Indigo tamarack: part IV

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All the while making this jacket, I thought to myself: this will either look crazy, or crazy good.

As I rounded the home stretch of binding the jacket edges, I knew that the latter was confirmed. Introducing my indigo Tamarack jacket: hand-dyed, patchwork-pieced, hand-quilted, lined in upcycled flannel, filled with locally made wool batting, bound by hand, a supremely cozy feat of skill-building slow fashion.

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It just feels so good — crazy good — to finally wear something that has been growing and evolving, stretching and reflecting over a year of creativity. In a way, this jacket charts my trajectory in style and skill, explorations and impulses. In a way, it’s less a statement jacket and more a summary.

In nearly any incarnation, the Tamarack Jacket pattern by Grainline Studio seems like the perfect transition-season outerwear. For mine, I lengthened the body by 1″ and the sleeves by 2″, my standard adjustments, and the fit is perfect for lightweight layering. It’s a little crowded with my Exeter cardigan underneath, but just right over a fingering-weight sweater or simple sweatshirt (may I suggest: Liv light or Linden). It doesn’t yet have any form of closure, though I plan to add a few hooks & eyes, which I’m waiting to see if I can find at a textile recycling event later this month, and the updated version of the pattern includes a delightful looking snap option.

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Should you choose to make a Tamarack Jacket in pre-quilted fabric, or perhaps a vintage quilt (yes, please do that!), you could probably have one in a day. Should you go for custom machine-quilting, you can probably still finish it in a weekend. Should you wish to make an indigo vat, cut apart and patchwork together your pieces, source your batting locally, quilt it together with sashiko thread, bind all the interior seams, finish the exterior binding by hand, and embroider your heart into painstaking welt pockets — well, it might just take you a year and a half.

And it might be a crazy-neverending WIP, but the payoff might just match the persistence.

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Worn with: vintage silk tee & jeans, handmade shawl, favorite necklace & clogs.

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Indigo Tamarack: Part III

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Fear not, my tamarack jacket is alive!

Remember when I bought the pattern as soon as it came out, dyed the fabric with indigo, sourced locally made wool batting, and even tested my quilting methods, then tabled it for six months and then wrote about how I really ought to prioritize it my queue?

Well it’s been the slowest of slow fashion, but the thing is, I didn’t really like how the quilting was looking. I went so far as to start machine quilting the back piece of the jacket, and though the stitches were even and I basted it and used a walking foot, the batting was so lofty and my quilting so amateur that the edges of the piece no longer aligned. I knew that if I continued I would hardly have a jacket the same size as the one I cut out.

I put my tamarack jacket in time out.

In the intervening months I had so many ideas for how to shift directions — minimalist sashiko hand quilting that would match the color of the jacket for a subtle tone-on-tone look; maximalist sashiko hand quilting that would celebrate the dashing white stitches in geometric patterns; machine quilting with narrow stripes to tamp down the loftiness; hand quilting with wide stripes to embrace the puffiness, etc. etc. as the Pin-spiration grew.

Inspiration 1, 2, 3, 4

I settled on a plan to make the quilting easier by reducing the loft of the batting by carefully “peeling” half of each piece off. To compensate for the lost insulation, I decided to switch from the lining I had cut from scraps to a lining cut from a thrifted flannel sheet. But still, I was uncertain of how to quilt the jacket.

And then, the Secret Catalog arrived and Maria’s OKONION x Secret Catalog quilts gave me ALL the heart eyes. (I know, emoji-speak, but seriously, check the quilts):

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Suddenly, all I wanted to do was quilt and all those months of Tamarack indecision evaporated as I decided I would jump into some quilt piecing. Since I had decided to remove the indigo-dyed scrap lining, I now had a set of coordinating fabric I could cut up and piece together. The last time I tried to quilt was in middle school and I chose turquoise and bright purple fat quarter sets from the local big box fabric store, and I think it was just a simple square repeat but the process lasted longer than my love for the color palette so I never finished it. (sorry mom, I still so appreciate your help).

I’m a big fan of Purl Soho’s blog, so I figured their classic aesthetic and generous tutorials wouldn’t lead me astray. The denim pinwheels pattern caught my eye quickly and seemed like a perfect match, so I trusted my gut and started cutting some test squares.

testing pinwheels

I followed the Purl Soho instructions but decided on 4″ pinwheels and adjusted the math accordingly (with 1/4″ seam allowances for the pinwheel piecing). Quilting the whole jacket seemed overly ambitious, and less wearable for my style, so I decided on quilted panels and calculated how many pinwheels I would need to fill the panels.

I think it took me about 2 evenings of chain piecing, cutting, pressing, and more piecing to assemble all the pinwheel blocks, and then another evening to arrange them into panels. I didn’t get too fussy with the arrangement, I want it to be random but avoid repeats next to one another (there are 4 fabric types and 6 pinwheel combinations).

