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How to make a quilt coat- the "Party all over"

 Related topics/ essential pre-reading:

So how do we actually make a quilt coat?

First off, a few disclaimers :-) :

  • The tutorials assume we are using a "normal" coat pattern (i.e. not one that is actually for a quilt coat like the Tamarack). If you are using a quilt coat pattern such as the Tamarack, you should follow the directions included in the pattern as they may have a different way of doing things.
  • The following terms are used interchangeably:
    • Quilt coat outer/ quilt top
    • Quilt coat lining/ quilt backing
  • The tutorials assume an understanding of standard quilting terms and concepts including piecing, quilt sandwich, basting and binding 
  • Apologies that the photos in this tutorial vary between different quilt coats- I wasn't as consistent as I would have liked with taking photos! 

If you haven't already, check out this IGTV video which gives you a high level overview as to how a quilt coat is made- it will provide you with some good context and background. 

For this quilt coat, we are going to start with the "party" (the design )! There are two different categories of designs we can use:

1. An existing quilt pattern (you can also consider using an existing quilt if you have one that is large enough!) 
2. Quilt shapes (eg flying geese, squares or HSTs.

Option 1: An existing Quilt Pattern

  • If you are considering using an existing quilt pattern, you should  follow the directions set out in the pattern to make the quilt top. Before doing this, make sure the pattern will be big enough to include your pattern pieces.
  • An easy way to do this use tape on the floor to measure out how big the completed pattern is (eg if it is 72 x 72", use tape to mark out an area of 72 x 72" and then lay all your pattern pieces out.
  • Don't worry about the direction the pattern pieces should go per the pattern) - as each piece is made of multiple pieces, and it will be quilted, this is less important. 
  • Once your quilt top is made, there are three options for how you can cut your quilt coat pattern pieces out. 

The short answer:

  • Option 1: Cut your quilt coat pattern pieces first from your unquilted quitlt top, and then make individual quilt sandwiches and quilt
  • Option 2: First make lots of mini quilt sandwiches using the quilt top and quilt (each is slightly larger than our pattern piece) and then cut out our pattern pieces
  • Option 3: Make a larger "quilt" which includes using the entire quilt top, making the quilt sandwich and quilting, and then cut the pieces out. 

The longer answer

Option 1.

  • Lay out your pattern pieces on your  completed top and secure with either pins or fabric weights.
  • Cut the pieces out.
  • Take each of these pieces and create a quilt sandwich with a piece of batting and backing (quilt lining) which are slightly larger than the pattern piece.
  • Baste and quilt as desired.
  • Once you have quilted, you can then cut the batting and backing fabric to the same size as the pattern piece. 
  • Don't forget your pocket pieces! You should make these the same way as your other pattern pieces. 

This is a relatively simple way of making a quilt coat, and is more efficient from a quilt top fabric use perspective ( as you can put each of your pieces very close together). However, you need to be careful when you are quilting in case it distorts the edges or changes the shape. 


Option 2: 

With this method, we will make lots of mini quilt sandwiches that are just slightly bigger than each of our pattern pieces. 

  • As an example, you may have an arm piece which is 25 inches long and 14 inches wide at widest point. You would then make two quilt sandwiches (one for each arm) with the quilt top (quilt coat outer) being say 27 inches by 16 inches and the backing and batting being slightly bigger. Or you could make one quilt sandwich for both the arms thats say 27 inches by 32 inches (to fit both arm pieces). 

  • Baste and quilt as desired.
  • You can then lay your pattern pieces on each of your mini quilts, attach with either weights or pins and cut out each piece. 
  • Don't forget your pocket pieces! You should make these the same way as your other pattern pieces. 

To ensure you have enough fabric, you may want to lay out your pattern pieces on your quilt coat outer first and then cut around each one, leaving a border so you have room to move. 

Out of the two options, this one is probably slightly easier but not as efficient from a fabric perspective!

