outer-wear wardrobe

Grainline Studio – Tamarack Jacket

grainline tamarack - sakijane.com

As Sewcialists, I think we can all relate to this pervasive idea that a Fabric Stash is Capital-B Bad. At the beginning of this year, I witnessed sewist after sewist resolve to Buy Less (fabric) and Use More (stash). It’s an idea that I think has really wonderful intentions; it means your production outweighs your consumption, that you’re not frivolously buying away pretty fabrics that will never see life as a garment, and that you don’t have to deal with the Analysis Paralysis that comes with cutting into a fabric you’ve hoarded for ten years.

It’s a goal I’ve heavily considered making in the past few weeks myself, because I do have fabric that’s been carted around from apartment to apartment (and even country to country!) for over a decade and I do have fabric that’s never been touched by a needle (and probably won’t be for the foreseeable future). But I quickly pushed the thoughts of a Stash Purge out of my mind, because at this moment in time, I’ve got a convenient built-in excuse for actually hoarding more fabric: I live part-time in a place where I have little access to the kinds of fabric I actually want to sew with, and the bigger my stash, the bigger my palette.

grainline tamarack - sakijane.com

But this idea of purging the Fabric Stash got me thinking: what does my Fabric Stash do for me and my process of garment-making? Does it hinder or help me in production?

Often, I’ll find an inspiring pattern or an inspiring fabric that I’ll respectively Pin or purchase. When it’s a pattern, I’m rarely successful at going to the fabric store straight away and finding the perfect fiber to pair it with; when it’s a fabric, I’m rarely successful at swiping through my Pins to find the perfect pattern. I think this process works beautifully for some (as evidenced by the amazing makes you all share), but for me, this usually ends with me choosing a poor match of drape or weight and pattern. When I go looking for the “perfect” match, I end up trying to fit a square peg into a circle hole. This is often when I’m the most disappointed with the end product, and when I feel the most discouraged throughout the process.

grainline tamarack - sakijane.com

I feel the most confident in my makes and in my process when I let the pairing come to me naturally. I do frequently paw through my stash to see what I have available to me. I let the fabric linger in my mind, and I let it be the inspiration for several different garments before landing on The One. The process takes time, usually months (if not years), and, at the risk of sounding like an arteest that cannot be rushed, it’s the process that I find the most successful and the most pleasure in. This is why I feel no guilt about adding to my stash; I know it’ll get used at some point.

And this Tamarack Jacket is a prime example of this process. I actually bought this slubby pink cotton as a measly 110cm x 1m remnant in Tokyo in 2004, and it sat at the bottom of my stash untouched for as long, save for a 10” square Past Self (regretfully) cut out for God-Knows-What. I actually actively disliked this fabric for many years, blaming the purchase on my youthful impulsivity, and I only allowed it to sit in my stash (albeit at the very bottom) because it wasn’t a synthetic. It continued it’s life of neglect and disdain until the other day when, seemingly out of the blue, an image of this fabric as a cropped Tamarack flashed in my head.

And ever since, I have not stopped swooning over the idea. Call it a product of my fickle heart.

grainline tamarack - sakijane.com

The Pattern: Tamarack Jacket by Grainline Studio
The Fabric: Slubby, yarn-dyed Cotton from Marunan, Tokyo and pinstripe cotton shirting from Mill End
The Size: 0
Adjustments: none
Alterations: Cropped the length by ?, patched in bits of lining at the shoulder and sleeve cuffs to account for shortage of Shell Fabric

The Tamarack pattern calls for either 3 yards of unquilted fabric that you quilt into a quilt sandwich (i.e., a layer each of lining fabric-batting-outer fabric) or 1 2/3 yards of pre-quilted fabric. As mentioned above, I had only a scant 1m of the outer shell, which I pretty desperately wanted to make into a Tamarack Jacket, so there were some pretty major, albeit easy, alterations that had to be made in order to make it work.

First off, I had to crop the entire jacket by several inches. I’m not sure at this point how many inches got lobbed off because the lobbing happened in varying stages of Will-It-Fit, but I think in the end the point at which I cut it is where the pockets would have normally started. With some creative pattern placement on the cross-grain, I could have fit the entire jacket into a 1mx110cm cut of cloth at that point.

grainline tamarack - sakijane.com

Well… I could have if I hadn’t cut a 10”x10” chunk out of it. (Major eye roll and finger wag at Past Self.)

Fortunately, pairing the outer fabric with this pinstripe shirting played a major part in my falling in love with this too-cutesy, slubby cotton all over again. Honestly, I think it might make it even more cutsey, but also significantly less boring and gives it a subtle and discerning ‘80s nod. The no-brainer solution was to bring that shirting to the outside so they can play together as more obvious design details. Plus, the Tamarack is meant to be quilted, so a minimal patch-working would easily blend into the aesthetic itself.

I started with just the shoulder patches but quickly realized that there still wasn’t enough of the outer fabric, so I debated between adding a large patch of lining to the bottom back hem or to the bottom of the sleeves. Obviously, the sleeves won, and I’m happy with that outcome.

I omitted the beautiful welt pockets the Tamarack is designed with since it was now too short for welts and instead added a not-so-secret secret patch pocket to the inside.

grainline tamarack - sakijane.com

grainline tamarack - sakijane.com

After much debate, I also added a loop to hang the jacket from on the outside.  To quote John, “it’s a weird detail that confirms it’s bespoke-ness”, which is as thoughtful and enough of a reason as any to just go for it. Plus, my roommate is trying to convince me to wear this thing inside-out sometimes like a Club Jacket; I’m not sure how I feel about walking around with my name plastered across my back, but it’s definitely a cute idea in theory!

grainline tamarack - sakijane.com

As far as the interior details go, I tried to pink the interior inseam of the batting and outer fabric quite short to minimize heavy seams, but my pinking shears were no match for the crazy thickness of that quilt-sandwich. I ended up just trimming it short with no pinking or notching since it would all be tucked tightly into the binding.

