This post’s project is a long-time dream finally come true…and it has turned out to ever more wonderful than I ever imagined it could become. Here is a winter weather item that actually makes me look forward to the colder season!
For a good number of years, refashioning damaged or unwanted quilted pieces of all eras, sizes, and usages has been a strong trend, so this idea has been on my mind for far too long. I had to eventually try such a thing out for myself! Thus, I was ecstatic when an old bedspread of ours needed to be downgraded from being in our sleeping quarters to the scrap pile due to some tears, holes, and stains. The opportunity to sew my own quilt coat had come. This plays into the theme of my previous post (here) where I talked about how to give a glow up to something you already own so that it can benefit you in some positive way at no cost to your wallet. Here is another fine example of my point!
My quilt coat is also another example of something I am very proud of that was made just before the end of last year, just like the dress from my last post, as well. Yes, I will be catching up on 2022 projects for the next few posts, so bear with me. The bedspread I used was not antique, but perhaps about 15 years old and had just been decommissioned earlier in ’22 . Then, when the “Sew (Outerwear) Together for Winter” sewing challenge was announced for November, I realized I now had an impetus to take on this coat project asap. The bedspread did take up a lot of room in my fabric stash area and I wanted to instead see it taking up useful space in the closet in between being worn on my back.
It was amusing how our son was quite confused, in a way unlike for any other project he has seen me make, when he saw me trying my coat on for the first time. ”Wasn’t that from your bed?” he said disturbed. Nothing is safe in the house now that I am branching out to sew with other things beyond fabric. Anything really can be material. I have made a few bed sheet dresses (posted here, here, and here), so maybe that was the beginning point for where I am now at. Who knows…maybe next I will be cutting up curtains! Sewing is a slippery slope to finding all sorts of fun and creativity.
FABRIC: a cotton quilted bedspread
PATTERN: Simplicity #4032, year 2006
NOTIONS NEEDED: I had all I needed on hand – thread, vintage bias tape packs, a hook and eye, and one covered button blank set
TIME TO COMPLETE: This coat took me a total of 6 hours from cutting out to finish. It was completed at the end of November 2022
THE INSIDES: cleaned up and zig zagged over for no fraying edges (as you can see in the picture at left)
TOTAL COST: Nothing!!!
Now, let’s get into some terminology before I dive into talking about my actual coat. A quilt isn’t always for the bed but a bedspread is always quilted. Key differences between a bedspread and comforter is the level of warmth they provide. Comforters are made to provide insulation and warmth during cold months, while bedspreads are much more lightweight and breathable making them ideal for warmer conditions. Meanwhile, a blanket is a generic term that refers to almost any bed covering thicker than a sheet, including quilts, duvets, and comforters. Confusing, am I right?
This is why – for as much praise as I will heap upon this creation and as much as I love to wear it – this coat does not keep me warm, only cozy in the winter. It is great for transitional seasons like Fall and Spring when it is moderately chilly. However, anything near to actual cold temperatures and all the terminology listed above explains why I lose all my body heat. A quilted bedspead is breathable, and a good outer layer, but does not keep me insulated. The benefits it provides on a bed in a heated house to keep me snug on a chilly night do not work the same when out in the elements. There is nothing with this coat to actually keep my body heat from escaping and giving me a chill when I spend too much time out in the near freezing temperatures.
I must admit, though, that I am sensitive to being cold, and am not one to survive the winter season in a heavy sweater, light jacket, or exercise hoodie. I need an actual puffy, furry, or woolen winter coat. Worn alone as the sole outer layer, this is comfortable for me only for chilly weather. It is a fancy equivalent to a heavyweight sweater. Luckily, my town has a great variety of temperature swings all year round and I can wear this on our mild ‘warm-up’ days in the heart of January. Yay! I have been keeping this coat out of the closet where I can see it because I am not over the beauty of it but also I want to keep it as available as possible.
If I would have lined my quilt coat, this issue of its warmth factor would have probably been either resolved or partially amended. Yet this bedspread was reversible and is just as pretty underneath as it is on top. All I had to do was make sure I kept my inner seams clean and the inside of my quilt coat was guaranteed to be lovely keeping it unlined. Besides, why complicate things? There is a beauty and benefit to keeping things simple. After all, this was my first go at the quilt refashion, and so I didn’t know how this project would sew up or if it would turn out, or that it may need a lining. After years of paying attention to how other makers finish their quilt coats, I have seen both lined and unlined ones almost as equally. It really doesn’t matter either way. The beauty I appreciate with every quilt coat is their individuality…no two are the same and each one is as uniquely a work of art as the person who made it.
