Quilting cotton divides the dressmaking community. It is deemed as an inferior material with wacky colourful design but I’m pretty certain that the majority of home sewists began with quilting cotton.
When you walk into a fabric shop often quilting cotton is the material that draws your eye first. The beautiful bolts of colourful designs just stand out amongst the crowd. It’s the quirky designs that got me into dressmaking in the beginning (I am a huge fan of colour). I first started making dresses and skirts for my two daughters and as my confidence grew, along with my stash, I ventured into making something for myself. So why do many sewists resist using quilting fabric?
Quilting fabric often gives a stiff appearance with limited drape. Despite that it has a wonderful crispness to it and when sewing it rarely slips or slides which makes it a perfect material for beginners. It also stands the test of time staying vibrant after many washes however it does have a tendency to crease. Overall it’s best matched to patterns that have a generous amount of ease but then again I’ve have successful with close fitting too.
I’ve had some nightmares (check out my pencil skirt) with quilting fabric but I’ve also created some gems which I love to wear again and again. Here are my favourite makes from quilting cotton:
Sew Over It ‘Betty dress’. I love my quilting cotton Betty dress because the fabric holds the silhouette of the dress perfectly. I’ve made gathered skirt hacks which I feel give the dress a more casual feel.
Simple Sew ‘Grace skirt’, a simple midi length box pleated skirt. The crispness of quilting cotton gives great definition to the box pleats which I just love. Again my style is ‘prints’ for sure!
I was particularly pleased with how my Sew Over It ‘Vintage shirt dress’ turned out. The collar has a great finish which is a testament to the definition that quilting cotton can give.
And of cause I had to include my first makes from quilting cotton – pinafore dresses for my daughters. The designs of these cottons just come into their own and as you can tell my girls love them!!
Top tips when sewing with quilting cotton:
- Prewash quilting cottons and also give them a spin in the tumble dryer. They have a tendency to shrink quite a lot which I discovered after making a top and then not being able to fit into it after I wash it.
- Avoid garments with sleeves. There is little stretch so setting in sleeves can be difficult plus it’s a little rough and uncomfortable against the underarms.
- Add a lining or wear a slip underneath. I have found my dresses stick when wearing tights so my favourite investment has been an underskirt from M&S. I felt very grown up when buying it!!
- Embrace the print or be realistic about whether you will actually wear it. I hold my hands up and say I always choose prints over plain but then that’s my personality.
As my confidence in dressmaking has grown I admit that I overlook quilting cotton in favour of fabrics that give me more drape like viscose, but I still love to wear my cotton makes and they have stood the test of time in terms of wear and tear. Whatever you choose to use, wear your makes with pride as it is an amazing achievement to reply ‘I made it’ when someone asks where did you get your dress from.