Are Quilters and Fashion Sewists So Different?

My post a couple of weeks ago on handmade Halloween costumes got me thinking: how many quilters are also sewing fabric to make garments?

quilt sewing garments from quilt market 2014
Garments, home decor and quilts coexist at the International Quilt Market – Houston, Fall 2014.

I’ll bet many of you made a dirndl skirt, vest, or similar garment when first learning to sew. But then you got too busy, or it wasn’t fashionable to make your own clothes, or you were just more interested in making quilts and home décor. And so you happily put away your garment sewing instructions and patterns and started collecting fat quarters and a rainbow of threads.

But now, maybe you have a grandchild you want to sew for, or your teenager wants to make her own clothes (since sewing is ‘cool’ again), or you just can’t resist those fashion fabrics.

For those reasons and more, the line between garment sewing and quilting seems to be blurring. Amber Eden, editor of our sister magazine, Stitch, noticed this trend when she was at Quilt Market in Houston last month and wrote a blog post entitled Can Quilters Sew Garments? about it. Amber was on a Coats and Clark panel there geared to quilt shop owners, providing tips on how to gain the fashion sewing customer:

Every Quilt Market, I see more and more companies catering to the fashion sewists. Many women and men are walking around wearing garments created from these fabrics, and booths everywhere have adorable clothing on display.

I really don’t see the distinction between quilting and sewing that some see. Most of the quilters I know have some fashion sewing in their background, just as fashion sewists like myself have tried their hand at quilting. It’s a fluid boundary, and it’s the pretty fabrics and colors that hook us, however we translate our creativity.

If the attendance at the panel was any indication, lots of quilt shop owners feel the same way, and it was a fascinating topic to explore, especially from an economics point of view. And I think you can expect to find the notions and tools of both sides of this crafting coin in the independent stores more and more.

So, can quilters sew garments? Can garment sewists make quilts? Of course! There is plenty of fabric to go around.

Want to try your hand at fashion sewing? Be sure to check out BurdaStyleUS for patterns, sewing tips, inspiration and more.

P.S. What was your first sewing project? Share in the comments below.

Other topics you may enjoy:

Categories

Quilting Daily Blog, Sewing Techniques

14 thoughts on “Are Quilters and Fashion Sewists So Different?

  1. You know you are quilter when you sew a garment with 1/4″ seams!

    I learned to sew in fifth grade when I was in 4-H. We made elastic-waist skirts out of light green pinstripe, to be our uniforms. Later, in 8th grade home ec, our first project was a triangle headscarf and matching clutch purse. I used gold wide-wale corduroy and gold bandanna print. Forty-five years later: I’ve made many garments and I am back to elastic waists. I like to make patchwork jackets, but the advantage of quilts is that the patterns do not need alteration.

  2. My first project was a set of hand-sewn stuffed rattlesnakes, including the rattle! I must admit that I like quilting over garment-making, in part because I roll up my eyes at how expensive clothing patterns now are.

  3. I began sewing when I was about 11 years old, making doll clothes on my mom’s Featherweight. At that point I was totally hooked on sewing . In 8th grade I took my first Home Ec. classes and continued all the way through Jr. High and High School. In 8th grade we made gathered skirts with a waist band and zipper and button. The next project was a camp shirt with collar, sleeves, pocket and button and buttonhole placket. I have been sewing for myself for about 55 years as well as sewing for my mom and family and others and I now own the Featherweight that started it all. I didn’t start sewing quilts until about 10 years ago and love it as well.

  4. At the age of 10 I made a pair of shorts on a treadle machine. I also made a lot of doll clothes in those years. In Junior High I made the planned apron and skirt, but I was ahead of all that and in High School I got to sew whatever I wanted. I learned some tailoring because of that. After college I worked my way up the staff of a fabric store, so I was sewing constantly. But once I learned to quilt, I slowed way down. Also sewed for my sons for a while. I sew occasionally now, but wish I had more time for I have the nicest fabrics – things you cannot buy anymore.

