experiments in outerwear

When I was eleven, maybe twelve, I was given a quilted jacket for Christmas. It was a seriously beautiful mishmash of gorgeous, silky cotton batiks, but it was also seriously not my style. I so, sooo wanted it to be because it was insanely comfy, just as you’d expect wearing a blanket out in public could be. I tried, but it just wasn’t working, and eventually that lovely jacket found its way into the donations pile. I can’t quite say I’ve been on the lookout for my perfect quilted jacket ever since, but almost!

In the last couple years I’ve seen some beautiful versions of this sometimes classic, sometimes quirky piece popping up here and there on Pinterest. Then I saw this lovely at Sew Over It, and this pretty at Jolies Bobines, and decided I’d try making one myself!

quilted-jacket-sewstylist-Pic1This was a total experiment as I’d never tried quilting of any sort before and had very little idea what I was doing. I spent about five minutes researching some quilting basics, then threw all caution to the wind and dove in. Although there is this lovely pattern available from Republique du Chiffon, I was too impatient to wait for international delivery. Instead I snagged this rad 1980’s number off Etsy:


Along with the jacket I got pants, a tank, and a tank dress! The entire look as pictured is maybe a wee bit much, but I actually think I’ll make up all the pieces in this crazy/delightful outfit eventually. (As a side note, despite prior evidence, I do not have any special thing for rehashing or otherwise trying to bring back the 80’s. It kinda seems like the 80’s is the decade when fashion curled up and died. But then, depending on how you look at em, there are some sewing pattern gems to be had.)

I loved that the Simplicity folks made the sample jacket out of something that looked like silk, so I did the same for mine. I’d bought this silk intending to make Tania culottes, but at home I realized the print had a strong diagonal repeat and probs wouldn’t work for, well, a lot of things. But I think it’s working pretty nicely here.


I wanted to make this piece warm enough to wear as true outerwear, so I layered some black flannel and some mid-weight cotton batting under my the silk outer-layer. I think the quilters call this a sandwich…? Anyway, I cut out all the pattern pieces individually, in each of the three layers plus once more for the lining. Then I layered everything but the lining together and basted a bit around the edges, plus a few crisscrosses through center, to hold things steady.

Ultimately, all that basting didn’t help me as much as I’d hoped it might. I started quilting in the center of the pattern piece, then quilted out one side, then came back and quilted out the other side. Silk is both a little slippery and a little stretchy by nature, so things shifted a bit as I went, but I’m pretty sure this is the sort flaw only the maker can see. I think I quilted at roughly 1″ intervals, going perpendicular up and down the body pieces, and horizontal across the sleeves. This pattern has raglan sleeves, so I stopped quilting at what would have been the shoulder seam, to help define that area a bit. Of course, I’m telling you all this because, thanks to my very cool printed silk, you can’t actually see much of it.


This choice to do slightly denser quilting is one change I made from the patten as written. Additionally, I took a few inches off the length so it hits a little below my natural waist (because nobody needs a quilted jacket padding their hips). I also took quite a bit off the sleeves… maybe too much, I don’t know. I wanted my wrists to show, but somehow the sleeves and the body of the jacket ended up on a straight line with one another, though I thought I’d planned to have the sleeves fall an inch or so longer. So, if I make this up again (and to be honest, I don’t know that I will) I’ll go a smidgen longer on the sleeves, which I think would help the proportions.


All that sandwiching and layering also affected the drape of this little jacket. You can see how it kind of stands off my body. I sort of like it like that… Again, if I give it a second try I might spend more time looking for batting that has a bit more drape.




