How to quilt a fabric: techniques and advice

You dream of a pretty quilted vest, you have spotted a beautiful fabric but it's not thick enough, or you are not happy with the fabrics available at your local haberdashery? Then you are at the right place! In this video tutorial, you will find all our tips, techniques, and some examples to master the quilting technique.
It is accessible to beginners and you don't need a lot of equipment for a wow! effect. Just a bit of patience, and some rigor :-)

This video is also available with English subtitles.  


What is quilting?

Quilting is sewing one or two layers of fabric with batting. This results in a thicker, warmer fabric with relief, related to the stitching. The fabric will be embossed and soft. Aesthetic and practical, this technique allows you to give more thickness to a fabric: you will be able to use your light fabrics like double gauze or poplin all year long. 

Why do you need to quilt fabric?  

You will find in shops already quilted fabric, but several reasons can lead you to do it yourself:

  • the choice available "ready-made" does not correspond to you: not the right color, the right pattern, etc. This allows you to expand your possibilities but also to create something truly unique.
  • You need matching quilted and non-quilted fabric.
  • You may have a nice fabric for a jacket or a baby sleeping bag but it is a little thin, the quilting will make it warmer.

Quilting your own fabric allows you to have almost no limits on the choice of fabric. You can also choose the pattern of the quilting: spaced lines or not, geometric or not...The quilting really changes the look of the fabric. Some lend themselves to it more than others, and it can really give character to a simple fabric. 

What pattern to quilt?

Again, your imagination is the only limit!

You can quilt your fabric with horizontal or vertical lines, diagonals, squares, or diamonds, with different spacing and sizes. Have fun with more original shapes: rounded, less straight geometric shapes, fancy stitches on your machine, or by following the pattern of your fabric. You can also combine two types of quilting: horizontal on top and vertical on the bottom. Note, however, that the more lines you have, the longer it will take! 

What fabrics to quilt?

Follow your desires! A multitude of fabrics can be used for quilting. Just avoid knits that are too stretchy and may move during sewing, or use interfacing to hold them in place before quilting. Corduroy, poplin, denim, viscose, flannel, gabardine, double gauze... Try and have fun. Please note that the less stretchy and the thicker a fabric is, the easier it will be to work with. 

What is the mandatory equipment to quilt some fabric?  

The only thing you really need is batting. It comes in different thicknesses and is sold by the meter. For clothing, prefer a medium thickness, for accessories, prefer it thicker. You can also find iron-on batting, which will save you time: no need to pin! 

You will also need: 

  • A tracing tool: a ruler such as a patchwork ruler or Japanese ruler (a ruler borrowed from a schoolboy's kit will also work very well!) to draw parallel lines with your marks. 
  • A FriXion-type pen, which can be erased with heat. Beware of the white marks it can leave! Try it out on one of your scraps beforehand. Otherwise, a tailor's chalk will work very well. 
  • Classic polyester sewing thread, tone on tone, contrasting, or glittery. Follow your desires!

The little extras that can help you :

Some non-essential accessories for your sewing machine can still help you well, namely:

  • A seam guide or quilting guide: it is a small tool that can be installed on your machine to allow you to have a regular interval between each seam without having to draw all your lines by hand. It is a significant time saver. 
  • An extension table for larger pieces.


Preparation of the « quilt » 

The layers of fabric layered with the batting are called " quilts ". To prepare your quilt, you will draw your lines, overlay the different layers of fabric and batting and then pin or quickly sew them by hand altogether. (CF video)  

Be sure to keep enough margin around your pieces. Quilting consumes and reduces the size of the fabric, it would be a shame not to have enough fabric to cut your pattern pieces! Ideally, quilt your entire fabric before you cut all your pieces. This will give you more confidence. We also recommend that you iron your fabric well, it will ensure that you have a regular and very net fabric. 

Next, you will be able to draw your lines. To do this, start with the center line on your fabric, then draw parallel lines on each side. If you are using a sewing guide, draw only the first line.

If your pattern is more complex and less straight, you will not be able to draw your lines with a ruler. For this, you have several techniques:

  • Print or draw your design on a sheet of paper. Place your fabric right sides together on carbon paper, and your design on paper on top. With a roller, trace your design by applying light pressure and following the lines of your design. The carbon paper is covered with ink that allows you to duplicate patterns. By pressure, the ink will be deposited on your fabric following your line. Once your project is finished, the ink will wash off. If your lines are not visible enough, you can trace them with chalk or a FriXion pen. 
  • If you have one handy, you can also use a video projector, and project your design onto your fabric before tracing it by hand! 

You will then place your different layers of fabric on top of each other. First place your lining, wrong side up, then the batting layer, and finally the outer fabric right side up. You can also choose to quilt only the batting with the outer fabric.  

You will then pin your different layers or bast stitch them. We prefer this method which takes more time but allows you to be more precise, more flexible, and not to forget any pins in your project. 

Once your quilt is secured, you can assemble it. 

Sew a quilting

  1. Start by sewing along the center line of your quilting, then alternate seams on either side of that line. Rely on the lines you have drawn. This technique is ideal for beginners, the lines will be straight, and your work will be regular. 
  2. If you are sewing with a guide, you will sew along the first center line, drawn by hand, then place the guide in the crease formed by the first seam, and off you go! This technique allows you to have an even gap without spending too much time tracing the lines. 
  3. You can also quilt according to the width of your presser foot, or you can use masking tape or painter's tape. This tape that can be easily removed, is used by aligning it with the first seam and sewing parallel to the other edge. The only drawback to both of these techniques is that you are limited by the preset width of the presser foot and tape. You can also use lines or squares already present on the pattern. 
  4. If you're working on large areas, there's no need to make a stop stitch. 
  5. If the batting catches on your machine, you have several solutions:
  • Slip tissue paper between the claws of your sewing machine and the batting. Once your seam is finished, you can remove the tissue paper by tearing it along the dotted lines of the seam. 
  • Reduce the pressure of your presser foot slightly or increase the length of your stitch.
Once your quilting is complete, you will be able to remove your pins or basting thread. 

    You can then cut out all your pattern pieces. For the pieces that need to be cut at the fold, we advise you not to cut them this way, you will miss precision. Instead, place your piece on the single-layered quilt and put some pins at the fold. Cut around your piece, except on the fold line of course, then mirror your piece along the pins. You can now cut the other half. 

         6. Finish with a serging stitch on all edges of your pieces so that the quilting lines don't unravel.

    Now you can assemble your garment according to your pattern instructions! Be careful with the finishing touches: if your garment is lined, no worries, but you can also choose to edge the pieces with matching or contrasting bias. 


    And that's it, you have mastered quilting! There are almost no limits to this technique, either in the choice of fabric or the pattern to quilt. We can't wait to see your beautiful creations #ikateecouture. 

    Sewing patterns for training

    You can use this technique and train on a lot of patterns! Why not begin with Vic or Vega, two very simple to-sew vests. You can vary the finishes: with a facing or a contrasting bias. Sam, Dublin, Grand'Ourse or our baby sleeping bag Cassiopée will be perfect for quilting. Double gauze, poplin, French terry, or corduroy, this very flexible technique will adapt to all your desire.