Monday, November 26, 2007

Chanel jacket is finished

Vogue 7975, sizes 6-22. I made size 6, view B.

Not only I wanted to make a Chanel-like jacket for quite some time (since I saw Marji's jacket - read her review here) but I was absolutely fascinated with this jacket) - it is from the Threads online extra to Susan Khalje's article about making a Chanel jacket. This particular jacket is not quilted, but mine is, because I tried as we say in my country "to shoot two rabbits with one bullet) - make this jacket and try the Chanel techniques as well.

I chose this pattern because it was recommended by many (including Susan Khalje) as a pattern adequate for a Chanel-like jacket.

Fabric: Wool spongy very stretchy knit, silk serge for the lining, white wool/poly for collar and cuffs, chain for the hem, silk thread and beeswax.

First of all, I should have made a muslin. I know I should have but patterns do fit me out of the envelope most of the times and I was so obsessed with this jacket that I wanted to start working on it right then. After quilting the entire jacket, I discovered that the jacket was a bit too large and the armhole was not as high as I would have wanted, plus the shoulder was 5/8 too long. See this post about the problems that I had.

See this about how I solved the problems:

1) I took in another 5/8 at each center front
2) I took in the shoulder with about 5/8
3) Dawn gave me great advice about inserting a gusset that would solve my too large armhole problem. She later published a great post about raising armholes and inserting sleeve gussets - read it here. My fabric being very spongy, you cannot see that gusset even if I raise my arm and you're really close :)

My fabric is not exactly the fabric you would use for a Chanel jacket. It's not boucle, but a spongy wool knit - it is very stretchy so quilting it to the lining was a challenge even with my walking foot, because the knit kept growing. What helped was pinning and holding the fabric taut crosswise. Steaming the knit also helped to make it go back into shape.

I would have never thought about making a Chanel quilted jacket out of something else than boucle, but I was inspired by Carolyn who used the Chanel-like quilting on a Jackie O inspired jacket that turned out absolutely gorgeous - see her jacket and read her posts about it here, here and here.

Therefore I used this spongy knit, I sewed the quilting lines with silk thread and afterwards brushed all the sewing lines with an old nail brush, to stimulate the "sponginess" of the fabric and make it cover the sewing. The quilting is quite inconspicuous as a result, as you can see below

The quilting was done 1.5 inches apart (it is usually done at 1 inch apart but I didn't want too many quilting lines on this wool).

I've used Burdastyle Eva 4102 pattern for the collar and the cuffs.

The pockets are not quilted, but lined and attached by hand, with very small fell stitches

Attaching the collar and the cuffs: I left both the neckline and the sleeve ends not quilted for about 2 inches. I interfaced with a soft knit fusible both pieces of the collar and both pieces of the cuff, sewed them together, turned, understitched and then attached them (together) to the fabric part of the jacket, keeping the lining away. The lining was then attached to the cuffs/collar with small fell stitches (see below).

At the time that I bought the pearl trim (more than 6 months ago in Brussels) I didn't know there was such a thing as pearl piping and therefore bought a string of pearls. I sewed them by hand, one by one, to the collar and the cuffs. See how I did that in this post.

I've tried the jacket on before pinning the chain to the hem and it fitted really good, which made me wonder if I need a chain at all. I pinned the chain and tried the jacket on again. A revelation! The jacket hangs so much better with the chain. I was lucky and got both the right chain weight and the right pinning (not too tight, as to gather the jacket and not too large, as to make it flare). Each chain link is sewn by hand to the hem, attaching both the upper part and the lower part of the link with fell stitches, securing the chain perfectly to the jacket.

I'm really very happy with my new jacket and can't wait to wear it. I leave tomorrow for a very important and official meeting outside my town and it will come in handy.

Too bad, but the photos don't show the tiny white dots on my skirt and the little pearl earrings that I wear.

Read my PR review here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sewing the string of pearls to the collar and cuffs

I use a double thread, waxed and then pressed to melt the wax into it. This gives it strength and it also reduces tangling and knotting. First, I insert the needle in the fold (the fold of the cuff in this pictures) and take it out, making sure the needle and thread are in the back of the string of pearls.

I then bring the needle and thread to the front. What I do is actually a blanket stitch (see a drawing below), but I take care to thread the needle through the thread that joins the little pearls. Hope the pic speaks better than me :)

And this is how the stitch looks...

And now I put the needle in the same spot where I started the blanket stitch, thread it through the fold and take it out near the next pearl.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More on the Chanel jacket and some other stuff

OK, as promised, another progress report.