The last pattern adjustment I made was to add some pockets. I added side seam pockets, which I lined with the same cozy black flannel I used inside the jacket. I’m not gonna lie, that flannel lined pocket idea was a good one. Sinking your hands into soft, warm pockets is pretty happy making!



quilted-jacket-sewstylist-Pic9I also added a little interior pocket to the lining, for storing my phone or whatnot. It seems like most men’s outwear has at least one of these interior pockets, but they’re unhappily rare in women’s wear. Do designers assume most ladies don’t care to store things next to their boobs? I dunno, but I’m definitely a fan of the chest pocket (though I did position mine a bit lower than I might have for a gentleman).

quilted-jacket-sewstylist-Pic7Yep, I lined it in silk too. I’m really fortunate to have a solid $10 per yard silk source here in my fair city. And as you can see, I’ve been working on perfecting my welt pocket game; things are coming along nicely! I made all that silk bias binding too. I remember the first time I tried making bias tape, when I was relatively new to sewing. The whole undertaking definitely got the better of me. This time around I took my time with the making, and the applying, and while it’s definitely not perfect (like that part under my fingers may not be fully attached), it was super satisfying to see how my skills had improved with time.

quilted_jacket_sewstylist_pic11Speaking of which, this is my first official piece of me-made outwear! I feel like I’ve totally turned a corner with this one! I’m sure you can relate to feeling like the more you make the more you pretty much just want to wear the things you’ve made, exclusively. Up until recently most of what I’ve made has been of the tops/skirts/dresses variety, which is to say not exactly winter appropriate. Winter is coming (at least in this hemisphere), so I’m glad I’m starting to feel confident in crafting some seasonally appropriate garments!

It’s funny, as I was writing I started to realize that this garment got me over several sewing hurdles (quilting, binding, outwear) and helped me develop some relatively new-to-me skills (sewing with silk, welt pockets). Not to get all rhapsodic about it, but seeing this little, bit by bit development is one of many things that just makes me love sewing. You push yourself, see that you can do it (even if imperfectly) and those little successes inspire you to push yourself a little further next time. Here, more than in other areas in life I think, that kind of development is trackable, recognizable, and of course insanely satisfying. So, do you have some sewing hurdles that you’re warming up to conquer? Or maybe you’re proud of one you just cleared recently?




57 thoughts on “experiments in outerwear

  1. I love it, down to every little detail. The silk print is gorgeous, I love that it has raglan sleeves, so it’s a bit less boxy, I love that it’s voluminous, and that little inside pocket finishes it all off perfectly. Beautiful!

  2. Geooooorgeous. It was on my list of things to do this winter to sew exactly that jacket. But now it’s spring and it ain’t going to happen this season. But yours confirms how delicious the idea of a quilted jacket is and you rock it beautifully.

    • So glad you like it, Sofya! I don’t know where you are, but I can totally imagine doing a lighter weight version of this jacket for a more cardigan type effect, which might be perfect for spring? Using flannel alone as the “batting” could make for a totally yummy creation! Or, if you’re anything like me, you could get started on your jacket nowish & it’ll be ready just in time for winter! 😉

    • Aw, you flatter me. I gotta be honest and say that, while there was a time investment behind all that quilting, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it could be! This was a very accommodating entry into the outerwear universe.

  3. It’s beautiful, it looks great on you and so incredibly comfortable too! I know exactly what you mean about conquering sewing fears. I’ve only been sewing seriously for a few months and recently made my first dress, which doesn’t fit right. It knocked my confidence, even though I *know* that mastering fitting is part of the process. I’m going to make a few simpler garments while I warm up to conquer that looming hurdle!!

    • First, here’s to you for seeing your way through that minor sewing setback! I still have the cotton skirt that was my first attempt to make something wearable tucked away in my dresser. It totally didn’t fit. In fact, I was sewing for well over a year before the whole fitting thing really started to make sense to me, and trust me when I say I’ve still got a TON to learn on this front. Fortunately for us that full & flowy look is totally on trend. A few simple, low-fit garments sound like just the thing to keep your sewing mojo flowing!

  4. Your jacket is really amazing and I love your sense of style. Lucky you for being able to score cheap silk! I’m getting ready to conquer my (unfounded) fear for sewing sleeves so I can tackle all kinds of blazer/jacket/outerwear goodness. You’ve definitely given me a bit of confidence to get on with it already. Cheers!

