Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket – having some fun…

Very selfish sewing – I’ve resisted the urge to try the Tamarack jacket for almost a year. But Jen Beeman has been posting so many nice versions lately, letting folks know that the pattern now includes a button front option. I thought I’d just give it a go. And I thoroughly enjoyed the quilting process and the sewing while I’m waiting for the arrival of some new fabrics (my stash is pitiful these days. I’ve done a great job of ‘sewing it down’).

The lines or the jacket itself are very nice, particularly the hi-low curved hem. In fact the latter is my favorite part.

Both my fabrics are straight from the stash. Nicely aged. I didn’t have enough of either to do the entire jacket, so I decided to piece the inside. No, I did not do this in time for Halloween, but the combo does look ‘seasonal’. Both are cotton quilting fabrics, and, coincidentally, both have metallic details.

About the batting:

I used a piece of low loft poly quilt batting that I robbed from a quilt project that’s been in progress for about 4 years.

 And I cut it just as I would cut fabric: I pressed it on my poly setting to get rid of wrinkles, laid the pattern on top, pinned it, and cut it out. Jen suggests laying each cut fabric piece on top of a largish piece of batting and using the fabric as a marking guideline for the batting. IMHO, too much work.

If your batting is stuck to itself, wrinkly, and so on (it can be really wonky coming out of a package, e.g., a twin-size quilt bat), toss it in the dryer on low heat for a short time. It will be so much nicer.

Marking the main fabric for quilting:

I used 3″ spacing, because my ruler is 3″ wide. Years of quilting have shown me that using the width of a ruler to mark quilting lines (not going for some fancy spacing) pays off. Easier.

And there are no quilting police out there to say otherwise.

Here’s a fabric-batting-fabric sandwich, post-quilting. On the left, the batting is a bit squished out. Cutting batting is imprecise, don’t be dismayed if it doesn’t fit the fabric precisely. On the right – a piece that’s nice and trimmed, ready for construction.

A note: I wouldn’t even try machine quilting without a walking foot. I pinned and thread-basted all my pieces, and had zero slippage between the fabric layers. 
I used black lawn for my binding, since I had so little of my main fabric. To answer the unasked question, I have an aversion to packaged binding. If you do use it, I suggest you give it a wash and dry in a lingerie bag before you use it. It comes full of finish, is very stiff, and is not preshrunk. 
To ensure an even width when I turned it to the inside, I butted the binding all the way up the edge of the fabric and used a 1/2″ seam.
Pinned in place:
On to the jacket – Emile is doing the honors today. First the inside:

And one more of the outside.  

The whole time I was working on this, I was thinking of ways to change it. Sleeveless and long as a topper, with a collar (which would change the vibe of the jacket completely), with cuffed sleeves. In a floral print, in pieced linen solids and prints, with a rounded corner at the front neckline, maybe not quilted at all… Because as it is, I really won’t wear it – I’m much more happy in unstructured styles, and I’m not likely to wear something that reminds me even remotely of a suit jacket.

But I do love that hem… Ciao! Coco 

StyleArc Stevie Jean Jacket – a keeper!

What a fun project! I’ve been looking for an oversized jean jacket pattern for ages. One that looks like it was purchased in the men’s department. Know what I mean?

In my wildest dreams, I never thought StyleArc would come up with one. But recently, clothingengineer posted a super cute version on Pattern Review, actually the first review of the pattern. I’ve no idea when StyleArc released it, but I took a look at it right away.

And lucky me, I just happened to have a bunch of wildly green 8.5 oz bull denim just waiting for its turn.

My relationship with StyleArc patterns has been so iffy, more disappointment than success. After my recent Designer Daisy wadders projects, I had no plans to even think about StyleArc patterns. But I have to hand to them on this one. It’s a great pattern that delivers the promised boyfriend jacket look.

I really wanted my jacket to mimic the classic jean jacket style, so I did a bunch of looking around on the web – Levi, Wrangler, and Lee. And I checked with one of my favorite fabric/sewing databases, just to be sure I handled the denim in a classic way as well. I don’t remember how I originally found the ‘Historical Materials from the University of Nebraska‘ site, but it’s a absolute gem.

