Since I began sewing my wardrobe one of my goals was to make a quilted coat out of all my scraps and I finally made that happen! This was one of my biggest projects yet and I thought I would share my process and some basic quilting techniques I learned along the way. If you want to practice piecing and patchwork, my PDF sewing pattern the Jenny Project Bag is a great introduction to patchwork!
The pattern I used to construct my quilt coat is the Daphne Jacket by Vivian Shao Chen which is a beautifully designed pattern for woven, heavyweight fabrics like wool coating, boiled wool, quilted fabrics, etc. and is has an advanced beginner level of difficulty.
I highly recommend the Daphne Jacket pattern for a quilt coat / jacket! Like all of Vivian’s patterns I have used (the Orchards Dress, Nepheline Blouse, Laurence Top and Bisque Trousers) the instructions are well written, easy to follow and thoughtfully designed.
The Daphne Jacket design is simple and intentionally left without elements like collars, buttonholes or linings to make it more approachable for beginners. There is however, instructions included to line the jacket and a super clean binding method to make this jacket fully reversible. It’s a little more time consuming sewing this binding method, and gets tricky the bulkier your fabric is, but I think it’s so worth it!
I originally started my quilt coat with a different pattern in mind, The Ilford Jacket by Friday Pattern Company, but when I became a tester for the Daphne Jacket I decided to switch gears because I thought it would be better suited for my quilt design. Feel free to use another pattern if you want – the process is pretty much the same!
Along with sharing my process, some topics that I will also be touching on are:
- How to cut squares out of scrap fabric
- How to join quilt squares together
- How to baste quilt layers together
- How to attach bias binding to a quilted jacket
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There are a few supplies that you will need to get started on your quilt coat although you may already have most of this if you sew regularly! Just in case, here are the main must-have tools for quilting.
- Sewing machine (obviously) – I’m still using my Kenmore that I’ve had for 14 years now! It’s possible to quilt on just a standard home sewing machine 🙂
- Walking Foot – Very helpful in preventing puckering and guides the fabric through smoothly when quilting.
- Quilting Ruler
- Rotary Cutter
- Cutting Mat
- Quilt Batting – I like this 100% cotton batting – a twin size was plenty! This Hobbs Heirloom Premium 80/20 Batting is also a great option that I’ve used before.
- Curved Basting Pins – these safety pins with a curved back are specifically designed for quilting to make it easier to poke through all the layers from the bottom to the top
- Clips – these were really helpful for the thick seams and when securing the binding
Steps for making a quilted jacket
This was my most time-consuming sewing project yet! I loved the process however and find the methodical and repetitive steps of quilting to be really enjoyable. The short-ish version to making a quilt coat are:
- Prewash your fabric
- Cut out your squares or other shapes out of your desired fabric
- Figure out how many squares you will need / how big of a piece of quilted fabric you’ll need for each pattern piece – don’t forget to make two front pieces and two sleeve pieces (mirrored)!
- Sew your squares together! Make sure to iron the seams before sewing together the rows – keep reading for more tips on this.
- Cut out you backing fabric and quilt batting
- Assemble your layers – backing fabric right side facing down, then the quilting batting and finally the assembled squares / pattern. Smooth flat making sure your batting or backing fabric isn’t bunched or wrinkled
- Using curved safety pins, pin your layers together
- Quilt your layers together using a walking foot
- Cut out your pattern pieces from the quilted fabric
- Sew a basting stitch 1/4″ from the edge (or within the seam allowance that the pattern states)
- Assemble your quilt coat following the pattern
- Wash – for that lovely squishy texture – and wear!
An even shorter version is: thrift or find an already assembled quilt and skip straight to cutting it out with the pattern pieces! For more detailed steps on how I made my quilted coat / jacket – keep reading!
Cutting out the squares
I decided on 3 1/4″ squares for my quilt coat and used a 1/4″ seam allowance for a final size of 3″ squares. In total I cut 366 squares – 70 squares (x2) for the front pieces, 60 (x2) for the sleeves, and 106 for the back. In the end there were a few spots where I didn’t cut into a square at all, but it was good to have the pieces bigger just in case!
Check out my tutorial How To Cut Squares for Quilting or Patchwork for more detailed steps!
I used my 6″ x 24″ quilting ruler, a common size used by quilters, to cut my squares. Since I was cutting out my squares from scrap fabric, it was a little more tedious than if I was cutting from a bigger piece of fabric yardage. Some helpful tips when cutting out squares for quilting are:
- Square up your fabric – use the selvage edge, if you can, and make sure you have a straight edge to work from to measure out your squares
- Make sure to not cut on the bias – again, the selvage edge can help you with this, but you can always look at your fabric and find the intersecting horizontal and vertical threads and line your ruler parallel to those
- Cut strips at your desired width, and then cut the squares from those – when I had a larger scrap piece I did this to help speed up the process.
Here’s also a video of what I do for small scraps of fabric:
One thing to keep in mind, is that after sewing the squares or shapes together, the final piece ends up smaller than when the squares are just laid out flat. When figuring out how many squares I needed, sometimes I had to add a row after realizing it wasn’t going to be enough.
Sewing the squares together
After laying out my squares on top of my pattern pieces and figuring out where I wanted my squares, it was time to sew them together! I sewed individual squares together in rows first, ironed the seams, and then sewed the rows together. For more detailed steps, check out my tutorial How to Sew Squares Together for Patchwork or Quilting.
