Once upon a time there was a designer (and still is) called Mieko Mintz (originally from Japan and now works from New York) who found some Kantha quilts (India) and made some jackets.
Heidi wore this (New York) and Margy (California) found the shop.
Joy (Stitchers Guild) first showed the Heidi pic and a whole lot of us were hooked (obsessed?). Manuela (Hong Kong) seemed to be the first to the interweb but I will stand corrected if anyone thinks it’s important to acknowledge who was first.
I was miles away (Belfast, Northern Ireland) and way behind. I found eLcrafto an international Etsy source for kantha quilts both vintage and new.
A kantha quilt is made from fine cotton or old saris; two layers of fabric quilted together by hand with large conspicuous running stitches. Light in weight and vibrant in colour and made with happiness and joy which makes it all the more worthwhile to wear and use.
Now I’ve caught up with the rest of the world using a pattern from Paco (Spain).
From India, via USA and the far east, Europe to Ireland – it really is a small world…..
And I don’t care what you say out loud – but I know, we all want to look like Heidi. So if I have a jacket like hers then I’ll look like her too. See…. told you so. I just left my Ray Bans in my pocket and didn’t happen to be in NYC at the time the paparazzi caught me………
I started with this –
Then agonised for ages on a suitable pattern. I wanted a shawl collar and I wanted it to match the outside fabric so that meant a separate piece. I wanted pockets. I wanted reversible. I wanted hip length. I wanted kimono-style wide sleeves. I wanted to keep it simple – not too many pieces, no darts or Donna Karan type tucks and pleats.
I settled on Paco Peralta’s Unique jacket.
Lovely simple lines and I’ve made it twice before so I know the construction order and its perfect fit. I did however, steal the collar from Donna Karan Vogue 1263. A bit of fixing, shortening and narrowing: folding pattern bits out of the way and I had a shawl collar that fitted the jacket.
The original jacket has in seam pockets on both sides but I made welt pockets more towards the front on the patterned side and patch pockets with covered button closures on the plain side. I bound each patch pocket with patterned fabric. I didn’t make the original single button fastening either; my jacket really just lies open but I did put a large covered snap at the hem, just in case.
The inspiration kantha quilt jackets are single layer with binding or overlocked seam edges. The quilts are as beautiful on both sides, sometimes with many different patches. My version has a patterned side and a plain side – I say plain, but the running hand quilting stitches are a pattern in themselves. To save the effort of binding every seam and raw edge I just made another jacket! Put one inside the other and all the seams are covered, and I got the reversible jacket I wanted. A bit heavier and more substantial than a single layer version but then we don’t often have Californian or Indian summers here in Ireland!
The plain side has little snippets of the patterned side. The hem and sleeve hems were slipped stitched together – this method means you can control the two layers much better – stretching and easing them to match each other. That’s not binding on the sleeve but the other sleeve just slightly longer.
I added a dangly thing on the back for absolutely no reason other than it brings a bit of pattern to the back. The DK shawl collar has shaping darts at centre back and on the plain side of my jacket they are on the outside – a deliberate design decision – of course! Though I will admit to getting a little bit confused between right side and wrong side during construction.
The shawl collar is pretty cool – it can be worn flat, em, like a shawl…It can be folded up to resemble a scarf and in the worst of weather conditions can even be worn over the head like a hood. Those few darts at the back add to the structure and create a soft stand-up collar instead of just a bit of fabric hanging round your shoulders.
Just in case I didn’t provide enough links in this post for you to waste your time and provide a valid excuse in the name of research not to sew – here’s another link that you could waste hours and hours of your valuable time.
As a consequence (all in name of research and self developement), this is the reason why I have short hair!
Woe be me…..I’ll never be like Heidi, even if I have a jacket similar to her’s.