How do you make your own Chanel-inspired jacket ? There is a simple answer to that question: read the books by Claire Schaeffer! This American lady has written many books about the history of Haute couture, how to make your own couture and in particular everything about Chanel couture.
Her books are for all seamstress or hobby-sewers. But they are also interesting for people who are not interested in sewing.
The history of Haute couture
Claire Schaeffer is an expert in Haute couture. She has a wealth of knowledge and an own collection of vintage couture. She gained her knowledge by looking around in museums and studying couture in detail. Couture houses often do not reveal their secrets. However, Claire has unraveled many couture secrets by studying original vintage items. These literately inside studies enabled her to gather a lot of information that normally remains behind closed doors.
Think of it as recipes from special menus from top restaurants. It is not only about the ingredients of a menu, but also about the specific cooking techniques that suddenly make eating a plate something very special. Apart from detailed sewing techniques, the books contain many beautiful photos of special vintage clothing.
Classic and timeless chic!
A beautiful Chanel jacket worn on trendy jeans. Who doesn't want this? Or a beige tweed coat for the winter? Just as timelessly beautiful as the perfectly fitting business blazer you would like to wear on occasions where you need to look beauty and brains. Everyone likes photography and information about the fashion of the past and the fashion of today. The only difference between a Vogue or Hapaar's Bazaar magazine and Claire Schaeffer's books is the idea to make these great pieces of clothing yourself. Perhaps you should first start with making potholders or pajama pants, but after a few years of practice it will probably work...
Claire Schaeffer & Chanel Couture
Anyone who says 'Chanel jackets' in the sewing-world, says Claire Schaeffer. Conversely too. Claire Schaeffer is a Chanel expert par excellence. Her books: The Couture Cardigan Jacket, The Couture Skirt and Designer trims deal specifically with the phenomenon: the Little French Jacket.
The books are about how-to instructions and inspirations for color combinations, choices of fabrics and the very specific decorative trims and fringes of these jackets. A very nice ode to Coco Chanel. Some of her books were reissued in 2013, exactly one hundred years after Coco Chanel opened its first store in Deauville.
A gift or a "silent" hint!
If you have a girlfriend who likes to work with needle and thread: the books for this special lady are nice to give as a gift. Perhaps the silent hint is understood. You hope she will make a DIY Chanel jacket for you some day....
The word "day" is misplaced here. It is known that the "making time" of the Chanel jackets is on average 80 hours. And don't forget to add a lot of reading hours too, because you will soon loose the time if you step into the world of Haute couture through the eyes of Claire Schaeffer.
More and more people are buying their fabrics from an online store. It often takes a while to find the right fabric. Fortunately, most online fabric stores have good search filters, such as color, design, fabric type, stretchable or non-stretchable, thickness and, last but not least: the price category.
Designs, prints or motif
An important filter is the design of the fabric. There used to be a subdivision into plain or non-plain, nowadays there are many 'motifs', 'prints' or 'designs' per fabric. Most designs speak for themselves: hearts, dots, diamonds, flowers or stripes. Everyone understands that!
But what about, for example, 'chains', 'ornaments', 'garland' or 'chevron'? Many different terms are mentioned. To save you some time, we have made a list below of designs that are increasingly used with certain terms.
Can't find the right design? Do not panic! Here we have an overview!
Paisley is an ornament-like print that is mainly based on the teardrop shape. The drop is always round at the top and tapering to the bottom. The paisley print comes in many shapes, colors and directions. The thread direction is therefore often less important, depending on the fabric type (cotton, jacquard, tweed or jersey).
Note: 'paisley' design is sometimes categorized in the retro or ornaments filters.
An ornament (Latin ornare en ornamentum) means: to decorate and adornment, and is a composition or decorative elements to decorate objects. Think curls of buildings, arches, circles and everything 'barok'.
The shape of ornaments on fabrics is always symmetrical, beautifully curled, styled and repeated continuously.
In contrast to 'Paisley', ornamented fabric often has a clear top and bottom, or direction of the fabric.
Ornaments are often based on emblems, family crests, French lilies and architectural shapes.
Herringbone is a design characterized by rows of stripes that go up and down at an angle of about 30 degrees. The pattern is best known in the tweed fabrics, where it was really created by a certain weaving technique.
But herringbone can also be found as designs on jersey, cotton and demin fabrics. Be careful with the thread direction with this fabric, if you are going to use the fabric for a sewing pattern!
Herringbone is also sometimes called 'chevron' or 'zigzag'. In Dutch is it called: 'visgraat'.
Pied-de-Poule or Houndstooth
Pied de poule, means chicken legs. Also called: houndstooth, or: dog teeth. There are a lot of terms for this symmetrical pattern. The pattern is usually in black and white but can come in many other color combinations as well. Always two-colored and characterized by broken squares in an abstract pointed shape. Absolutely symmetrical from large patterns to very small checks.
The design is very recognizable and is widely used for woolen fabrics, cotton and jersey. In a rare case, the design falls under 'chef's or baker's fabric', because the uniform (the trousers) of a cook is often made in this black and white pattern.
'Vichy checks' is also a two-tone check, but ordinary squares. It is often used to make custom patterns because the checks often have standard sizes and there is a good explanation on the patterns about how you can make the sewing pattern completely your own size. The squares are working here as an extra help with the sizes.
Vichy checks is mainly seen in cotton fabrics and soft chambray.
Animal or animal fur
Fabric designs 'animal motifs' cannot be compared to 'animal fur'. Animal fur is always the well-known tiger print, zebra stripe or the pattern of the skin of giraffes.
Sometimes the categories 'camouflage', 'safari' or 'army' fall under the same filter or category. The design animal fur is mainly found in colorful fabrics, from fake fur to real fur ...
Animal motifs can be anything, as long as an animal is recognizable.
Garland is used in multiple senses. On the one hand, 'garland' means nothing more than a flower garland. Wherever designs are flower garlands, this fabric is therefore called 'garland'.
But it also applies to slightly 'vintage'-style designs with the atmosphere of flowers depicted in soft colors and a romantic atmosphere.
Finally, 'garland' often coincides with 'Christmas fabrics'. This is mainly because Christmas is often associated with lights, garlands of flowers and lamps. The atmosphere is therefore also called 'garland'. Garland is therefore a broad concept and is used for several types of designs for fabrics.
Geometric designs have everything to do with circles, triangles, squares, pentagons, honeycomb, rectangles, triangles, etc. The designs are always symmetrical and usually multicolored. Sometimes there is a kind of 3D effect, the fabrics seem to give depth as soon as you look at them or the fabric moves.