    • Oh man, I can absolutely relate to the fear of sleeve sewing! You might want to try a raglan sleeve, if that’s a look that appeals to you. It’s super easy to get these in because there’s no easing involved. Another word of warning: When you do decide to do an eased sleeve, make sure you’re using a pattern that is well drafted. My first attempt at sleeves nearly killed me (only slightly exaggerating) because there was waaaay too much ease at the top of that sleeve. I’m so excited for you to try this new sewing adventure–good luck!

  5. Gorgeous. I’ve had quilted jackets on my mind for a while now, ever since RDC released their pattern. I’m yet to make one. Yours looks absolutely amazing and I love the colours of the silk print you’ve used. Lately I’ve found myself preferring hand made over store bought too, and increasingly I’ve been donning outfits without even realising that they’re entirely handmade. When I do realise, I feel so happy.

    • That RDC pattern is so super cute, right? All of those patterns are pretty dreamy, really. I love that you accidentally wore an entirely handmade outfit! That’s not likely to happen to me because I’m still not past the phase where I’m goofily, girlishly pleased that “I made this!” Hehee.

  6. Your quilted jacket is lovely! Your choice of materials and your sewing are just great! Very professional. I know my first quilted jacket was no where near as lovely as yours. I am excited to see your next project.

  7. So freaking cool!! I’ll bet it’s so cozy to wear, what with the silk and the batting and all. I love projects that you can measure your skills by. My first piece of outerwear was a Minoru. Even though I struggled almost every step of the way, I learned a ton!

    • Thanks, Morgan! I remember your inspiring Minoru, and your cute mini-ru too. On one hand, projects like that look pretty intimidating. On the other hand, I guess if you’re willing to take your time and wield a seam ripper, you can probably sew just about anything! At least, this is what I’ve been telling myself as I look at the pieces of Gerard coat I cut out back in June… 😉

  8. Perfection! I love making weird 80’s patterns RELEVANT again and this looks so cool and modern. Also loving your colour palette these days….

    • Thanks, lady! Yeah, it is fun to imagine the stylish potential hiding inside a funky vintage sewing pattern. That’s one of those secret sewing skills I never thought much about until I started to develop it.

  9. This is so beautiful, and that fabric looks so gorgeous. Basically the styling of this whole outfit is perfect. I definitely agree that taking your time with things (re: welt pockets) makes all of the difference, it’s always the little things!

    • Thank you, Aim; I’m so happy you stopped by the blog. Also, can we say it again: Do not rush a welt pocket! I have sure lived and learned my way through that lesson!

  10. This looks great!! I’ve been wanting a quilted jacket since seeing a little girl wearing one. Also Isabel Marant’s silk quilted tops.

    The hurdles I’m running towards are getting my feet back in the patternmaking pond and just sewing. Every. Day.

    I will definitely click back when I get around to my jacket!

    • Ugh, yes: Isabel Marant’s quilted pieces are so yummy! There’s that pink silk quilted top that I just want to live in.

      I really enjoy pattern making, but it is challenging as it can eat up a lot of time that might otherwise be spent crafting the actual garment. Of course, if we could convince ourselves to do a little everyday time might be slightly less of a factor… slightly.

      Please do come back and let me know when you make your quilted jacket dreams a reality!

  11. This is so great! Love your choice of patterned silk, and thanks for sharing your process of learning how to quilt. I really like what you said about getting over sewing hurdles — I feel the same way, but I’m definitely way more of a beginner so it’s inspiring to hear how you’re building your skillset too. What’s your source for $10/yd silks?! I live in the east bay and am not so familiar with SF fabric stores, but I really want to sew a silk Alder.

    • Thanks, Jess! I love the idea of a silk Alder! But also, get outta my head ’cause I totally just bought some of that $10 silk for this very purpose! I’m waffling on my choice as the silk is more of a crepe de chine weight, and I’m undecided if it has enough heft to work as a dress. The not-so-secret silk stash can be found at Fabric Outlet on Mission St. It’s a little catch as catch can down there, which is why I stop in about 1-2 times per week. At this point everyone that works there recognizes me, which is only a little embarrassing. Let me know if you decide to check it out. We could meet up for silk shopping & coffee/lunch/cocktails!

