To Quilt or Not to Quilt?
Over the years many people have asked the question, “Why do you quilt the fabric for your projects?” In fact, it’s such a common question, Annie recently taught two sold-out lectures on the subject at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, WA. We didn’t want anyone to miss out on this hot topic, so here are some answers to a few of the most common questions people have asked:
A. What’s better – quilted or unquilted?
Choosing whether or not to quilt your fabric is completely up to your own personal preference, and that’s half the fun of making your own bag!
Quilting your fabric can be a really great way to make your bag look professional. It allows you to personalize your project, so it’s uniquely your own. Annie says, “I love the texture and design that quilting produces, and it’s a fantastic way to add a lot of visual interest to your bag!”
Annie goes on to say, “But I also love the unquilted look, especially if I’m using heavier fabrics, or if I want a smoother, more tailored appearance.”
If you’re still not sure which look is right for you, take into consideration the size of the project, what fabric you’re using, and what “vibe” or style you’re going for.
B. Why do you use ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable in your patterns?
We love using Soft and Stable because it adds such great stability and structure to our bags. It makes any bag look professional and well-made!
Annie tells us, “By using Soft and Stable as the stabilizer between the main and lining fabric when I quilt, I'm able to use any fabric, even light-weight fabrics such as quilting cottons, to make my projects.”
She also let us know, “This also saves time when finishing the project because I don't have to add any other stabilizers or interfacings. I can cut out the pieces for my project, sew them together, bind the edges to finish the seams, and I'm done!”
C. Do you have to quilt your fabric if you’re using Soft & Stable?
No. You can still use Soft and Stable without quilting the fabric. Here are the steps we usually follow:
• Carefully smooth the first fabric (main or lining depending on pattern instructions) onto a piece of Soft and Stable which is cut about ½” larger on each side.
• Pin or clip the fabric in place on top of the Soft and Stable and sew around the edges, stitching about ⅛” from the edge. Using a walking foot helps to keep the layers smooth. ByAnnie’s Stiletto and Pressing Tool is also VERY helpful for keeping fabrics from moving and shifting.
• Trim the Soft and Stable even with the edges of the fabric.
• Flip the piece over and sew the other fabric to the other side of the Soft and Stable, again sewing ⅛” from the edge.
D. Aside from style, what are some of the other benefits of quilting your fabric?
Annie told us, “I’m not a big fan of drop-in linings because they can be loose and floppy.” Using quilted fabric eliminates the need for a separate lining.
She also said that quilted fabric can be a bit more forgiving, saying “it can stretch or compress to fit pieces together and its texture makes it easier to hide any necessary ‘easing’.”
E. I like the benefits of quilted fabric, but I’m worried about it looking too feminine. What do I do?
The beauty of making your own bag is that you get to choose the way you want to style it! Fabric color and pattern is key to creating a more neutral or masculine bag, and there is no reason you have to use flowery designs when quilting.
Try something simple, like sewing straight lines or a geometric pattern. Using clean lines will make the bag more neutral, and is perfect for giving your project a classic, timeless look.
F. Okay, I’m sold on quilting my fabric – but is it something I can do myself?
Absolutely! You don’t need a special sewing machine to quilt your own fabric. As with any project, our advice is always to take your time and just have fun with it.
Wherever possible, Annie takes care to design patterns so that pieces to be quilted are in manageable sizes. She also breaks the pieces to be quilted into more than one piece so that you can “chain-quilt” the pieces. This helps save time and makes things easier.
Our patterns, which are designed for using quilted fabric, will give basic quilting instructions so be sure to follow those as you prepare your quilt sandwich and quilt. If you’re new to machine quilting, we recommend stitching straight lines about 1” apart to hold the layers together. Begin in the center and work out to each side, rotating the piece as you go.
G. I still don’t feel comfortable quilting the fabric myself. What do I do?
Don’t worry, you do have other options. Some fabric shops will have pre-quilted fabric to purchase. But, keep in mind, they typically are made with batting, so you’ll lose the benefits of having Soft and Stable as your stabilizer, and may end up with a floppy bag.
If you want your fabric quilted with Soft and Stable, talk to the people at your local quilt shop. Many shops offer long arm quilting services for a fee, or they may know someone in the community who you can hire to do it for you. The internet is also a great resource for finding people in your area who can do the job for you.
Hiring someone with a long arm machine is also a bonus, because they may be able to create a more advanced design or pattern than you could at home. They also will have an easier time quilting larger pieces of fabric, which is great for your bigger projects!
Here’s a money-saving tip from Annie:
Loading the project onto a long arm machine can be time consuming, so most long arm quilters have a minimum charge. Annie quickly discovered that it cost the same amount to quilt a one-yard piece of fabric as a two-yard piece of fabric, so, by quilting a larger piece, the price per yard for quilting was halved!
Having a larger piece of quilted fabric also enables you to get better use of the fabric. For instance, the Ultimate Travel Bag pattern calls for 1½ yards of fabric. With careful placement (which involves turning one pocket sideways), Annie is able to cut TWO bags from two yards of fabric. If you don’t want two of the same bag, use the extra quilted fabric to make coordinating items such as a Travel Essentials set, Ditty Bags, etc.
H. I don’t like the quilted look. Does this mean I can’t make any of your patterns?
Quite the opposite! We have a few dozen patterns written especially for unquilted fabric, but any of our patterns can be modified to be made without quilted fabrics!
Some of our customer’s favorite unquilted patterns are: All Bottled Up, Close At Hand, Daytripper II, Fetch Your Sketch, Glo and Go, iCases, Nesting Baskets, On the Town 2.0, Serenity Shoulder Bag, and The Write Stuff. We also offer a Craftsy class for the Multitasking Messenger Bag, which uses unquilted fabric!
(Scroll down to the bottom to the “related products” section for a full list of patterns using unquilted fabric).
Most of our patterns which are written for quilted fabric can be adapted to be made without quilting. Just skip cutting the larger “to be quilted” pieces from the main and lining fabrics and Soft and Stable.
Skip to the section which directs you to cut the pieces from the quilted fabric. Cut those pieces from the main and lining fabrics and then cut pieces of Soft and Stable which are about 1” wider and 1” taller. Follow the steps in part C above to attach the fabrics to the Soft and Stable and then proceed as directed in the pattern. Easy!
Be sure to comment below. We’d love to hear your opinions and input! In the near future, we’ll be putting together a video series on this subject, so be sure to sign up for our newsletter to be among the first to hear about it: https://www.byannie.com/email-list. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel so you’ll know when those videos become available. In the meantime, you’ll be able to enjoy several of our other great tutorials! https://www.youtube.com/user/byannie1