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quilted wearable art

putyerfootdown | Posted in Patterns on

Does anyone have hints or tips for choosing an appropriate garment pattern for quilting, embellishing or applique work?  For example, what to look for in a pattern design, how to quilt/embellish or applique and produce wearable art–not something that looks like it should be hanging on a wall! 


  1. solosmocker | | #1

    Personally I think the simplest of designs show off the art to its best. That being said I watched the Haute Couture show on Ultra HD yesterday and I believe the designer was Jean Paul Gaultier. He had a belted, fitted classic grey wool suit with the most vividly colored applique going from the hip up to below the bosom on one side only. It was magnificent. Again the design was simple, and classic.

    Have you seen the patterns, I believe in Vogue, by Marcy Tilton, a wearable artist? While she gives all sorts of design options you could certainly do your own thing. The designs are all rather simple.


    1. User avater
      putyerfootdown | | #4


      Thanks, no I hadn't seen the new Vogue designs.  I'll take a look at them.  There is an ULTRA EZ Vogue pattern for a shawl-collar jacket that I have considered adapting for quilting.  It's 9057, if you want to comment?  It's not as flowing or appealing in design as the more modular (and unconventional) designs I've seen in the smaller pattern company catalogues.  But it would be practical and simple to adapt.


      1. MaryinColorado | | #6

        You might want to check out http://www.favoritethings.net.  I have the cardigan jacket pattern with the shawl collar.  It can be lined, unlined, quilted or not.  http://www.dosdetejas.com has embelllished things like the Messenger Vest.  http://www.revision-ericson.com has interesting patterns by Diane Ericson where she gives you lots of ideas of how to create several unique garments from each pattern right in the envelope.  One of my favorite designers is http://www.kaylakennington.com Then there's Parkbench Pattern Co and Folkware Patterns which are fun.  Purrfection Artistic Wearables has a coat pattern I bought but haven't tried, 1002 To Dye For Duster with instructions on dying your fabric, it is pieced unlined.

        http://www.patternreview.com is a good resource with reviews of patterns, machines, etc from lots of knowledgeable experienced seamsters.

        Hope this is helpful!  Lots of fun to see what others come up with!  Have you tried bobbinwork?   If you have access to old Threads mag, there is lots of ideas.  Threads #81 fromFeb/March 1999 is a great one!  Mary


        1. User avater
          putyerfootdown | | #7


          Thanks for your VERY helpful reply. 


  2. MaryinColorado | | #2

    I would use the most simple basic lines that you can find that will still have some shape to them.  You might try http://www.nancysnotions.com for patterns or kits or videos on quilted and embellished clothing.  She has quite a variety on her tv program on PBS.  That might be a good place to start, then you will know what to look for in other patterns.

    For quilted clothing, I really recommend that you start with a pattern that is meant to be quilted.  The fit can be complicated at first, the seam allowances, sleeves, and necklines or collars would be different measurements than traditional garments.  Also the wrong pattern could be blocky and stiff.

    I don't mean to discourage you by any means.  Just want you to be successful as it is lots of fun to create your own fabric and to embellish garments to your imaginations delight.  Mary

    1. User avater
      putyerfootdown | | #3


      Thank you for the helpful suggestions. 

      When you say the seams around the neck, shoulders and sleeves would be different when sewing a quilted garment--would this necessarily be the case if you are only embellishing a section of the garment?  Or true only if each section is pieced, quilted and/or embellished?

      The small projects I've attempted (years ago) were just adapted from jacket or vest patterns--by adding a lining, batt and quilting through the layers.  Then, I didn't make any changes in the seam allowances.  Though I do recall the results being a little unwieldy in terms of drape (suit of armour!), so I'd want to avoid that effect. 





      1. MaryinColorado | | #5

        If you are just going to embellish the garment with quilting, I'd just go for it!  Taking into consideration the weight/drape factor.  Then you won't have to worry about the size issue.

        It's also fun to embellish ready to wear, jeans, sweatshirts, purses, and jackets are good candidates for just about any technique since they are heavier to begin with.

        When my kids were young, I loved to embellish thier clothes with embroidery, applique, rick rack, lace, ribbon, adding cuffs or edging,etc.  So that's how I experimented in the beginning. 

        I am more of a process than product person these days so I end up with alot of UFOs because I will see a new technique and just have to try it out.  These are kept in bins that I go through from time to time and incorporate into something completely different than the original plan.  I guess I just love to play.

        I also keep files of these techniqes for future reference. Aso have a magazine file with favorite techniqes I have done or want to try "someday".  There are also alot of great books out there on embellishing and quilted clothing.

