CHANEL jacket




I think I'm ready! I've gained some information for a special project.
This is a story behind my Chanel style cardigan jacket.

PART I: In Search of Style | In Search of Fabric | Underlining study
PART II: Braid Trim study | Buttons

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ PART  I  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


In Search of Style:

Chanel jackets are rich in styles. They can be boxy or shaped, with collar or without, long sleeves short sleeves, with buttons closure or hooks... All the different styles are just modifications of the iconic Chanel Cardigan Jacket, that's incredibly soft and fluid. It's different in every way from the tailored jacket we know.
One designs that caught my attention, is the boxy style. Chanel's boxy style jacket is not perfect for all the figure types, but it has a long history and a flawless look.


My inspiration:

Chanel's "Little Black Jacket"










Many patterns try to catch that look, and they surely do, but only on pattern's image. It's another story when you sew the jacket at home. The proportions change because of your specific size, and your body's individual shapes. One of the important factors, that make a garment perfect for you, is proportion. Many girls wear "trendy" clothes, but they forget to look if the proportions of the garment suit their body shapes. A long time ago aesthetically pleasing proportion was found - "Golden ratio".  Hope this explains the importance of proportions.
I remember watching the "Signe Chanel" video series on how Chanel's collection is made. The ladies at the drafting stage, try to maintain the proportions from the sketched garment. A small change of millimeters could have change the whole look. This is why in couture they work with patterns without seam allowances.

Back to Chanel's jacket. I really like the proportions of the "Little black Jacket". It's boxy style ,rectangular shoulders and the slim sleeves. I never tried a real Chanel jacket but it looks very comfortable.





Another issue that's common to Chanel's iconic jacket, is the amount of panels it has. The panels help to shape the jacket better. They also help to re-size the jacket to a bigger measurement, hence the big seam allowances.

Since I'm new to sewing, I finished only two projects by now, I tried to read, watch and learn as much as possible on Chanel style jacket. Books, magazines, videos, blogs are read many times all over again.

V8804
At the same time I've started to sew a muslin, a vogue pattern by Claire Shaeffer V8804 in size 12. The pattern comes with an informative step by step assembling couture process. Have to say that her books and DVDs are priceless.











Chanel style jacket V8804
 muslin #1
The muslin of this model looks like an old style Chanel jacket. It has sloped shoulders, wide three piece sleeves, and of course the front seams are here. Claire Shaeffer amassed a personal collection of Chanel designs, she created a DVD "Behind The Seams: The Shaeffer Collection Volume One: CHANEL" with close up pictures of the jackets. Most of the sleeves from those pictures are wide, and I guess she drafted her V8804 pattern from one of those jackets.




These three piece sleeve rumors  intrigued me. I know that this is something very special to the Chanel jacket. The vintage models had a large sleeve, which explains one of the reasons for being so comfortable. With the three piece sleeve you can make a bigger cap with a small ease that needs to go into the armhole of the jacket.

Chanel jacket's large sleeves





Claire Shaeffer in a self made jacket.
The sleeve here is large too. This is V8804 pattern.










This is not the silhouette I was looking for, the sleeves are too wide, and I don't get the feeling of the "boxy" style that I was looking for. Of course my sway back screams. The shoulders line look slopped a little, but I think a proper shoulder pad will fix that. The shoulder points are rounded, because of the wide sleeves, and I want them to have a rectangular silhouette.

Some sketches of vintage Chanel jackets. Here we can see the slopped shoulders silhouette.







Karl's sketches with a "boxy" shaped bodice, slim sleeves and rectangular silhouette in the shoulders area, that I really like. Usually in minimalist sketches like this, they try to maintain the important lines of the jacket's proportion and silhouette. By looking at it, you can say that this is Chanel's boxy style cardigan jacket.





Audrey Tautou from the movie "Coco before Chanel".
I just love the style of this jacket, the silhouette of the shoulders area is perfect.










And of course the slim sleeve, that I really like.
This is a two piece sleeve, which divides to upper section and under section.












I have to say that the two seams in the front of the jacket, the ones that board with pockets, bother me a lot. They look like scars to me. I prefer a design that's without them.






"The Little Black Jacket", was build without those seams. This is something I want to incorporate in my jacket too.







The sleeve is a two piece slim sleeve.








Now I know that V8804 is not the silhouette and style I was looking for. But how can I obtain the one that I see in my mind?
The only way is to draft the pattern by myself. This is possible with my body twin dummy that I have. (my tutorial on how it is made)
But I didn't take any sewing nor draping class.
This is when I've decided to study draping. I took an online class "Fashion Draping: Dressmaking Basics" by Paulo Gallo.

