For his OLFA Creators project, designer Tighe Flanagan of Handmade by Tighe Flanagan, has this to say: “I’m a quilter and garment maker, so naturally, I’ve been eager to make a quilted garment for quite some time. When OLFA reached out about being an OLFA Creator this year, it seemed like a great opportunity to bring this idea to life!”
Here’s an overview of the steps I took to make an original quilty garment.
OLFA Tools used:
Selecting and adjusting your pattern
It’s important to choose a pattern that works well with thicker, quilted material. Avoid patterns with complex construction or small details.
I wanted to make something that would get some regular use, so I was drawn to the idea of a patchwork blazer. I chose Simplicity 8528 because it has simple construction but the cut and fit of a blazer. For this project, I like how there are no darts in the front panel, which is common in most blazer patterns.
First, I made a muslin (test garment) to try out the fit and decided I didn’t need to make any major adjustments.
To adapt my pattern for a quilted garment, I had to put on my quilting cap. Instead of finishing my outside edges with facings or hems, I decided to use double fold bias binding, similar to how I would finish a quilt with curved edges. I eliminated the ⅝” seam allowance on the fronts and outside edge of the collar and removed the 1 ½” hem on the bottom of my bodice and sleeve pieces. I made new pattern pieces to reflect these changes.
I also decided to remove the two side vents to simplify the silhouette. And finally, I reduced the seam connecting the neck and collar to ¼”. The rest of the construction would be according to the pattern. Since it’s an unlined garment, my preference is to bind the seams with double fold bias tape. You could also serge or overcast the seam for a finished look.
The patchwork and quilting
I choose to use a new patchwork pattern I recently developed based on a mosaic design from the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. My Alhambra Leaf Quilt pattern has 4” finished blocks that create a repeating tessellation. I was struck by the centuries-old design and thought it would be fun to translate into patchwork. I used custom-cut acrylic templates and my trusty OLFA 28mm rotary cutter to cut out all the pieces, going carefully around the curves.
By measuring my modified pattern pieces, I knew how big my patchwork pieces needed to be. I decided to make several small quilted patchwork panels instead of one large quilt for cutting out the various parts (in my case the fronts, side panels, backs, upper sleeves, undersleeves, and under the collar).
I basted the patchwork with lightweight cotton batting. I didn’t want it to be too bulky or overly warm, but you can choose a batting that suits your needs. I quilted a diagonal grid with a walking foot. I added some additional quilting where the lapel and collar will roll back, helping to shape the blazer. (Most blazer patterns include a roll line to indicate where the garment should roll back on itself.)
I backed all of my quilted panels with some luxurious Liberty of London Tana Lawn fabric from my stash. I also made double-fold bias binding out of the same fabric by cutting diagonal strips and pressing them in half and then pressing the edges to the center crease.
Before cutting my pieces, I pre-washed my quilted panels to get any shrinkage out of the way. I used precut fabric strips for my patchwork and could not pre-wash those fabrics. You could pre-wash your fabrics before making your patchwork if you are working with yardage or fat quarters. You may still want to pre-wash the quilted panels before making your garment since batting can also shrink, or you may want to wash out any spray basting. I used an overcast stitch to secure the edges of the panels to prevent fraying in the wash.
Constructing your garment
I cut out my garment using the adjusted pattern pieces described earlier. All of the pieces fit easily on my 24” x 26” cutting mat. I like using my 28mm rotary cutter for garments since it can easily trace around curves.
After each piece was carefully cut, I bound my interior seams and overcast the outside edges (fronts, hems, and collar/lapel) to keep things tidy while sewing and prevent excessive fraying.
Assembly was straightforward, making the bodice, then the sleeves, and then attaching everything together. I bound the arm seam after inserting the sleeves for a clean finish.
I attached the collar and the bodice wrong sides together so that I could hide the seam on the outside. I shortened the seam allowances to ¼”, used a herringbone catch-stitch to secure the seam allowances open, and then covered it all with a folded strip of fabric cut on the bias that I whipstitched in place.
I bound the hem/front/lapel using one large piece of continuous double fold bias binding. I carefully mitered the corners (inside and outside) of the lapel, finishing it with some hand stitching.
I used smaller pieces of the double fold bias binding for the sleeve cuffs, where I had also eliminated the 1 ½” hem from the original pattern.
I used some heavy-duty snap fasteners instead of buttons and buttonholes. I considered adding bound buttonholes, which are found on jackets and bulkier fabrics but went with the snaps in the end.
The buttons on the sleeve are decorative since it does not have a functional sleeve vent. I added matching snaps there as well to give it a finished look. Finally, because the quilted jacket material has quite a bit of loft and structure with the batting, I didn’t add any shoulder pads.
I’m so pleased with how my quilted blazer came out! The most time-consuming part by far was creating the patchwork. It was a fun challenge to figure out how to transform a regular garment into a quilted one, and fun to see how my experience with patchwork and clothing informed the process. I hope it provides inspiration for you to tackle a similar project of your own!
If you like the patchwork pattern Tighe used in this project, please visit his website for more original patterns or follow along on Instagram!
Full name: Tighe Flanagan
Company name: Handmade by Tighe Flanagan
Other social media: @tigheflanagan