When ironing the seams, the most common way to iron them for quilting is either to the right or left (shown in pictures below). This helps create durable seams, matching up seams is easier and the corners turn out much cleaner. So for the first row, iron to the left and the next row iron to the right and when sewing together, the seams will lock together (I learned that this is called “nesting”).
I learned this only after pressing most of my seams open and had already started quilting! I switched to ironing to the sides and noticed a huge difference in how neatly my rows and square corners came together. If you plan on quilting through the middle of the squares then I don’t think it matters if you press the seams open or to the side – ironing them open does make everything lay much flatter!
Basting the quilt layers
Before assembling the layers, I made sure to iron my backing fabric and my quilted pieces. Then I laid my backing fabric flat and cut out around my pattern pieces, leaving about 1/4″ – 1/2″ of extra fabric around the edge. This just makes it easier when making your quilt sandwich later. I did the same with the batting, using the backing fabric pieces I already cut as a guide.
Then it’s time to layer your fabric, or called “basting” in the quilting world, in the following order:
- Place your backing fabric right side down
- Batting layer goes in the middle
- Quilt top pieces right side up
I recommend doing this part on a flat surface like a table or hard floor. I took my time making sure there weren’t any wrinkles between the layers – starting from the middle and smoothing outwards.
Using those curved safety pins I mentioned above, pin your layers together – starting in the middle and working towards the edge, smoothing as you go. A good rule of thumb is to place the safety pins about a fist width (about 4″) apart. You can use straight pins if you start to run out, but when it comes time to sew the layers together, it’s easy to get poked – I learned this from personal experience!
Sewing / quilting the layers together
There are many ways to machine quilt but for my jacket I chose to do straight quilting in between the squares, or in the “ditch.” I wanted to see the whole square of my fabric and since there are a mix of light and dark fabrics, I didn’t want to see dark thread on my light fabrics and vice versa. You could also choose to quilt diagonally through the squares or vertically through the middle.
When quilting I recommend using a walking foot which helps to evenly feed the layers of fabric and batting through the machine. It is possible to quilt with a regular foot, but it definitely is easier and goes smoother with a walking foot. It’s recommend to use a stitch length of 2.5 – 3 and I found that quilting with a stitch length of 3 worked best for me and the thickness of my fabric.
Cut out the pattern pieces
When the quilting is all done, it’s time to cut out your pattern pieces! First, take a deep breathe because you’ve made it about half way! At this point I was so ready to start assembling my jacket and see it all come together.
Also if you’ve chosen a pre-quilted fabric, then you can start here! It’s pretty self-explanatory at this stage, and I just followed the pattern directions for cutting and assembling the jacket. I cut on the fold for the back piece, and then cut out opposite pairs of the front and sleeve pieces.
After cutting out my pieces, I sewed a basting stitch 1/4″ away from all the edges. This really helped keep my edges neat and the seam matching accurate. It can also keep the layers from stretching out and warping, especially when I had to stuff the whole jacket through the short arm of my sewing machine. 🙂
Sew the jacket together
Following your pattern instructions, sew your cozy quilt pieces together! As I mentioned above the Daphne Jacket is designed for thick or quilted fabrics, so the construction was fairly simple. The trickiest part for sure was attaching the bias binding to the inside seams using the method written in the pattern. I used 1″ binding tape and that width worked well to go over the thickness of my seams.
This binding method creates a beautiful flat seam that allows the jacket to be fully reversible! Some parts did not turn out super pretty but I made it through! You can also use a serger to finish your seams or a different binding method you may have used before. Pick whatever method works for you!
If you do plan on using the Daphne Jacket pattern and choose the binding method, the hardest part for me was the underarm going towards the end of the sleeve tube. I had to sew realllly slow and scrunch up the sleeve as I went being careful not the sew on the layer below. At one point I thought it wouldn’t be possible with the bulk of my fabric, but I kept inching along and made it through!
Binding the edges of the quilt jacket
l chose to bind all the edges of my jacket, including the pockets. I found I needed 1 1/4″ bias tape for the edges – I like the small binding edge it makes but it was a little finicky to work with, so I could have used 1 1/2″ just to make folding it over a little simpler. Check out my tutorial How to Make Bias Binding Tape for tips on making your own bias tape.
To bias bind the edges:
- Place right side of bias tape to wrong side of fabric
- Sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance
- Press / iron away from the jacket
- Fold over to the right side and fold over 1/4″ of the tape (you could even pre-press one edge of the bias tape 1/4″)
- Press in place
- Edgestitch on right side
Sewing the bias binding on the corners of the jacket was a little tricky for me, but this video tutorial for sewing a mitered corner (below) helped a lot and is the same method I used. The video also shows how to join the bias tape at the end, and turn it over neatly at the corners. My corners didn’t turn out as neatly as I wanted, but I was eager to finish and was overall happy with how they turned out.
And that’s it! Whew. This project was definitely a labor of love for me and a celebration of all that I’ve made so far in my wardrobe sewing journey. I can look at each square on this jacket and remember which project I had made.
I’ve been wearing this jacket a lot around the house or throwing it on first thing in the morning for school drop-off or going on afternoon walks with my family. I’ll be sad when I won’t be able to wear it in the Summer!
Even my two boys said “you finished it!” when I put it on for the first time. They saw all the stages, from the squares all over the kitchen table to tiptoeing past the carefully laid out pieces by the back door to making funny comments about how many pictures I took of the finished product 🙂
If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for reading! Hope that my notes from my experience sewing this Daphne Jacket have helped or inspired you to make your own quilted jacket. Or if you want to start with a smaller project, my Jenny Project Bag is a great intro pattern into patchwork! Happy sewing!