I made two different muslin's for the jacket, but they had some problems because of my lack of knowledge.
One was too fitted the other was too tight in the shoulders area.
When I new that I need to make the fourth, I wanted to start from fresh. I bought a thick cotton gingham fabric, in order to have the maximum control of the grain. I had a totally different experience with it, it wasn't skewed like the cheap muslin fabric, and of course I had a lot of guiding lines.
Voila! The fourth self drafted muslin was finished.

Chanel style jacket self drafted
Muslin #4
I tried to drape it as in the video "The Little Black Jacket" without the seam lines at the front. It has two panels at each side, and a two piece sleeve. Darts at the bust line and back arms cycle; these darts I want to ease like it is done in couture. The sleeves are too short, I'll lengthen them.








These are my shoulder pads. I did them from batted wool. I would like to change them to a less warming fiber content.









Sleeve study:


This is the sleeve after I lengthen it. The red line resembles a seam that can be placed in order to get the three piece sleeve and a perfect vent placement. But I prefer to make a two piece sleeve, that's why my vent will be placed on the back seam. From the back view (Muslin #4) I can see that the back seam line is aligned with my small finger, I remember reading that this is the way to check it. Don't remember the source for this.






THE "KEYSTONE" JACKET
AND DRESS CUTTER.
page 58
I think that I will narrow the sleeve opening, in order to make the vent's buttons visible more from the front. I'll try to make it like it is described in "The Keystone Jacket and dress cutter".








This place looks weird, I try to add some millimeters to the sleeve's back seam. This way the cap will be smoother.






I have to make some more changes in this muslin in order to be able to use it as a pattern. Make a vent with appropriate buttons. Decide what buttons to use at the front opening, and where I'll place them. These things will be done according to the trim and fabric I'll use, this way it will be easier to choose the buttons.

In Search of Fabric:

By this time I've found the fabric I want, which I have to say wasn't that easy to find. It was all about color, texture, drape, feeling and the fiber content. It took me one year to get to the point when I found the "one", actually the "ones" because there are two of them.
The first place where I searched, was of course Linton tweeds, because they have a long relationship with Chanel.
Actually they've published a book - "CHANEL AND THE TWEED MAKER - Weavers of Dreams" by Patricia M. Hitchon.
I've ordered five sample packs from them through the years (8/2012-9/2013), this was the first time I've touched Boucle. The first pack was not custom picks, it was with their selection of current fabrics. So when they arrived I studied all the parameters through the fiber content. The swatches that "passed" the major checks, had one more, the "color compatibility" with my skin tone, the mirror helped me with this. Some colors I liked, wasn't nice on my skin tone. In my day job, as a graphic designer I work a lot with colors, so I pay attention to colors I wear and if they suit me. I don't like "screaming" colors, with some exceptions: red.
In addition I try to avoid synthetic fibers in Boucles, because they are itchy to my skin. A small tip: Test the swatch on the neck and wrist area to feel if it's itchy or not.
So I tried to avoid Lurex, polyesters, acetates...
Then I started to order my selection of swatches. All Linton's wool Boucles, were itchy, I'm very sensitive to wool.

Linton C2944 75% cotton 25% viscose

There was only one fabric that I really liked, it was a 75% cotton 25% viscose blend with a peachy pink color.






Through the year I've ordered samples from different sources, I think I need a room for my swatches :) The second shop that I've bought from swatches was B&J fabrics.
Now here, the wool were a different story. I found some soft wool Boucles, that didn't make my skin complain. But the price was itchy.

I stopped ordering swatches because I new that if I'll buy a wool Boucle, it will be this particular one, and no other will change my mind. It's a very soft black Italian wool Boucle.

When I was thinking of haw mach to buy, I thought that it will be very nice to buy more for a skirt too. And some extra, to make a braid for a trim, and a little more for mistakes that can be on the way.
So I thought with four meters or yards I will not worry. But then I thought that I want the pink one too, because the color is perfect for me. OK, these is my greed "speech".
I was frustrated with all this, I thought that I'll give it some time and the answer will come later. When I came back from a long trip in Nepal and Bhutan, I still wanted them both.
One day my mom surprised me, she said: "I'll buy the black fabric for your jacket, and some more for a skirt. This will be my present for your birthday."


I was super exited and bought first the black Italian Wool  BouclĂ© ($63 per yard; 55 inch/140cm wide) from B&J fabrics.






Of course I bought the peachy one from Linton tweeds ($35 per yard; 55inch/140cm wide), as a present to my self :)






After few days, both were out of stock on their websites.

