Tamarack jacket

All last fall and this spring I found myself reaching for a transitional jacket that didn’t exist – have you ever had that happen? I hoped my missing layer would be warm but not too heavy, with full-length sleeves, and easy to wear with jeans. I picked the Grainline Tamarack right away. However, I stalled on choosing fabric and made zero steps towards a finished jacket until September, when a bighearted friend gifted me her leftover wool in the perfect color, weight, and yardage. Hooray! This justified my spending philosophy – when in doubt, go without.

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Obviously it helps if your friends are the perfect combo of generous and tasteful! The wool is Rag & Bone and I know she got it at Mood – this wool seems similar (different color though), so I’m guessing it’s wool twill? Anyway, it’s gorgeous stuff, very soft and cooperative. The lining is quilting cotton from Gather Here. It’s a bit staid, but I’m happy with my choice. I almost picked a geometric pattern, but I’m really glad I didn’t, as my lining got wibbly while quilting and it’s much less obvious on this organically marked pattern.  

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Oh the quilting! It was prolonged! I’m freshly impressed by anyone who’s ever quilted a quilt on a traditional sewing machine, as I was struggling with these relatively small panels. I used black masking tape to mark my quilting lines. Actually, I only marked two at a time, since I’m a complete tape accountant (poor Professor Boyfriend has more than once been forced to defend using 1” of Scotch tape when ½” would do). It kept me moving – tape, sew, stand, measure, move the tape, sew, repeat…

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I planned my diagonal lines to move consistently around my body in one direction, since I knew I didn’t have the skills to match a perfect chevron and I worried than an imperfect one would give me the screaming jeebies. The lines are about 1 ¼” apart, and I can safely say “about”, because I surrendered perfection there pretty quickly. I think of these vertical lines crossed by diagonals as shortbread slices or pieces of brownie crisp. That is the full and detailed explanation of how I chose that design. Now you know!

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After wearing this a few times I leaned over a chain-link fence to holler at a student and ripped a hole in my finished coat! But I’d used up my coordinating thread – one spool to match the shell and one spool to match the lining, perfect amount, no leftovers. Instead of buying another spool (are you surprised? Did you read the tape thing?) I went with this coordinating tone.

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To mend, I poked a piece of fusible webbing into the hole with a wide needle, ironed it in place to discourage fraying, and stitched a big wide bartack over the whole mess. It’s okay. It’s part of the story of the coat now. And it was difficult to get riled up about a wee hole after the whole pocket debacle.

Oh, what pocket debacle?! I’m glad you asked!

There’s a part in the Grainline directions – after a dozen hours of quilting, when you’re about to sew a welt pocket, and after hand-basting all the pocket markings like a good girl – when you’re instructed to snip very, very carefully through the finished front panel, because if you mess up and snip too far then you’ll ruin your coat.

WELL, I SNIPPED TOO FAR.

AND RUINED MY COAT.

KIND OF!!

Pocket 1, I sewed and snipped and turned, only to find my welt flapping free. The long raw edge was attached but the two short folded edges and the long folded edge of the welt were just hanging loose on the front of my coat. It looked fine otherwise so I just hand-stitched the short edges down and followed the rest of the instructions as normal. Pocket 2, I had a tricky decision – do I sew the pocket to match my first, wrong pocket exactly, or do I sew it right?

I did what any sensible person would do which was accidentally and irreversibly cut my welt opening a full half-inch wider than my welt flap. AND the short edges were loose. AAACK. In the moment, I became very calm and philosophical and just sort of wandered away. When I came back, Prof. BF helped me brainstorm and suggested a little coordinating tag of the lining fabric to cover the excess opening. Bing!

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Later I thought about adding a rivet or a snap to make it look even more deliberate, and chose a snap. It’s kind of stupid but it also makes me laugh – that snap is functional.

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Despite my self-created drama and, in my opinion, the ungenerous seam allowance at the top of my pocket, they’re still totally pockets. Be warned, though. If my fabric was any thicker I would not have been able to turn or stitch that top seam allowance, the one usually concealed by the welt flap. It might be user error but something to pay attention to all the same!

I sewed the first pass on all my bias binding by machine and the second pass by hand. It seemed simplest. I also stitched my bound pocket bags to the lining so they wouldn’t flap around. Actually, the most unexpected time suck was just fiddling the mitered corners on the front into place, and even at A FULL FIFTEEN MINUTES per corner, some are better than others. In general, though, the hand-sewing didn’t seem to take long. But I’m sure many very nice people machine stitch the whole binding! You do your thing.

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Full disclosure: at first I didn’t like this jacket!! I thought the neck was too wide and scooped and that it looked kind of schlumpy. But on the first cold day, there it was when I needed it. And now I love it.

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Sometimes I even wear it indoors with a hot water bottle snapped inside, like I’m trying to revive a little baby Dalmatian. I’ve worn it to three separate apple orchards this fall (yes that’s too many orchards). Professor Boyfriend says it’s not so much a quilted jacket as a jacketed quilt, and I concur! I’ll be reluctantly trading it for a warmer layer soon, but I’m glad it will be waiting for me in the spring.

Stay cozy out there!

Pattern: Grainline Tamarack jacket

Pattern cost: $18.00

Size: 12

Supplies: Rag & Bone olive wool, gift, originally Mood; 2 yards Home Dash in Shale cotton, 2 yards cotton batting, $35.22, Gather Here; thread, Michael’s, $3.58; snaps from stash

Total time: 20.5 hours

Total cost: $56.80

3 thoughts on “Tamarack jacket

    1. Thank you so much! I’ve been wearing it nonstop (it got a little warmer again, ha). I’m so glad that the tag looks intentional, I like it too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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