Quilted Jacket 2

When last we met I had my supplies, my plan, and some unjustified optimism. As a reminder, my goal was to make a shawl-collar Grainline Tamarack with the pieced design below.

Part 2 starts with fabric. I stay-stitched the cut edges of my yardage before pre-washing – I don’t usually bother, but I don’t usually buy quantities 1’ at a time, either. The Ruby Star “Denim” cotton frayed and wrinkled noticeably less than the others, by the way. Nice stuff!

I cut the stripes first to make sure I had enough long, continuous fabric pieces, and everything else I cut as I went. The tutorials I relied on were this, for stars and triangles (sawtooth stars and flying geese, as I learned), and this, for stripes and grids (nine patches). I drew my pattern on fresh paper so I could mark my piecing design on that and measure what I needed to fill each space. As much as possible I used nice round numbers so I could consult the measurements provided by the tutorials. The drawing isn’t super easy to see here, but hopefully you can make it out; I drew lightly because I had an asymmetric design, and I wanted to use the front and back of each pattern piece instead of tracing them twice.

I launched in with the bison face quilt block. As I mentioned already, I thought I would be able to size it to my design, but I instantly realized: hell to the no was I scaling anything. Measurements provided or bust. The first thing I had to sacrifice was pins, since the pieces were too small and too many for pinning to make sense; the next thing to go was my illusions. I was following the directions and saying yes ma’am thank you ma’am and even that might be beyond my skill set.

So yeah, the bison face came out bigger than I planned, and as a result the framing stripes are all closer to the edges of the pattern pieces, and everything ended up slightly skew-whiff. Even the long straight seams, aren’t. The colors look alright IMO, though. It meant a lot of muttering “Right side – wrong side – right side – wrong side”, but I used both sides of my brown printed fabric for the bison fur and it turned out a bit rad.

Literally almost nothing lines up. There is however one perfect junction, where a white stripe meets a blue square –

So beautiful! Also so unique! But as Professor Boyfriend pointed out, better one really good place and lots of wonky places than the other way around. That would be the worm in an otherwise perfect apple (as opposed to what I have, which is a bunch of laid-back worms hanging out around a tiny apple slice).

My final design had to evolve as I sewed, because I didn’t always have the space I planned. Most noticeably this affected the left front (pictured on the right). In real life there was too much vertical space above the star and not enough below the stripes, so I moved the small vertical element I had planned for the bottom above the star and turned it sideways, and ended up with a slightly horrible anti-coincidence.

So close! I just won’t look down while wearing the finished jacket.  Also that black piece near the shoulder was unplanned, but the power of an asymmetric pieced design is that I could just pop on a scrap when I cut the light blue fabric a bit too small, and call it good.

I sewed the sleeves second-to-last and by then I was sensing improvements in my own work. They’re pretty tidy! They’re also pretty small and simple, so the butterfly effect of mis-matched piecing didn’t get much scope.

I’m planning on wearing this tied shut, or maybe buttoned and tied, so the actual last thing I sewed was the belt. Well, two belts.

For the first, I saved all my scraps and trimmings and extra geese and sewed them into an arbitrarily long, 5” wide rectangle, which I then folded in half lengthwise. The result is far too busy and distracting and untidy but HOT DOG it was fun. I would just grab a piece and see if it fit and it did, I’d sew it on, and if it was too small I’d sew it to a buddy and try again. It was organic and intuitive and I really loved the process, even if the finished belt makes me say pbbt.

For the second belt I cut and sewed rectangles from my scraps. Here’s where you can see me working out some thinking in real time.

To hand quilt or not to hand quilt?! Originally I planned to machine quilt the jacket panels, as I did with my first Tamarack. However, after my piecing turned out so messy, I was concerned that the precision of machine stitching would highlight those imperfections, so I decided to hand quilt. With that in mind I basted the pieced panels around the edges to the batting and backing fabrics (I bubble cut those with a rough ½” extra margin). I wouldn’t have done this if I was machine sewing, but I thought I could control wrinkles and tucks with hand-sewing pretty easily. Then I went ahead and hand-quilted the belt.

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My stitching wasn’t great, but more importantly I’m not sure I can afford the strain. I used a thimble and a nice sharp needle but I was cramping after just an hour and my hands are my money-makers. I try to quit drawing or painting when I feel physical stress, and this counts as unnecessary wear-and-tear. So maybe I’ll machine stitch after all?

The only things I know for certain: I want to use simple diagonal lines, and neon green thread is a neutral. Oh, and which belt am I going to use? Um, neither. I think I’m just going to stick skinny binding straps in the side seams. So that’s where I’m at for now! One major decision left, followed by quilting, one way or another, and construction. Woof, we’ll see what I decide soon. Thanks for reading!

19 thoughts on “Quilted Jacket 2

  1. Good job persevering through the complicated piecing. A nice, scary bison, and very good flying geese and sawtooth star with no cut off points. I have been quilting for awhile and I can’t always accomplish that.
    Hand quilting can be very hard on your hands and wrist. Your machine may have a stitch that mimics hand quilting. Good luck!

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    1. Thank you – that hadn’t occurred to me, but I’ll have a play with the functions, and that could be an ideal middle ground. Thanks so much for the encouragement!

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      1. Most of the quilting police have retired. Machine quilting can be lovely!
        You’ve got this.

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  2. I’m so in love with your bison head! I definitely have fallen into the trap of thinking I can’t quilt because I’m not precise enough, so seeing how great this very ambitious project looks at a normal distance is inspiring.

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    1. Thanks so much! 😀 Like they say in Anastasia – if I can learn to do it, you can learn to do it! I’m even more in awe of experienced, precise quilters now, but I’m having fun as a beginner, too!

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  3. This is awesome! The imperfections add character and tell a story of their own. I love the article you shared last week about quilting a jacket. I’m thinking about doing one with a brightly coloured abstract design (following a pattern though as it will be my first quilt also).

    Need to reduce the stash a bit first though! I have a slight fabric overflow situation happening 🙃

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    1. How is it that a stash has everything you need when there’s no time to sew, and nothing when you have a specific idea? They’re magical black holes! I hope you do try – I guess it’s probably not ‘proper quilting’ to buy all-new fabric, but I did and I’m happy. ^^

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  4. Oh, this is so fun! You make it all seem quite possible when you go with it and make it happen. It’s going to be great!

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  5. It’s brilliant and I love your first belt. Since you enjoyed making the belt I suggest improv piecing your next quilted thing. Matching seams? Who needs those anyway? Soooo liberating!

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    1. My partner has asked for the belt and I’ve refused (I just can’t take him wearing it as a scarf, haha) but maybe I’ll improv-quilt him something to wear or use! It was SO MUCH fun. And thanks for the new vocabulary word! 😀 Sewing is so good at having a name for everything!

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  6. I think it looks awesome! I see what you mean about things being slightly misaligned but knowing you made this all yourself and did mostly improv is such a big accomplishment! I’ve always found that with handmade stuff like this, basically everyone who’s not a crafter finds it so impressive as to ignore any slight imperfections that we have a tendency to obsess over.

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    1. Thank you! I wasn’t, like, spitting on the shoes of quilters before, but my already-existing respect for this craft has doubled. As a beginner I’m only starting to get a sense of what a really well-made quilt requires. I can see how people get hooked, too!

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