A quilt coat is the perfect autumn jacket. Ideal for crisp, clear days with changing leaves. Plus who doesn’t want to walk about in a wearable blanket?
In the sewing world a lot of people are either quilters or dressmakers. This project offers you the chance to be both. This is the perfect sewing project for any sewist as construction requires the best bits of both. The finished result is a tad ridiculous, but I love it.
I started in March with a newborn in tow and this was to be my lockdown slow sewing project. Part of the joy of this coat was trial and error and it was a great experimental teaching exercise. Afterall learning new techniques is the most fun bit about sewing right?
Inspo came from these gorgeous quilt coats from Haptic Lab and decided I had to make one. Couldn’t find a pattern or tutorial that quite achieved what I wanted so decided to wing it. Hopefully this will help other wouldbe quilt coat makers on their quilt coat adventure…
The perfect pattern
I’d seen a few people on Instagram had made a pieced quilt coats using the Grainline Studio Tamarack coat pattern. The pattern is quite simple and the pieces are large, which offers an opportunity to showcase piecing details, that won’t get lost with darts or pleats.
Assembling the pattern was the first bit of ‘something for me’ that I did after the birth of my daughter. It’s funny looking back at this photo and remembering her at 4 weeks old. With me speedily taping the pages together while distracting her sitting in the bouncer!
Puzzles without answers
I knew I wanted this to be a ‘classic quilt‘ based around half square triangles and saw tooth stars. I sketched out a few ideas which broadly ended up looking like the final garment! The largest pattern piece of the jacket was the back which measured approximately 24 inches x 30. So the plan was to base the piecing on a 4 inch grid. The blocks then became either 4 inch or 2 inch half square triangles. And 4 inch or 8 inch saw tooth stars. This would then create 6 mini quilts. one for the back, two for the front and one for each arm.
There was some rough maths about how best to position everything but I decided that one can overthink these things. So after I’d made 4 large and 4 small saw tooth stars I merrily made half square triangles in two sizes until I ran out of fabric.
There was a lot of faffing, unpicking, resewing and faffing again. But this is one of the serendipitous parts of sewing while caring for a young baby. Time is precious.
In the morning she would nap for 1.5 hours. So I knew I had 1.5 hours to get stuff out. Do what I needed to do. And clear away again. Sewing in these little chunks was actually great for making quick decisions and really helped me edit and plan.
It’s quiltin’ time
I then purchased a beautiful narwhal and whale print fabric from Dashwood Studio to use as the lining. When my husband saw it he asked what I was making for the baby… 🙄
Yes it’s a lot, but if you’re going to have a crazy-garish-pieced-wearable-blanket-coat it may as well have secret whales inside!
To keep the quilting simple I decided to quilt 2 inch squares at a 45 degree angle. This was the first time I used a hera marker and they’re amazing. Don’t know why it took me this long. The diagonal squares also framed the saw tooth stars really nicely and helped create the right balance of fluffy quilting without it being too rigid when worn.
Pick a pocket or two
The Tamarack jacket pattern has beautiful welt pockets. I decided that now was not the time to try and learn how to make welt pockets, particularly given that my fabric was pieced – as I thought this would be a lumpy seam allowance nightmare. I opted instead for large patch pockets which aren’t quite as classy but they do the job.
To make these I made 2 mini quilts approximately 8×6 inches. Bound the top edges with bias binding and top stitched them in place. This was worth taking time over as I did my best to pattern match both the piecing and the quilt lines. As with everything – it’s not perfect but I’m pretty pleased with the end result.
Now for the scary bit
After literally months of cutting, piecing, sewing and quilting I could finally start actually making it into a coat. Attacking my painstakingly pieced quilts with a rotary cutter was both scary and strangely satisfying.
The construction of the Tamarack jacket is actually quite straight forward. I made the straight size 8 and didn’t need to make any adjustments to the pattern, as the fit is meant to be quite boxy.
It’s the little things
Given the amount of time I had already invested in this jacket I decided to hand fell down my bias binding, and to hand bind the seams on the inside of the jacket too. I enjoyed this process so much, and could see my hand sewing improve as inched my way around the jacket. These little details are so satisfying and really elevate it. No it’s not the prettiest hand stitching in the world but it’s a lovely opportunity to spend a bit of time with the garment during construction, rather than just whizzing it under the machine.
The other perk of flat felling the inside seams means that – in theory – this jacket can be worn whale side out too. I doubt there will be many occasions for this, but one never knows when narwhal themed jacket may be required. When that time comes – I’ll be ready.
If I was to make this again…
- Make the piecing of the arms less complicated. The under arm seams are really bulky as there are lots of little pieces meeting at an angle, and it’s not visible when worn. Given time again I would keep the edges of the sleeve far more simple so they lay more flat.
- Make the patch pocket pieces a little larger so they’re easier to attach. They were murder to topstitch because they were also made with the same 1/4 seam allowance you would normally have for a quilt. This isn’t really enough for garment making!
I really do love this jacket, it is the perfect autumn coat and I have worn it every dry day since I finished it. The tamarack jacket is a lovely pattern and due the simplicity of the shape works really well with the pieced fabric. Hopefully we won’t be going into another lockdown but if we do, a quilt coat project may just help keep you sane. If you’re thinking of making a pieced quilt coat then do!