Tamarack take two: Knit version

Though the Tamarack Jacket I made a few weeks ago was deemed successful, I hadn’t intended to make another one quite so soon. Seriously, who needs more that one quilted jacket in their wardrobe? But I had just purchased some burgundy sweat-shirting fabric, with the intention of yet another comfy winter dress, when this vision just appeared to me!

Said vision, was a slimmed down Tamarack, sewn in a cosy knit fabric – so warm and comfy it’s a sin. I was aiming for the easy wear of a hoodie, but something with a little more style.

When I made my first Tamarack, I took the side seams in a little to make things a little less boxy – I’m not what you’d call ‘slight’ by any means and I find more fitted shapes to be a lot more flattering on me. With a knit version you can get away with a lot more slimming and shaping – the stretch in the fabric means measurements can be taken in a lot.

I traced the pattern, but instead of using a straight 10 as I did last time, I graded from a 4 at the underarm to a zero at the waist and out to an 8 at the hips. This wasn’t done on a whim: I took my measurements carefully and worked out the sizing precisely by measuring the pattern itself (don’t forget to allow for seam allowances if you are doing this).

You can see in the image below how I blended things together.

tracing tamarack jacket.JPG

The only other change I made was to the shoulder. The Tamarack is drafted with a slightly dropped shoulder but I wanted a more refined shape on my knit version. On the bodice I traced a size 4 armscye, but brought the top of the shoulder in by 2cm. To ensure that the sleeve would still fit (because I had essentially increased the armscye) I then balanced things out by adding 2 cm to the sleeve head (this took me to the size 14 pattern line) and blending to the size 4 sleeve. You can see in the images below how I drew the armscye and then the sleeve.

I hesitated over whether to use batting on this jacket. I’ve never quilted knit fabrics before but as they are inherently stretchy, and I had tweaked the pattern based on this, I didn’t then want to quilt something stable inside and ruin the whole point of this jacket. I had a bit of a brainwave with the lining and decided to track down the same plush jersey fabric which I used on my dressing gown. This fabric is totally lush – it’s a super soft marl grey on one side, but on the other is a short-pile fuzzy white delight. It’s pretty thick so eliminated the need for batting altogether. See below for a close-up shot of the layers after quilting them together.


The quilting itself proved to be pretty labour intensive. I began by following the pattern instructions and adding a couple of lines of basting to each piece, and then basting around the edge to hold things together. However, as I zipped across making my first quilting line, the layers shifted (rather predictably but I was hoping it would work!). The problem was that the grey inside layer is way more stretchy than the more stable burgundy sweat-shirting.

I then took a step back and a deep breath and set about hand basting across, 1cm away from each quilting line. I didn’t baste ‘on’ the marked lines because unpicking basting that you have stitched over is an unpleasant business. On top of this, I carefully pinned on the other side of the lines before stitching across. Although this took a while I do love hand-stitching and embraced the slow fashion process. I used my coverstitch machine’s chain-stitch for the quilting lines, and also for most of the construction later. However, as with any knit project, it is possible to do this on your home sewing machine using a stretch stitch or zig-zag (don’t forget the jersey needle).

Another technique I should mention here, is that although I cut the outer fabric to the pattern, I cut the plush jersey lining slightly large. This meant that if there was any shifting or stretching I wouldn’t have an issue with things not matching up. When everything was stitched together I simply trimmed the edges with my rotary cutter.


Phew! Major effort, but things were going well and I was on to the fun part. I cannot tell you how tempted I was at this point to just sew everything together! However, I felt that this jacket really needed pockets. I drew the line at knit welt pockets though. I have done these very successfully on my daughter’s knit bomber jacket but just didn’t have the patience on this occasion. Instead, I opted for some nifty in-seam pockets.

I drafted the pocket and worked out where I wanted these. In the end I think they are a smidge too high, but much lower and the pocket bag would hang too low and peep out. In-seam pockets are as easy on a knit project as anything else, but remember to finish all the edges first as if you try and serge/overlock the edges later the curves will get you in the end. I’ve been there and it was a whole stretched-out mess.

Here are a few images showing the pocket construction. I won’t give a tutorial as there are plenty around but I will share my pocket pattern with you. This is suitable for any garment with side seams. Remember to make sure you select ‘print actual size’ and there is a sized square included to check things have printed at the correct size : in-seam-pocket

Incidentally, as you can see above, I overlocked all my edges before seaming things together with the Coverstitch machine, and my regular sewing machine right at the bottom as you need a zipper foot to get past the edge of the binding.

For knit binding you don’t need to cut on the bias because the fabric is already stretchy enough. The binding went on with the Coverstitch machine too, and then I finished it by hand.

So this was a pretty meaty project with a few challenges, but I’m so happy with the outcome. Believe me, it’s like wearing a sleeping bag. I love the slimmer cut as it’s more flattering on me, and works well with the knit fabric. The pockets are cosy and the brass snaps finish things off nicely. Although those snaps are the only thing that concern me a little. On my first Tamarack, which I’ve worn a lot over the last few weeks, one of the snapped pulled clean off. Disaster! This is because I used a tool to punch a hole for the snaps and it was just a little too large I think. I’ve repaired the damage but feel like that might not be the last snap to pop out.

On this knit version I made a great effort to poke small holes, rather than cut. However, as it’s a knit I just have to hope that the fabric is strong enough to hold up to the power of snaps! I had the same concern on my daughter’s jacket however, and no issues have arisen.

Here it is then, the result in photographs. Once again, creative photography credits (of me wearing the jacket) go to my ten year old daughter! Teamed with my beloved Ginger Jeans.



And to show the slimmer fit a little more clearly:





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