Retro designs mainly remind us of the sixties and seventies. Bright colors, lots of orange, green, brown, pink and yellow. Round shapes, psychedelic or imaginative. Any letters are convex and open and are usually outlined.
Retro designs can also be adapted to this modern time. It is then a combination of the shapes and slightly more modern colors. Or the reverse: the typical, strong colors of the flower power era, cast in a slightly more modern design. Especially with dark blue, retro can be a very good combination. They are often ideal, cheerful designs for summery cotton fabrics.
In some cases 'Batik' also is known as retro design. Batik is the design of dyed fabric in the typical round shapes and colors that blend into each other.
Vintage designs for fabrics are often pale in color and look 'fragile' and old. They have beautiful floral motifs, old photos or just a combination of old-looking colors. You often see vintage designs on canvas or gobelin. They are timeless fabrics that always remain beautiful.
'Nature' also often falls under 'vintage'. These are often the fabrics with botanical drawings of flowers, leaves, birds, gardens and animals. The colors are never harsh, glaring or bright.
Last but not least:
The name says it all: the design is based on chains, watches, belts, horse bits and fringes which are print on the fabric. The 'chain' motifs have a chic look that is a bit 'Hèrmes' style.
In a few cases the design also falls under 'Chanel-like fabrics' because of the golden chain that symbolizes the classic famous 2.55 bag.
Fabric designs come in many colors, patterns and variations. From beautiful symmetry to an image that can be purchased in 'panels'. This means that the fabric is cut per image, which is for example 1.25 meters. The 'panel' is then not interrupted if it is sold from the roll. You do not buy the fabric per meter but per panel.
More and more search filters are being used to find the right fabric online at fabric stores. That is of course a good thing. We would like to keep you informed of new terms.
If you know a category / term that is not self-evident and is not listed here ...? Please let us know and we will gladly add to our list.
We have found a sewing pattern for a Chanel-Style jacket that is quite simple for anyone to create. Not only quite simple and easy, but it might be possible 'to sew the jacket in one day'. The Mc Calls 8540! A great pattern for a 'Chanel-Style' jacket in one day (our opinion).
Mc Calls 8540
The Mc Calls sewing pattern is a pattern for several jackets and blouses. There is even a variation in a lined jacket and an unlined jacket. The jacket has a front closure with buttons. The collar can be low or upright/upstanding. We have chosen model B. A simple sewing pattern for a Chanel-Style jacket that you could make in one day.
Which fabric is this sewing pattern suitable for?
The recommended fabrics are: soft cotton or cotton blends. Chalis (Rayon), Crepe, silk, jersey, woven cotton, lace or knitted fabrics.
Note: the recommended fabrics are not indicated per model. We assume that for model B (and A), only the non-stretch fabrics apply. The stretch fabrics will most likely apply to the blouse / shirt. Stretchy fabrics would make the jacket way too big. In our view, the model is not suitable for this.
Sewing level: 'easy'
The pattern is suitable for the novice seamstress. Indeed, we think that the pattern of the jacket and blouse are 'easy to sew'. The jacket has no pitfalls or difficulties.
As a solution to the downsides, we have added pleats in the jacket. This makes the jacket much nicer in shape. If you are a novice seamstress, ask for help with pleating, or use a sewing mannequin.
You can also decorate the sleeves by making an extra edge with buttons. (See last photo). We have used thick wool fabrics. This is a great fabric for this sewing pattern. Simply finish with width trims for the edges and yes: a 'Chanel-Style' jacket in one day!
Mc Calls 8045 is an easy pattern to make a classic 'Chanel style' jacket.
The instructions are very comprehensive and clear.
The jacket is ideal for making beautiful woolen fabrics (woolen tweed, bouclé), making variations in edges (width trims!). And using beautiful buttons.
Try to create folds/pleats in the jacket: waist and 'shape' it to your own shape! (See the difference between photo 3 and 8)
This blog is not a review about a sewing pattern for a Chanel-Style jacket, but this review is about a pattern for a jumpsuit. A classic: the Vogue V9245! A pattern for a timeless fashion item, but unfortunately with some comments from us.
The Vogue pattern is a sewing pattern for a sleeveless jumpsuit and jumpsuit with sleeves. There are no further variations in sleeves, length or collars. The sewing pattern is suitable for the summer and therefore typical summer fabrics are recommended: jersey, challis and lightweight crepe fabric.
We do not understand why jersey is recommended. Jersey clearly falls under the stretchable and elastic fabrics and this pattern is not suitable for elastic fabrics.
Challis is a lightweight woven fabric, also called Rayon. This fabric might be transparent, so pay attention to that. Rayon is an ideal summer fabric because it is absorbent, feels nice and soft, but is also breathable. Also note: prewash is recommended to prevent shrinkage.
If you want to add a 'Chanel-style touch': make the jumpsuit in the beloved Chanel colors: black, white, beige, gold or red. (see video below).
A jumpsuit can be chic if you make it in subtle colors, add beautiful trims or lace and combine it with pearls or classy jewelry.
Sewing level: very easy
The sewing pattern is suitable for the novice seamstress. We agree with this, but it is certainly not 'very' easy. The sewingpattern is very long, there is a lot of fabric involved and you can easily make mistakes by losing the overview.
Vogue V9245 is a fun sewing pattern for a timeless jumpsuit. The instructions are very comprehensive and clear. The jumpsuit is great for the summer. Nice and airy, easy to wear and if made of Rayon or travel fabrics: ideal to take with you on a trip.
However, the sewing pattern is not entirely correct in terms of the base: the cross is not correct and is too far back. You need to fix it because without doing this, the crotch will not feel good and it will be a problem if you actually sit down.
Paris is magical. If you are strolling on the Champs-Elysée, enjoying the view and being in Paris, you will immediately fall in love again with the person walking next to you. Lately, on the news we see a quite different Champs-Elysée... Let's not talk about that, but let's enjoy the stylish world of Paris through the eyes of Ines de la Fressange.
Ines de la Fressange est la plus belle Parisienne
Everybody knows Ines. For years she has been the model of Chanel and she has also collaborated with other great designers. She lives and breathes the splendid style of a Parisiènne. She is now in her fifties but still very attractive and style is her middle name. Is she born with it or did she learn how to dress and behave the Paris way of life?
How to become a real 'Ines'?