After all the problems encountered last week and a good lesson learned (make a muslin, you lazy idiot, even if patterns usually fit you out of the envelope!!!!) I'm finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

What I did:
1) took in another 5/8 at each center front opening, that was easy to do, because that seam is stitched by hand anyway.

2) redrew the armhole, as shown in the picture below (sorry for the poor quality of pictures, they're taken with the phone)

3) inserted a gusset to make the armhole higher, as advised by Dawn. Dawn, thank you very much for this great idea, it worked wonders plus as the fabric is indeed spongy, you don't notice it at all.

I've worked like a slave on this jacket, the entire last week, the weekend, yesterday too. It takes quite a lot of work (didn't count the hours and I wish I had) but not only it's worth it, but I discovered that hand sewing is very relaxing for me. I've been hand sewing for ages (four years of Home economics in school plus helping my grandmother with hand sewing - she was the seamstress of the village and she only had one of those ancient Singers, with a mechanical pedal and doing only a straight stitch. Therefore, even if I mainly taught myself to sew, I did have lots of practice on doing fell stitches, slip stitches, catch stitches and buttonholes in my childhood) and therefore am faster than I would have thought. The fake fur coat that you see below is done recently by Livia, my sister (including the hat) entirely by hand. No, I'm not kidding, they moved to Sweden in January this year and she cannot afford a sewing machine yet.

Back to the Chanel jacket: so far, the sleeves are inserted, the cuffs are there too, collar is inserted, the entire lining is closed everywhere with fell stitches. I attached the pearl trim to the collar and center fronts and I still have to attach it to the cuffs. I sewn the patch pockets by hand (it's sooooo good to have a spongy fabric), the hem is done too. I still have to attach the hooks and eyes, but I tried the jacket on and marked their position. I also have to attach the chain at the hem. And let me tell you: last night I tried the jacket on and I said to myself: why should I attach a chain? It fits very nice the way it is. Then, I pinned carefully the chain to the jacket's hem and tried it on again. Boy, what a difference. I can't even explain it, it is a different jacket! I'm so glad that I managed to get the right weight for the chain. I had no idea what kind of chain I should get but I just weighed several types in my hand and let my sewist gut decide for me :)

And now, about my recent addiction: lingerie. It's only Sigrid's fault! :) Sigrid, good luck with the blouse. Don't despair just yet, I'm sure it will turn out great. I had some elastic lace and some cotton/lycra in my stash, I took apart a pair of boyshorts and here you are:

Wide stretch lace

Cotton/lycra and symmetrical stretch lace cut in two lenghtwise and sewn to the fabric with a small zigzag (2.5 width, 2.5 mm length)

Cotton/lycra and scalloped stretch lace

Love these boyshorts, they are super comfy, they show no visible panty line and I think they're sexy too. It takes 30 minutes to make a pair and I cut 4 pairs at once. I now have to find the time and energy to take apart (with lots of care) an old and very well-fitting bra. Then, once I have a good pattern, sky is the limit as one of my friends likes to say.

And before I go ... a teaser :)

Let me tell you, when I bought this pearl trim, I didn't know there was pearl piping. Therefore my pearl trim is actually a string of pearls. I had to sew it by hand, little by little, catching each little knot between pearls in my sewing. I'll show some pics of how I did that in my final post showing the jacket.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Answers to your comments

First of all, thank you so much for your support!
I'm happy to report I've solved the problem and I'm working like crazy on the jacket. Dawn, the gusset was the answer, I hope I will post more about this tomorrow, I took 2 or 3 pics with my phone and I will tell you about my progress.
Carolyn, I know yours is not exactly a Chanel jacket, but I wanted to mention your blog because it was you that decided me to make this jacket in another fabric than boucle!
Johanna, thanks a million for the drawing, I didn't have any drawing of an actual Chanel jacket except the one provided by Claire Shaeffer in her article.
LMH, thank you, I'd like to have that quotation. I have the article mentioned and another one, also by Claire Shaeffer, on making Chanel skirts.
Donna, I've never worked with silk boucle, believe me this knit wool stretches sooooo much. Thank you for giving me the link to your blog, I'll check out the entire archive, your tips seem so very helpful.
Until tomorrow, happy sewing everyone!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Chanel-like jacket (2)

I worked on the jacket the entire evening and another hour and a half this morning (woke up earlier with the jacket in mind). I'm done quilting the entire jacket, stitching the side seams and shoulder seams in the fashion fabric - the lining seams are not hand sewn yet, because of the collar and cuffs that need to be attached first to the fashion fabric. I've pinned the lining seams in place and they will get sewn later.

