Like many others in the sewing blog world, I recently embarked on a familiar journey -- the making of a Chanel or French Style Jacket. With so many inspirational creations made by Goodbye Valentino, PoppyKettle, SunnyGal and others, as well as a series of informative posts by A Challenging Sew and Thewallina, I was jazzed about this project. In the beginning, I had grand plans for my little jacket.
I ordered a swatch pack from Linton Tweeds -- purveyors of fabrics to Chanel and other design houses. I especially liked the cream tweed (bottom right) and the blue/gray/pink one next to it.
Thanks to the formidable research skills of a sewing friend, I was able to refer to patterns that might work for this style (Claire Schaeffer's V8804, Vogue 7975) as a basis for drafting my own version. I also took a look at her newly acquired book by Claire Schaeffer -- The Couture Cardigan Jacket -- which was a helpful reference. I looked into getting a walking foot for my machine so I could quilt the lining/fabric without any trouble. I made up a muslin that, with just a few tweaks, fit really well. I was on a roll.
Then the second-guessing began. I started thinking that buying Linton would be an expensive proposition for a "first try" Chanel jacket. I convinced myself of this, and so found a reasonably priced fabric with a lofty quality that would work well for the quilting in a black/cream mix.
While this was the "prudent choice", I wasn't really in love with the fabric and, as a result, my interest in the project began to wane. After cutting into it, the more I disliked it. I hand-basted the body to see how it would look/fit. Ugh. The wide seam allowances and lack of pressing didn't help, but the look was on the puffy side. I started thinking that I didn't want to spend hours and hours working with fabric that I didn't really love. The cut pieces sat in a pile on the floor as I tried to muster the enthusiasm to complete it.
I think the shame of it all -- unfinished, piled on the floor, etc. -- finally moved me to work on it. The fabric choice no longer made it a "Chanel" and, without the quilted lining, it didn't seem to be "Shanel" as well, but at least it could turn into a wearable jacket.
I underlined all of the pieces with silk organza to stabilize the loose weave.
I used twill tape to stabilize the center fronts and around the neckline edge, as the jacket does not have a facing. The wide seam allowances would serve as the facings. I stabilized the shoulder seams with twill tape as well.
It's a simple style -- no collar, lapel or front closures. The only unique feature is a double peplum that I placed in the back. In hindsight, I would draft the back differently -- lower the peplums so they sit at the waist or slightly below (my version sits slightly above the natural waist). Also, I should have cut the peplums on straight grain for more stability -- the flare would have naturally provided enough bias for movement.
I originally intended to finish the hems with bias and fold them up. Unfortunately, the loftiness of the fabric combined with the flares made for very messy and unattractive folded hems! I couldn't rip out the bias without cutting them off or risk tearing the fabric, so I left them as-is. This meant there wasn't enough stability along the hems, so I added some bias hair canvas, which provided a nice weight to the hem.
I found an interesting trim at Joann Fabrics -- a flat chain placed along the center of the trim -- that worked well for the edges. The fullness from my wide seam allowances (plus the loft of the fabric) allowed me to forego separate sleeve heads -- I just pressed the allowances toward the sleeve to fill out the cap. I left the shoulders soft with no shoulder pads (again, the wide seam allowances provide some volume along the shoulder line).
I used china silk from my stash for the lining and hand-sewed it into place.
Almost there! I hope to have finished photos soon!