DIY Denim Jacket with Quilted Back

Learn how to customize a thrifted denim jacket by adding a quilt top to the back! This tutorial will walk you through the materials and process of customizing your own jacket.

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Today I’m excited to share my favorite recent fall make, a quilt back denim jacket! This trip flip was so easy thanks to my Baby Lock Ballad sewing machine. Since the weather is cooling, it’s the perfect time to customize your own denim jacket since they are great for layering. Keep reading to learn tips and tricks to sewing a quilt block to the back of a denim jacket.

While visiting one of my favorite local vintage markets, I stumbled upon this amazing 80s Esprit jacket. It was faded and a bit stained but the fit was perfect, oversized in the best way. It had a hand sewn pink beaded patch on the back, which I removed and saved for a project for my sparkle-loving daughter. I took the jacket home and soaked it over night in a washer full of Oxy-Clean and got a few of the stains out immediately.

Whenever I visit thrift stores, I usually have a particular item or category in mind and try to stick to that. After finding the jacket, I focused on finding a vintage quilt block or quilt top. And the stars must have been aligned that day because I found this adorable vintage quilted pillow cover for less than $10! The mustard yellow rick rack sold me and I quickly brought this one home and also gave this a good soak overnight.

If you don’t want to use an existing quilt top, you can definitely piece your own quilt. This is a fun way to use your favorite quilt block pattern or use up scraps and do an improv quilt.

Once both the pillow cover and jacket we washed, I got to work with my seam ripper. First, using it to unpick the outside seams of the pillow cover and separate the front and back panels. After they were separated, I gave it a good press with a steamy iron.

Next up I used the seam ripper to remove the inner row of top stitching on the top and bottom of the back of the denim jacket. Since this was a 80s style jacket it had a pleated back and didn’t have top stitching on the back sides of the center back panel. Most jackets do, however, and you would want to remove that row of topstitching as well.

I used both spray basting and pins to position the quilt top on the back of my jacket.

Next, I used my favorite washable markers to mark the top and bottom of the jacket plus about 3/8″ of an inch. Then I used fabric scissors to trim the quilt top along the lines I just drew.

Then I carefully tucked the top and bottom of the quilt top under the open denim seams. Since this jacket has a pleated back, I chose to fold the left and right sides of the quilt top under to meet that seam. If your jacket has a flat back panel, you would also mark the left and right sides with a marker where the top stitching begins, plus about 3/8″.

Once everything was in place, I got sewing! Thread your machine with a matching topstitching thread in the upper thread and a neutral, matching regular thread in your bobbin. Then swap your needle for a new, jeans needle since you will be sewing through multiple layers of denim. Lastly, I increased the stitch length to 3 for the top stitching to mimic the existing stitching.

My Ballad sewing machine included the Compact Digital Dual-Feed Foot which has quickly become my go-to accessory when sewing anything thick like denim or lofty like a quilt. This foot allows the machine to glide over even the thickest fabric (up to 7.0 mm) like a dream. Pair this with a jeans needle and top stitching thread and you’re set up for success when altering any denim jacket or jeans!

After sewing the quilt top on all four sides, I chose to follow the lines where it was pieced and topstitch those as well.

I completed the jacket with a secret “Thanks It’s Vintage” label under the collar!

I’ve been wearing it non-stop! I just love the way this turned out and my machine and digital dual feed foot made this thrift flip just so easy. I cannot wait to see how you customize your own denim jackets this season.

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