I've also inserted one of the sleeves, only to discover that I pinned my sleeves wrong - the left sleeve to the right part of the jacket ouch ouch ouch. Never made this mistake before, why did I have to make it now of all times when the sleeve was inserted by hand? Lots of work to insert it and now I will have to take it out. That should teach me not to sew/pin when I'm tired!

Regarding quilting: my fabric being a tweedy wool knit, not a boucle, I've decided to space the quilting lines 1.5 inches apart instead of 1 inch. Let me tell you, working with a knit (one that is quite stretchy both lengthwise and crosswise) is a pain. The knit kept growing. Pinning the quilting lines helped, using a walking foot helped but the knit still grew a bit. I found that holding the fabric taut crosswise helped. Using lots of steam also helped, as the knit is wool and the steam shrank it back to its initial shape.

After quilting and pressing, I found that the quilting lines are almost inconspicuous. To hide them even more, I brushed the lines in both directions (from top to bottom and from bottom to top) with an old nail brush and then pressed again, holding the iron at about 1 inch from the fabric and using lots of steam. This fluffed the knit a little bit and the quilting lines are now buried in the fabric. Pictures later. So far I've tried to put "normal" batteries in my camera and they don't work, I really don't know why.

Another lesson learned: when working this much on a jacket, make a muslin!! I don't make muslins because a size 6 or 4 in Big 4 patterns fits me right out of the envelope. Now, I should have. First, when trying it on, the jacket was a bit too large and I will need to take out another 5/8" at the center front on both sides. No problem, this is easy to do since those seams are not finished yet, but that means that I will also have to shorten the collar which is already cut and interfaced. Second, I would have liked the armhole to be a bit higher - it fits very well, but I really love high armholes and I read so much about Chanel jackets having really high armholes that I'm probably picky without having much reason.

Third (and last), I think I would have liked a shorter shoulder but am not sure yet. One, the sleeve was inserted backwards when I tried it on. Second, I think that the neckline grew quite a bit. I will have to do some crowding on it, especially on the back neckline. That will make it hug my body closer and probably (hopefully) solve my problem.

UPDATE: Looking again at Marji's photoset, I see the the shoulder is a bit dropped, so I might not need to shorten the shoulder. Look at this picture to see what I mean. I just need to reinsert the sleeve correctly, press it in place and maybe crowd the neckline and see how I like it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Progress on Chanel-like jacket

Ten days and one conference (I was the organiser, so it wasn't easy) later, here I am, back in business. I would have liked to take some pictures to show the progress (and the various stages) but my camera's rechargeable batteries seem to be dead so I'll have to get some new ones.

All the pieces of the jacket and the lining are cut, I used normal seam allowances (5/8) as my fabric is a tweedy wool knit and it doesn't fray a bit. All the pieces are thread traced and I started quilting last night. I'm using a new needle, silk thread and my walking foot. So far, so good. Tonight I'll keep on quilting and I will also interface the creamy white collar and cuffs.

My step sister in law brought me 3/8 clear elastic (can't find it here and I use it a lot for my knit tops necklines) and a mini-vacuum attachment kit so I'm really happy.

Another reason to be happy: Tany sent me the most wonderful midnight blue taffeta. I absolutely love this fabric, both the colour and the appearance (I don't like that shiny type of taffeta that much and this one is pretty matte). I'm thinking a trench coat for spring but I still cannot decide. A shirt woulde be nice too. Too bad I can't show you pictures, maybe later. Thank you, Tany!

Sigrid sent me some bra foam, together with a gorgeous stretch wide white lace, two types of elastic (for bra straps), bra sliders. I feel a lingerie-sewing addiction coming... bras, boyshorts... hmmm. Thank you so much, Sigrid!

I am also trying to organise my projects, decide what I want to sew in the coming months (I need a coat and some dark denim jeans and I've got the fabric for those) and make a storyboard for the Timmelfabrics SWAP 2008 - the board is here. My qualifying purchase for the SWAP is a gorgeous eyelet fabric, can't wait to get it.

Resources for sewing Chanel-type jackets:
Making that Classic collarless French Jacket thread on Artisan's Square
Marji's photo album and her PR review
Carolyn's Jackie O' jacket - read her posts here, here and here
Sewing Diva Phyllis's post
Chanel sew along on PR
Susan Khalje's article in Threads no 121 - see an online extra here
Claire Shaeffer's article in Threads no 23
Cherri Dowd's article in Threads no 128