Someone must have asked Ines: “Hey, please tell all women about your style and beauty-secrets. How can you be so beautiful your whole life? How do you always dress so tastefully? How do you become such a casual and chic woman of French allure? In other words: how does someone become a Parisiènne? "
Great taste with capitals
The style guide was born. Ines took her camera and photographed her (equally stunningly beautiful) daughter, running through Paris in the casual style that is so typical for a Parisiènne. She took her pen and wrote all her clothing style and beauty secrets on paper. Ines also picked up her colored pencils and drew fun, funny drawings of herself, the clothing and beauty products. Finally, she also wrote down all her favorite shops, restaurants, coffee bars and places to go out and turned them into collages for this book.
And here we have: a nice style guide for women who admire both Ines and Paris. Ines also gives useful tips for mothers with children: feel free to take your children with you during a weekend shopping in Paris.
As beautiful as a Parisiènne, as beautiful as Ines
The style guide is beautiful designed and nice to read. Nice tips alternate with rather obvious tips ("Blue eye shadow: a wrong move if you want a natural effect"). The translation is sometimes a bit weird, but the beautiful photography and her tips are more important to us.
The target group is from young to 50+. This age group is well served because there are a lot of tips in the style guide for ladies who are as old as Ines but want to look just as young as Ines. Sometimes a bit obvious tips: "Don't use glitter eye shadow because it only makes your wrinkles shine?" But yeah, some things cannot be said enough.
Personally, I like this one: “Tip: Sleeping or making love for an hour is better than a Botox injection from the dermatologist.” Ines always looks happy, radiant and looks a lot more natural than many of her generation of former ex-models. Is sleeping or making love her secret? ;>)
Paris for 'tout la monde'
The book by Ines de la Fressange (in collaboration with Sophie Gachet, fashion journalist from the fashion magazine Elle) is a New York bestseller. After all, Paris has always had the image of style and class that is proportional to the ladies from Paris. Paris First!
We only spot the tourists walking in the streets of Paris with shorts, sneakers and baseball caps. Ines or the daughter of Ines are always walking on ballerinas or loafers and always dressed in the style that is so typical of a Parisian lady. Such as: casual, nonchalant, never overdone and slim as a rake. How do they do that, you wonder, but now you know...
Size "Petite" or just Bon appetite ?!
It is though still difficult. We want to look as radiant and slim as a real Parisiènne. But at the same time, we want to visit all those wonderful looking restaurants, cozy coffee shops and have a delicious croissant breakfast on a daily base, (Chapter 4: Bon appetite!) during a wonderful weekend of shopping in Paris ...
This blog is not about a review of a sewing pattern for a Chanel-Style jacket, but this review is about a pattern for a classic, long coat. The Burda 6462! A great pattern for a timeless fashion item.
The Burda sewing pattern is a loose-fitting, lined coat. The top collar offers two variations, for example, fur, fleece or another contrasting fabric. There are also two variations in lengths: Model A. is a real classic long coat. Model B is a casual midi-length jacket. The jacket closes easily with three buttons and the model offers a variety of pockets: patch pockets or welt pockets.
Sewing level: average
The pattern is suitable for the average seamstress. We think the sewing pattern of the jacket is easy to sew, but the welt pockets are probably the reason an 'average sewing level' has been advised. The jacket has no pitfalls or difficulties.
The jacket is intended for the fabrics: wool, loden or Bouclé.
In terms of Bouclé fabric, we recommend: How to sew Bouclé fabrics.
Working with thicker fabrics is a bit difficult and it does require precise work. Perhaps also for this reason that the sewing level is set to average.
Burda 6462 is a beautiful and easy pattern for a classic long coat. The instructions are very comprehensive and clear. Note: with Burda patterns always cut 1.5 cm seam!
The coat is ideal for making beautiful Tweeds and Bouclé fabrics.
If you want to give it a Chanel style or Haute couture touch, make the jacket from Bouclé fabric and sew the lining to the outer fabric, as explained in Claire Schaeffer's sewing techniques. It will be a bit of a puzzle, especially at the collar, but for an advanced seamstress this is certainly possible.
And make darts in the coat: 'shape' it to your own style!
"Fashion is not an art, it is a job" Coco Chanel
The lady-boss of the House of Chanel:
Did you know that Coco Chanel was not only very different from most designers, but that she also worked very differently? She did not design on paper and did not have a sketch book. Unlike her successor, Karl Lagerfeld, who designed ALWAYS on paper.
When Coco Chanel started her fashion house, she actually had very little couture sewing techniques. She had taught herself almost everything herself and worked mainly from her feeling and instinct. She had a great sense of how fabrics could be draped around the female body.
Nice lady or a demanding lady-boss?
When she founded her Fashion House and became more and more successful she got assistants and employees. She passed on her instructions verbally and came across as compelling and very demanding. Her models were also not always happy with the job, they sometimes had to stand for hours until Mrs. Chanel was satisfied. (and she was not easy to please)
Coco Chanel is often associated as an unkind woman who only went straight for her goal and used people to be successful.
In the movie "Coco before Chanel", we learn a lot how Gabrielle started her career in the fashion world. She knows how to move up through stubbornness and opportunism. She knows how to enter the world of the chic ladies through a big (rich) friend. This friend later became her big sponsor and he owes her success largely.
But let's take a closer look at everything.
Coco Chanel was a passionate woman who had a goal in mind. Her dream was unusual for the time. She did not want to get married and have children, but started a business and influence the world of the rich and the famous. There would be nothing wrong with that today. People would admire her and knows what it takes to work day and night at a goal in life.
There were few women at the time who chose careers, who could take the opportunity to build this up and persisted at all.
If Gabrielle had lived in our time, her 'character' might have looked or judged very different.
Coco Chanel would have Social Media to create influence, she could probably found money or sponsors in other ways and maybe she would have been a great candidate for Dragons' Den.
It is bad to be unkind, opportunistic and driven? Not at all. Coco Chanel got her success and she earned it by working hard and having creative and completely new ideas about Fashion, exactly in the right time when women needed something new and inspiring.
Anyway, we wish Coco Chanel, still retroactively, its success. And whether she was unkind or not, she has created a Fashion label that still matters. Perhaps she would never have succeeded if she hadn't had her 'bitchy' qualities.
Vintage sewing patterns are very popular. Not only because their value is high (especially when they are collector's items!) but mainly because many seamstresses also consider it as a sport to actually make clothes of the sewing patterns. They make the clothes to wear themselves or for Cosplay and LARP events. But there are some common problems and we have tips to avoid them.
