Sunday, 20 October 2013

Sew-along Part III: Quilting

Last week Leisa left us with lots of information about cutting the fabric and lining, and a very important rule: Never Forget about the Grain! Today I will show you how to quilt the lining to the fashion fabric but also how to avoid some of the stupid mistakes which I've made.

But before I officially begin, I apologize for my conversion into Imperial units. Let's face it - my inches suck...

They say that a wise man learns from the mistakes of other, a stupid man learns from his own. So I am this stupid man. Do you remember that I chose to work with the "boxy" jacket to which I later introduced a princess seam and darts at the back? A few people asked me why I did not pick a pattern with a princess seam already integrated into the design. Well, my pattern was chosen on a whim and now I have to pay for the silly mistakes: I have to quilt through the darts but also decide what techniques to use to make them less visible from the outside.

First, let talk about the bulkiness. The wool I am working with is a medium-weight fabric. But the double layer created by a dart, increases its volume and therefore it becomes visible. There are two solutions which I know: cut a dart open or create a balanced dart. Or, alternatively, do nothing at all. In my case, the jacket has two pairs of darts: small shoulder darts and bust darts. After considering all pros and cons, I reached the following decision:

* to cut the back darts open because there are rather short and thin and the bulk on my rounded shoulders would be visible; besides, the fabric on my back sits closer to my body which also makes the darts visible;

*to leave the bust darts as they are because I will keep the jacket opened all the time and they won't be noticeable

From the photos you can see that I cut the dart open leaving approximately 7mm. Then I used a blanket stitch along the raw edges to prevent fabric from fraying. After pressing the darts open, I was done with my back darts!

After reading Leisa's blog post, you should have cut your fashion fabric, thread trace each pattern piece and overlaid it with the lining.

To quilt, you will need: a walking foot, a piece of chalk, a ruler, a few spools of matching thread, a nice movie and lots of patience!

Before you start quilting, it's better to make tests on scraps of fabric in order to get the right tension but also to choose the appropriate colours to match both the fabric and lining. For instance, for my yellow jacket I used two different colours: yellow to match the fashion fabric, and green to match the lining. That may also be the case for your jacket, or not. And do not forget to try different tensions before you start quilting the jacket!

Why do we need to quilt? We do it for a couple of reasons:

*  to reinforce loosely woven tweed and give the jacket more durability

* to keep the lining in place and give a better shape to the jacket

Unfold you pattern pieces and, if you have not done so already, remove the muslin pieces and re-pin the fashion fabric to the lining. Now you need to decide on the placement of your quilting and mark it.

If you fabric's fibers are very loose, it's always better to go for closer quilting lines, but for tighter fabric you should allow more space. Also pay attention to the pattern on your fabric. You can use the lines on the fabric as guides for the quilting lines. In my case, I decided to follow the shape of the chevrons on the fashion fabric.

Test swatches
I learnt from Susan that the quilting should begin and end approximately one inch/2.5cm from the edges of each garment section.  At the bottom edge of the jacket and the sleeves, though, stop the quilting approximately 2” inches/5cm from the edge. 

My quilting lines stop 2.5cm/1" inch from the side edges, 3cm/1.1" inches from the top and 5cm/2" inches from the hem and the bottom part of the sleeves. After marking each piece with chalk to define the quilting borders, this is how each piece looks like:

It's now time to decide on the spacing between quilting lines. Depending on the weave, your quilting lines can be spaced between 2.5cm - 3cm/1" inch - 1.1" inches. For my previous jacket I alternated the quilting lines 2cm and 3cm/ 0.7" inch - 1.1" inches. You can see this clearly from the pictures here.

You can decide to make these borders further away from the edges but under no circumstances nearer. Sometimes during fitting, you might need to change the length of the stitching lines. Imagine that you need to remove 1cm/ 0.3" inch. In this case, hang-sewing the lining may be quite difficult because you have so little fabric to work with, and so you may find that you're better off unpick a few centimetres of quilting.

