Quilted Jacket 1

 “I love making jeans, even though there’s sooo many pattern pieces!” an intermediate sewist told her friends.

A shriek of laughter splintered their conversation. They turned to a see a woman, alone in a shadowed corner, with a gaze as sharp as a 14/90 Microtex and a hollow laugh on her lips.

“Don’t go over there.”

“Just ignore her,” they advised.  

But the intermediate sewist, braver or perhaps more foolhardy than the rest, approached the strange woman.

“What are you laughing at, old-timer?”

“You, garment sewer!”


“That’s right.” The old-timer cackled. “You think you suffered, because you had to cut a waistband x 2 and interfacing x 2? You think you’re tough because you slashed open a welt pocket? You added a gathered skirt to a tank top, so now you can hack it in the wilderness?! What do you know…” her voice dropped to an intimate rasp. “About piecing a quilt block?”

A chill ran up and down the intermediate sewist’s back. “Not much,” she admitted, frightened but compelled.

“The pieces! So many! So tiny! All with perfect 90° corners! I’ve seen things…I’ve done things…I’ve cut 1” squares without a quilting ruler or a rotary cutter.”

“Why don’t you just buy a quilting ruler –”

The old timer slammed the table with her fist so hard that spools of thread jumped up and rolled away. “Why don’t you just grow wings and learn to fly!!” She surged forward suddenly and held a seam gauge to the intermediate sewist’s neck, so close that the foolhardy sewist could feel its metal edge with every pulse of her carotid artery. The intermediate sewer didn’t dare to move or even speak.

“Do you know what it is?” The old-timer hissed. “The space between life and death? Between right and wrong? Hope and despair? Between a quilter and a garment sewer?! Do you want to know the seam allowance?!”

The intermediate sewist closed her eyes. There was a clatter and an abrupt sense of emptiness, and when the intermediate sewist looked again, she was alone, with nothing but the abandoned seam gauge on the table before her. Her eyes crawled irresistibly to the slider. The distance between her and a shattered woman.

Only a quarter-inch.        

Through some mysterious process (I’m not even on Instagram!) it recently became a priority to make myself a pieced, quilted coat. I made a whole-cloth quilted Grainline Tamarack in 2019, but I don’t (well, didn’t, now) have any piecing experience. WELL. If you want to learn something new, it’s gotta be the first time sometime!

It’s true that I don’t have a quilting ruler, or a rotary cutter, or a big cutting board. This is mainly because I don’t like buying things and I’m not wild about owning stuff either. But if I was going to go back to the beginning, I would strongly consider adding a ¼” foot to my toolkit. A ¼” seam allowance is NOT 3/16” or 9/32” or 9/40”, which I learned to my dismay; an imperfect seam here or there on a not-so-fitted garment will barely show, but I’ve been making such an accumulation of small mistakes while piecing that the results are wonky indeed. My progress so far looks like what it is: a first effort by a beginner. But actually I’m finding it terrifically fun as well. Let’s talk.

Thing 1: pattern! I decided to make another Tamarack, but for better coziness than the oddly wide neck provides, I added a shawl collar. Using this article from Threads, I made the center front 1.25″ wider, chose a breakpoint 12.75″ up from hem, and drafted the shawl collar to be 5″ wide when finished. After thinking about it before falling asleep every night for a while, I decided against using a facing. My plan is to bias-bind everything as the pattern instructs, including the seam where the shawl collar meets the back neck. We’ll see if this is realistic in practice. Now that Pinterest knows I’m interested it’s been showing me a ton of quilt content, including, rather late to the game, this article on designing a quilted coat, which recommends a separate lining; maybe next time.

Thing 2: pieced design! I have no particular claim on bison but I wanted something punchy for a central design for the jacket back, and I found this free quilt block, and designed outwards from there. At this point I thought blithely I could scale a square design to any size so I ignored the fact that the measurements given were for an 8” or 16” square. I used Illustrator to draw a design and color it a few different ways; all my angles are 0°, 90°, or 45°. This seemed achievable (based on no experience or knowledge, but hey).

Thing 3: Color! I had a vague notion of what I wanted, having already bought the backing fabric. It was terrific luck, actually – I described my perfect fabric (while walking to the fabric store, no less) to Professor BF as “white or off-white with grey or grey-blue stripes, but organic stripes, not perfectly geometric” and I didn’t so much find this fabric as recognize it from my dreeeaaams. So that meant any blues would have to have a nice relationship with that quite cool blue, and I also wanted the pieced side to have an off-white background. Here’s a few of my experiments:    

I landed on the fourth palette, which I labeled somewhat ambitiously as “modern”. Once again, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, I would probably just pick a fabric collection or fat quarter bundle I liked and fill in my design with a pre-curated set of colors, but I didn’t. Instead I separated out each color individually (using Select, Same: Fill Color for you AI fans) and put them into a new document. Then I threw myself on the mercy of a lovely Gather Here employee and was like “How much each buy please!?”  

Pink, white, dark blue, yellow – 1/3 yard each. Black, rust – ½ yard each. Light blue – 1 yard. Cream for the background – 2 yards. I had the brown already. Oh and binding – ½ yard also, but I picked that on the fly.

