Fireworks and Quilting Cotton

I like America, but I'm not crazy about fireworks. This 4th of July, I decided to play with constellations in lieu of fireworks.

I'd been itching to make up a subtle color blocked A-Frame skirt. This pencil skirt is a sample for JP Knit & Stitch. I often make store samples and enjoy it immensely. It allows me to play with all sorts of cool fabrics and yarns I might not choose for myself to wear, but love regardless!

I wanted to play with fun prints, specifically the same print in different colorways, but still produce something that was very wearable. Genevieve and I decided on these awesome constellation prints from Lizzy House's Natural History line, which I love and have seen made up with awesome results recently (Miranda of Fancy Tiger Crafts' Butterfly Laurel Top comes to mind).

Instead of doing some of the more elaborate color blocking outlined in this post, I opted just to cut the side top and pocket lining from the turquoise fabric. If you want to do this, you'll need the same amount of main color fabric and a 1/2 yard of contrasting fabric.

Now let's talk about quilting cotton: Oft the frenemy of sewists everywhere, quilting cotton comes in all the prints but often results in all the wrong garments. Now, to be fair, many awesome quilting fabric companies have improved their base fabrics to yield more desirable garments. Compare these to the elastic waist skirt you made from starchy calico at 13 and the difference is clear.

The 'problem' with making garments from quilting cotton is that it exists in a sort of fabric purgatory: too stiff for garments that require a bit of drape (like tops or flowy skirts), not enough body for garments more suited to stiffer fabric (like pants, jackets, etc) and sometimes too fuzzy/matte for polished looking button downs, pleated skirts or other styles that work with a similiar weight cotton.

 It's hard to see in the outfit pics, but the metallic prints are quite lovely together.

It's hard to see in the outfit pics, but the metallic prints are quite lovely together.

 I used silver thread to sew on the waistline button, just for fun. I thought about embroidering some of the constellations too, but that seemed like overkill.

I used silver thread to sew on the waistline button, just for fun. I thought about embroidering some of the constellations too, but that seemed like overkill.

I'll admit I wasn't convinced this would make the best skirt. But I was wrong! Something about the lightness of the quilting cotton made for a skirt that was quite comfortable. I believe it's best as a pencil skirt...Though I might challenge sewists out there to prove me wrong!

It's true, many companies are expanding to different bases like rayon challis and double gauze which IS AWESOME. But we still live in a quilter's world and so quilting cottons will continue to taunt us.

Here are some tips for making garments from quilting cotton:

  1. Choose darker colors and prints that do not have a white or light background. This reduces the risk of your garment being see through and gives the final garment more depth.
  2. An addendum to #1: If a fabric looks like you might see it on either scrubs or pajamas, most likely whatever you make with it will look like scrubs or pajamas.
  3. If you want to use a light fabric or just lend your quilting cotton more body, use a lightweight cotton batiste or voile in a color similar to the main color of your fabric as an underlining. (Sewaholic Patterns has a nice tutorial on underlining a dress bodice here. This technique can be used on a skirt as well)
  4. Know that you will crinkle and have fuzz get stuck to you easily. And be cool with it.

The other benefits of sewing with quilting cotton? It sews and presses like a dream :)

Have you had super success or mega fails with quilting cotton clothing? Any tips for those who want to improve their quilting cotton makes?