On my fabric, I measured the distance between the tops of the chevrons, which made 3.5cm/ 1.3" inches. Without being too tightly woven nor very loose, I came to the conclution that quilting through each chevron line was perfect!

Please remember that there is no definite rule on how to quilt! Some common sense and the pattern of your fabric will guide you to find the best solution!

Using a wide stitching line ( I would suggest 3mm) with the fashion fabric facing up, start quilting!

Do not panic and be surprised that some of your lines will be very short! If you work with a two or a three piece sleeve you might end up with only one line as well! For example, it did not make any sense for me to follow the chevron lines on the under-sleeve of my jacket because this piece is very small. So I quilted only one line.

As you quilt, you should not backtack! Once you've finished quilting all of your jacket pieces, put on your favourite movie or TV show or whatever makes you happy: it's time to tie the knots! Using a needle or pin pull, up each pair of threads between the fashion fabric and the lining and knot them, leaving a 1-1.5cm/ 0.3" - 0.6" inch trail.

 I use a triple knot but others might prefer only a double knot.

Alternatively, you can leave the tails without making knots at the hem and the bottom of the sleeves for when you'll hand-stitch the lining.

When you finish tying the knots, gently bring the lining towards the centre of each piece and pin it in preparation for the next step - basting the pieces together!

Don't forget to sign up for our Flickr group! We are already 48 members! You can also visit my Facebook page where I post additional photos and share sewing-related info.


  1. Wow! You are so far ahead! I have to hurry up to catch up!

  2. True... Still... I have a feeling I am little behind - but it was worth to have this week off 😊

  3. I kinda love that there are no real rules to quilting but rather some TNT guidelines. One question - if I am straight line quilting should all rows end at the same place, e.g. on the side front where I have the curved princess seam and armhole, I have started at the bottom hem but not sure if best to have them all different lengths or all the same length???? Also would you sew one of the sleeve seams together on both the fabric and lining and then quilt the sleeve as one flat piece (I've got a two piece sleeve)?? Thanks :)

  4. It's up to you how you want your rows end on a curved line, either way is OK: at the same place or not. For example, I decided to follow the curve and shared a picture of my princess seam piece with the chalk markings to show this. Can you see them?

    I also have a two-piece sleeve, so I only quilted one line (the fashion fabric and the lining together). If you apply the quilting markings' rule, a small piece of fabric need only or at least one quilting line.

    Let me know if you have more questions!

  5. Thanks Inna. I'm really looking forward to this step.

  6. Gorgeous lining and I am behind but hope to catch up soon.

  7. Hi Inna, I'm really enjoying this sewalong and learning so much. It's hard to believe we've already spent hours on this jacket and still haven't sewn any pieces together! Like you, I have a front dart, so I have sewn it into the boucle and the lining and quilted over the top of the dart. I hope that is right. I also have a question about the collar. My collar is made up of a left and right side, so two pieces. I have cut four pieces of boucle for the collar inside and outside, but now I'm wondering if that is correct. Should I have two boucle and two lining instead? Also, does it need strengthening somehow? Thanks, Megan

  8. Yay! Metric rules! I don't understand Imperial at all, so hurray! This is looking fantastic! I can't wait to see it finished! :-)

  9. haha 。^‿^。 Don't cut them out, no! I agree that it goes against a "conventional sewing lesson" but there are so many benefits in big seam allowances!

  10. Thank you, Sharon, and do not worry! We've got plenty of time before the end of the year, when the sew-along is over! Take your time and enjoy the process! ❣◕ ‿ ◕❣

  11. To be honest, I hate them. They don't make sense, especially when you need to do precise calculations 3/4 + 7/8 - 1/8 + 3/4 WTF????

  12. Simple Simon and company25 October 2013 at 16:46

    Your work is so lovely...can't wait to see the finished jacket! Love your couture techniques....

  13. Thank you! Hang on until December when we officially finish our sew-along :)