Vintage sewing patterns are more popular than ever
If you make yours clothes yourself, you are aiming it does not show... Seamstresses prefer not to hear, "Selfmade?" when they should actually be proud of the fact they made the cloths themselves. But they are afraid that there is always an undertone in that comment like: "You can see that, it is just not good enough". Of course that is nonsense, because self-made cloths are often unique, beautifully tailored and much more sustainable.
With vintage clothing, however, there is a different tenor. "Self-made" makes more sense and sounds like a compliment. Finally, vintage clothing is often striking because of the shapes and lines and therefore super feminine. If you have found the right size, or if you have done some pattern adjustments, the clothing is also nicely tailored.
Cosplay and LARP
Vintage sewing patterns are often very popular for Cosplay and LARP. Sewing patterns: 'Historical clothing' ánd Cosplay, but also all other retro- and vintage patterns.
Because of the shapes in the vintage clothing, they are often nice to expand with corsets, crinolines underneath or to make mega dresses. But eventhough... you can run into problems while making vintage clothing ...
Pay attention! The pitfalls of vintage sewing patterns:
1. The times when 'vintage' or 'reto' was reallife, there were no elastic or stretchable fabrics. The sewing patterns are therefore all based on fabrics such as: garbadine, chiffon, linen, lace, cotton, jacquard and wool. The clothing must therefore be properly tailored because the fabric will not help you to feel comfortable or make you look super-shaped like stretch fabrics do...
Tip: don't make these patterns of elastic or stretchy fabrics. This can cause the pattern to be incorrect and give strange results. Choose fabrics which are recommended for the sewing pattern or the onces you like to both sew and wear.
2. In vintage patterns there are many darts and pleats. If you want to create a nice upper body or a nice waist, you can count on it that there will be a lot of darts in the pattern that will create the desired shape. With some fabrics this is difficult to achieve and it looks less beautiful than you had hoped.
Tip: learn to work with darts and pleats and consider it as a challenge. Use a sewing mannequin (adjusted to your size) to pin the darts in and 'play' with it until it fits. Take your time so it doesn't become a frustration. Once you get the feeling for 'shaping', it's more fun than you thought it would be!
3. Most of the patterns that show over-exaggerate waistes, often illustrated on the cover of the sewingpattern. But remember in these times women were always wearing corsets under their outfits. Nature was given a helping hand to create the waist that most women can now only dream of ...
Tip: Do you still want a (very) small waist to fit in the vintage dresses? Buy an elasticated waist corset, one that fits snugly but creates a little more waist. In the 'shapewear' section of underwear, you can often find pleasant waist shapers that you can wear comfortably without gasping for breath or torturing your body. A tight, shape shirt also works wonders and often not only fits comfortably, but also looks really nicer under tighter dresses or blouses.
4. Collars often have different or even strange shapes (see picture above). The ends of the collars are often sharper, longer or sometimes weirdly shaped. Or like the top photo, far right: floral. Sometimes this really fits into the overall picture. Sometimes they are over-the-top or make the clothes look old-fashioned instead of interesting.
Tip: adjust the collars to your own ideas. Copy the bottom length of the collar from the pattern and the rest of the pattern with a pencil. You then have the basis. After this you can make the collar ends as long, as straight, as round or as short as you would like.
5. Finally, we would like to point out that vintage dresses are often midi length. Or blouses are just a little too long (these were often worn in the skirt, never loose / casual over it). The length of the midi dresses and skirts can look nice, but also old-fashioned or messy, or accentuate thick calves, for example.
Tip: very simple: adjust the length. Do this as the very last action. Try on the dress for a mirror, or on the sewing mannequin and let someone else help you. Your own perspective from above often gives a different picture than a person who is further away and sees a better overall picture. The length of blouses is easier to adjust. If you like to wear a blouse loose, don't make it too long, this looks more sloppy than nice and casual.
Advantages of vintage sewing patterns:
But there are also many advantages of vintage sewing patterns. As we have already mentioned: the sewing patterns are often ideal for Cosplay and LARP and often eye-catchers because of the beautiful shapes and special lines. Moreover, the fabrics that are used are also different than usual or have a nice 'retro print'.
Another plus is that many patterns can be used as a 'normal pattern'. See above: The blouses are often classic, timeless and just super feminine. Especially on the left: the blue blouse would look great combined with jeans, and high heels or higher boots.
Remember what Mary said about Downton Abbey clothing: "I really wanted to take the blouses home, I was totally hooked."
Finally: the vintage sewing patterns are often ideal for indulging in buttons and beautiful trims. Just like our beloved Chanel style jacket! Be creative, indulge yourself and make it unique. Get rid of mass production, throwaway clothes.
Create your own clothes with beautiful vintage sewing patterns!
It is not a secret that Coco Chanel did not like 'prints'. At most a 'Breton stripe', but nothing more than that. According to Chanel, chic was mainly austerity in the design of the fabrics. Except for the tweeds and bouclé fabrics, these were luxurious and 'colorful' enough.
Either you love it or you hate it
Who likes prints? Most people love it. From tropical flowers to a 'tiger print', it can't be colorful enough. Especially in the summer we are crazy about to prints. It makes us happy and it looks great as a blouse or summer dress.
But read Ines de la Fressange's books and one thing becomes very clear: prints are NOT DONE! According to her, you will not easily find a real Parissiéne dressed with 'a print'. The Parisian style is more about the monotonous colors, the creative combinations of trés-chic and elegance of the timeless classics.
Chanel style jackets and prints
If we want to look stylish but occasionally deviate from the 'rules', then combining a Chanel-style jacket (self-made of course!) With a print underneath is definitely a nice idea.
Who says that this can't look be chic and casual at the same time? Bouclé and tweeds, but also summer tweeds, are often very busy in terms of appearance. The fabrics are woven and there is always a beautiful mix of colors and sometimes even patterns.
A blouse with a printed design underneath can easily come across as very 'busy' and a bit cheap.
Fringes, edges and prints?
Apart from that, the Chanel style is often characterized by a lot of fringes, beautifully finished trims and two or even four pockets stitched on the jacket. They should of course be the eye-catchers of your outfit.
Taking all this into account, we would like to point out that a printed blouse, t-shirt or even pants, under a Chanel jacket, is fine if you observe the following rules:
Prints will never go out of style and occasionally combining with them may not be 'Paris' chic, but again not as 'not-done' as suggested in many style books and guides on Chanel couture and Parisian style.
We love prints ... occasionally.
Magic of Upcycling: From Rugs to Riches
I love creative projects where everything can be flipped upside down which allows you to look at things with a new angle.