        I've been doing this for years, so I have large bins filled with smaller plastic bins that are filled with UFO's, fibers, heavy threads and yarns, ribbons, ultrasuede, netting, buttons, beads, embroidery practice embroidery sewouts, unique small fabric or netting, etc.  The sections are sorted by color.  Such as blues and greens, earthtones, pastels.  Then when I want to embellish something I go to my bins for inspiration or materials.  They are like treasure chests to me! 

        I don't have much of a fabric stash anymore but have replaced that habit with this one.  Mary

  3. Kilroy | | #8

    What I do to keep machine quilted garments from becoming too stiff/heavy with the batting is I use Flannel instead. Wash it a few times so that it won't shrink later, and then stitch away. two or three layers of cotton wrapped around a layer of flannel seems to be just the right weight for vests or jackets that can stay on indoors in my climate.

    1. User avater
      putyerfootdown | | #9

      I have used flannel as batting in quilted jackets--the flannel was "re-invented" from an old blanket--with very good results.  The pattern I chose then was a simple design, but with the set-in sleeves, flannel helped reduce the bulk. 

      Polyester batt was problemmatic in a simple vest pattern, producing the bulky armour-like drape that was never subdued even with repeated laundering.  That was in the 1970s and batting choices have certainly improved since.

      Pre-shrunk cotton batt also is a good choice for reducing both the bulk in sewing and any restriction of the fabric natural drape.  Wish they sold it that way, pre-laundered and with no surprises.



      1. WandaJ | | #19

        Please tell me more about using flannel as the batting. I tried this once (not the whole garment, just a sample) and it did not work well. I'd like to know things such as how many layers, with what kind of fabric, tension, etc., or anything else you believe will help. Thanks

        1. solosmocker | | #20

          There are two ways to approach the 100% cotton flannel as interlining issue. First, flannel shrinks tremendously. The first technique is to ignore this trait completely, use it as your interlining, and proceed as you planned for the rest of the design. You would then machine wash the garment and as the flannel shrinks it adds a texture that greatly contributes to the impact of the completed garment. You do need to make your pattern pieces much larger than normal to account for the shrinkage. Sew the individual pattern pieces as intended with the flannel interlining. Use very large seam allowances . Stitch all around the outside edges of the pattern pieces. Wash the pattern pieces before proceeding further. Once washed, cut out the pattern pieces as the pattern piece specifies. Proceed to cut out the garment. The other option for a flannel interlining is to prewash the flannel, as much as three times. Then use the well washed flannel as your interlining and proceed to embellish and construct as desired. You will not have the additional texture provided by the shrinkage but you will have a smooth canvas upon which to work and do your creative thing. For what its worth, I love working with the un washed flannel as the interlining and the texture it creates when washed. solo

          1. stitchagain | | #21


            I have so wanted to try this technique.  I did a small sample with velveteen but I don't think I used flannel (some other interlining, muslin?).  What fabrics & projects have you experimented with?



          2. solosmocker | | #24

            I use inexpensive 100% cotton flannel, the dollar a yard stuff at Walmart or Joanns for 2 a yd. I think this technique with a velveteen would be just yummy. Seems that Threads ran an article on something of the sort in the past year. What I personally have used is 100% cotton fabrics, none of which are prewashed so there was a real surprise as the fabrics shrunk in the washing machine. I loved the texture so there was no problem there. solo

          3. WandaJ | | #22

            Thanks for your reply. I believe I would choose the prewashing of the flannel technique versus the first one. I'm not creative enough to venture out using the former method.

          4. Josefly | | #23

            I've been lurking on this topic, interested because I've wanted to try some quilted garments. Is the flannel you're referring to the same as the thin (1/8 inch thick) cotton batting sold for quilting? Or are you talking about woven cotten flannel fabric? I've bought some of the former to use in a quilted bag, and am wondering if I pre-wash-dry this non-woven "flannel" - will it shred in the washing machine?

          5. solosmocker | | #25

            Cotton flannel is not the same as the "thin" quilt batting. If you wash it in the machine I would suggest you serge your end edges together to prevent unraveling. Make sure you put it in the dryer too. Heat shrinks!

          6. Josefly | | #26

            Thank you for your reply. Since what I have is non-woven, I think I'll just hand wash and then put it in the dryer. Stitching or serging the edges wouldn't prevent it pulling apart in the washer, I'm afraid. Next project, I'll get the woven cotton flannel.

  4. stitchagain | | #10

    You might look a Vogue coat pattern from the designer Koos (I don't have the #).  It is simple: A-line with mandarin collar and covers the treatment you are interested in: quilted, applique.  It is also a reversible coat. 

    The construction process is different: You quilt and applique the pattern pieces first adding a small amount for quilting shrinkage and then you cut actual pieces, put coat together and bind the edges.




    1. User avater
      putyerfootdown | | #11

      Looks like Koos van den Akker.  Two of the coat/jacket patterns are out of print but I did like 2915--that's a shorter version of the coat and with more elaborate piecing. 

