The Puff Jacket: Part 2

In the beginning of this series, I left off with having finished the initial pattern block and the first test muslin (See Part 1). With a working block created, I was free to start drafting the real pattern. To do this, I needed to figure out how to incorporate the synthetic insulation, zippered pockets, and create methods to channel the various draw cords. The project moved along steadily during the drafting period, then hit some major hurdles during construction. It required some on-the-spot alterations, and a lot of seam ripping, but the final product fits and looks professional!




Materials List:

  • All items are approximate.
  • 3 yards of Thinsulate 200 Double Scrim Insulation
  • 3 yards camouflage rip stop nylon taffeta (60″ bolt)
  • 3 yards black polyester lining (60″ bolt)
  • 1 – 38″ #5 YKK separating coil zipper
  • 1 – 7″ #2 (?) YKK zipper
  • 2 yards 1/8″ shock cord
  • ≈ 10 feet of 1.5″ wide black lycra for binding
  • ≈ 10 feet of 1″ grosgrain ribbon
  • 7 eyelets

Final Drafting Points and Insulation:

One of the most difficult parts of the pattern drafting, was coming up with a zippered pocket design that would cooperate with the slick nylons used in the jacket. I experimented with a lapped design, welt style design, and settled on a notched pocket, that was inserted into the side seams.

The side seam of the jacket had to be moved forward, towards the center front, or else the pockets would be in the middle of my sides. To do this, the bodice front and back were taped together at the arm hole and traced off onto one large, combined piece. Then, at the armhole, two style lines were drawn down to the hem line. This allowed the front seam to be placed closer to the center front, allowing a more natural pocket location. A back style line was also created, with made a five piece bodice. 2 fronts, 1 back, and 2 sides.

I also used this tracing to make a pattern piece for the main body of insulation. By using the large, combined pattern, I was able to eliminate all side seams in the insulation layer, reducing cold spots and bulky seams.

Back, sides, and fronts, all in one piece

The picture above shows the cut insulation and the pattern piece. The insulation is cut on the fold, and is all one piece. The paper pattern piece is also the start point for designing the style lines and pockets described above.

Insulation was also cut for the sleeves, and hood pieces.


These pieces are all cut from the regular pattern pieces, and include a 1/2″ seam allowance. The double scrim insulation made for easy sewing, but next time I will try a single scrim and see if it has more loft per weight.

After the insulation is cut, the shell fabric and the lining needs to be cut as well, which takes forever. Each piece has to be cut three times!


Sewing the Insulated Lining:

I sewed the insulation to the lining side of the jacket, so that there would not be quilting lines visible from the outside. This is only my preference for looks, and you could easily reverse this for a different look.

First, the lining needs to be constructed. This includes attaching the fronts to the sides and attaching the back. I also added a patch pocket, and a zippered pocket to the lining. My pocket design for the outer shell necessitated a horizontal seam be placed along the fronts as a catch point for the top of the pocket bag. I took advantage of this seam in the lining to drop in a small zipper.

Lining front and side, with zippered pocket. Chalk line represents a stitching line to reduce the depth of the pocket.

With the lining fabric pieces sewn together, it’s time to quilt in the insulation. I chose a random 5″ horizontal spacing. Synthetic insulation does not need the support of down, and does not require baffles or other fancy infrastructure. 


The main body of insulation requires a small dart be sewn into each side to account for the shaping of the jacket around the waist. These darts were sewn, and the excess material trimmed to reduce bulk.

With the chalk lines in place, the insulation is matched up to the wrong side of the lining. I did a quick hand basting to keep everything in place, as the whole piece is large, and its important to retain the original pattern shapes. Starting in the center and working outwards, I sewed the insulation to the lining with a 3 mm stitch, being careful not to get carried away and stitch through my pockets.

After quilting, the shoulder and side seams are sewn right sides together. This creates a rough vest. 

This picture includes the sleeves, which were sewn during the next step

The sleeves were quilted together in the same fashion as the body, and then sewn together along the underarm seam. With the sleeves sewn together, they are set into the main body using the traditional technique.

Once I had the sleeves sewn, I threw it on for a quick test fit and realized that the pile of the insulation had made the arms holes way too tight! It would have been just wearable with nothing but a T-shirt on, but that was it. I set the project down for the day to mull over my options, worried that I may have wasted everything…


3 thoughts on “The Puff Jacket: Part 2

  1. Your pictures match up perfectly with your descriptions! I was following perfectly until…
    I am wondering if the fill width needed to be taken into account when designing your armcscye for your pattern. It could be only 1/8 or 1/4 inch but that would make all the difference when added to the bottom of the sleeve too. Just a thought. I hope you see your way through this one. Looking for your update soon! 🙂


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