A Decent Blouse from Quilting Cotton

For PatternReview weekend, there’s a contest to make a Hawaiian-style shirt. I was going to pass, since I don’t normally wear a boxy shirt and I didn’t have a suitable pattern or fabric at hand. Then I remembered I had this:


It’s an Indonesian cotton batik left over from a quilt I made maybe 15 years ago. Do I dare break the “No sewing apparel with quilting cotton” rule?


Yes! It turned out pretty well – a bit stiff, as to be expected with such fabric. But not bad! The purple buttons were an inspired choice – salvaged from a skirt I made at least 10 years ago.

“Wait!” you may be thinking, “I sew with quilting cotton all the time. What’s the big deal?”

IMHO, quilting cottons typically are not great choices for clothing because of the drape, texture and lack of stretch. They’re simply not made to  be worn. Plus, the prints tend to disappoint – they’re often not on grain, and charming prints for quilts tend to cloy in clothes.

I get the appeal. For lots of sewists, quilting cottons are all that’s available locally. And, they’re generally cheaper than apparel cottons. Besides, who can resist tie-dye dolphins?

Never say “never,” but proceed with caution – that’s my advice.

Pattern choice is key. This is Maria Denmark’s “Edith” blouse. It’s a good choice for a quilting cotton because it’s sleeveless, the front facing requires some structure and the pattern doesn’t need fabrics that drape. This is a pretty fitted blouse, with bust darts and big fish-eye darts in the back and front, so if you can’t get the fit down in a quilting cotton, there’s nowhere to hide. I think I did pretty well, although there’s excess fabric above the bust to deal with.

The batik is high-quality, printed on grain. It has a right side and a wrong side, but they’re pretty similar – the wrong side is pictured on the top/right of the swatch sample shown above. Look closely and you can see little dots of dye that don’t appear on the right side (bottom/left).


The armholes are a bit tight and pull a bit across the back. This might be a fit issue, or it might be happening because there’s no give at all in this fabric.

Anyway, it’s fun and I am ready to party in it at PatternReview Weekend in Stratford, ON Canada in June!

Author: shoes15

I live in Connecticut, USA with my husband and my dog, in an old house outfitted with a sewing room, a garden, an orchard, and a big liquor cabinet.

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