  5. My first sewing project was to create my own doll clothes without patterns. My grandmother taught me to hand stitch when I was about 8 or 9 and I surprised her with my ability to look at a doll, cut out something and sew it up and it fit. In 5th grade (age 10) I designed and hand stitched my own Batwoman costume. I made a cowl, cape, gloves, and utility belt–all without a pattern. My mother bought a dancer pattern and made me black taffeta short shorts and a short twirlly skirt to complete the outfit. In 8th grade I took Home Ec and finally got to learn how to use a sewing machine. I made a tote bag with a tulip pocket hand appliqued, an A-line skirt and a dress for graduation. In high school I insisted my Home Ec teacher show me how to make flat felled seams and altered a western shirt pattern to recreate a shirt Bobby Sherman wore in his album cover. It was made from heavy white satin with 4 inch fringe across the front and from cuff to cuff all the way across the sleeves and back. I re-purposed used clothing and created my own fashion statements, made a long skirt out of men’s ties ( a surprisingly controversial thing to wear apparently) and began making small simple stuffed animals out of some plush scraps that were given to me. I later made plush quilts as gifts for my entire family from the scraps generated by making stuffed animals I sold at The Portland Saturday Market, consigned to stores and later sold in my own little gift shop.
    I still design stuffed animals (I designed many patterns from giraffes to dragons, to birds, etc.)and sell the patterns on line. I have a shop on Etsy called Fantasy Creations where I sell my patterns.
    I have just begun making art quilts. I am really excited about it and crated an etsy store called MyArtQuiltGallery where I have tiny ATC art quilts for sale now.

  6. I think one of the reasons garment sewers give up sewing garments and turn to quilting to express their creative side is the diaapointment when a well made garment doesn’t fit properly. Knowing how to fit is a very important part of garment sewing.

  7. Home Ec was offered in 10th grade to the girls. We made gingham waist length aprons. The even block weave helped you follow the woven lines when making your ties, waist band, and hem if you cut it on grain! Three buttons sewn on the waistband held a matching terrycloth towel so when you finished you knew how to make a buttonhole and sew on a button. Fun and easy, this was a genious first project-thrusting me headlong into 30 years of fiber art.

  8. In days past I sewed many, many garments for myself, my husband and my children. Today the expense of home sewing is greater than buying garments commercially. “Dress-up” garments probably are the only type where sewing your own could be less expensive than purchasing garments. ….but since (and before) retirement I have enough “dress-up” clothing to last me a very long time.

  9. My first real sewing project after school ocured when I lived in what is now Sri Lanka and began to sew clothes with the help of my co-teachers. We worked on a treadle machine…we had no electricity. I learned to match plaids & create pleats as well as to make blouses, often with bound button holes. Wow, most of these skills became dormant when I began to sew knits for my kids. I am now doing more quilting. It is all fun and creative.

  10. You can tell who among us are of “a certain age” because many of us took home ec and learned how to make an apron or skirt back then. I hated those classes, though later I picked up sewing making “hippie” clothes for myself, then later for my daughter. I started making quilts when the price of casual clothes began to fall in the 80’s. Now I have a serger I no longer know how to use, but have four (!) sewing machines. The latest one, a Brother, cost me more than my first new car! With the advent of Modern Quilting my sewing machines have become far more complex and my quilts far more minimalist… Go figure.

