How To Use Quilting Cotton For Dressmaking

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Want to know how to use quilting cotton for dressmaking?

Quilting cotton often has the best patterns. It is a fun and fearless fabric, making it tempting to wear.

But quilting cotton isn’t the same as apparel cotton. While it is a versatile material, that doesn’t mean it can be used for any old project. Knowing quilting cotton’s strengths and weaknesses first is essential to using it for dressmaking

Quilting cotton can be used for dressmaking. It is an easy-to-use, beginner-friendly fabric perfect for loose and structured garments, such as A-line skirts. However, it is a stiffer material than apparel cotton, making it a poor choice for tight-fitting pieces and long sleeves. 

Quilting cotton gives off a cute and casual vibe that makes sewing fun. It brings color and quirk to projects that might have otherwise looked boring and frumpy. But choose patterns carefully, as cheerful on the bolt can swiftly transform to clownish once worn.

It’s all about understanding quilting cotton’s pros and cons. 

How to use quilting cotton for dressmaking

What Is Quilting Cotton?

Quilting cotton is a medium-weight plain weave made from 100% cotton. They are sometimes sold under the name medium weight cottons.

They are known for their prints, which run the range of adorable, quirky, and beautiful. However, the prints are often made after the fabric is woven, raising the likelihood of being off-grain. 

The fabric is known for its ease of use, thanks to its lack of stretch and stiffness. It is often recommended to beginners. However, it wrinkles easily and lacks drape.  

Quilting Cotton Vs Apparel Cotton

Apparel cotton is only one type of apparel fabric, and as the name suggests, it is made to be worn.

Unlike quilting cotton, it has drape and stretch. In addition, it is typically made at a lighter weight than quilting cotton, making it softer and more enjoyable to the touch. Finally, while apparel cotton wrinkles, they shake out easier and require less ironing. 

Apparel cotton has the human shape in mind when printing patterns.

Even if the prints are not as eye-catching on the bolt, they look good when worn. Quilting cotton does not consider the body; thus, not every pattern will look as good when worn as it does when flat. Apparel cotton is also more likely to be printed on-grain.

PropertyQuilting CottonApparel Cotton
Width44 inches54 – 60 inches
DrapeNot muchYes
WrinkleWrinkles easilyWrinkles, but not as much
EaseBeginner fabricBeginner fabric, but not as easy as quilting cotton
PatternsLarge variety, but not designed for flat quilts, not curvy bodiesPatterns are intended for wear
Print grainSometimes off-grainUsually on-grain

Can I Use Quilting Cotton For Dressmaking? 

A pile of quilting cotton

Quilting cotton is an excellent choice for beginners wanting to make their first dress or other clothing. It is also a fun choice for anyone, provided it is used for a design that does not require drape. Despite being a medium-weight fabric, it is highly breathable, making it a great choice for cute A-lined summer skirts. 

Excellent Clothing Projects For Quilting Cotton

Quilting cotton is best for clothing that stands away from the body and does not require stretch.

It is perfect for A-line skirts.

Other good apparel projects for quilting cotton include A-line shift dresses, structured bodices, jumper dresses, wrap pants, tunics, and aprons. 

Clothes constructed from quilting cotton often give off a “homemade” aura. Think picnics, bar-b-ques, trips to the library, and volunteer chaperons for kindergarten field trips. It’s for cute and fun clothing, a step up from t-shirts and yoga pants, but can be tossed into the wash. 

Clothing Projects To Avoid With Quilting Cotton

Quilting cotton has little stretch or drape.

We think this fabric is a poor choice for form-fitting clothing, especially if you require bend, as needed in long sleeves. Tight, form-fitting pants are also best avoided, as they’ll be uncomfortable and won’t stretch when the wearer tries to sit. Blouses, tops, and dresses can be structured but not form-fitting. So, think shift dresses, not sheath.  

Quilts are known to have a homey, cozy feel. Naturally, the fabric gives off a casual vibe.

