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Fabric, batting, and thread for making a quilt coat

While the exterior of your quilt coat is pretty much just a quilt, there are some things you want to consider when choosing the lining, batting, and thread used to both quilt and assemble your quilt coat since it's going to be worn. I'll be taking you through all the things to consider and providing my two cents, but as always, these decisions are entirely up to you! It all just depends on what kind of coat you're hoping to make.


Contents:

Lining fabric options


There are lots of things that you could line your quilt coat with. It all just depends on what effect you're trying to achieve. But before we get into that, let's talk about your options for lining methods.


Option 1: Line with the quilt backing. This is the traditional way of making a quilt coat. You would sandwich and quilt your quilt pieces like normal, then cut pattern pieces out of all three layers. This means that your seams will need to be finished by either hand or machine binding which can lead to some bulky, uncomfortable seams if not handsewn.


close up image of hand sewn binding covering seams of a quilt coat
Image credit Scribbly Gum Quilt Co

Option 2: Birthed lining. With this method you'll only quilt your exterior to batting, leaving the backing off (or using a very thin interfacing or scrim as the "backing" just to stabilize the batting) then make, basically, a second coat out of lining fabric which will be sewn right sides together with the exterior to create a fully lined coat with no exposed seams and no hand sewing. You can read more about that here.


interior of flannel lined quilt coat with all seams encased

Can you guess which method is my preference?


No matter which method you choose, you can use a variety of fabrics for the lining.


Quilting Cotton - the traditional choice for a quilt coat. This will yield a beautiful coat with a silky lining that isn't too heavy. It's also a great place to feature your favorite large-scale print.


Flannel - if you want something a little more snuggly, flannel is a great option, but it will result in a very warm quilt coat. Great for colder climates; not so great for warmer weather. I used flannel for my first quilt coat and even in northern Vermont, the flannel layer is a bit too much sometimes.


Jersey (or French terry) - These are fabulous options for a quilt coat lining because they have that soft, cuddly texture of flannel without being quilt so warm. This kind of lining lends itself well to a lighter-weight quilt coat that is great for cooler autumn weather.



Things to stay away from:

Fleece: This is going to result in a coat that is very heavy and difficult to wear except

in winter.

Minky: While I love a minky-backed quilt, it's too heavy unless you're trying to create

a winter coat you can wear as outerwear.


Batting options


When it comes to batting, again you have options. The right one for you depends on what look you're trying to achieve.


Cotton and cotton/poly blends - this is the traditional choice and a great option. It's a natural fiber so it will breathe and stay comfortable. If you're quilting super densely though, cotton can become stiff. Maybe this is good if you like a little more structured coat, but if you want a softer drapey garment, something else may be a better option.


quilt with cotton batting being squished up showing the stiffness

Bamboo/silk - Bamboo is a lovely batting option for quilts and quilt coats alike. It's a natural fiber also, but unlike cotton, it stays soft and drapey even when quilted densely. That makes it a great choice for garments. This is my favorite option for quilt coats. If you're looking for the perfect bamboo batting for quilt coats, check out Elegant Simply Bamboo batting from Batting Supersale (not an affiliate link, I just really love her brand of batting). Silk batting behaves pretty similar to bamboo batting and is another great option for quilt coats, but it can get a little pricey.


quilt coat with bamboo batting squished up showing the drape

Wool - Wool batting is amazing for getting texture and definition out of the quilting on a project. That makes a great choice if you're going for a whole cloth quilt coat. However, it's a little on the lofty side and will result in a pretty thick (but still breathable) quilt coat.


All of these options will yield different, but still beautiful quilt coats. However, they're all natural fibers and will shrink ~5% when washed. That's why it's important to pre-wash the batting also, not just the fabric you're using in a quilt coat. This ensures that the coat doesn't shrink after its first wash making it too small to wear.


Batting can be pre-washed by itself by washing on a delicate cycle (or better yet, mild agitation only) and air dried, or it can be prewashed with the fabric after the pieces are quilted BEFORE cutting your coat pieces.


However, even with pre-washing, your coat will likely take on a slightly crinkly quilted appearance. Pre-washing will minimize it, but I have yet to find anything that can completely eliminate it. You might think that fusible interfacing, such as fusible fleece would be enough to keep the crinkle out, but unfortunately, that's not the case. However, if you want a lighter-weight coat and you're quilting on a domestic, fusible fleece still has its advantages.


Fusible Fleece - Fusible fleece is an interfacing frequently used in bag making. It's essentially just thin fleece backed on one side with a heat-sensitive glue layer. You place your fabric onto the glue side and use an iron to fuse the glue into the fabric. After the fleece is fused, the fabric can be quilted like normal to give that traditional quilted look. The fact that the batting layer is fused, makes the piece much more manageable during quilting, especially if you don't tend to quilt very densely. However, because the fleece is so thin, you won't get much definition in your quilting.


close up of the texture of fabric quilted to fusible fleece after washing
Quilted, fusible fleece after washing


Thread


When it comes to thread the options are basically cotton or polyester. I strongly recommend sticking with polyester thread for the actual quilting and construction portions of the garment. That's because polyester thread has some stretch to it and will hold up better to the tugging associated with daily use.


For piecing your quilt coat design, I recommend cotton since it will result in more precise seams. Polyester is also an option here, but it's really just a matter of preference. You can read more about thread choices here.


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