  11. I began sewing by hand when I was somewhere between 6 and 7 years old. We were living up in Cheney, WA, and we moved back to West Richland, WA, right on the other side of a dike on the Yakima River, just about a mile outside of city limits.
    That third grade year I joined 4H/Sewing. This was really fun as this was the time that I was given a Singer Featherweight also and I began to learn how to sew on the Sewing Machine. All of my projects were required to be finished by machine.
    That year I made a black felt rectangular Pincussion, a pair of slippers sewn out of Medium sized washcloths. And thirdly I sewed a pink dresser scarf. (I think this was possibly the easiest project of the three mentioned so far. Then came the Big Project! We were instructed to make a group of items all to be a set with a theme and somehow matching the next four items with eachother. Well, I decided to do my items with a dark blue denim fabric that my Grandmother, a master seamstress, had in her huge fabric stash. In those days she had the basement as her Sewing Room, a space large enough to accomodate her monstrous amount of fabric, machines, as well as patterns and notions and equipment. I loved checking it out over there. So, my four items for this aforementioned Big Project was first a Bulletin Board, a Pencil Holder, a Waste Paper Basket , and finally a Pillow . My theme was Raggedy Ann and Andy! And to tie all four projects together I used the denim fabric and Varogated Yarn throughout all four items and Raggedy Ann puppets made into multi pockets on the front of the Bulletin Board and a little Raggedy Andy doll velcroed inside of the Pencil Holder, and the yarn accented each item!!!
    Well when we completed our projects and our leader was satisfied with our work and the year was over, the summer fair came to town, the Benton-Franklin Counties Fair and Rodeo came to town as well as the carnival! We were to enter all seven of our sewing project items in the 4H barn in the fair. Then came the stress waiting for the judges to judge our section. I don’t remember how long it actually took for the judges to finish, but it just seemed like FOREVER!!! Then it was time to see what ribbons we had received for the third grade year’s worth of work! I went to our section and I immediately saw my Pincussion, slippers, and dresser scarf, which were two Blue ribbons and a Red one, red one on my dresser scarf!!! Not bad, except myself nor my family could find my Big Project anywhere at all!!! So we hunted and hunted and to no avail! My Dad was getting quite angry, so I went to hunt down the judges. Well on my way out the front doorway I turned around and to my surprise, there were my four items !!! They had been moved to the Best of Show cage!!! Wow!!! 4 out of 7 of the items in Best of Show were ALL mine. However due to my age, I did not receive the huge purple Best of Show ribbons, but I did receive Blue ribbons on all four of those items with the words Best of Show hand-written on the tags behind the ribbons!!! Well it was all well worth it!!! And I was the highest prized member of our whole group.
    So the next year, my fourth grade year, I joined 4 h again with the same leader , I really loved and respected her. She was my role model and I shared my problems with her often. Then after completion of my first project of the year, a Quilted Bag, for overnight sleepovers, something horrible happened! I woke up one day only to find out my 4H leader had been in a fatal car crash 9/10 of a mile from my home, crossing the old green West Richland Bridge, and my whole world began to crush like a grape!!!
    So, out of complete despair, I quit sewing for many years, but I often missed it. Then when I was 16 my Grandma, not the seamstress, the other side of the family, she passed away and I fell into Alcoholism and Drug Addiction to ward off the severe depression I felt daily, all day long. Through many sorrows I nearly died many times until I got off of Meth in 2005, stopping my iv drug use.
    Then I moved out to Benton City, WA, for the fourth time, only this time clean off of drugs and alcohol.
    Then, I began learning how to Quilt in Id say 2007. I just love it!!! I remember how I felt back when I was a kid sewing in 4H; I knew it may be something I enjoyed that is a worthwhile thing to learn and get good at and enjoy, both alone and in a group. I have not joined a group, however as my health improves, I am thinking more and more about it!!!
    Sewing/Quilting is my past time now and I have a 17 ft camp trailer devoted to it!!! I love my Sewing Cabby and spend as much time as I can getting things organized out there!!! It is so nice!!! This way if I decide to go say to a Quilting and Sewing retreat nearby, I can always have my Sewing Cabby in the parking lot so I have everything with me!!!
    Now I’m 43 and have been learning how to quilt for around seven years again now!!! I would love to know my 4H Leader can see me now and I hope she is proud also for who I have become and where I’m going now!!!
    God bless and Jesus saves!!!