Some sewing notes:
  • I sewed the size 10, and it’s a great fit.
  • No welt pockets, just because I don’t like pocket bags inside short jackets. I thought about adding a faux welt, and I still might, on a rainy boredom-filled day…
  • My upper/flap pockets are faux – I didn’t use the pocket bag at all. I’m not going to use it these pockets, and I didn’t want all the extra fabric in the yoke seam.
  • My only whinge on this pattern is the seam allowance. It’s 3/8″ everywhere, but the neckline/collar, which is mere 1/4″! But I used the PDF pattern and simply drafted the entire thing with a 1/2″ seam allowance. I cannot imagine working all these small pattern pieces, most of which are meant to have a felled finish of some kind, with less than 1/2″ in play.
  • I wanted to keep the jacket loose and supple, so I serged all my seam edges and used a faux-fell finish.
  • I love all the topstitching! and used regular sewing thread for mine. I’m just not a fan of the thicker topstitching thread that’s available.
  • In a deviation from the sewing instructions, I sewed my pocket on top of the bodice, rather than behind it. The difference? The Wrangler jean jacket has it on top, while the Levi trucker jean jacket has it behind, as below. Choices!
And mine, with my first set of buttons. I later changed these to some nice nickel buttons from Holly Lobby.
I love it, and I’m working on a second one in marigold – got to keep those tropical colors coming.
Parting shot: 
Tomorrow I’m off to Ft. Myers to kitty-sit while Ashley and Darrin go to Salem, MA, for their annual Halloween fest. And I’ll get to meet two newbies that they recently brought home from the shelter. Willow and Thor! A total of 4 now – I’m dosing myself with Claritin 🙂
Ciao! Coco

New Year and odd lots…

Oh, how I wish a bobbin could have fixed it! I was rear-ended just before Christmas…and I just got a call that my car is repaired and ready for me to pick it up.

I’m OK, the car not so much. I’m so sorry it was damaged – a car is never the same after it gets smacked.

Aggravation. The woman who hit me doesn’t have insurance, so all the costs fall on me. Incredible. I am out about $1200 in insurance deductibles and 3 weeks of car rental. My insurance company is suing her, so I might get some of that back eventually.

On to more pleasant things. I almost got all my 2015 sewing on the blog before year end. But here are a couple more things!

Even though I wasn’t thrilled with my muslin of the Grainline Studio Morris Blazer, I did sew it again, this time in rayon/nylon/spandex ponte. It’s such a cute jacket, and I don’t want to give up on it.

I think  it works well with things like the maxi skirt I’m wearing in the pics below. But – I haven’t really worn it. Maybe because I’m in love with my Jalie Cocoon cardi’s.

But I also think I’d like it better with long sleeves. I see another version in my future…

And here’s something I made in August – the Hot Patterns Fast & Fabulous Shirt-Tail T. As with all HP patterns I’ve sewn, the real thing just doesn’t look like the picture.

1- It’s short and the hemline isn’t really a shirt-tail at all.

2 – Check out the sleeve. It supposed to be cuffed, but it won’t stay turned up! Impossible. I used a cotton/rayon jersey knit, which is one of the recommended fabrics.  I’m not going to stitch the cuff up, that would look weird and probably lose shape in the wash.

3- That’s not a U-neck!

I added a couple inches to the sleeve and just wear it as a pajama top 🙂 And I don’t plan to sew this again. There are so many other choices for cute tee’s.


And now it’s time for a Jungle January alert! Coming soon…

Ciao! Coco

Butterick 5533 Knit Jacket

In the spirit of my epic run of posts this holiday – the Butterick 5533 jacket. Another of my favorite patterns.

I haven’t see this sewn a lot, but I jumped on it a couple years ago because I just love the back detail. I’m a sucker for swing cuts and details coming and going…

I used the front of View A, and the pockets and back of View B. And so far, I haven’t put on any buttons – that decision is still up in the air.

I thought the front was a bit plain, so I drafted it in two pieces, split across the upper bodice, and topstitched the seam to accent it a bit. If you squint, you’ll see it…

On the pic below you can also see the two-part sleeve. Such a nice design detail. I didn’t do the curved/faced hem on this sleeve, mostly because I think it would weigh down the fabric and not sit well.

This fabric is 12 oz. stretch denim from Girl Charlee – 63% cotton, 33% poly, and 4% spandex. It has 4-way stretch and curled like crazy on the edges when I was sewing it! I expected it to be more denim-like than it is. It’s definitely woven, but it feels and sews like a knit.

And here’s a version of the jacket that I made in 2013! It was gifted and never blogged. It’s done in poly fleece (JoAnns), with cotton trims and facings (Kaffe Fassett Roman Glass from Westminster Fabrics). It has the same gathered back, but I added the hood from Burda See & Sew 5807, a hooded cape pattern. So cozy. And the hood fit without any alterations to the neckline! I’m sure I’ll do another one with this variation.