An old rug from grandmother
I inherited this rug from my grandmother who had a trunk full of these. I don’t know what material they were made from, but they feel very soft as if they were made from natural fabrics. This is a heirloom work of the old traditional weaver. I have one such rug in my bathroom, and it’s so pleasant to walk on.
I liked the texture and colour combinations of this rug and I always wanted to make something interesting out of it. And so I decided to make a summer jacket without a lining from this rug that looks as if it got bleached in the bright July sun.
Finishing & embellishments:
Use these strips to finish side seams, shoulder and sleeve seams. If you don’t do this, your fabric will fray because of the type of weaving used in the rug.
Then stitch darts, side and shoulder seams. Press.
Cut more bias strips but don’t fold and press them. Use these strips to finish the edges of front and neck as on the photo below. Take another bias strip; fold 2 cm on one side and press. Stitch the tape over the back and front fusible tape you attached earlier to stabilize the fringed edges.
Insert the sleeves and finish the seams with bias tape.
I already had embroidered trim in mind which was too straight and it didn’t look good around the neck edge. I looked in my stash and found bias pieces of silver fabric and matching white and silver beads. So I decided to make the embroidered beaded trim for the neck edge.
To do that, cut 3.5 cm bias tape from silver fabric, fold the seam allowances towards the center and press. Slip-stitch the bias tape to the neck edge. Press again.
Slip-stitch embroidered tape to the center front and the neck edge. Sew the beads to the tape. You can make a pattern to make it easier.
The beading is finished and I am happy with the result. It’s time to attach hook and eye closures to the front of the jacket.
Mc Calls 6041 is a sewing pattern categorized: 'make it crafty'. This is a series of sewing patterns from Mc Calls that give the possibility to vary a lot and especially to add artistic finishes. The Chanel-style jacket is a good example of 'making an outfit artitic and personal' and therefore we can only embrace this sewing pattern.
Mc Calls 6041
The Mc Calls pattern is a pattern for a lined jacket in five different variations. The jacket is enclosed by straps and has princess lines. The sewing pattern is less fitted than Vogue V9095 which is very similar to this pattern. We were very excited about this. The sewing pattern is from size 6 to size 20 and therefore cheaper than the Vogue V9095, which carries the same sizes but has this spread over two pattern releases. So if you are going to work for others and have variations in sizes, it is more sensible to buy this pattern.
The pattern does not specify the sewing level. This is unfortunate because a beginner would like to know if the pattern from them is suitable. In our opinion, the sewing pattern can be made by anyone. There are no pitfalls for a beginner and for an advanced seamstress it is fun to use the pattern to apply Claire Schaeffer's couture sewing techniques. That is, quilting the lining on the outside.
The fabrics recommended to use are: silk linen, cotton blends, garbadine, bouclé and lightweight woolen fabrics. The contrasts (bands on the jacket) can be made from chiffon (the flowers, model B, and all other types of fabric, so that's just how crafty you are!
We made the jacket from lightweight bouclé with black contrasting edges. We have also added a border at the bottom. This is because the jacket would otherwise looked 'unfinished'. This is of course not necessary. With no brim at the bottom of the jacket, the jacket appears longer and may fit better with trousers or a skirt.
Splendissima shows the black jacket and has also styled it with turquoise color as a blouse and shorts. This makes the jacket very 'young' and modern looking.
Mc Calls is an ideal sewing pattern to make the Chanel-Style jacket. The pattern is based on the 'boxy' original Chanel jacket with lots of embellishment. With this you can vary endlessly.
The lining also offers the possibility to really make a Haute Couture jacket that is perfectly finished both on the inside and the outside.
The Chanel-Style jacket can be a truly personal, creative expression. And in terms of styling you can go in all directions: from super modern to timeless or vintage.
We met Splendissima on Instagram @SewingChanelStyle and we were impressed by her model-skills and creativity. The result: we are delighted about Olga's style and talent to enhance the look of my Chanel style garments!
As a 41 years old Beauty Coach, she enjoys providing advise and examples for other women who think about a change in style and look. Find out more about her skills and experience in her inspiring and unique Instagram account @splendissima.ch
Inside Haute couture: Behind the Scenes at the Paris Ateliers by Desirée Sadek and Guillaume de Laubier
As the title says, this book is about taking a glimpse inside the famous fashion houses. It is very picture-heavy with many images of studios, workshops, designers and artisans at work, as well as the close ups of the gorgeous details that go into the garments and the shots before the fashion shows begin. The photography is splendid, of course, and every page is full of information about the haute couture design process at different fashion houses.
What goes on behind closed doors at Chanel, Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Elie Saab, Yves Saint Laurent and other famous houses is usually very secretive in the fashion industry. It is so refreshing to see a bit of this mystery unveiled. For example, my favourite part is the way the authors described the typical day at Mademoiselle Chanel’s when she was still alive. A valet at the hotel where she lived would call the workplace at 31, rue Gambon (right across from the hotel), to let the staff know that she was on her way. They would immediately spray her favourite perfume all over so she can get a good whiff when she got to work.
Paris, the centre of Haute couture
The book also highlights various skilled workshops around Paris that help the fashion houses bring their collections to fruition. Maison Lesage, Maison Michel, Massaro shoes, Maison Lemarie, Atelier Broderies Vermont got their due praises. The details of their work are amazing. It is no wonder that Paris is still the center of the haute couture industry simply because the skilled labour is there and they have thousands of embroidery, shoes, pleats, feather and other embellishments’ designs on files from hundreds of years in fashion.
Some secrets revealed
I am always curious to know what inspires other designers, what their creative process is like, and how they succeed. There are snippets of information in this book that help me understand why some designers are more successful than others. Ambition and talent are important, of course, and there is plenty of mention about that throughout the book. But there are other deciding factors that make it of break it in this industry. For instance, the very fact that all of the most famous fashion houses are located in Paris is a major reason for success because they have access to the best fabrics, notions and embellishments without worrying about shipping and customs duties.
Work at workshops!
It is common custom among the fashion houses to purchase the workshops that they need for their designs, such as embroidery and lace. Chanel’s group has recently acquired the workshop in Paris making tweeds because originally Chanel’s tweeds were imported from Linton Tweeds in the UK. Similar example of acquisitions is the house of Dior buying Atelier Broderies Vermont. Elie Saab has his own workshops in Beirut making hundreds of meters of precious embroideries.
On the final note, this book is a great resource for anyone working in the fashion design industry or for those who are curious about what the prestigious studios look like and how the designers work.
