Tamarack Jacket

It’s funny how you can be aware of a pattern, but not really notice it. I’ve come across the Tamarack Jacket by Grainline many times in my Insta-scrolls, but I didn’t really consider making one until recently. I was treating the post-Christmas blues with a little online fabric retail therapy, and as I browsed Fabric Godmother I came across the most lovely floral cotton with a little Chinoiserie feel. Unbidden, the idea of this delectable fabric made up as a Tamarack struck me as a particularly brilliant January project! I will confess here that I don’t actually get the January blues at all, I just love buying fabric. For me, January is the calm after the storm; a zen-like time in which to focus and plan exciting new projects and adventures.

I duly purchased the fabric and the pattern…

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…and then changed my plans completely.

In a nutshell, I got cold feet. I like to be realistic about my makes and even though I think it could be a match made in heaven, I’m just not sure whether I would wear it a lot. I certainly think it’s more Spring like, and we are still in the depths of winter. Also, having not made, or ever worn, this style of quilted jacket, I didn’t want to waste the lovely fabric on an unknown. At the same time as the doubt was setting in, I recalled a truly special length of fabric in my stash, which turned out to be just perfect.

This is a wonderfully soft and reasonably weighty Japanese cotton, which looks like denim if you squint, but is actually more of a twill I think. I bought it a couple of years ago and have often wondered what to do with it. I took this close-up snap of a scrap (an afterthought post make) to give you an idea of the unusual loveliness.

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Tricky fabric decisions made, I set to on my first Tamarack. Checking measurements, I traced a size 10 with no alterations, although I did worry about it being unflatteringly large and boxy on me. More on that later.

The Tamarack is actually a fairly simple and methodical make. The most important thing to begin with, is to make sure you cut very precisely so that the outer, wadding, and lining all match up nicely. Also note, when looking at fabric requirements, that the pattern indicates that you use the same fabric on the inside as the outside. At first glance I couldn’t figure out why I would need so much of my ‘main’ fabric. Instead, I chose to use a cheap and cheerful navy cotton voile to line my jacket.

I’m not a quilter by any means, but I made sure to mark my quilting lines carefully, and I used a walking foot to avoid annoying pulls and tucks.

The trickiest part of the jacket, as you would expect, are the welt pockets. This is not something to rush. The method is a little different to techniques I’ve used before, but gave a nice result. The only quibble here, is that despite following measurements carefully on both pockets, I ended up with raw edges peeping out above the top of the pocket bag. I had to trim this off carefully and add a second row of top-stitching to bring the pocket bag up high enough to cover this. I wonder if anyone else has had this issue? The image below shows a pocket before my little ‘fix’.

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You may notice that I chose to use the main fabric for the upper pocket bag, and flipped it around (sewing the ‘wrong’ side to the welt) so that inside the jacket you see a pocket that matches the outer, and the inside of the pocket is a little peep of ‘wrong’ side fabric.

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My favourite part of this make, was the binding! I think binding is the sewing technique I most enjoy! I love making it, using the little gadget to fold it and press it, and I love sewing it on. I bound the pocket edges with lining fabric, for a really clean finish.

To bind the jacket edges I made around 5m of self fabric bias binding. Once I had sewn it onto the outside, I hand finished the inside. Most of all I did this because I love having a hand sewing project to work on in the evening, but it has the added benefit of looking very polished.

And on to my only adjustments. Before the binding and final assembly, I basted the side seams so that I could try the jacket on. I know that the design is supposed to accommodate a winter woolly underneath, but I envisage this as a more transitional jacket and I’m unlikely to wear a thick layer beneath it. I also worried that the style might be a little shapeless on me, so I took the decision to shape the waist by taking half an inch of each side seam. As you can see below, this is pretty easy to do at this late stage because everything is sewn as one.

From there, it was plain sailing, as I  finished the edges and seamed everything together. My one departure from the instructions was that I set-in the sleeves rather than sewing flat with the side seam. Just personal preference.

The snaps were just that, now that I have my Prym Vario pliers – I actually did this in the evening in front of the tv – couldn’t do that with a hammer!

So, all said and done, I think this one is a success. I’m still planning on making a Spring version with the floral fabric. I need to investigate wadding for that one. For this jacket I used Thermolam, simply because I buy it on the roll for bag making so it’s what I had to hand. I don’t have much experience with quilt wadding, and tend to shop online, but I would like to find something a little softer. Before I embarked on this project I read a few other blog posts on it, but nobody specifically mentions what wadding they used. Does anyone have any advice on this?

I’ll leave you with the final ‘live model’ snaps! I finished the jacket last night, and couldn’t resist wearing it this morning as I was out and about early in the frost. So here it is, complete with chalk marks which I haven’t got around to cleaning off yet.

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