6 tips for making a satin quilt

Satin quilts have fascinated me for a while, and I finally decided it’s time to give it a try. Satin has the most beautiful buttery feel to it and is very popular for dressmaking, but many quilters steer away from it – and there are many reasons for this.

It’s completely polyester, and has a stretch to it, making those lovely tight-fitting dresses (that I’ve never been able to wear…but let’s talk quilting). All that stretch can make it difficult to control and it tends to get bulges and folds as a result.

I really wanted to make a beautiful shiny piece, complete with appliqué also in satin. Radiance fabric is very expensive, and for an experiment in using alternative fabrics, it was not my first choice.

Swag border for satin quilt
Intention was to have a swag border
Starting the satin quilt
Mini circles in the edge
The mandala on the quilt
Here you can see the marking issue

It was a steep learning curve, and initially, I was really not happy. I pushed through to the end, and the result is quite good. It is always important not to force yourself into doing something creative. That is my biggest lesson (again).

What I learned while making a satin quilt

Here are a few other things that I learned making this quilt:

  • Stabilise the fabric. To get past the stretch in the fabric, you’re going to use interfacing or some similar stabiliser to prevent the fabric from stretching. I used it on the top layer, not on the back. There was an issue with stretching though as I went through the project, and that has a lot to do with the density of my quilting. And you all know how I like to quilt stuff to death! Next time I’ll be stabilising the bottom layer as well. I used a woven fusible interfacing so that it didn’t make the fabric hard. That would defeat the idea of a lovely soft quilt.
  • Use a small project for your first time. Again, I struggle to go small, as I love big quilts that can cover a wall or a bed. This quilt is just over a meter square, but I did start with a bigger piece that I then trimmed when I noticed the pull.
  • Plan. I don’t plan much, choosing rather to go on instinct and the feel of the design at that moment. This is partly how I ended up with the pull because satin doesn’t like being rolled back and forth on the frame, which is how I work with a mandala-like design. Satin is slippery and even with the stabilising, it does stretch a bit. A light table is definitely in my future. I have used a large window in the past – check out the post on the printables and quilting.
  • Mark your fabric. Honestly, I did try, but my blue marker didn’t show up, and the chalk was not great either. Also, the thin pencil-like chalk pulled the fabric. So I didn’t use reference lines, which meant the circle was quickly not a circle anymore, and my shapes were not following the right angles. Not too noticeable when it’s all done, but I know it’s an issue. I’ve since seen quilters that suggest using tailor’s carbon paper and a tracing wheel to mark a satin quilt. This does mean that you must create a paper pattern before you can start quilting.
  • Rulers with handi grip are gonna ruin the fabric. Satin pulls if you look at it too long…I am exaggerating, but I did remove the handi grip on the rulers that have it because it was like pulling a cheese grater over the fabric. The creative grids rulers’ grip did not do that at all.
  • Contrary to popular tales, you can unpick on satin, you just need to be careful and patient.
Satin quilt mandala
Satin quilt with busy quilting

There you have it. As with all projects, if you’re not in the mood, don’t force yourself to draw, sew, quilt, etc. You’re wasting your time and creating more frustration than you need. When the original idea didn’t pan out I was still determined to make that satin quilt. I think if I’d given it a few more days or started something else first, the results (and my enthusiasm) would have been better.

Happy quilting and lavender greetings


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