The Chanel jacket is of course famous and timeless
Apparently the term “Chanel jacket” is copyrighted, and we should refer to anything I am ever likely to own as neither a chanel jacket, nor a Chanel for now jacket, but a little French jacket (LFJ) instead.
I have heaps of short, collarless jacket patterns in my stash, patterns in this style, but have never sewn any. However after attending Susan Khaljes cotoure class, and setting my goals for this year (#slowsewing)! I decided I’d go the whole hog, buy Susan’s online course and actually make a little french jacket.
The LFJ is in theory supposed to be more like a cardigan ( known as a cardi in Australia) and involves over 100 hours of labour to create. There is mich more information on the blogs of Melanie, Inna and Leisa .
Because I’ve never seen one of the stash patterns, I wasn’t sure how or if I’d wear it, so decided to start with utilitarian black, as its much less likely to be conspicuous in my wardrobe. I bought some boucle at stitches to style, whilst in th he company of enablers in Feb 2017. I went with a beautiful cornflower blue silk to line, which picks up some subtle blueish threads in the boucle. Susan thought it was a little thin, and needed some batiste underlay.
I made two muslins in May. Using Susans jacket pattern,the main issue I had was to take some length out of the back at the waist. The second muslin was just right.
The pattern has lovely 3 piece sleeves, and was drafted by Susan and a French pattern maker. Remember ther are no seam allowances, but it is true to meausurements.
Fast foward to late July, and I started the tedious, (but in reality) really fun process of tracing the underlay allowed me to trace onto the batiste, thread tracing, then quilting the lining to the boucle. Normally, you would cut around the muslin pieces and thread trace the seam lines directly to the boucle, but as my boucle was a little see-through, Susan’s rule is that it needs some underlining for stability. This allows me to skip the step of adding silk organza through the front shoulder regions for stability. The quilting needs to occur ON GRAIN, leaving once inch from the seam lines, except at the bottom, where you leave two inches.
Once all that work is done, you try it on again, and have to decide whether it fits. There are 8 longitudinal seams with their enormous seam allowances, in boucle, underlinig and silk, AND the shoulder seams. So I pined it on along the shoulders, and the cente front, trying to ignore the seam bulk, and examined myself in the mirror, (sans fliptop head) to examine the fit from all angles. At this stage, you need to imagine if it fits ( despite being essentially a “wooly mamoth” (to quote Susan)) or if you need to unpick seams, rebaste and resew. You can imaging the temptation…
Susan says that most often she finds the girls are being a bit restricted, which is “not so pretty”, and indeed, I decided to unpick the princess seam for the biggest adjustment, adding about 1/2 inch at the fullest part of the princess seam, and add a little ( about 1/4 inch) to the side seams to allow a bit of ease.
At this stage, I had come so far, with so far to go, and was rapidly falling out of love. I know by now this is a routine part of the process, and was confident, my love affair would be rekindled.
Pushing on, I tamed the beast, sewed he shoulder seams, and tried it on.
I was suprised to discover the shoulder seams so far forwards. 12 months ago, I would have left it alone, but unpicking a seam is no big deal on this ride. So the seams were moved backwards half an inch.
Susan talks a lot about the virtue of the thread tracing and large seam allowances which allow you to modify for fit as you sew. The fit of this garment is so hard to judge because of these very seam allowances: a build in contingency is definitely needed.
Then the shoulders were hand sewn in using Susans tutorial, which was a little complicated, but no drama at all. However, then trying to tame the lining on the inside, well that was more difficult.
After all this, all that is needed id to apply the trim, then sewn closed the lining.
I struggled with trim trying to find a trim that I could live with, so eventually decided to go without, and add later if I found something. As the jacket is unstructured, it needs something to stablise the edges, I learned this on Mels blog.
The home straight was fairly straight forwards, adding the closures (add wax) fell stitching the lining, and the chain (add wax) ,but I found myself a little sad as I came to the end.
I’m off the melbourne in a few weeks, so I’ll pop into Jimmy’s buttons to see if I can find the icing for my cake.
Notes To self:
add 1/2 inch at the arms side of the princess seam
take 1cm off the neck at the back
add 1/2 inch ease to the side seams at the hips ( could have got away without this)
remove ?1 inch ease form the sleeves
Leave huge allowances at the underarm.