Sewing Clothes with Quilting Cottons – Part 2

I hope you got to take look at the clothes I made with quilting cottons in Part 1 of this post and learned which patterns are best to pair with them. Now let’s get to my top 5 tips for sewing with quilting cottons, interspersed with pics of these two adorable sets I made for sisters!

Tip #1: Prewash. Many sewists don’t prewash their fabric. I think this is partly because it’s so dang exciting to open that package or bag and no one wants to wait for the washer and dryer. Some fabrics might let you get away with going right from bag to machine but quilting cotton will not, period. Quilting cotton in particular can be confusing because most quilters don’t prewash in order to get that lovely crinkle when their quilt is first washed. That lovely crinkled look is a result of the fabric shrinking, but because the fabric is also sewn together and quilted with threads that hold it in place, the cotton bunches up. Looks great on a quilt, looks terrible on you or your kids. So prewash and dry with the same settings you will use for your finished garment. 

Top: Peony Top Pattern by Tie Dye Diva Patterns made with a Michael Miller quilting cotton (this print out of stock but see Cali’s selection of printed cottons here). Bottoms: Pansy Petal Shorts Pattern made with mustard stretch broadcloth . Both trimmed with eyelet from my stash and a little red ribbon rose because the color and neckline was giving me major Belle vibes.

Tip #2: While Doing Tip #1 … The cut edge of quilting cotton can fray quite a bit in the wash. If you take a moment to serge the cut ends you save yourself a lot of untangling. Some people simply serge across both cut ends, others like to put the cut edges together to form a loop and then serge. The looping technique is especially useful for quarter-yard cuts which tend to wrinkle very badly otherwise.

I could have used regular quilting cotton for the shorts, but I had the mustard stretch broadcloth on hand from another project. A great no-stretch quilting cotton in a very similar color (I know because I have them both) is the Kaufman Kona Cotton in Honey. To be honest, the broadcloth is light and cool but the stretching, especially along the many curves of this pattern was a little annoying! Should have stuck with a no-stretch woven.

Tip #3: No Special Tools Needed. Yay! Just use a universal needle matched to the cotton’s weight (usually an 80/12 will do it) and all purpose thread. Cuts easily with scissors or rotary cutter.

These are the same two fabrics used in a completely different way! This is the Tie Dye Diva Patterns Solana Sundress pattern. You can see all the best things about quilting cottons in this pic – light, breezy, and crisp!

Tip #4: Press As You Go. Again, some fabrics might let you watch Netflix between sewing your seams, but quilting cotton wants a good long steamy press after each seam. It holds a lovely crisp crease and looks so smart. You won’t be disappointed. 

So many of the printed quilting cottons at Cali would make an adorable girl’s sundress! Check out this selection of Robert Kaufman “Darlene’s Favorites” – it features sweet small-scale, feedsack-style prints that are perfect!

Tip #5: Finish Your Seams. Remember what I said about the cut ends fraying … same will happen to seams on your garment, so be sure to finish them with a serger, zigzag/overlock stitch, pinking shears, or use an enclosed seam such as a French seam. 

I hope you’re inspired to pick up some inexpensive, playful quilting cottons for your next garment sewing project! Thank you to @marebearmom on Instagram for the modeled photos of our sets, and please come join us on Insta at @tiedyediva, we’d love to see you there!

Jen H, from Tie Dye Diva

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

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