How to design a quilted vest

Hi everyone,

I am working on a new project: a sleeveless jacket/vest, quilted with freemotion style patterns. Here's the step by step so far.

1. Take your favorite jacket/vest pattern and place it on a cutting board, or anything else with a grid showing. Place a ruler plus measurement tape straight on the pattern (this will be your reference/resizing help line)

2. Make a photo of it and be sure that the grid measurements are showing. Pattern must be straight on the board, photo must be taken in a straight angle, so that the measurements are not skewed or distorted.

3. Open the photo as a Backdrop in Art and Stitch. Draw a straight line over the ruler in the photo, for example from zero to 11.5. Select and Resize that straight line in Properties Panel > tab Transform, so that it becomes the actual size the ruler is showing (in this example I used 11.5). Before hitting Apply look at the percentage of this resizing.
Select the Backdrop by clicking on the Backdrop tool in the Artwork toolbar and resize it by the same percentage (Properties > Transform). Now the background image is the actual size. Make it a little lighter - is easier to trace.

4. Take the Line or Curve tool and trace the pattern piece. Save. I also saved it via menu Tools > Save Custom Shape in my own folder. That way I can make tons of jackets using this "Custom Shape".

Repeat for all pattern pieces.

5. Open a new design page and open the first pattern piece. Start filling with designs! I started by putting some feather designs (from the Custom Shapes Library > folder Judy Allen Feathers) at the edges of the pattern.

6. I opened a photo of my own freemotion work as a backdrop. I am going to trace and draw my freemotion patterns inside my vest pattern and let the computer stitch it for me. That way I am sure that the stitchout is perfect and it will still be my very own freemotion design :)

Your ideas, tips and help how to get my jacket perfect are more than welcome !


Information about Art and Stitch (and a trial version) can be found at


  1. Wow, what a great idea Loes! The ruler in the picture is a fabulous idea for accuracy!
    Can't wait to try it!!!
    Suzanne Burke

  2. Hi Loes,

    A quilted vest adds bulk to a body, so a very thin batting is a must, or how about no batting at all and use only 2 layers of fabric. Some quilted vests with thin batting in them are very stiff and very hot to wear. Even if you use flannel as the batting it may add too much bulkiness. I would quilt the vest with just the top and bottom layer of fabric, it will have more drape to it and be cooler. As for the darts, I would not quilt in those areas as it will be too bulky once the dart is made. Can you program ANS to not stitch in the dart area? What an excellent idea for a webinar.
    Cheers, Nadia

  3. HI Nadia,

    Yes I can leave the darts open in Art and Stitch. I was not sure how precise the total pattern is after quilting, because of the shrinkage. I plan to quilt over all edges and place the pattern over the finished fabric after it is taken off the system.
    No batting at all... would that give sufficient quilt "poof" effect?

  4. Yes, shrinkage will happen to a degree, depends on how dense your quilting will be. I would quilt over all the edges too and then cut your pattern out from the quilted yardage. Without any batting you will not get that 'poof' effect, just visible quilted design/lines...and with your choice of thread, it may still look quite stunning. You have to decide what would best suit your needs...if you want to showcase the quilting and actually see the dimension, then yes you do need some kind of batting. Perhaps a nice satin fabric for the outside with low loft batting inside will give you the dimension of the quilting you may be looking for. Satin looks wonderful quilted up. I've quilted a denim jacket with a light cotton fabric as the lining and it was pretty stiff. I do have a few vests planned for my longarm too, just haven't gotten around to do them. Heather Purcell from Superior threads had a jacket quilted a while ago and she posted the info on her blog. Please keep us posted with your progress, I may just have to make a vest too to see how it turns out!

    Cheers, Nadia