  12. I began sewing by hand when I was somewhere between 6 and 7 years old. We were living up in Cheney, WA, and we moved back to West Richland, WA, right on the other side of a dike on the Yakima River, just about a mile outside of city limits.
    That third grade year I joined 4H/Sewing. This was really fun as this was the time that I was given a Singer Featherweight also and I began to learn how to sew on the Sewing Machine. All of my projects were required to be finished by machine.
    That year I made a black felt rectangular Pincussion, a pair of slippers sewn out of Medium sized washcloths. And thirdly I sewed a pink dresser scarf. (I think this was possibly the easiest project of the three mentioned so far. Then came the Big Project! We were instructed to make a group of items all to be a set with a theme and somehow matching the next four items with eachother. Well, I decided to do my items with a dark blue denim fabric that my Grandmother, a master seamstress, had in her huge fabric stash. In those days she had the basement as her Sewing Room, a space large enough to accomodate her monstrous amount of fabric, machines, as well as patterns and notions and equipment. I loved checking it out over there. So, my four items for this aforementioned Big Project was first a Bulletin Board, a Pencil Holder, a Waste Paper Basket , and finally a Pillow . My theme was Raggedy Ann and Andy! And to tie all four projects together I used the denim fabric and Varogated Yarn throughout all four items and Raggedy Ann puppets made into multi pockets on the front of the Bulletin Board and a little Raggedy Andy doll velcroed inside of the Pencil Holder, and the yarn accented each item!!!
    Well when we completed our projects and our leader was satisfied with our work and the year was over, the summer fair came to town, the Benton-Franklin Counties Fair and Rodeo came to town as well as the carnival! We were to enter all seven of our sewing project items in the 4H barn in the fair. Then came the stress waiting for the judges to judge our section. I don’t remember how long it actually took for the judges to finish, but it just seemed like FOREVER!!! Then it was time to see what ribbons we had received for the third grade year’s worth of work! I went to our section and I immediately saw my Pincussion, slippers, and dresser scarf, which were two Blue ribbons and a Red one, red one on my dresser scarf!!! Not bad, except myself nor my family could find my Big Project anywhere at all!!! So we hunted and hunted and to no avail! My Dad was getting quite angry, so I went to hunt down the judges. Well on my way out the front doorway I turned around and to my surprise, there were my four items !!! They had been moved to the Best of Show cage!!! Wow!!! 4 out of 7 of the items in Best of Show were ALL mine. However due to my age, I did not receive the huge purple Best of Show ribbons, but I did receive Blue ribbons on all four of those items with the words Best of Show hand-written on the tags behind the ribbons!!! Well it was all well worth it!!! And I was the highest prized member of our whole group.
    So the next year, my fourth grade year, I joined 4 h again with the same leader , I really loved and respected her. She was my role model and I shared my problems with her often. Then after completion of my first project of the year, a Quilted Bag, for overnight sleepovers, something horrible happened! I woke up one day only to find out my 4H leader had been in a fatal car crash 9/10 of a mile from my home, crossing the old green West Richland Bridge, and my whole world began to crush like a grape!!!
    So, out of complete despair, I quit sewing for many years, but I often missed it. Then when I was 16 my Grandma, not the seamstress, the other side of the family, she passed away and I fell into Alcoholism and Drug Addiction to ward off the severe depression I felt daily, all day long. Through many sorrows I nearly died many times until I got off of Meth in 2005, stopping my iv drug use.
    Then I moved out to Benton City, WA, for the fourth time, only this time clean off of drugs and alcohol.
    Then, I began learning how to Quilt in Id say 2007. I just love it!!! I remember how I felt back when I was a kid sewing in 4H; I knew it may be something I enjoyed that is a worthwhile thing to learn and get good at and enjoy, both alone and in a group. I have not joined a group, however as my health improves, I am thinking more and more about it!!!
    Sewing/Quilting is my past time now and I have a 17 ft camp trailer devoted to it!!! I love my Sewing Cabby and spend as much time as I can getting things organized out there!!! It is so nice!!! This way if I decide to go say to a Quilting and Sewing retreat nearby, I can always have my Sewing Cabby in the parking lot so I have everything with me!!!
    Now I’m 43 and have been learning how to quilt for around seven years again now!!! I would love to know my 4H Leader can see me now and I hope she is proud also for who I have become and where I’m going now!!!
    God bless and Jesus saves!!!

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