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Attaching the panels to the (already cut out) Tamarack pieces was still a little nerve wracking since it felt like the point of no return, but I finally did that and am moving ahead with quilting! While sashiko quilting will make the jacket even more eclectic, I’ve decided I’d rather do that than stress about the misalignment misadventures with my novice machine quilting. Sometimes, hand stitching is just so much more soothing.

My partner has been out of town for the week and I’ve been filling my time with late nights of sewing and other creative entropy. It’s been really fun to satisfy my quilting lust and resuscitate this WIP, too. Hopefully, Part IV will be the finished jacket soon!

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Cue the queue check

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I went on a long weekend/short vacation trip this past weekend, and leading up to it I had every intention to create a new garment in time for the trip. I made a muslin, made some tweaks, and then… took an honest look at everything that I needed to do before traveling and realized that sewing would have to wait.

I’m giving myself a pat on the back for listening to that voice instead of slap-dash sewing, which stresses me out and leaves me unsatisfied with the quality, and you know what? I was perfectly happy with the clothes I already had in my closet to pack up and jet off.

But another funny thing happened when I started packing: I realized that I didn’t really have any knitting to bring. Knitting helps me relax, passes time while traveling, and is usually a big part of my time off activities — but it becomes sort of a Goldilocks process. My current project is too close to being finished and I couldn’t block all the pieces on the road, and my next projects are patiently waiting in my stash but not yet swatched.

So I went without anything to knit or sew. Shocking! And still quite relaxing. I read a lot; I watched political debates with my Dad; I went jogging in the sunshine. And I finally slowed down and thought through my project queue!

I’m usually a rather “monogamous” maker — one knitting and one sewing project at a time, please. Otherwise my creative time starts to feel daunting rather than exciting. But a few false sewing starts, and my goldilocks-esque knitting indecision, and it seems a queue check is in order.

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Knitting:

  1. Sawyer sweater for Jenn: I’ve been knitting a Brooklyn Tweed sweater for Jenn for what feels like forever. I know that’s dramatic, and I know I’ve taken many breaks to knit other small gifts and accessories, but I’m tired of dragging the project out (see above, back to monogamy) and so very close to finishing the second sleeve! Then it needs blocking, seaming, and a neckband – but I’m determined!
  2. Handspun mitts: I took a spinning class in January and made some bulky, quirky handspun yarn, then promptly started knitting some mittens to prepare for an impending snowstorm. The snow fell, and has since melted, and the mittens are on hold because I tried to adjust the pattern and they look really, oddly narrow.
  3. Lilian beanie: I test-knit the Lilian Beanie pattern for my insta-friend Ani (@Close_Knit). I love it! I’ve been wearing it lots… but still haven’t woven in the ends, and I want to add a little pom pom before calling it finished.

Sewing:

  1. Tamarack Jacket: I hit a road bump when it came to quilting my hand-dyed fabric and locally-sourced batting. The batting is really lofty, and just wasn’t looking great with my machine quilting skills. So in the depths of winter, when I knew it was too cold to wear a light jacket anyway, I tucked it all away until further notice. Now that spring is on the horizon, I’m itching to wear this jacket and inspired all over again to try some new quilting techniques.
  2. Almada Robe: I look forward to reading Seamwork Magazine every month, but I had a hard time picturing most of the patterns working with my stash or wardrobe. Until Alamada, the kimono-inspired robe from the February issue. I started making it right away, and am piecing it together out of some up-cycled washed silk crepe de chine. It’s slow going, but I know it will be so luxurious to wear.
  3. Long sleeve layers: my winter wardrobe was very much lacking in the long sleeves department, so I made plans for a Rise/Fall Turtleneck and a long-sleeved Lark tee. I made the turtleneck and am slightly embarrassed to admit how much I’ve worn it without actually finishing the sleeves or hem! The Lark tee is heading to the cutting table soon too.
  4. Jumpsuit: this was my plan for my getaway garment — an effortlessly chic, double gauze jumpsuit. As mentioned above, this got tabled due to limited time, and I think I will keep it on the back burner until the weather warms up more in the next few months.

SO, where does that leave me? Well, the knitting list is more straightforward to me, and I’m basically moving along in order. The sewing list is a bit trickier, but I’m starting with the winter tees since they can be finished and worn right away. After that, I’m looking forward to continuing with the robe and Tamarack, perhaps simultaneously. But of course, with the early spring weather around here, I’m day dreaming of warm weather wardrobe planning and new pieces with some of my favorite old (long stashed) fabrics.

Are you “monogamous” with your makes, or do you keep lots of looks in progress?