Ohio Star Quilt Coat

By | November 4, 2022

Oh, this coat. (And yes, it’s really a jacket, but doesn’t have the same ring, does it?) So, if you haven’t heard, quilt coats are *a thing.* Loved, despised, sowing chaos in both the sewing and quilting worlds, there’s quite a lot of backstory to this style of garment. Inspired by a friend’s absolutely gorgeous quilt coat, I decided I wanted to try this trend. That said, I wasn’t ready to cut right into a vintage quilt. There are so many opinions out there about whether and when it’s appropriate to repurpose a quilt, and I ducked right out of all of it by creating something original that was quilt-inspired.

Unsolicited Fashion Tip: Always coordinate your handmades to the foliage

I’m a huge fan of traditional quilt blocks — classic, bold, and very graphic. I was drawn to the Ohio Star for its graphic simplicity and dynamic look. So many angles! Such a sense of movement! Turns out, the Ohio Star has some great history behind it, but I’ll admit, that was secondary to the look of it. Instead of making an array of blocks, I wanted a Statement: just one big-ass block centered on the back. This coat is all about paying homage to American quilting, and the creativity and resourcefulness that has driven its craftswomen for centuries (and craftsdudes, of course). One additional patch on the front completes the adornment.

Turns out, those 1/4″ seams are not for the faint of heart. There are definitely some bobbles and misalignments in this coat. One would think that by focusing on one major block, it would be reasonable to be error-free. One would be wrong. This block was, for a quilting novice, a surprising challenge. I decided to leave in any, uh… eccentricities, both for the sake of enjoying the process and to remind me that growth is a process. Our skills get better, and our mistakes are part of earning those skills. Perfection is not the only path to completion.

The color palette was a flash of inspiration — I wanted something neutral-ish but striking, and navy, cognac, and ivory are some of my favorite neutrals. I love the combo, but seriously, there is just too much navy on this jacket. I like the look of it, but as the wearer, I look down and see oceans of blue, and not much patchwork. It’s not as much a joy to wear as I anticipated.

A lot of thought was put into the actual quilting process: what did I want to show on the inside? What direction should the quilting run? What would weigh things down and what would accentuate the star pattern? I went with diagonal rows for front and back, and vertical lines for the sleeves. I also added topstitching to all components of the blocks, which was a lot of work, but the kind of work that makes you love something more.

I fussed around a lot with this pattern, editing and changing to make it just what I wanted. It was a process! I figured I would tear through this project, no problem, but dudes, this took so many weeks. So much thread changing! So much measuring and remeasuring! So much trying it on and realizing, oh shit, this is not at all what I was going for…

Which, really, sums up the project. This is one of those sewing projects you think will be AMAZING, and then… it’s just not. I was pretty bummed when I finally put it on. It felt bulky, the seams weren’t handled as delicately as I planned (so. much. bulk.), my quilting was pretty wavy, it was just so blue, and it just didn’t fall right. Bummer.

Wavy quilting lines? I prefer to call them “pre-crinkled”

But then fall arrived, pretty much overnight. And this coat was EXACTLY RIGHT. Not too heavy, just the right amount of cozy. And not boring, but not so precious that I can’t just wear it to take the pup out for a walk. Plus, the giant pockets hold it all: cell phone, mittens, pup gear, tennis balls — you name it, it fits. And even the ocean of navy has worked in my favor. A few muddy paw prints will not destroy this quilt coat — and it’s softening up with washing, which happens more frequently than I planned. (The pup is still learning not to jump.)

Close up of puppy prints, I mean, the patchwork. The patchwork, of course

A few things I would do differently next time:

  • Longer sleeves. I wanted them to not be fussy — no getting caught in the stove burner or catching on things. But they’re just a bit too short.
  • Double batting in the collar. That’s where I want my warmth! It might not accomplish what I imagine, but it’s a bit limp as is, compared to the rest of the jacket.
  • Shorter, and just, smaller. I’m swimming in this jacket — a slightly shorter version might be a touch less cozy, but I’d feel less like a walking coat.
  • Serge edges before sewing. I planned on adding lovely bias tape to all the seams, like I’ve done with other jackets, but this coat just wore me out and I only added it where necessary. It was a serious challenge to serge the rest of the edges once the sewing was complete.
  • No hand-tying needed. I spent too much time tying off my topstitching. Backstitching would look slightly less lovely, but honestly, would be a more reasonable and sturdier choice.
  • Slow down the stitching. I learned (after the fact) that when quilting, use the slowest setting for the smoothest stitches. I’ve got some waving along the stitching that is less obvious after washing & crinkling a bit, but I’d be happier if it had been smoother to start.
Perfect for pumpkin patches and cornfields!

My true love really appears to be making fussy outerwear that does not conform to expectations. Mission accomplished, my Ohio Star homage!