The new extended 14-30 size range for the Grainline Tamarack jacket is now available and I tested the pattern for Grainline back in August. This came at an opportune moment for me, as 2021 has certainly been the year I GOT INTO QUILTING. I’ve already posted about three quilts and I have four others in various stages of completion. In the grand scheme of things, it’s still not a huge number I’ve got under my belt, but I was quite excited at the thought of doing a little quilting practice on pieces of a manageable size.
I knew pretty quickly which piece of fabric I was going to use too. I discovered Marcia Derse at the Sew Expo show in Puyallup a few years ago. Although the fabrics on show were obviously primarily aimed at the quilting market, I couldn’t help but be drawn in by the beautiful colours on display. The solids were so saturated and beautiful and had I been quilting at the time, I shudder to think what would have happened (to my wallet).
You can see the fabric I bought in the picture and also some other luscious prints – it was hard to choose! However, given the dynamic, busy nature of the design I found it hard to figure out what to do with the fabric for quite some time. I’d only bought 2 yards, so that cut out a lot of ideas. When the tester call for this jacket came through, I realised that there was a great match, as the unencumbered pieces of the jacket would showcase the design very well, without me having to manipulate it too much.
For the lining I decided to use a bright colourful contrasting pattern that I’d also had in the old stash for a while. It’s also a quilting cotton and beautiful in its own right. It makes me happy to see it! I made my own binding using a black-with-a-touch-of-grey Grunge fabric, which I think goes much better than a straight solid black, but it’s probably hard to see in the photo – or by anyone without a magnifying glass, to be honest.
The Pattern and Sizing
The Tamarack jacket pattern came out in 2017 and I remember thinking that Grainline were pretty ahead of the curve with quilted jackets as they really exploded into mainstream fashion right around then. The Tamarack Jacket is a “proper” quilted jacket made up of the top, a lining and then batting in the middle for you to quilt. Of course, you can absolutely make it with a pre-quilted fabric and many sewists have chosen that option, with fabulous results.
The jacket pattern itself is quite simple, with just three body pieces and then pockets and binding. However, the Tamarack is an intermediate level pattern because the welt pockets, quilting and binding all require a certain amount of experience with sewing to perform successfully. That’s not to say a beginner couldn’t make it – not at all – and particularly if you used a pre-quilted fabric, but it is a jacket you want to finish nicely so that it looks handmade rather than “homemade”. As well as the welt pockets, there’s a snap button front and much of the jacket is finished with bias binding, all expertly explained in the instructions.
With the extended sizing, Grainline has also released an additional pack with pattern pieces for a collar, hood and patch pockets. This is in response to requests for these additions since the pattern was first released in 2017. I’m definitely going to snap those up because I think they’ll look super on a second iteration of this pattern.
The new sizing range adds sizes 14 to 30 to the original 0 to 18 range, but the extended sizing is drafted for a D cup. I tested the 18 in the D cup range and the measurements are very close to my body measurements. Sometimes I feel a little bad testing for Grainline because their block fits me so well that I really don’t have to make many adjustments, and in this case hardly anything. Since an extended size pattern has already been through a rigorous testing process for the original range, the instructions have also been thoroughly tested, so I don’t always have a ton of feedback. It’s all about the new size range and fit!
Normally I would narrow the shoulders a little as well as the sleeves and occasionally move the bust dart downwards. In this pattern I didn’t even need to change those things! The bust dart was perfect and the slightly longer shoulder and sleeves worked great for a jacket like this. Ooh, one thing I wanted to mention is the length of the jacket, which I really, really like because it covers my bum comfortably, which I think is important in any outerwear!
There was a small label error in the pattern and I missed the revision and cut two back pieces instead of one on the fold. I decided just to piece in the missing half an inch or whatever it was and picked a contrasting border from the fabric piece and I think it worked out really well! I used the same piece to make the welt pockets for a little stripe contrast.
The whole first part of construction is for layering and quilting your front, back and sleeves. I ended up trying three different basting methods for the sandwich, although not intentionally. I wanted to try spray basting and so I did that for the first piece, but then my spray ran out. Next I hand-basted the pieces together. That took a while, so I used the method in the instructions – a few lines of sewing and pins for the sleeves.
I had interesting results: the spray baste kept the pieces together well, but I found it was easier to put tucks in the sandwich when quilting. The hand-basting kept the pieces together the best, but I had to unpick the basting at the edges when I got to there with the quilting to avoid big tucks. With the pins method I got some movement when quilting and ended up with some mismatched edges. Hmm – so the jury is out, but whichever method you use, I highly advise you to make sure to level up the all edges.
I neglected to do that and it gave me a few issues later when binding as it was difficult to catch all the layers. You live and learn folks!
I decided to keep the quilting quite simple and let the fabric do the work with this jacket. I chose to stitch vertical lines with a 3/4″ width between lines. I used a walking foot on my Brother machine and it all behaved very nicely! I lengthened the stitch length a little to 3mm and the tension was pretty decent. It always takes a bit longer than you think it will though. All those lines really add up!
The welt pockets are the next chunk of construction and I really like the Grainline method of doing these. They went together smoothly and there’s a full sewalong to help you with this procedure if it’s new to you.
Finally we come to the binding. I’m not going to lie – there is quite a bit of binding, but probably not as much as you think and it’s carefully placed. The instructions are again exemplary and if you pay attention it will come out just fine. The Tamarack has a lovely curved hem shape – really interesting – and the binding highlights that so well. I actually added some binding to the inside of the sleeves too -just a few inches, but so that I could roll them up and have a lovely inside seam to flash too! It works well.
Overall, this is a welcome addition to my transitional wardrobe. I was worried the jacket would be boxy, boxy, boxy, but it isn’t. The darts and curved hem give it just enough shape to mould around me slightly and it’s just the comfiest thing in the world to wear. If, like me, you’re on the fence about quilted jackets, I can tell you that I’m very happy that I took the plunge and can see this getting regular wear!