This is the vented and faced sleeve from the pattern. Beautiful.
Sewing Notes:
  • All the suggested fabrics are wovens, like corduroy, tweed, lightweight denim, etc. But both my versions are knits – I just went down one size to a 12, and the fit is great.
    • Those back gathers. There’s just way too much fabric in them as drafted, knit or woven. On the denim knit, I removed 2″ from the center back, and on the fleece, which is much thicker, I removed 4″.
    • A caution: the sleeves are narrow and, if you’re tall, they might be short. 

    The jacket is unlined, which I like for Florida, but that presents a couple finishing ‘opportunities’.

    •  I drafted a back neck facing for the grey knit – I cannot stand to turn under the upper collar edge on un-banded collars. The faced hood on the fleece version served to finish the neckline, no facing needed.
    •  And I faced the back yoke on both versions. It was kind of like sewing a squid…

    Buttons? No buttons? I pinned some on this afternoon, and I think I’ll add them.

    I’ve thought a lot about this pattern and how it might be used. Maybe as a cropped swing jacket in french terry, with some gathers under the front yokes, a hood, a separating zipper – it has so many possibilities.


    This is my last post of 2015! Thank you for spending so much time with me this year, for sharing your life, and for enriching mine. I hope you and all your loved ones enjoy a happy, healthy, safe, and fulfilling new year.

    Bye for now – Coco

    Kwik Sew 3334 Jacket restyle…

    I’ve been watching one of my favorite RTW jackets decline over the last couple years. It’s a red ponte made by Motto and purchased from QVC back when its Motto line was extensive and edgy – I love it. But the red has faded with washings, and the buttonholes are stretched out. Sadness. So I decided to take measurements and pics before it leaves me – and to work on a copycat pattern. 

    The original…

    I started by looking for a jacket or blouse to use as the foundation for the bodice. Something with a similar neckline, wide-set and low. Enter Kwik Sew 3334, which came out in 2005 and has a lot of helpful reviews on Pattern Review (thank you, fellow sewists!).

    I made only a few adjustments to the pattern, all on the tissue before cutting fabric. I’m so brave…but I was using 2 yards of Maggy London ponte de roma that I snagged at $1.99/yard from FabricMart earlier this year. And the pattern can always be replaced. Changes:

    • Removed the dart from the sleeve (I just don’t care for the fit of a darted sleeve in a casual jacket).
    • Straightened the side seams from armscye to the bottom of the bodice.
    • And cut the bodice 5″ below the armscye.
    At first, I thought I’d use the notched collar, but after giving it some thought, I decided to go with the shawl collar. Honestly, I thought the notch points might not turn and sit well, given the weight of the ponte. 
    As it turned out, I love the shawl collar – it’s beautiful. 
    Drafting the skirt part was easy – two fronts and a back, cut as rectangles, with an allowance for a generous facing on the fronts and a deep hem. Rather than use the pleats on the skirt, as on the original, I gathered the fabric under the princess seams and  the back darts.

    I also decided to use elbow length sleeves, mostly to balance all that black fabric. With the full-length sleeve, the jacket was dressy and kind of funerary.

    I already knew that the buttonholes in ponte might be a continuing issue, so I did some tests to confirm. Below, the original and my results. Aack!
    Button snaps were a great solution, and an excuse to use my gigantic snap tool again 🙂 I also like the balance of the snapsets on each side – they definitely raise the casualness factor of the jacket. I didn’t plan any of this beforehand, it just worked out well.

    Final measurements – the bodice/skirt seam is 3 1/4″ below the armscye, and the skirt is finished 18″ below that seam.  
    I like it! and have already worn it out and about a couple times. It’s super easy to throw on over pants and a tee. I’m planning to do it again in a fun color, orange or marigold, with a gathered and cuffed sleeve. 
    Parting shots from the garden:
    I have a new plant, one that simply appeared in a couple places over the last couple months. I thought it was a sansevieria and was happy to have it. I love it when a plant volunteers in the garden, brought by birds, the wind, or who knows…
    But a few days ago I noticed one of them had bloomed, and the flower did not look like a sansevieria at all. After an hour of research online, guess what – it’s a terrestrial orchid! Check out these tiny little monkey-face flowers. They’re pollinated by ants and rain.
    Oeceoclades maculata, aka Monk Orchid, Aftrican Spotted Orchid
    It has a fascinating history, with origins in west Africa and emergence in Brazil and the Caribbean in the 1800’s. Apparently it began showing up in south Florida in the mid-1970’s, possibly as an escapee from Fairchild Gardens in Miami-Dade. 
    So now I dare anyone to walk on one of them! Or worse, pull it up as a weed. 
    Bye for now! Coco