    • Oh yes, even the “good” 80s patterns are totally giggle worthy! Always with the bizarre art direction, bodacious hair, and vivid fabric choices. Working with them is a fun experiment though, as it really shows how much power there is in fabric choice and styling. I’m so glad you like how this little experiment turned out!

  12. Lovely jacket! You have my mind sorting through my fabrics for the same sort of thing! You didn’t mention what type of quilt batting you used, but a suggestion would be to use a “Warm & Natural” type (all cotton, or wool or a combo of both) if you used a poly batting in this jacket. The natural batting (and that’s only one brand–there are many more available) falls better than a poly one does (naturally LOL).

    • Thank you, Mary! I’m pretty sure my batting was 100% cotton, but I know some of them are heavier or drape better than others. I think one issue was using both flannel AND batting. Originally I was experimenting with adding another layer of batting. Pretty glad I didn’t as this little jacket would have been able to stand up on its own!

    • Thank you! You have such a great eye for fabric, so I’m feeling especially flattered by that. I can imagine how gorgeous this jacket could be in one of your lovely hand-dyed silks!

  13. Wow! This is stunning! It’s so stylish and so cool, and looks awesome on you! I really like the print you chose- it’s so fab! Love everything about this!

    I totally agree with you about enjoying the way that you can really track your progress and growth with sewing. It’s really satisfying to see tangible proof that your skills are improving! My next big project will be a wool winter coat- I haven’t done any real tailoring yet, so I’m looking forward to that challenge (later in the fall when it isn’t so hot in my apartment!).

    • Thanks, I so appreciate your compliments! I’m excited to see what sort of wool coat you’re working on. I got all the way through cutting out pieces of a Gerard coat before I up and lost my nerve. This jacket was pretty simple construction wise, but I am feeling a wee bit braver having finished it.

  14. It’s wonderful, and suits your style so much. I love finding old patterns and looking beyond the cover art! That dress with the pleating will be gorgeous too I’m sure. I’m so impressed with your fearlessness. I’ve never quilted anything but I think maybe a walking foot might have helped you. The other thing you could try is maybe a light spray of fabric adhesive to glue the layers together….. The only piece of outerwear I’ve made thus far is the Salme cropped blazer, which turned out much better than I anticipated. One gets such a sense of achievement making such useable pieces!

  15. Beautiful jacket! the fabric is gorgeous and I love the stiffness of it … reminds me of shell or armour… coupled with the softness of the silk creats a very subtle and intersting contrast!

  16. wow i love this! you are a chic and mysterious detective lady in this outfit, and i’ll say this – it’s tough for me to tell which garments you made and which you bought! the coat is gorgeous. i’d love to know where your jeans are from too, they’re amazing.

  17. New reader here, I think I found you by way of Oona? My memory is shot. Regardless, lovely jacket. Quilting it, that take determination. I am warming up to master set in sleeves. I did one on a muslin and there was very little swearing going on so mayhaps it is soon time to crack into my real fabric.

  18. This and you in this, is very very fabulous. I’ve also been wanting to make some amazing quilted jacket and I would be totes happy if it turned out anything like yours. That fabric is sensational and I love your styling too!

  19. Wow, I love this! Really love it. How inspiring, especially seeing as how dreadfully 80s the promotional photo is, and yet you have turned it into something wholly desirable. Well done! My first visit to your blog, and I must say that I love your style. Very chic!

  20. I just discovered your blog via Closet Case Files and I totally dig your style! This outfit is super chic. Doesn’t it feel
    great to look good in handmade garments?! Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks, Nathalie! I totally love these pants, which are Marc Jacobs; scored at the outlet mall! However, you could definitely make your own version using the Closet Case Files Ginger jean pattern. You’d want to use the high waist version and of course add some flare!

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