Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Sew Small World


DSCN5083Once 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.

Then the next thing I knew was Shams (Los Angeles) with this. Then Rhonda (Chicago) with this and this.(perfect timing, Rhonda!)

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 –

il_170x135.639693017_folm Then agonised for ages on a suitable pattern. DSCN5034I 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.

dscn0625Lovely 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!

Long hair

Woe be me…..I’ll never be like Heidi, even if I have a jacket similar to her’s.




59 thoughts on “Sew Small World

  1. great jacket and I think you look good in it.

  2. Your jacket is magnificent!!! And I love your choice of quilts. So pretty.

  3. Never heard of Kantha quilts and yours is particularly lovely; great colours. I wonder how big they are; you seem very luxuriously draped from just one quilt.

    Might have to do some shopping now.

  4. I love the colour and pattern, paisley is my favorite! I also like the two different pocket treatments. Rosemary

  5. I love the pattern on yours. . .I went to check out the Etsy shop. . .what size did you purchase for your jacket?

    • Hi jean. My quilt was 90 X 108″. Big enough for two jackets in this pattern but my collars are not cut on the bias – didn’t have enough for that. I have a bit left over which might make a bag. It’s a shame not to use absolutely everything from this lovely fabric.

  6. Who wants to be Hidie? Certainly not you! Your much more interesting, exciting and down to earth at the same time. I think this is fabulous! your very inspiring, mostly, I think because you “own it”..super cool, way cooler then you know who! Simply put, a terrfic jacket, you look smashing in it. Way to rock a quilt!
    Joyce, from Canada, with no blog.

  7. Gorgeous, Ruth! I love all the creativity as so many make their own Kanthas!

  8. Lovely! I like the patterned side and I adore the chevroned “plain” side.

  9. Really, really pretty and a fun post, too!

  10. So cheerful and ready for Spring…thank you for introducing all of us to such a cool project!

  11. Love it! The perfect spring jacket. And you should definitely keep your own hair 🙂

  12. Beautiful either side!

  13. The more of these I see, the more I want one! You have done a fabulous job on this and your fabric is beautiful.

  14. Fabulous jacket Ruth, love those colours on you, great choice of quilt.

  15. Er – who is Heidi? I know, I’ve been living under a rock for the past several years but I honestly have no idea who she is. On the other hand, I am an avid follower of your blog, and Shams and Paco – a much classier group IMHO. Lovely jacket – I may just have to follow the links with an acquisitive eye …


  16. this is a great post with so many links – thanks and I am sooooooo tempted – just love all the jackets

  17. I saw these quilts being made in India by everyday people. Although yours is especially beautiful and the colours exceptional most poorer people will make bed covers by stitching old sheets, blankets, and any other fabrics they have, together with a running stitch.

    Thank you for doing and showing reversible Ruth – I can’t really get my head round it and you have done it before. Really appreciate the longer post.

    And loving that little bit of sunshine…

    • Hi Kate, I was a wee bit concerned about the conditions in which the quilts were made but I can find no evidence of exploitation and your input here has also helped to reassure me.

      Reversible is really just two jackets sewn together – very much like a lining. I machine the collars together but slipstitched the hems.

  18. Lovely. I agree the double layer useful in UK, even in summer! I don’t really know who Heidi is either (though a surname Klum has popped into my mind for some reason; so a model?) – I know she doesn’t have a blog that I follow. I like that your jacket is reversible and love the different pocket techniques. I haven’t heard of the pattern either but then I wasn’t sure the Japanese style would suit me. Might have to rethink!

    • Yes Anne, Heidi the model and presenter of Project Runway though we don’t get it anymore in UK. The double layer was certainly useful yesterday despite the sunshine!

  19. What a lovely jacket. You’ve done a wonderful job, and double sided, double layered, definitely necessary here. All the kantha jackets appearing on sewing blogs are so colourful, particularly desirable in the gloomy old UK. It really is inspiring, but I am still back on the Alabama Chanin one, not to be completed any time soon. Maybe I’ll go for red and orange next time to brighten things up a bit!

    • Hi Trish, I’ve a stack of AC that needs to completed in the next 6 weeks if I’m going to make the SWAP deadline – you’ve just reminded me! Thank you

  20. Thanks for a lovely Saturday morning post.
    Fabric is so beautiful and the colours suit you so well.
    Love the details you have gone through to make your jacket reversible…….its on my sewing bucket list to try and make. A reversible garment at some point, but always put it off.
    Your jacket is a perfect fit and looks fantastic………good health when wearing it

  21. What a fantastic jacket. I love the colours and you have used the perfect pattern. So clever of you to make it reversible too. So much inspiration!

    • The original single layer jackets are also reversible Jean with overlocked seam finishes I believe. The double layer is much more practicable in the UK. Thanks.

  22. What? That’s not Heidi in your new jacket? Well I don’t think she would look any better. Great work. I am so tempted……

  23. Beautiful result. I hope you’ll show us more pics with the collar worn as a scarf and as a hood.

  24. Love that you’ve made your version reversible! Also thanks for the link to the quilts, I’ve finally gone ahead and purchased one. Yours added to Shams and Margy’s versions tipped me over the edge, so now a Kantha quilt is on its way to me.

  25. I want, I want, I want!!! That is all.

  26. I haven’t heard of Kantha jackets or quilts before, so I really ended up down a rabbit hole with this post. Your jacket is amazing! And I love that it is reversible. I can’t even begin to think about how you put it all together, and it is definately just the thing for our fabulous Belfast summers!

  27. Beautiful quilt, material and pattern. I like the stitching lines and the large shawl collar the best! Excellent idea to put this all together!

  28. I love this jacket! Do you take commissions?!

  29. This is exquisite, Ruth. Such beautiful handwork.

  30. I’ve just found your web site after it was mistakenly deleted from my computer. I really love your Heidi jacket, and would live to give it a go!

    Thank you for your blog it’s great to find you again.

  31. Very pretty, and not too far from the AC you have been making of late.
    Enjoy your jacket.

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