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    The Little WHITE Jacket

    Finally I have put my fledgling couture skills to good use!

    Chanel couture cardigan Vogue 7975 french jacket

    My Mum’s couture cardigan is complete and it had its first outing this weekend.

    Some of you will remember that earlier this year I took a class with the Yorkshire School of Sewing to learn how to make Vogue 7975 using couture techniques and benefit from the instructor Gillian’s wealth of fitting experience.

    I was sewing a little black jacket with black grosgrain trim. Well I’m ashamed to say that is still sat at home, 90% complete.

    I am not ashamed to say that everything I learnt was well worth it for use on this gorgeous jacket for my mum.

    Chanel couture cardigan Vogue 7975 french jacket

    We used white bouclé with multicoloured woven crosses from iconic fabric heaven Linton Tweed; Gold satin lining from Jack’s Fabrics; Gold trim and buttons from Birmingham Rag Market.

    Chanel couture cardigan Vogue 7975 french jacket

    These are the skills that were involved in producing this beauty:

    • pattern-matching/aligning the colourful woven crosses
    • underlining each piece
    • hand-basting then quilting the lining to the shell fabric
    • hand-sewing all the various lining seams down
    • inserting a neckline stay
    • mitred corners
    • adding weighting to the hem
    • catch-stitching chain in place by hand
    • hand-sewing the trim around the edges

    There is also a fake placket at the wrists and fake pockets, all decorated with trim and buttons. We also added tiny hooks and eyes to close the jacket but mostly this is going to be worn open.Chanel couture cardigan Vogue 7975 french jacket

    We divided the work so that I would come over during the day, help as much as I could and then on the evenings I’d leave my mum homework (usually hand-sewing lining). She took the jacket over the finish line by hand-sewing all the trim and buttons. What a super star.

    And I think she looks fabulous in it! It’s the perfect length and style for wearing with jeans like she is here, and to pair with dresses.

    Taking a class is an excellent way to learn the techniques for making a realistic couture cardigan and Gillian is wonderfully patient so if you’re based in or near Yorkshire she definitely gets my endorsement.

    I’ve also heard excellent things in passing about Claire Shaeffer’s new book with enclosed instructional DVD but have yet to see any complete reviews for it.

    If you’re wondering why I keep saying couture cardigan and not dropping the CC-bomb it’s because of this thought-provoking blog post.

    And in case you wish to revel in my failure but learn a few things at the same time here are the links for my previous LBJ posts:

    Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Hopefully one day I’ll write Part 4!

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    Little Black Jacket part 3 – day 1

    This is part 3 of my mini series on the Chanel jacket course I attended in March.

    See here for part 1 about inspiration and here for part 2 on materials!

    Today I’m sharing my progress from day 1 of the course.

    I packed up my machine, pattern, fabric, notions and a travel sewing kit and set off to Roundhay!



    Gillian the course instructor advised making a toile with at least one sleeve set in and bringing it along for discussion on the first day.

    I traced all my pieces rather than cutting as I was sure I’d need to apply some “creative” sizing.

    I traced a size 12 at the neck/shoulder/armhole/bust and graded out to a size 14 waist and 16 hip.

    What I ended up with was pretty good I think. The shoulder length/armhole needed some adjustment but the fit across the bust waist and hips felt good. For a non-fastening jacket the fronts meet and it doesn’t gape open too much.
    Overall I felt it could have been snugger and Gillian agreed. She also helped me remove 3cm length from the sleeve.

    She advised that although the toile is an excellent indicator of fit it’s often better to fit the jackets again mid-construction because of the wool behaving differently to calico.

    Down to business. First up we cut out fabric and lining pieces, remembering to take into consideration nap, pattern matching and in my case the one way shine of satin. I didn’t use interfacing in the end as my wool had enough stability.

    The construction was not as expected. Instead of constructing the outer shell and lining separately and the attaching the two, the corresponding shell and lining pieces were basted together and machine quilted.

    This took the majority of the day. We chatted as we went and I made the most of the tips that were shared ready for when I make my second jacket. Here’s a few things I took note of:

    • For a truly expensive looking jacket it’s not enough to pattern-match your fabric in the seams and the sleeves, you should also be matching the pockets.
    • An inch of seam allowance helps you be safer rather than sorry with expensive fabric.
    • Don’t overpress your fabric… in fact barely touch it! Wool is most likely to show marks where you’ve squashed it.
    • It’s not worth overlocking your pieces even if they’re fraying like no-one’s business, as you’re just creating bulk at the seams and wool is plenty bulky enough! Just pink the edges if you need to do something.

    Sorry it’s taken so long to post this. I’ve just started a new job and also Mr AR has been unwell. More excitement drafted and ready to post in Part 4 about day 2 of my class.

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    Little Black Jacket part 2 – materials

    This is second part of my mini series on the Chanel jacket course I am attending in March. See part 1 about inspiration here!

    Today is all about materials!

    The course is based around Vogue pattern V7975.

    (I’ve heard people rave about Vogue 8804 from the Claire Shaeffer Collection but believe its out of print now.)

    The pattern calls for Wool and Wool Blends, Tweeds, Boucle, Gabardine and Mediumweight Linen.

    Gillian, the instructor from the sewing school, was kind enough to ring me to discuss supplies.

    We talked about how classic Chanel jackets are made from boucle or tweed and she explained about Linton fabrics, a leading stockist for Chanel.

    If Chanel choose a fabric from Linton for their line the agreement is that no other bolt of that fabric will be sold for two years. This safeguards the design house from replicas appearing in the market and discourages sewers from making themselves a copy at home immediately.

    The pattern does allow for other fabrics as I mentioned and Gillian encouraged me try something more trendy if I wanted. I’m not sure I’m the tweed jacket type so I’ve bought a beautifully soft (so lovely I want to cuddle it all day) plain black wool from Samuel Taylor. I picked an unobtrusive black poly-satin lining.

    Interfacing is needed but the pattern doesn’t say what weight so I have a metre of medium and a metre of firm weight fusible interfacing and will feel it out as I go.

    Notions are listed based on the view you are making. I’m opting for view B with the length of D/E.

    For this view I’m advised to get braid or ribbon for decoration. I decided to use grosgrain ribbon as trim and my current plan is to use it around the neckline, front and jacket hem, as well as at the cuffs and pockets.

    Gillian also advised the course would cover some additional techniques for making the jacket not detailed in the V7975 instructions.

    As well as interfacing we will be using interlining to add stability, so I have some cotton gauze ready to use.

    Also we will be hand stitching chain onto the jacket’s interior hem. This is another traditional element of Chanel jackets, where the chain weighs down the jacket hem to produce a desirable drape. But I couldn’t find any attractive weighted chain so Gillian and I agreed I should use weights inside the hem of the jacket as well as attaching the admittedly light chain I had been able to purchase.

    Finally I have three spools of black thread and have pre-wound three bobbins so I don’t have to halt progress if I run out. Part of me wants to use colourful thread in case I need to unpick but can’t think like that. Only success is allowed!!