking foot! Not just for quilting your coat pieces, but for assembly too! Especially when joining the arms, there is A LOT of material and bulk to contend with. The walking foot will ensure all those layers get fed through your machine at the same rate, so your pieces will continue to line up at the end!

Top 10 tips from a modern quilter's first journey into me-made clothing with Shannon Fraser Designs | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

FINAL IMPRESSIONS WORKING ON MY FIRST ME-MADE PROJECT

It’s always fun to hear how someone’s first go at something went. It gives insight as to whether you might want to consider taking the plunge too!

I was super excited to dive in, but I’ll be honest and say I as a little nervous too.

Would it even fit???

Ha!

Yes! That was my biggest concern, which is probably another reason why I skewed to a larger size. I also wanted a roomy cozy fit that I could still wear a sweater under (you know, cold winters here in Canada and all!). Megan has built some nice comfort into the fit, so I probably could have gotten away with a smaller size. I share in case you want your coat to be a little more fitted.

I loved getting to combine my love for patchwork design with stitching up my own clothing. It was liberating and exciting! I can definitely see the appeal of having an entirely handmade wardrobe!

This project also reconfirmed that things take time. I’d probably be quicker the second time around, but it’s not a stitch it in a day project. I’m not one to shy away from detailed projects, I think they’re the ones where you learn the most and get the most joy from :)

Top 10 tips from a modern quilter's first journey into me-made clothing with Shannon Fraser Designs | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

Looking back on this stitching experience, here’s where I land:

Bottom line, I want to make another one!

So, that’s a good indication that, while it was a journey, so is everything that’s worthwhile. I absolutely adore having my own handmade jacket. She feels amazing and the construction is like no other I’ve ever had. I’m most looking forward to seeing her soften with age and more washes. Portable coziness is what comes to mind!

If by chance you’re perusing this post wondering if you should give this a go – I say grab the Hovea coat pattern and dive into this fun journey of making your own handmade clothes. And if you want to up the wow factor with some modern patchwork, pick up the Etched Diamond Quilt x Hovea Coat pattern.

For more quilty goodness, be sure to visit me over on shannonfraserdesigns.com where I share lots of tutorials and inspiration along with modern quilt patterns so you can bring the quilty joy into your own home.

Happy stitching!

xo

Shannon

PS I’d love for you to tag me on Instagram @shannonfraserdesigns and share your quilt coat adventures with me!

Shannon Fraser shares 10 tips for beginner quilt coat makers | Megan Nielsen Patterns

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About Author

Shannon the maker and all around textile lover behind Shannon Fraser Designs. You can expect to see modern quilt projects, tutorials to help make quilting easier for you and resources so you don't have to hunt them down or spend hours searching for the perfect tools - she's done the work for you! Head on over to https://shannonfraserdesigns.com/ for more quilty goodness.

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Christine
Christine
2 months ago

Fabulous! I’ve been waiting several years, like yourself, to find the right pattern, the right quilt, the right moment – making a quilted jacket just FEELS complicated. But this tutorial is the perfect jumping in spot! Just a note: in this scenario ” ‘eek’ out a lining” would be ‘eke’. Hugs. :D