Consequently, trying to use the material for prom dresses and eveningwear will lead to disappointment. 

How To Use Quilting Cotton For Dressmaking: 5 Tips

Quilting cotton is an excellent beginner fabric, especially when trying to make clothing for the first time.

However, like any material, there are some good things to know before cutting out the pattern.  

Making a dress with quilting cotton

1. Prewash Quilting Cotton For Dressmaking

Quilting cotton tends to shrink, although how much depends on the quality and brand. How fabric is washed and dried will also impact its shrinkage. You should wash and dry quilting cotton exactly how it will be done once it is an item of clothing. Then there will be no unhappy surprises after its first wear.

An additional bonus: washing softens quilting cotton

2. Use All Purpose Thread

Quilting cotton does best when stitched with all-purpose thread. This is the do-it-all workhorse of the sewing world and is sold anywhere thread can be found. 

3. Use A Universal Needle 80/12

Medium-weight fabrics do best with a Universal Needle in 80/12 or 90/14. But for quilting cotton, the best choice is an 80/12. 

4. Finish Quilting Cotton Edges

Quilting cotton doesn’t fray as severely as some other materials, but it can still happen. Given how much abuse clothing is put through, from wearing it to washing, it’s wise to finish the edges. The sewing world is not united on the best method, but the following all provide satisfactory results:

  • Serging (overlocking)
  • Pinking
  • Clean finish

5. Consider Using A Lining

Certain garments will be more comfortable or look better with a lining.

Quilting cotton can be rough on sensitive skin. Also, some quilting cotton patterns appear solid on the bolt but are pretty transparent when held up to the light. For that reason, comfort and privacy can all be obtained with lining.

Lastly, this will help cut down on static electricity when wearing stockings or tights.

Lining fabrics that work well with quilting cotton include:

  • Cotton Lawn
  • Silk voile
  • Cotton voile

5 Best Clothing Patterns For Quilting Cotton

These days it isn’t hard to find clothing patterns specifically made for quilting cotton. But plenty of general clothing patterns look great in quilting cotton, too. Below are 5 patterns that intrepid sewers have tried in quilting cotton with fantastic results!

1. Orla Dress Pattern With Quilting Cotton

Orla dress quilting

The Orla Dress is charming when made out of quilting cotton. It is loose enough that the fabric’s lack of drape doesn’t cause problems with the look. Taking the sleeves off gives it a slightly more fashionable look. 

2. Betty Dress Pattern With Quilting Cotton

The Betty dress

The Betty Dress is a 1950s casual-glam. Those who have made it with quilting cotton have proved that while the pattern is far from shapeless, it is structured enough to work well with this medium-weight fabric. 

3. Ginger A-Line Pattern With Quilting Cotton

Ginger pattern

The Ginger pattern is a classic A-line skirt. The clean lines that don’t cling to the body are perfect for quilting cotton. It is a beginner to intermediate pattern, so an excellent first-project choice. 

4. Jamie Pajama Bottoms With Quilting Cotton

Pyjama bottoms quilting

Pants and shorts have to be loose to work with quilting cotton.

Thus, cigar pants and quilting cotton are a no. But quilting cotton can make fantastic sleepwear. Sewing goddesses have had wonderful success with this UK pattern Jamie Pajama Bottoms and Shorts. Just remember to convert your size to UK sizes before cutting. 

5. Kalle Shirt & Shirtdress Pattern With Quilting Cotton

Kalle shirt pattern

The Kalle Shirt & Shirtdress Pattern works with a variety of fabrics. With thinner fabrics, it gives a slinky, fluid night look. But with crisper materials, such as quilting cotton, it creates a structured silhouette that is perfect for casual daytime activities. 

Getting Started With Quilting Cotton

Quilting cotton is a fun and easy-to-use fabric. It is an excellent choice for cute and casual outfits that don’t require a soft drape. It is washable, breathable, and durable, perfect for flared summer dresses and adorable spring A-line skirts.

Just remember to check its transparency in sunlight. When in doubt, line it. 

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