Speaking of binding… I’ve now compiled a short list in my brain of the things I miss most about Germany, the most obvious being proximity to my partner, the second being sewing with my Bernina, and (probably) the least obvious being Gütermann Schrägband (bias binding).

Holy fudge. You guys. I knew I felt and experienced a difference in how smooth Gütermann bias binding installs when I first sewed with it a few months ago, but I thought I was just nerding out over nothing, being a complete Gütermann Fangirl of the Highest Order and all. But no, it wasn’t that. It’s that the weave of Gütermann is structured just enough that it doesn’t get wonky upon install, while still having enough give to actually act as bias binding. It’s 100% cotton, and it comes pre-starched for maximum ease of sewing. It also has NO SEAMS; seriously, the binding is just one continuous length of 3m. I haven’t been able to find it in the US; not on etsy, eBay, or amazon, at least. If anyone knows of where I can source this magic while I’m stateside, please send me a note or leave a comment!

grainline tamarack - sakijane.com

Back to the bias binding on this jacket… I used a 100% cotton binding purchased by the yard from Mill End on the interior. It’s a little more flimsy and sheer than I’d like, but that was the only option unless I wanted to venture into the land of poly-blend. Thus, I’m not the happiest with the actual application (and I even ripped it out twice). If you look closely, you can see just how wonky the binding turned out, but oh well. It’s just on the interior and you can’t win them all.

I did end up making my own bias out of the lining for the outside detailing, since I thought it would match better than the cream I stuck on the inside. I debated between hand-stitching and top-stitching the binding in, and tried topstitching since that’d be like 2.5 yards of hand-stitching madness. But the top-stitching looked so Wonky (yea, Wonky with a capital W) that I had to rip it out and let the slipstitch win.

grainline tamarack - sakijane.com

grainline tamarack - sakijane.com

The label is something I embroidered several years ago as a logo for a crafting blog I started and quickly abandoned, which I fortuitously found just the other day while rummaging through some crafting boxes. I think the coloring on that goes really nicely with the jacket, and sewing labels into my clothing is a finishing touch that has always made me super happy. It’s like finishing a sundae off with a cherry even if you hate the flavor; it makes everything look visually complete.

Ultimately, I’m really happy with this Tamarack, and I’m even happier with how my fabric shortage helped turn this into something I wouldn’t normally think to make. Also, while you’d think you can only have so many quilted jackets, this is the second time I’ve used this pattern, and it certainly won’t be the last.

How do you all engage in your creative processes? Does a Fabric Stash help you stay creative or does it hold you back? I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far!


10 Comment

  1. It’s beautiful! I always feel such triumph at getting a garment out of less than recommended fabric! That guterman bias binding sounds amazing – hope you can track it down….

    1. It gives you a great sewing high, doesn’t it? I hope I can track down the bias binding too— but I’ll be back in Germany in a month, so I’ll just have to stick up then!

  2. I appreciate your thoughts on fabric stashes. I am one of those people who absolutely feels guilt about keeping a lot of fabric on hand. I’ve noticed, though, that instead of purging fabric or using it up as quickly as possible, thinking about wanting to keep a minimal amount of fabric on hand is better for evaluating future purchases rather than burning through what I have. Since I am aware that it takes me longer to sew than imagine, I try to choose fabrics that I think will still be appealing to me in a while down the road. This is working well lately. Plus, I really enjoy getting fabric when travelling, and these are fabrics that I certainly don’t mind waiting until the right project!

    Your jacket it very, very impressive! It has a real personality that only wonderful crafted projects can have!

    1. I know Jess— collecting fabric while traveling is better than collecting postcards. Plus, you get to wear the memento later! And you’re also right about it helping to evaluate future fabric purchases. When I don’t feel a *need* for fabric, I’m smarter about what I end up adding to the stash. No guilt about the fabric stash! I think if you’re gonna do it, embrace it fully.

  3. Hi Saki! I just found your blog! I really enjoyed reading about your thoughts on fabric stashes. When I started sewing as a teenager, I would only buy the pattern and the necessary fabric and notions for that garment. I did’t have the money for a huge stash. Years later, my stash is huge both fabrics and patterns! I have tried to stop buying more of both, but it’s impossible! If I don’t check the internet fabric stores and don’t physically go into a store I am safe, but as soon as I do, I feel like a child in a candy store! I do sew mostly from my stash though and try to only buy notions as far as possible. Otherwise, I could say I am an incurable fabric and pattern addict!

    1. Ivona, I know exactly what you mean by child in a candy store! I’ve been thinking lately about how fabric stores are my personal Breakfast at Tiffany’s–nothing bad could ever happen to me there. The safest thing to do is to not step foot into fabric stores, but what fun is that? 😊

  4. Your finishing details are amazing-often when I finish a project I’m just so happy to be done I concentrate all the “doneness” on the wearable side.. perfect this & that, but neglect the symmetry & artistry of the finished innards. I love your flash of the personal innard. I look forward to your next inspiration. You’re a delight to read & an inspiration to just get at it… whatever “it” may be. Thanks.

    1. Nancy, thanks for such a thoughtful comment! My love for the pretty innards are a more recent discovery– maybe in the last couple of years– but I think after decades of making, you have to discover new ways for finished projects to feel rewarding. I’m sure you know what I mean 🙂 thanks again for your support, it means a lot!

  5. Hi – i am going to Prague-Budapest-Vienna and i too like to seek out fabric while traveling. Thanks for the info.

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