Making a Quilted Jean Jacket

Every niece needs a dinosaur jacket. And as the crafty aunt, it was obviously going to have be a quilted dinosaur jacket. However, with all my years of sewing, my clothes making skills haven’t improved along side my quilting skills. It’s those darn sleeves! So, I pivoted to something I had seen on the Reddit interwebs: making a quilted jean jacket. Using scraps and a thrift store jean jacket I found for $3.50, my costs were low. I decided to give it a go.


Making the quilt top

Before I could make anything, I needed to take some measurements. I wanted my quilt to sit just inside the seam the trapezoid on the back of the jean jacket. For the jacket I bought (a child’s XS), the trapezoid was exactly 10″ tall. The top was almost 8 1/2″ wide and the bottom was a smidge over 6″. I sketched out this rough size in my notebook, making sure to make it a little bigger than needed because my measuring wasn’t an exact science.


Then I needed to choose a design. Several months ago I had designed some abstract dinosaurs (Tiny Bop Dinos) but hadn’t been able to design a quilt for them yet. I played around with a couple of the designs and ultimately decided on the pterodactyl and triceratops. This maaaay have been a mistake as my mother thought the pterodactyl was a kite (but a very cute kite), but it’s all sewn now, so I’m rolling with it.


Dinosaur Quilt


Next, I took out my lovely box of scrap fabrics and started looking for pieces big enough to for this project. All the pieces I needed were 2.5″ or 1.5″ tall, so I had a lot of choices. Then I measured out my pieces and began cutting. I cut my pieces so that my entire “quilt” would be 9.5″ x 10.5″, not the trapezoid I had drawn them in. I did this to make sewing the pieces together easier and to give a little more leeway for my excellent measuring skills.


Cutting Dimensons for Quilt



Quilting the quilt top

After I had sew the pieces together, which took like an hour because the quilt is minuscule, it was time to choose how to quilt this all together. Did I want to prequilt the quilt top on batting? Or did I want to sandwich the whole thing to the jean jacket and have a go at it? I decided to prequilt the quilt top to the batting. I thought this would allow me to better hide the excess edges of the quilt top and give the finished jacket a cleaner look.


First, I cut out a piece of batting and then laid it over the trapezoid I wanted to cover on the back of the jean jacket. Then, I trimmed to the batting to the exact size I wanted the quilted bit of the jacket to be. Then I laid my quilt top to over the batting and basted well with stick pins. I completely quilted my mini quilt, switching thread colors to match the rainbow of fabrics I used. I chose to do straight line and stitch in the ditch quilting, because I think the simple and modern design worked well with the modern motif. Once this half quilt (there was no backing) was quilted, I flipped all the quilt top edges around the quilt and sewed about 1/8″ all the way around the edge of the quilt to secure it in place.


Making the quilted jean jacket patch
Squaring off the corners of my quilted jean jacket patch


Quilting the jean jacket

Even doing all of this, my quilt top still some how shrunk in the process of quilting. I thought, if anything, with the straight-line quilting, it would get a little bigger side-to-side, but no. It all shrunk. I was left in a little bit of a conundrum of how to fix it. Sew it on as is with gaps? Somehow shrink the trapezoid? Or resew it? With all the thread changes I had to do, I wasn’t about to resew it. And to me, gaps weren’t going to cut it. I’d have to find someway to shrink the trapezoid.


I found that the stitching around the trapezoid was actually pretty close to the size of my quilted piece, but there was excess fabric in the bulk of the trapezoid. I simply folded a little pinch of this fabric over and pinned it down. It would be completely covered by the quilt top. And when I quilted the quilt on to the jean jacket, it would be completely covered. I basted the quilt top in place (making sure pins were still holding the fold). Then sewed along the 1/8″ outside seam I had last sew in the quilt top, and then sewed in the ditch for all the pieces. I didn’t resew all the 1/2″ lines I quilted, because those weren’t necessary to hold the quilt to the jean jacket.


Shrinking the Jean jacket


The finished quilted jean jacket and what I’d do differently

Here she is!


Quilted Jean Jacket


I think she turned out great, even if she looks like a pink kite and some strange yellow duck dog. Everything only took about 2 evenings of work. It should have only taken one, but I decided to use 1/2″ quilting and switched threads for every fabric I used. And I think it was worth that extra effort in the end.


What wasn’t worth the pain, was using straight/stick pins for all my basting efforts. Honestly, it was dumbest idea and I kept using them. I was poked so many times I had to go through more than a couple band-aids. I usually use safety pins or sew basting to baste, but I think some type of spray or glue basting would be best as its a looser project with no backing.


And, last, but not least, I still have no idea what happened to make my quilted piece shrink more than a quarter of an inch. I’ve been thinking about ways to over come this. Maybe it’s better for the quilt to be a bit bigger and completely hid the trapezoid. Or maybe it would be better to free motion quilt from the inside out and trim the batting once you’ve almost completed the quilting. In any case, I’m happy with the way my dinosaur quilted jean jacket turned out, and I’m sure my niece won’t mind.

Sew on!

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