      Have you sewn any of these?  I'm wondering if the designs can be modified/emended or even changed in terms of fabric content.  They really are quite nice.

      Thanks for your comments on wearable art patterns.




      1. stitchagain | | #12

        I don't know about 2915, but I have a KOOS Van Den Akker pattern V2868.  I had made a bag inspired by a Threads article about Koos' applique techniques so I bought the pattern a while ago (so it may be out of print now).  The fabric suggestions are Contrast 2, 3: Brocade, Shantung and Taffeta  Contrast 1: Double-sided Fleece.   The quilting aspect is secondary but interesting to me.

        My idea was to use water resistant nylon and fleece, because I need a winter coat.  I have been sitting on this project for over a year so maybe it was not meant to be not the right pattern fabric combo). 

        Thanks for you question about quilting because it has made me go back and look at this project-  I think I would rather make it in a luscious fabric- probably will make up the interesting neck cowl right away.



        1. User avater
          putyerfootdown | | #13

          Yes, 2868 is out of print (as are two others shown).  Your fabric selections for this coat are intriguing, as are those fabrics recommended on the pattern.  I would have thought a wool or felted wool, but that might be too heavy, then with a lighter weight lining. 

          Your choices might prove an interesting contrast in textures--in the right color combinations.

          You'll have to post a picture, if you sew this Koos pattern up.

          The pattern, 2868, reminds me of an oriental or Russian design.  I'd like to know more about the designer.  Do you mind my asking, when was the article on Koos bags published in Threads?


          1. stitchagain | | #14



            Thanks for the input on my coat project.  The bag I made was of my own design, just a simple "bucket" bag (I actually saw and old fire fighting cloth bucket and thought that would be a good shape for a bag).  The applique was inspired by KOOS.  I don't remember which article, but below are what comes up when you put the name in the Magazine Index.  That's a great book too. 

            The bag has some flaws but it was a real creative period for me: outlining shapes with  bias tape, including a thin piped welt "cowboy style" pocket.  I also sewed a bowl shape and chenille cut it.  It was a way of using some of the techniques I see in Threads that I wanted to try, included Koos inspired.



            Article Title



            Book reviews

            KOOS Couture Collage: Inspiration and Techniques



            Coffin, David Page

            on Koos van den Akker



            Hendry, Diane

            design assistant to Koos van den Akker



            Hendry, Diane

            design assistant to Koos van den Akker



            van den Akker, Koos

            designs and techniques of



            van den Akker, Koos

            designs and techniques of






  5. Teaf5 | | #15

    Unfortunately, with my figure (a tall, mature hourglass), most wearable art garments make me LOOK like a wall rather than a person! 

    Therefore, I usually pick one or two areas of a fitted garment--say the yoke, collar, cuffs, hemline, neckline, front band--and do something interesting there.  The garment is much more wearable, and the quilting or embellishment can be very complicated but not take much time because it's fairly small.

    An advantage of this "less is more" approach is that the resulting garments are flattering and lovely, but not so distinctive that people remember them and think that I have nothing else to wear!

    1. User avater
      putyerfootdown | | #16

      Thank you all for your helpful replies.  If I can find the book, Koos Couture Collage (reviewed in Threads),  I'd enjoy looking at the designs and reading about the designer.  (It was interesting to me that the Threads articles were in 1990, then 2003.  Where do you suppose Koos was for those 13 years?  Under the radar?

      I had to laugh when I read your comment, Teal5, about the memorable wearable art.  Like everyone I KNOW doesn't have MY closet's contents memorized! (One white cotton shirt,  appliqued with brightly-colored cat shapes across the front, definitely comes to mind.) 

      Thanks all.  Happy sewing and quiltink!


  6. CarolSewsAZ | | #17

    I have found the best way to start is with a simple pattern, with few pattern pieces.  You want your embellishment to highlight your wearable art.  To keep your quilted garment from being stiff with quilting, it is best to use a very thin layer as cotton flannel or even muslin as a base, rather than quilt batting. If you are doing surface embellishment such as beading, you can quilt first.  However, if you are doing thread couching, or other machine work, then you would need to do that prior to layering and quilting.  Is this your first wearable are project, if so, good luck.  


    1. User avater
      putyerfootdown | | #18

      This is not my first quilted/embellished garment (see previous posts), but I was looking for suggestions about choosing better patterns, what adaptations in sewing methods are appropriate for wearable/quilted art and any tips or hints to improve the results.

      The responses have been great, very helpful.  Made me aware of several pattern designers who use fabric collage techniques and/or pay more attention to drape and fabric choices in their garment designs.

      Has anyone tried the newer, lighter batting choices in their quilted garments?  Any recommendations?  Preferences in use with softer, drapier fabrics?


      Thanks for the input.


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