My first quilt coat ended up being better than what I had hoped for as it is, even with the reduced warmth level. Yet, even if it hadn’t ended well, the experience I had making it is everything. I have worked with a pre-quilted cotton batting fabric before, both times as a lining layer for warmth – first for this 1940s jerkin vest and then inside this Burberry style plaid coat. I found that a real quilt was actually much easier to sew and work with than that material. Now that I have one quilt refashion under my wing, I have realized all sorts of tricks (which included having to pull out the old, bunched up stuffing from around the seam allowance) and taken many mental notes. I don’t regret anything here (which is big for as hard as I am on myself) and feel very happy with my methods, but next time I am prepared. Yes, I will be taking another go at this at some point in the future! Now I just need to wait for the next serendipitous quilt acquisition to come my way, and in the meantime work on some more little projects for the rest of the quilt scraps. I’m considering a historical inspired vest, a purse or tote bag, and maybe a sunglass case. We will see!
The pattern I used was something I have been badly wanting to try out since it was released in 2006. That is awhile to wait on trying out a pattern, right?! It is every bit as wonderful as I had anticipated it would be. I chose view A. The overall coat’s sizing was perfectly spot on, the various options for different collars, hem panels, button closings, and added details are all appealing, and it was so easy to make. I highly recommend this pattern and see no reason why it needs to be a “fleece only” design. A nubby boucle, and mid-weight suiting, or even a sweater knit I think would all suit this pattern. If using a fabric other than a fleece, however, you do need to figure out on your own how to finish the edges. I chose a thin ¼ inch vintage 1980s pack of matching blue bias tape along the collar and hem edge. No interfacing or fiddly facings are even necessary here, as my quilt coat is entirely one layer. I will definitely be coming back to make another view of this pattern in the future.
I wanted a pattern with minimal darts and simplified lines so as to let the quilt paneling shine and this pattern was perfect for fulfilling my requirements and giving me room for creative placement. Two out of the four quilt corners became the chevron sleeves. The collar was cut from the edging border. The decorative round middle part of the quilt was centered over the back panel. Finally, the front body pieces were cut from one of the four large medallions that were around the center of the quilt. It was quite a balance to try to find a creative vision that complimented overall yet also avoid the stains and tears in the quilt. I had to draw a few of my own balance marks and points of placement to try and find some symmetry as I was cutting out each piece single layer. I am head over heels with the intricacy of combining the curves, the points, and straight lines. My math loving heart is pleased with all the geometry.
My styling inspiration was 1984 Ralph Lauren. He had his winter collection that year to have cozy sweaters, romantic blouses, and quilted blazers and skirts. His was the high end interpretation of the frontier or prairie look that was popularized since the late 70s through other lines such as Betsey Johnson, Jessica McClintock’s Gunne Sax, and Laura Ashley. I wanted to channel that in a small degree. I was happy that I actually had a ‘me-made’ skirt already made to perfectly call to mind the Ralph Lauren aesthetic. The skirt has been posted already (here). It’s a favorite staple piece from my wardrobe, so much so that it is starting to both fade and wear out by now!
To complement the aesthetic, I am wearing a reproduction Victorian blouse, complete with a dizzying amount of pintucks and lace, which I bought in the 1990s along with the floral abalone shell brooch at my neck. My earrings are a little something I made myself in the 90s, as well. They have sterling silver ear wire and a duo of blue glass seed beads above and below an orchid tone fiber optic bead. They were a drop earring which was simple and sweet enough to ease me in dangling earrings as a teenager!
This refashion has helped me gain a greater respect all the vision and the time that goes into quilts. I have not yet made a quilt beyond a small basic one made of squares of scraps leftover from the dresses and costumes my mom made me as I child. I sewed this little quilt as a preteen simply for my dog’s enjoyment. Neither am I inclined to make a quilt myself at the moment, but we do have my husband’s Grandmother’s old quilt frame…so who knows what is in my future! I do have enough scraps of fabric, for goodness’ sake!
For now, I am content to admire all the existing quilts out there, and keep my options open for the possibility of another quilt refashion in my future. I still prefer quilts to be on a bed where I can both fully appreciate their warmth and their details can be on display. However, now that I know what can be done with a damaged one, I will be more than happy to rescue any quilt that has seen better days and needs a new lease on life.