First of all, we all need clothes, nobody is walking around naked in our society. And the range of enthusiasm about clothing goes from total disinterest to a very exaggerated mania. From fashion haters to fashion addicts. From unbelievably cheap clothing to over-the-top expensive Haute couture. There is a lot going on about clothes. But why should you create your own Chanel style jacket?
Your own personal style
Your wardrobe or style is saying more about you (on first sight) than your curriculum vitae. Stupid but true. It actually always have been. Every generation, every culture, every time has its own standards, values, (moral) codes and fashion build around clothes. And what about religious norms and values? Or status/profession related clothing rules? It has always been a big issue.
From that perspective, talking about a beloved couture item is not such a big deal.
But why do we love the French Chanel jacket so much? Why do we want to know about the construction, the sewing techniques, the history and above all: how are we able to manage to make one on our own? A lot of reasons, not just because….
Chanel style and Coco Chanel’s vision
If we know why Coco Chanel invented the couture Chanel jacket, we would want to make it even more. Even though the Chanel jackets are shaped till perfection, in the early fifties, they were a totally new symbol of freedom after decades of tight corsets and an over-the-top hour-glass silhouette with almost unreachable waist size and pointy high breasts. The shape of the first Chanel jackets seemed almost boxy and masculine in that perspective. Chanel was indeed inspired by menswear but kept an eye on the total look of the suit or outfit which was very feminine and elegant. The jacket has its history and all women loved the new feeling of freedom while looking classy and sophisticated enough to be admired by everyone. The combination of easy-wearing and still looking awesome is something we always wanted. Let’s call it reason number one.
Luxurious clothes are just awesome
Number two is probably because we love the feeling of luxurious clothing. It is very easy to buy mass production these days and we all do it. Cheaper than cheap. Big deals. Bigger Shopping bags full of clothes or delivery within 24 hour.... Apart from cheap, fast and easy-going, we also love the idea of having something special, something unique and very personal. Creating a Chanel Inspired jacket is a very personal experience. Everything personal feels luxurious as it makes you feel unique and not just a face in the crowd.
Therefore reason three goes hand in hand with reason two. Reason three is probably the idea of being unique and having your own style. Style is very important for people and specific women. We want to show our taste, our status, our profession or job and our self-esteem. A Chanel Inspired jacket is a status and a signature and it is very stylish. If you wear your Chanel jacket, everybody will be flabbergasted. It is like being at your very best.
We are the makers!
Reason four. “Did you make it yourself?” Is actually not something a seamstress wants to hear. Why not? You should be so proud. It took “some” time and knowledge to make it yourself. You should be so proud! But yet we do not want to hear this question. We want to let people think you bought a real Chanel or you ordered some very luxurious piece of couture from a professional seamstress or atelier…. Whatever your feeling is, it does not matter. It is still a very big compliment because the jacket shows you have a lot of styles.
Reason five. You always have been very creative. It shows. You are very handy with needle and thread and it is a piece of cake for you to make your own curtains, pillows, trousers, skirts or even coats. The Chanel Inspired jacket is next in line. It is a challenge as there has been no challenge before. Finishing the project and wearing the jacket one day, will be a big reward. And maybe you already planned the next jacket-project for yourself or somebody else. Talk about creativity.
Reason six is almost the same. The Chanel Inspired jacket might be a tightly directed approach, but it provides a lot of freedom as well in being creative about the fringes, the buttons, the binding, the colour-combinations and even the length. You can spend more creativity in this jacket than in any outfit you ever produced before.
Personal fitting should be one of the first reasons. The reasons are not in a logical list here. Seven. The jacket will suit you as a comfy sweater lounge outfit. If you took the time to fit and shape it on your body, it will be very perfect.
To make this socially acceptable and a little less selfish, we can also report that it is all very sustainable. A big reason eight, although it could be reason one for sure.... The materials are often of the best quality and last a lot longer than the cheaper ones.
The construction of the jacket also provides the opportunity that it can be repaired or changed if needed. Sure it will be a hell of a job, but it is possible and it is an option if you’ve lost or gained weight or if it is accidentally damaged. (reason 9?)
The most beautiful gift!
And now the most generous reason. We are assuming that the seamstresses are making the DIY Chanel jackets for themselves. But it is also likely that you are going to make the jacket for someone else. A very nice niece is begging you for years now, a good friend knows your sewing skills and gives hints on a regular basis or some other beloved girlfriend wants to pay you more than you ever had earned before. Whatever the reason might be, it is very rewarding to sew clothes for somebody else. It’s a pity it can not be a total surprise ( because the fitting-steps really can not be skipped), but the gift will be a big thing anyway.
It will be very satisfying spiritually to do this for another. Enjoy the process and especially enjoy the moment when the receiver unpacks the package, try it on and she will be happier than you could imagine. (And pictures will flow around the internet soon...)
The receiver will be in your debt for a long time, and you will be the absolute hero for years.
Last but not least...
(Are we still counting?) Sewing is a hobby or a profession which is very peaceful. Women have been busy with needle and thread since the beginning of times. Mostly out of necessity, but also often as a relaxation in the form of a moment of rest. Crocheting, knitting, sewing, embroidery, they are activities that people like to do. Mindful meditation is a great way to reduce stress and relax. The results are mentally satisfying and very rewarding.
Last but not least (really….)
Talking about mindful sewing; producing this jacket is certainly not a hasty job. It will take hours, days, weeks, maybe even months before it will be done. Do not make a deadline. Just enjoy the process and realize it will be a slow-sewing project. Especially with all the hand-sewing which requires a bit of experience and skills. It might be even a good option to deliberately delay it yourself sometimes. Step away from it and start something easy. Come back to it when you really have the spirit. However you work, it should be fun.
Nothing is as unfortunate as finding out halfway through a sewing project: it is a hopeless failure ... It happens to everyone. From beginners seamstress to advanced seamstresses who have been behind the sewing machine for years. Do not grieve and do not stop! With our tips & tricks you can prevent failed projects.
'What does not kill you, makes you stronger'
A rather exaggerated statement, but there is encouragement in it. Of course it is a shame when a sewing project fails. All those hours you were working on it ... very unfortunate. And especially the materials: the fabric, the lining, the interlining, etc. Throwing them away hurts a lot. You may have become a seamstress to be more "zero-waste". And now you throw everything away ...
Where did it go wrong?
Of course you will learn from every failed sewing project. This is our number 1 tip! Because you don't learn anything from just throwing it away. Ask yourself for a moment: where did it go wrong? You learn from it.