 Cutting out the party on the back piece after it is basted and quilted

Option 3:

With this option, we are essentially making a quilt sandwich with the entire quilt top

  • Make your quilt sandwich to size- the top layer (quilt coat outer) plus your slightly larger batting and backing piece would be slightly larger
  • Quilt as desired 
  • Layout your pattern pieces on your "quilt" and cut the pieces out
  • Don't forget your pocket pieces! You should make these the same way as your other pattern pieces. 

The benefit of this method is you are only making one (big) quilt which may save you some time. However if you have a smaller sewing machine or are not confident in quilting an entire quilt in one piece, you should consider Option 1 or 2 :-) 

Once your pattern pieces are cut, you can now jump down to "But first, pockets"

Option 2: Using standard quilting shapes
  • If you haven't already, you can determine how many quilt shapes you need by referring to the fabric requirements blog post which also includes guidance on calculating how many squares/ half square triangles/ flying geese you need. 
  • Once you have calculated this, the next step is to actually make them.. yes all 400 (or more) HSTS/ flying geese or squares. Don't worry, we will still be here when you get back! :-) BUT! Don't sew them together yet- first you need to figure out which of the following two options you want to follow for the next steps:
Option A: (if you are comfortable quilting an entire quilt and/or you have a large sewing machine) Is to assemble all of your shapes together in one piece (essentially like you are making a quilt) and then make your quilt sandwich and quilt as desired. You would then lay all of your pattern pieces on, secure with pins or fabric weights and cut them out 
    (Just imagine these rectangles are all half square triangles or flying geese)
    Option B is for those less confident with quilting a larger quilt or maybe you have a smaller sewing machine. In this method, we will only sew our shapes together in mini sizes that are  large enough for each of our pattern pieces. 
      • So as an example, if you were using squares, for your arm piece, you would only sew together this many (see how are we are "saving" four squares from being used in each of the corners?
      • Once you have sewn together your quilt shapes into mini sizes that will fit your quilt pattern, you can then make mini quilt sandwiches using a piece of batting and backing fabric that are slightly larger than your quilt top piece. 
      • Baste and quilt as desired.
      • You can then lay your pattern pieces on each of your mini quilts, attach with either weights or pins and cut out each piece. 
      • Don't forget your pocket pieces! You should make these the same way as your other pattern pieces. 


      Not adding pockets? You can skip this step!

      So you thought we were ready to assemble- but first we need to do a few things to our pockets (which you hopefully cut out as part of the instructions above. Before we start assembling our quilt coat, we need to insert and finish our pockets ! 

      Option 1: Square or rectangle pockets:

      If you are adding pockets that are a square or rectangle (eg not the super large pockets) we need to bind these before attaching them. To do this, we will essentially treat each pocket like a mini quilt and bind it like you would a quilt (you are basically making a pot holder!). Once you have bound it, you can then sew it onto the front pieces of your quilt coat- make sure to add extra stitches at the top to give it some extra strength. 

      Option 2: Extra large pockets:

      For the extra large pockets, we only need to bind the top edge as the other edges will be covered under the quilt coat finishing steps.

      Once you have bound the top edge of each of your pockets, you can then attach them to your front quilt coat pieces before assembling your quilt coat. 

      Once you have all your fabric pieces cut and your bound pockets attached (if applicable) , you are ready to assemble. For those nervous garment makers, don't be- this is one of the quickest steps in the whole process!

      Patterns often suggest you use a  5/8" or even larger seam allowance. To avoid bulk in your seams, I would recommend using a 3/8"  seam allowance.

      The only instructions you need to follow in your pattern are how to attach each of the pieces to each other. You can generally disregard any instructions about hemming, interfacing, clipping etc- our binding process will cover off on all of those steps nicely. 

      We are almost there! You should now have something that looks like this (with pockets)- a functioning quilt coat, but with lots of unfinished seams 

      (Sorry - this is of another quilt coat- I forgot to take one at this stage of the original!) 

      Click here for the final steps on finishing your quilt coat. 

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