Sewing Apparel Fabrics -Don’t Fear the Cuddle!

You should see how much quilting cotton I own. Shelves and shelves. It’s easy to find and to sew, doesn’t shift around or stretch when you don’t want it to, and it doesn’t require any special sewing tools. Because most my sewing patterns at Tie Dye Diva Patterns are for children’s clothing and designed for beginning seamstresses on up, I recommend, and use, quilting cottons for many of my patterns. They are perfectly appropriate for many kinds of children’s clothing, like dresses, rompers, shorts, and bloomers.

But, they’re not right for everything. They don’t drape well so some designs can look boxy, they don’t have the weight needed for durable pants for active kids, they don’t stretch, they are limited in warmth, and while they come in many amazing prints, they lack texture that can give an outfit interest.

So I jumped at the chance to blog with Cali & Co. and explore their dazzling array of apparel fabrics, with just a little trepidation since I have been working with ‘the easy stuff’ for so long! These adorable Back to School outfits are made entirely with apparel fabrics from (with the exception of the white tee on the model. Got lazy there.)

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So I’ll be breaking down my ‘adventure with apparel fabrics’ into a few posts and tell you how it went and some things I learned along the way.

Well it makes sense to start with that cute fur vest, yummy right? Though, it’s the longest story and was the least successful of the five Back-to-School pieces.

(I later swapped out the frog closure for a self-dressing friendly big button.)

The pattern I used is our (free-to-Facebook-Group-members) Open Back Top pattern for Girls, worn backwards. I adjusted the back neckline (formerly the front neckline) just a little higher to make it look like a traditional back neckline, but made no other adjustments.

The fabric is black chinchilla Cuddle fur, lined with a silver satin designer lining with a repeat crown motif.

Yep, experimenting with a pattern drafted for cottons, to be worn backwards, made from a slinky, drapey faux fur and a slippery poly satin. In my notes under “special tools needed” I write: “glass of wine”.

The Cuddle fur is a soft, textured, medium-pile fur with a slinky, drapey backing. The pile isn’t quite as long as what I usually would think of as ‘faux fur’ but much more than regular Cuddle/Minky fabric. I was undecided at first whether to treat it as a faux fur and trace/cut from the backing side or just have at it with the rotary cutter and deal with the potential mess. I opted for the easy way (no surprises there). I did trace the pattern back full size onto newspaper rather than try to cut on fold and for both pieces used my – ahem – fancy pattern weights that just might resemble butter knives instead of using pins. I am very sensitive to little bits of fuzz and fluff and fabric dust in the air (asthma, yay), so I kept the vacuum cleaner and lint roller close at hand.

See the fuzz? Not too bad at all! Just be sure if you decide to vacuum along the cut edges that you have a *really* firm grip on the rest of the piece because otherwise you just might suck the whole thing up into the vacuum bag and then have to de-lint and de-fuzz and de-dust it all over again, which may or may not be firsthand advice. After cleaning up the edges, I lint-rollered the surface and the rest of the process was really quite clean and nothing to fear.

The satin liner fabric was a little shifty but not too bad, I cut it using the same method as the cuddle fur.

For “pinning” the pieces, I used not pins but wonder clips, lots of them! A necessity, made this all so much easier than pinning, plus the satin is tightly woven and not pin-friendly or forgiving of pin holes.

One more “special tools” necessity – walking foot. When you are sewing two fabrics together, a walking foot grips the top layer so it moves at the same speed as the bottom layer that is being moved along by the feed dogs. Out of habit, I sewed the first part of the seam with the satin side down, figuring I didn’t want the stretchy fur near the feed dogs. It did not sew very smoothly, and since the walking foot was preventing the fur from stretching anyway, I flipped it over fur-side-down and the rest sewed with no problem.


I sewed per the pattern but understitched rather than topstitched. Tried the vest on my model and – drat. The front edges kept rolling outward so the liner was showing. The liner also seemed a little loose inside.

I took in the side seams of just the liner a little and the rolling issue on the front edges was improved but not fully corrected – you can see it flipping out a little in the photos. On a second go if I were determined to use this same experiment at using the Open Back Top pattern, backwards, for a fur vest, I might redraft the front edges to drop straight down rather than angle and see if it’s the shape/bias of the angles causing the rolling problem and also cut the liner a little smaller all around to pull the fur to the liner side.

My takeaway: Don’t fear the Cuddle! The mess was minimal and sewing was easy with the right tools, and with a pattern designed for the fabric, this project might have been a total success instead of “adorable, but don’t look too close”.

Special tools/notions needed: ballpoint needle, 100% polyester thread, walking foot. Vacuum cleaner, lint roller, wonder clips. Glass of wine optional.

Jen’s line of PDF sewing patterns for children is at and she blogs here.

Jen H, from Tie Dye Diva

Jen creates PDF format sewing patterns for women, children and babies at

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41 thoughts on “Sewing Apparel Fabrics -Don’t Fear the Cuddle!”

  1. Awesome blog, really appreciate the pics. A random fact about myself is that I can spend countless hours organizing things so that it looks like the way I want.

  2. Aha, when I saw the first teaser picture I thought “Is that the Open Back Top pattern?”, and sure enough! It does look really cute with the frog closure but I can see how a button would be easier for the kids.

  3. I sew mostly for dolls (7″- 26″) and always find lining fur (or velvet) a bit challenging. :o)

  4. My first venture into knits stemmed from a very fruitful trip to califabrics!! I was able to buy tons of knits affordably and make mistakes without the guilt. I LOVE this little vest. My daughter would totally love it.

  5. Love the fur vest! Will have to try with some of the crazy colored fur, my 3 year old would LOVE it for her wacky wardrobe!

  6. I can’t wait to read about that skirt. That fabric is gorgeous. Love the vest too. Perhaps next time using a liner closer in color up the cuddle would help mask any rolling outward.

  7. I want this vest for myself! I do actually plan to make one for myself this winter. Thanks for the walking foot tip! And I suppose I’ll have to swap out that glass of wine for a mug of beer. 😉 Cheers!

  8. Thanks for the great post! I’m a long-time quilter and I want to get into more apparel sewing. Your post gives me courage. And I appreciate the tip about the wine. 🙂

  9. I’m loving this vest, even if the liner was a problem. I wonder if tacking it down in spots would take care of the problem. It could be done without it showing through the fur.

  10. Very informative! I love the quilting fabrics they are so pretty! I’ve not ever had much interest in using fur but I might have to rethink that after seeing this vest, how cute!

  11. Very cute! I tend to stay away from fur, but now you just never know! I look forward to finding some boy bottomweight fabric– so hard to find!

  12. Sewing for kids is so much fun,, especially when they love the pieces!
    Something random about me is that my lucky number is 7. I am the 7th child in my family, born in the 7th month, I taught elementary school for 7 years, then middle school for 7 years!

  13. I wish I would have had those clips when I was sewing for my daughter. Great idea, wonderful pattern.

  14. Cute clothes. I used to make my daughter’s clothes when she was in early elementary. She was the best dressed kid in school. We were poor, but even the daughters of doctors and more well to do people wanted me to make their clothes. LOL

  15. oops! Lost my comment somehow. As I was saying, I loved making clothes for my daughter when she was in early elementary school. She was the best dressed kid in school! LOL
    I’m not sure if this is the right place to enter the $100 giveaway, but I’ll add the random fact about myself. I’m a retired teacher and a quilter. Thanks for the chance to win the giveaway! 🙂

  16. Cute outfits! Great post Jen! The very first pdf pattern I purchased was a TDD one and I still use it now 🙂

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