Did you choose the wrong fabric? Was the sewing pattern too difficult? Were you able to intervene in time or did you stubbornly continue even though you knew that the sewing project was not going to be a great outfit? Or did you really have no idea but only found out when you tried on the garment itself (or on the sewing mannequin)? Learn from this for the next time. Write it down in a sewing journal or if the pattern is not right, on the sewing pattern itself. Is that really necessary? Yes, in a year you will have forgotten it and you might make the same mistake again.
so .... tips & tricks to prevent unsuccessful sewing projects:
And even more tips & tricks:
Failed sewing projects happen to everyone. Don't give up, but try to learn from it. Do you have wasted fabrics or materials? Maybe you can still do something with it. See our tips: What to do with leftover fabric
Or: a tip for people with pets: cut the fabric into strips, braid the strips and tie them in a thick knot. Now at least your dog or cat has been made very happy with the new toy ... (make sure there are no needles left in it!)
And especially be happy with the sewing projects that do succeed. We just don't talk about the failed sewing projects anymore ... deal?
As a child you learn to cut at school and you will continue to do it all your life. It is such a basic action in life, you never think about it for a minute. In the couture world, however, cutting is a big deal. In fact: cutting is an important couture technique.
Cutting as a tailor
In Haute couture world, expensive materials are used. As a hobby seamstress you are probably buying less expensive fabrics. Maybe you bought a fabric of 10 euros per meter, or maybe one of 30 euros. Suppose you need 1.5 meters for a jacket, so you are cutting a piece of fabric of 45 euros. In the worst case, and that happens a lot, you make a mistake and you screw up the piece of fabric.
This happens to everyone a few times. Even advanced seamstress are making mistakes.
You forgot the grain of the fabric or you forgot to cut extra inches for the hems. Or you will find out that you have cut two right sleeves.
Not a disaster, if you have bought enough fabric, but a (small) disaster if you have to buy the fabric, but it is just not available anymore.
Cutting is part of the entire project that should not be underestimated. The more accurately you cut the pattern, the better the next step of your project.
Scissors are the workers!
When you start sewing, it looks like the scissors are no longer needed. But nothing is less true. Cutting is a big part of the whole process. You have to cut the corners, you have to make notches for the curves and you often have to trim the hems when the fabric has to be sewn together on the right sides.
And: the scissor is your big friend if you don't have a lock machine (yet). You have to cut precisely and zigzag the hems. And even if it is just the inside of the garment, the more accurately you work, the better and more professional are the result(s).
Cutting as art
In the book Ultimate Sewing Bible beautiful drawings about cutting or "couture cutting" are described:
A lot of precise work but it will be worth the effort!
We want gold!
It is therefore soooooo important to work with good scissors. A wire cutter for finishing the remaining wire. A stork scissors for small secure work and a golden pair of scissors to cut the fabric and the lining and to keep at hand for cutting during the sewing process.
A very fine pair of scissors is the Golden Scissor. Razor sharp, very precise and comfortable in the hand. These scissors are the number one in quality sewing scissors for the sewing world.
Our best buy:
Nothing as ordinary and unimportant as scissors? No, nothing as important as good scissors! A small investment but a tool that makes your sewing project looks like a piece of couture-art.
On the Vogue website we read a nice article about 'La Réunion's Patchwork Dresses Turn Symbols of Suffering Into Things of Beauty' Sarah Nsikak, fashion designer, focuses on sustainability and is fully focused on making patchwork dresses. Fortunately, she is not the only one: patchwork is back in fashion!
Patchwork or Quilts?
The difference between patchwork and quilting is that quilting works more with patterns and manual sewing. Quilting is a unique profession. At least three layers of fabric are stitched together, very small pieces of fabric are used and there is often a symmetrical pattern that is worked out. Quilting is a very old tradition and craft and in some cultures it is an important part of social activity, as part of traditions and sometimes even of commercial importance.
Patchwork is nothing more or less than sewing pieces of fabric together. These can be pieces of fabric of different fabrics, materials and colors. Often this is then used to make clothing or simpler patchwork quilts, cushion covers, etc. The name for patchwork and quilting is often used interchangeably. But quilting is really something else than working with patches and making clothes or something else from here.
The revival of Patchwork
Patchwork sounds out dated' and might remind you of Grandma's patchwork quilt who has been lying in the guest bedroom as a bed spreadfor ages.... Patchwork has always had the image of extremely economical people who work with scraps of fabric and sometimes create combinations that really don't look like much.
But there is also magic with patchwork and beautiful quilts, patchwork quilts and clothing are made. Patchwork is experiencing a revival as we become more aware of the waste that the clothing industry entails. Moreover, the Corona crisis has opened people's eyes. We've all climbed behind the sewing machine ourselves to make face masks and most people discover they like to sew!
Fashion designers have been working on sustainability and 'greening' for some time. See our review: Green Designed fashion. Not always successful, but every initiative is one. Working with remnants of fabric or upcycling of already used materials is a good goal! And making something beautiful out of it is a piece of cake for many designers and (hobby) seamstresses.
During a broadcast of British Sewing Bee we saw several episodes in which the candidates were given an assignment to make something beautiful from their leftovers of fabric. The results were jackets, skirts, dresses and very nice children's clothing. The assignment concerning upholstery fabrics was also 'amazing'. The candidates were instructed to bring something from home. From old curtains to bed linen. These were all transformed into beautiful, usable summer dresses. Making a summer dress from net curtains and a sheet ... it is possible and the result was more than beautiful!
Chanel & Patchwork
Unfortunately we can only find a few items from Chanel. But they are nevertheless eye-catchers par excellence. And the Fashion Industry is changing, so who knows, the following collections may come up with more sustainable patchwork designs if the workshops have to make do with the fabrics that are dusting in the warehouse or smaller pieces of fabric that have already disappeared in the trash can .
Who cares whether something is 'in' or 'out of fashion'? For a fashion house a lot, but for people who would like to own 'a Chanel', the year of the collection is less important and the story behind it all the more.
Tips & Tricks: patchwork with Bouclé fabrics
Chanel has always been associated with Tweeds and Bouclé fabrics. These are not really the best fabrics for 'patchwork'. Yet the result is often great. Chanel's famous 2.55 bag has often been made of various tweed fabrics and also Bouclé. Also other bags and accessories.