The first fabric that I'm gonna use is the black wool Boucle, because I want to make a jacket that looks like Chanel's "Little Black Jacket".


Underlining study:

My lining will be black silk Charmeuse. As for my underlining I'm not sure yet. Usually in couture sewing, silk organza is used for a lot of reasons. But the organza is crisp and I think I'll loose the "watery" drape of this gorgeous black wool Boucle. So now basically I'm in a search for the right underlining, my options are cotton batiste or silk chiffon. I still wait for my silks to arrive, I bought them from Emma One Sock . When I'll receive them I'll do some tests and decide which one I would like to use.
Silk chiffon is not something I heard that it is used as underlining, I would like to use it because it has this watery drape.

I found only one resource, for using the silk chiffon as underlining. It is in Chanel section of  "Secrets of the Couturiers" by Frances Kennett book.











"...her light mohair suit were fully interlined with silk chiffon, very carefully and lightly mounted to the fabric to give a delicate extra substance. The suit top and skirt were then fully lined (and hand-stitched) with a pure silk lining."
Since I'll sew the whole project by hand, this is not something I'm afraid of.






While I wait for the silk lining and underlining to arrive, I need to make a trim, choose buttons, and finish the muslin, which so far is not perfect.


 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ PART  II  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Braid Trim study:


Never thought I'll spend that much time on the braid trim...

The trims in Chanel's jackets are rich in styles. They can be made as braid, fringe, ribbon, top stitch, lining as flat piping... I think you get the idea.
For this project "My Little Black Jacket" I want to use some sort of braid trim. I prefer to make it from fabric's yarns and some other blacks that are lustrous, to give it a kick.


The Little Black Jacket braided trim close up
In "The Little Black Jacket" we can see a braid with different black yarns. I think its a 5 string regular braid.






I've tried to make different braids, starting from a regular 3 string through 5 string, up to a 8 strings braid. Some regular knit yarns where used for training purpose. I wasn't pleased with the result, because it was too simple and looked very simple too. I knew that I don't want to use a purchased trim because most of them are crisp and look like a machine made trim. I wanted an "organic" looking braid trim, that is hand made.

Signe Chanel documentary series from 2005
Signe Chanel documentary series that was made in 2005, was laying on my table, love this videos, so inspiring! Don't remember how many times I've seen it.

In episode three they visits a farm outside Paris, where Madame Pouzieux (1930-2012), has been weaving Chanel’s signature braided trim since 1947.







Madame Pouzieux braided trims samples
Her braids are amassing! Only she knew how to make them, because it's her design. You can see here the diagonal pattern that it's changing. Her braids are slimmer than the one that's used in the "Little Black Jacket". But the trim can be any size, it's just matter of taste and design. I will try to make a slimmer trim just because I like it more.



I've started to watch and examine how she makes those braids, frame by frame. I'll try to write here what I've seen.


The Braids where made on a loom, so a regular braid or "Kumihimo" braiding is something else, beautiful in its way.





warp and weft yarns diagram
From now on I'll use the terming "warp"- those are yarns stretched lengthwise usually strong ones. And "weft" - are the yarns that are woven between the warp threads.




Madame Pouzieux's braided trim back side
From this image I understood that the braid had a fabric like back side, we can see both, the warp and weft yarns. The front side was patterned with fashion's fabric yarns which are the weft yarns.





The process:

Madame Pouzieux is unraveling and counting the Boucle yarns
Madame Pouzieux is unraveling the fashion fabric. She counts the black and white yarns, in order to maintain the proportion between them in her braid, as in the main fabric. As I said before proportion is a very important thing. But my fabric is black so I don't need to do this.


Madame Pouzieux is preparing the Boucle yarn
Madame Pouzieux is plying the boucle yarns with the twisting machine to make a thicker yarn. They will be used as weft yarns.



Madame Pouzieux with a fabric sample and yarns
Madame Pouzieux is coming out from the "twisting" room with a black and white bobbin of yarns and a small sample of the fabric. Have to say this video moment gave me a hard time, because I didn't understood why wood she hold a fabric sample of the yarns she's twisting? Is it possible that she uses warp yarns not from the fashion fabric? May be some matching yarns, that's why she was with the fabric sample. She was looking for matching colors.


I was obsessed with the braid making, and wanted to make one as Madame Pouzieux was doing. At least try it:) But then I had a little problem, just a little - I don't have a loom and of course I never touched one. Buying one for tests is not an option so I thought that I'll make some sort of loom, just for tests. I came across a nice loom that it is called "backstrap loom".


backsrap loom
Basically you tie the warp yarns to something sturdy and to your waist.
There is enough information in the internet or YouTube about how to make it.
Of course if you have a loom then you don't need all that.