I mostly used Kona Cotton (named beautifully Ochre – 1704, Pepper – 359, Spice – 159, Fog – 444, and then disappointingly PDF Bleach – 1287 and Putty – 1303), but the pink with yellow dobbies and the dark blue are both Ruby Star Society (Warp & Weft Wovens Dots Lilac, and Speckled 52M Denim). The binding is Folk Friends Linework Cream by Makower UK. The brown is leftover Essex cotton-linen from my Morella pants, and the batting is some mostly-cotton kinda-poly stuff that was cheap and wide. I had a 20 minute shopping appointment and a hope that maybe I’d add another print or something and then I went into a fugue state and came out with these 35 minutes later. And next the real work begins!

This is getting super wordy, so I’ll stop here for now. More soon on my wobbly journey to a quilted coat! I’ll do the time and spending round-up at the end. If I ever get there!

Stay safe, don’t talk to strangers in shadowy sewing bars!

29 thoughts on “Quilted Jacket 1

    1. Thanks so much! I had a moment of “is this too weird for a sewing blog” but I say ‘crotch’ so often, it should barely register by comparison. 😂


  1. I read your post and laughed, too.

    With your very ambitious plans here, I suggest when scaling the design, make negative space your friend. I wouldn’t plan my design too close to the jacket’s seam allowances.

    Beautiful plans!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the advice! I’ve actually already begun piecing (this post was written a few days ago) and it seems likely the bison’s horns will end up in my armpits! 😂 I’ll try to benefit from that tip going forward!


  2. Haha! Quilting is great. I have never attempted a coat though and am already looking forward to your next installment. I would get a ruler and rotary cutter though if you plan to do more quilting. I also use mine for garment sewing for cutting out pattern pieces, I find it much quicker and more accurate, especially for knits.


    1. Those tools are on my “someday sewing room” list – right now unfortunately there’s nowhere in my apartment to store a large cutting mat (that’s no excuse for a ruler though, ha)! I can see why people get hooked on quilting – I got to go to a totally different section of my local shop! 🤩

      Liked by 1 person

  3. OMG I can’t wait for chapter 2. And then, of course, the illustrated version?! I think I’ve overheard that very conversation at my local Stitch ‘n Sew. But I don’t go there often, so never get to hear what actually happens to the brave ingenue attempts quilting.

    Yes, those are very ambitious plans! The combination of computer based designing, garment sewing and quilting is all quite beyond me, but I have so much faith in you. I know that whatever happens, we’ll get a great story out of it. I’m crossing my fingers that you will be be rewarded with a lovely quilted jacket!


    1. Thank you so much! ❤ I think that's the end of the fictional story, mainly because I've crossed that quarter-inch, and now instead of finding it scary and hard I'm finding it fun and hard! 😀 I used to say "quilters aren't like not-quilters" but in turns out there might be a quilter lurking inside of anybody…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So excited to see how this turns out. I’ve also been wanting a quilted jacket lately! Honestly they seem so cozy and perfect for pandemic-lounging.


    1. Thanks! I’ve been noticing more patterns around for quilted jackets, there might be something in the air (icy rain in my particular case today 😉).


  5. This is hilarious, and totally accurate. Quilting is easy because it’s just straight lines . . . right?! Wrong.

    And picking fabrics is even more overwhelming (so many options! for a single project!), so kudos to you for getting what you need. I love all of your mockups and can’t wait to see the finished piecing. If you’re interested for future projects (I was recently mocking up potential quilt colors myself), I found an AI swatch patch for Kona cottons that was super helpful: https://pileofabric.com/blogs/modern-quilting/kona-illustrator-file-updated-kona-adobe-library.


    1. THAT’S BRILLIANT and so much better than what I considered (turning hex codes into Pantone swatches and then hoping the Pantone website would be like “did we mention it’s also a Kona cotton with this color code” (which I vaguely remember them doing from other non-sewing-related projects)). Thanks so much for the link!
      Ooh did you get bit after making your tree skirt? I can see how piecing becomes addictive.


      1. Haha totally. I was about to create color swatches from a PNG of the Kona color chart shop listing but the image was so small, I couldn’t pick up the color names anyway, lol! And yes, I bought a pattern for a baby quilt with parrots, picked out all of my Kona colors, and then realized that Kona doesn’t sell by the fat quarter, which is what my pattern calls for. I haven’t found the mental energy to problem solve that yet. 😂


      2. OooOoOh NooOo! I quite like math but that boggles the mind. It might be simplest just to buy half-yards and make two whole quilts. 😉


  6. You are so damn brave to embark on this! And can we please please please have more fictional encounters from sewing dive bars!! It made my day!!


  7. Loved this! And also great to find another sewing blogger who isn’t all over Instagram. I love reading long and possibly rambling posts way more than little snippets, I’ve discovered.

    Having pieced a few quilts in my time I think your first timer plans are admirably insanely ambitious. You go, girl! And buy yourself a 1/4” foot! I use mine all the time when garment making. They’re brilliant for top stitching.


    1. Oh me too, any day! I think of a blog post as a long refreshing drink of water and Instagram as being sprayed by a fire hose. Occasionally I peek but I usually feel much less creative afterwards! I will buy that foot, I don’t know what I’m waiting for!

      Also, I’m looking forward to having a nice deep scroll into your blog! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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