The Ugly Good Quilt Jacket

 I've been inspired by all the quilt-clothing love online lately, you know, just because.

The story starts with a set of these hand stitched, wonky, funky as "F" patchwork pieces I picked up at a second-hand store years ago. (What would you even call these, are they stars? Medallions? Leave a comment if you know!) The fabrics are all different types, obviously being recycled from old clothing, possibly drapes or curtains, and whatever else the original maker had on-hand. I think there's even a little feed sack fabric in here!

The back side of the patchwork all looked like this, hand stitched every-which-way. The original maker was definitely using my favorite sewing method of "making do" when putting these together. I also decided to make do with this project, splurging only on the pattern and the background Kona Basil Green fabric. All the other stuff, the batting scraps, backing, etc. I (or someone else - read on) already had on-hand.

I used the Grainline Studio Tamarack Jacket for this project, and made a tester before getting started. I decided to cut my Tamarack jacket straight across the bottom, and made adjustments before cutting the pattern. I also purchased the additional hood pattern, and made the version of the jacket without the overlapping placket for snaps.

I took this project with me to the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild spring retreat last weekend, and I worked non-stop on this jacket through the entire retreat. I literally just finished it up last night.

I picked out 5 of these patchwork blocks/stars/medallions/whatchacallits to create my quilted jacket; one for the front, one for the back, one for each sleeve, and one for the hood. The first step was to straighten out the patchwork enough to lie flat and quilt without creating lots of puckers.

Next, I attached the patchwork to the green background fabric, and started selecting lining fabric. I had a nice white and red print that I planned for the lining, but only had enough for the front panels, hood, and bottom part of the sleeves. This is where being at retreat with my guild mates was totally invaluable, I had lots of help working through what to do about coming up short for the lining.

The solution came from my mate Holly, who had brought a handful of vintage chintz home-dec fabric samples to share, and they worked perfectly as a "surprise" backing for the back of the jacket. 

When I'm wearing the jacket, all you see is the red and white accents from the lining, and you only see the additional vintage patchwork once the jacket is off!

I used one block for the front, quilting it as one piece and cutting it in half later with the pattern. I made-up two hoodie type pockets for the front, big enough to hold my phone if I'm out for a walk.

Quilting on each of the patchwork blocks radiates out from the center diamonds, and it helps to highlight the pattern of the diamonds which can get a little lost with all of those loud fabrics next to each other.

A lot of time was spent deciding which patchwork block was going on the back of the jacket, and I love this one! You can really see the shape of the 7 pointed diamonds, and the colors look amazing with the green fabric. Plus it's WONKY, I mean, the stripes in the two diamonds don't line up, but it all works for me.

It's a very cozy way to honor this unknown maker's original work, which is naturally full of honest creativity. Not sure I'll ever make another one of these, but I'm loving every minute of wearing this one. Quilt clothes must LIVE!


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