I’m a bit late to the quilted jacket party, but am rocking up at last with my patchwork hexagon version.
The Tamarack Jacket is a cute quilted jacket pattern which I picked up from Grainline Studios when they had a Spring sale last year.It is by far the longest I have ever taken to make a garment, as I will explain later, but you can certainly make a much much quicker version of your own if you choose not to hand sew hexagons together to make your fabric pieces!
Firstly I had to decide how large I wanted my hexagons to be. To help me make my mind up, I very quickly drew out a couple of different sizes of hexagons onto scrap paper, and roughly taped them together to give me a bit of an idea of what each size would like like when it was sewn into a flower shape ( 6 petals and 1 centre). I held these rough paper patterns against me in front of a mirror and opted to use the 1 1/4″ hexagons.
This jacket has been buzzing around in my head for quite some time, and when a quilted jacket was one of the sewing challenges featured on the UK sewing TV series ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ last year, it quickly jumped right to the front of my sewing queue. However the quilted jacket in the TV series was made with machine sewn squares, and I wanted to hand sew hexagons using the English Paper Piecing technique for my version. I find the trick with EPP is to use a very fine needle, I used these, and a good quality thread, I used this. The combination of this needle and thread makes your stitches quite discreet (if you are careful and take your time).
Next decision was fabric. I wanted to choose something in person rather than ordering online, so took myself off to The Sewing Cafe in Hinckley, Leicestershire so that I could do some serious fabric stroking. They have a lovely range of quilting fabric here (as well as dressmaking fabrics), and I really valued the help of Rosie who was working there that day in helping me select the colours and quantity of fabric that I would need.
The fabric range I used is called Hannah’s Flowers from Lewis and Irene. I used 6 florals from this range and used 3 plain blender fabrics to coordinate with them. One of the florals was used only to be the inside lining of the jacket.
I started work on my Tamarack in July. It was the perfect project to take on my holiday and kept me occupied on the 8 hour plane journey! I love how ‘portable’ these hexagons are which makes them ideal to just grab and stitch up a few when you get a chance, wherever you are!
Going back to the pattern itself again, next I wanted to check the style and any alterations that I wanted to make before tracing it out. This jacket has a shaped hem curving up at the side seams, and the back hem is slightly lower than the front. I didn’t want any of this – I just wanted a horizontal hem all the way around at the same level. So I cut my jacket pattern pieces out using the ‘approximate hip level’ marking as the new length that I wanted. I cut a size 10 btw, my measurements being 36-31-40.
Aside from this alteration, other changes that I made were to shorten the sleeves pieces by 1.5″, change the fastenings to 3 x large buttons and button holes rather than use 4 x snaps as I wanted it to have a chunky vibe, and I also decided to sadly omit the welt pockets as I felt that cutting through a piece of fabric that has only been hand stitched together would make the whole process more tricky than using a stable, solid fabric. I didn’t want the hand stitched seams pulling apart during the process. I am sad though that it doesn’t have pockets and may actually add patch pockets to it at a later date.
So off I started. Firstly hand basting the hexagons, and then making them up into ‘flowers’, all with an ivory centre. I enjoy the process of English Paper Piecing and hand sewing is a very calming craft in my opinion. For those interested, I bought my template and papers from Sew and Quilt. After I had made loads and loads of flowers I positioned them over each pattern piece to see how many complete flowers I needed for each piece, and where I wanted to position them. After doing this it was a case of making up partial flowers or using individual hexagons to completely cover the pattern piece. Taking pictures on your phone is essential whilst doing this so that you can remember the pattern placement when you go back to sew the flowers together.
After making ‘quilt sandwiches’ of the hexagons, batting, and lining fabric, and leaving a good margin of batting and lining around the edge of each piece, I machine quilted my work together following lines of the hexagons. After this you can pin and cut out your pattern pieces precisely and sew them up as if they were regular fabric!
Don’t forget to add a cute garment label, this time I used an old one from Pink Coat Club (now @joymargot on Instagram).
I’m really chuffed with how it all worked out and it is certainly wins the prize for the garment that has taken me the longest to make. I have no idea how many hours all that hand stitching has taken me, but it was all worth it, and I hope that this will be something that I can enjoy for many years to come.
What do you think? Let me know if you have made a jacket like this and if you went about it differently. I am no expert on quilting and hope that I have shown you the correct way of doing things, but please do share in the comments if you have any useful tips that might help us all.
Take care and I’ll be back soon,