Re-Use and Recycle: Quilt Panel Addition to a Denim Jacket

First, Find a Denim Jacket

  1. Make sure you like the fit of the jacket. This technique will not alter the fit one little bit!
  2. You will be replacing the back panel (or maybe a shoulder panel if you like) so pay attention to how the jacket is constructed. Some denim jackets have three panels (like my jacket below) across the back, some just one. If your machine can’t handle the double fold seams on a three panel jacket, consider just replacing the center panel between the double fold seams, or try to find a single panel jacket. I have an inexpensive heavy duty Singer sewing machine so I was able to replace the entire back of my jacket from under the arms and side seam to side seam – my machine handles those double denim seams plus the quilt panel easily.

Second, Find or Make a Quilt Panel

Once again, if you already have a quilt you’re willing to cut, you’re ready to go! If not, you could make a quilt panel to fit the back of your jacket. Or, back to the idea of re-use and recycle, check out antique stores, and the same second hand stores you looked at to find a jacket, or you can check out sites like Etsy. That’s where I found my piece of vintage quilt. I do so love rescuing a quilt and making something new and usable with it!

Things to Consider Regarding the Quilt Panel

  1. Measure the jacket panel you will be replacing. Make sure the quilt panel will cover that area.
  2. If you are making your quilt panel, I would suggest washing it before adding it to the jacket. You don’t want the quilt part to shrink and pull at the back of the jacket.

And Third, Let’s Put It All Together!

Cut the quilt panel:

Cut the quilt panel several inches bigger than the jacket panel to be replaced.

Pin the quilt panel to the inside of the jacket:

From the INSIDE of the jacket, place the quilt with the front facing down against the inside of the jacket. Pin the quilt securely, avoiding the area around the jacket seams. You’re going to be sewing from the other side, so make sure the pins are out of the way.

Sew from the outside, following jacket seams:

Take the whole thing to your machine, and with the OUTSIDE of the jacket facing you (meaning the quilt is down on the bed of your machine) sew on the down side of the double fold seams of the jacket. Use thread that matches the jacket, not the quilt.

In the photos below you can see how I sewed with the foot running right along the existing jacket seams. Also I have my needle adjusted all the way to the right so that I can sew as close as possible to those jacket seams (I know that you can’t see that in the photos). If you can’t adjust your needle, it will still be fine – you will just have a little more denim showing at the end. You could try a zipper foot if that would allow you to sew closer to the denim seam.

As I mentioned, if your machine will balk at the heavy seams, just replace that center panel and you won’t ever need to sew across a double seam.

Pivot when you come to a corner, and keep sewing, adjusting the bulk of the jacket as you go. Take your time and go slowly.

Cut away the jacket, exposing the quilt below:

Once you’ve made it all the way around, pull the back of the jacket and the quilt apart a little bit, and make a snip in the denim. Be careful you don’t cut the quilt hiding underneath the denim!

Now you can get your scissors in that snip and cut away the entire back of the jacket (or the whole middle panel, whichever way you sewed your quilt panel). Leave about 1/2″ of the denim.

Finish the denim edges:

There are a few options to take care of the raw edge of the denim. You could use pinking shears around the permitter. Or you could zig zag the denim down like it did. I used a narrow short zig zag, and with the matching thread it kind of just goes away. My stitching here is not just around the edge of the denim, it is through all layers.

Trim and finish the quilt edges:

Now you need to cut away the extra quilt panel, and zig zag those edges too. Put the quilt part down on the machine bed, with the jacket on top – you can gather up the jacket and handle its bulk better with the jacket up. This time, just zig zag around the quilt edges, don’t go through all layers.

The photo above shows both lines of zig zag stitching. Larger stitches used on the quilt edges, and smaller stitches used on the denim edges.

And just like that, you’re all done!

Keep creating! It’s good for you ~Ann

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