The "backstrap loom" was easy to handle, but I had to make a lot of tests with the braid pattern and start allover again.

Diagram of patterns that Madame Pouzieux is using in her braids
I've made a diagram of patterns that Madame Pouzieux is using in her braids.
There are some places in the video that help understand the process of the weaving. Except one part, the one that's under the sewed gold buttons on the braid. In this place the weft yarns change their direction.
Oh, I wish I had a small piece of her braid, it will be much easier to examine it and understand how it is made, or at least some close up images.


front and back braid trim study according to Madame Pouzieux pattern
Madame Pouzieux's braid pattern study
front & back 
I tried to make it in different ways and came up with something that looks the same, but I don't think that it's done as Madame Pouzieux did it.
I have to practice more, but the braid begins to look "organic".






fashion's fabric yarns and silk yarns
At some point I was ready to try the fabric's yarns. In my black wool Boucle I found three types of yarns. I didn't ply them, instead I'll give them a little twist in the braiding process. The lustrous yarn in my braid will be a three string silk braid, and the same silk yarns will be used for warp and weft too.





Chanel style braid trim, Madame Pouzieux way
This is the first black braid test. Right now I like the look of the braid.








braid from fashion's fabric yarns
I wanted to see how the 5 string braid will look, so I've made a small test. It is nice but, as I said before it's too simple and firm. "Madame Pouzieux" style braids are sturdier/stronger. Now I'm sure that I like them more. It will take me some time to prepare the needed amount.






Buttons:


Buttons are a journey by themselves. I found it hard to choose a right button for this project.

Some of the Buttons I have. Top three rows are glass buttons the others are metal.











I like the look of the black glass button (left side of the image). I think it has the right size. The other two are different sizes of the same button style.
Some of the metal buttons. Gold buttons are very popular in Chanel's jackets. But I'm not sure that I want them.






The narrow braided trim looks nice with 3/4in (18mm) buttons. Bigger button looks heavy and takes too much attention. I think that for now I'm pleased with the black glass button. But this is something that can change

10 comments:

  1. I've enjoyed reading this Irena. The best fabric for underlining would be silk Habutai - sometimes called Jap silk or China silk - chiffon would be very tricky.. I certainly would not use organza, but a fine, loosely woven cotton would be OK.

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  2. Wow ! Thank you Ann, it's so nice of you to stop by, and give me an important tip. I'll make some tests with silk Habutai too :)
    You did a terrific thing by posting all the images off your V8804 couture project. It is very inspiring, and helping.

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  3. I will follow your project and process with interest. You are being very particular and patient in your choices.

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  4. Irena, thank you for sharing your process, I'm looking forward to seeing your little black jacket come together.

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  5. I admire your commitment to making this jacket exactly the way you want it and will watch your progress with great interest.

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  6. Irena, this is like a dissertation! I look forward to seeing your progress and your finished jacket. I am sure it will be beautiful.

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  7. Hello, I have just read your article as I am about to start a jacket myself.
    Have you pictures of the finished garment?
    Love your description of the braid x

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  8. Hello, I'm also keen to sew jackets in Chanel style, thank you for your inspiration, you made me curious to see this video! I make always trims myself and would like to learn some varieties. Again, thank you for this post. Philo
    http://houseofphilo.blogspot.de/

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  9. I bought some amazing wool boucle in Venice Italy and some silk charmuse to make a channel like jacket and also have the v8804 patter and a sewing book on deconstructing a channel jacket. I am really stuck on the trim as well. I have a friend who has a loom . So if I understand you right you unravel the fabric and use it in the loom to make the trim. I need 3 3/4 yards of trim and am afraid it will take too much of my fabric. Could you give me a little more info on this part of the process. I was planning on hand sewing as well and didn't know about the interlining

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    Replies
    1. Hey Linda,
      I suggest you use some regular fiber (not from your fabric) as a "Warp". May be add some "luster" fibers as a "Weft", that are not in the fabric too. This way you'll need to use less fibers from your fabric.
      Try to make a sample braid, but before you unravel the fabric make a note on the length that you unraveled. With a little math, you'll be able too value the approximate amount you'll need to unravel...
      The math is simple:
      (135 INCH of braid you need) x (length that you unraveled for the sample, IN INCHES!!!)
      And then you divide the result by the "sample braid length" IN INCHES!!!
      As for the interlining there are some video tutorials that can help you, by Claire Shaeffer, Susan Khalje and more...Google it :)

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