A few tips:
In the fashion world there is a huge change going on with regard to sustainability. The use of remnants of fabric or fabrics that are supposedly 'out of fashion' is picked up in the form of patchwork. In principle, you can make anything with patchwork as a basis. From Haute couture to cushion covers for the camper.
Patchwork with Bouclé fabrics or tweeds? Yes we can! And to get a beautiful 'Chanel-style' look, there are plenty of examples of the famous Chanel bag and some outfits from the catwalks. Be creative, sustainable and join the new trend: this is the fashion image of 2020 and the future!
This book is new in my library and it exceeded my expectations in every way. It tells about Balenciaga's humble beginnings, his success story, design process, the suppliers he worked with, his famous clients and it includes plenty of great photos to highlight his style.
Respect for women
He was such a private man and a true gentleman who never revealed much about his private life. The book does tell about his dressmaking background which started with his mother when the family lived in Spain. Because of his mother’s influence, Balenciaga had a great respect for women and he understood the lines, colours and designs that flatter the female figure. He didn’t like corsets and closures of Dior garments. He wanted women to be comfortable and stylish at the same time. The book leads us through his professional journey from San Sebastian to Paris highlighting the historical and political context of this period both in Spain and in France.
What this book really excels in is describing Balenciaga’s style, his inspirations and Spanish influences. There are plenty of images throughout the book that show how the designer’s style evolved over the year. Yet he stayed true to his impeccable construction with engineering precision. He was one of those rare fashion designers who could make any garment from start to finish. He considered himself a tailor and a dressmaker and his pieces were constructed based on his solid tailoring training. He was incredibly meticulous in his designs and he paid great attention to detail. If he didn’t like the lines, he would pull the garment apart and start again.
Dressmaker ánd businessman
He was also a shrewd businessman and he was procuring fabrics and notions based on the best price rather than loyalty. He had a great list of the best European suppliers, including Abraham, Agnona, Dormeuil, Chanel, Velours de Lyon and many many others. He was fortunate to open his business in Paris where he got access to the best textiles, buttons and trimmings and where the best embroidery artisans, such as Maison Lesage, were available. He kept accurate ledgers of his expenses which show how the fashion house grew over the years.
If you love vintage fashion...
I was hungry to know how he designed and procured his fabrics, his creative process, and also price, advertising and publicity strategies he used to compete with other fashion houses at the time. The luxury fashion market is very difficult to enter and he was one of the designers who was able to dominate this market and seed other budding designers some of whom actually apprenticed with him. Hubert de Givenchy, André Courrèges, Emanuel Ungaro come to mind.
I will not spoil your read by revealing too much detail, just to say that the book is very interesting with plenty of details and quotes shared by those who worked with the designer or bought his clothes.
If you love vintage fashion, you will love this book.
Butterick B6382 is a sewingpattern from Butterick. It is a sewing pattern for a lined jacket in four different variations. Especially models A, C and D are typical of the 'Chanel look'. The jacket is comfortable and easy to make.
The butterick sewing pattern is a pattern for a loose-fitting, lined jacket. The neckline can be varied from normal to a low neckline or a collar. There are also variation in lengths. There are no variations in front closure. The jacket is hanging open and therefore does not close. It is clearly a jacket to put on over a dress, blouse or t-shirt.
The jacket is intended for the fabrics: Tweed, Gabardine, Bouclé and Linen. This makes the jacket suitable for both summer and winter. You can go in many directions with this pattern.
Sewing level: easy
The pattern is suitable for the novice seamstress. We agree with this. The jacket has no pitfalls or difficulties. As a novice seamstress, this jacket is easy to sew. However, it is advisable to adjust the fabric. Don't start with Bouclé. This is a difficult fabric to sew. If you do, read our article: How to sew Bouclé fabrics.
The recommended fabrics: garbadine and linen are a lot easier to sew.
Butterick B6382 is a fun and easy pattern to make the Chanel-style jacket. The instructions are very comprehensive and clear. The jacket is comfortable and nice variations are possible.
If you want to give the jacket a little more 'couture' look, make folds in the jacket: 'shape' it to your own shape.
How do you turn a (men's) shirt into a fantastic blouse of 'Chanel style'? Very easy. By 'upcycling' the shirt. Upcycling clothes is very trendy. The shirt can be an old shirt, a second-hand one or a shirt that has not been used and is waiting in your closet for years. Until now!
Upcycling clothes is more than recycling. In recycling, something is reused. A good thing, but upcycling is turning clothing or just fabrics into something different from what it originally was. Even better! Think of a beautiful but out-dated evening dress that is transformed into a hip cardigan, or even more creative: a curtain that becomes a beautiful summer dress. There are plenty of examples and how creative the average seamstress is, we could also see at 'The great British Sewing Bee'. Upcycling is popular because we do not like to waste materials anymore. Or things which are made to throw away instantly. And nothing is so much fun to shop at a thrift store for useful items and fabrics that you can use to create something beautiful.
A shirt becomes a stylish blouse
And so a normal (men's) shirt suddenly becomes a stylish blouse that also fits within our concept: the beloved 'Chanel style'.
Many variations are of course possible. This blouse is specially designed for a summer party or special occasion. The sleeves are made of thin silk-look fabric and the blouse is loose-fitting. This gives freedom of movement and a feeling of freshness. Moreover, you see less sweat stains on dark fabric. The blouse is therefore ideal for hot days, or when you can't wear a tropical blouse, a sleeveless shirt or a standard tunic.
We opted for puff sleeves. Very large puff sleeves. Are these still 'in fashion'? Well, we don't really care much about that. As long as they are beautiful, stylish and unique.
Puffed sleeves always create a special look because they have something bombastic and a luxurious look. After all, a lot of fabric is used and beautiful fabric is not always cheap. But if you have leftover fabric of a nice thin fabric, that is just not enough for a dress, blouse or tunic; then it could be still enough for two puff sleeves.
Or use that 'in-between-curtain package' that you once bought but never used.
You can find instructions on how to make puff sleeves on many tutorials on Youtube.
Or take a standard sleeve from a pattern, make seven notches down and draw on a new pattern paper the exaggerated head sleeves that will be created when you carefully unfold the pattern.
If you prefer an existing pattern, Butterick 6537, Simplicity 8127, Butterick 5217 or McCalls 8120 are sewing patterns that include puff sleeves. Making the puffed sleeves in the blouse is not a problem in itself because you can fold the head of the sleeve completely. So they always fit.
How to make this exclusive blouse:
It is not difficult to create an upcyling blouse likt his example. And time consuming? No, the basis is already there: the shirt. You no longer have to worry about the facing, buttonholes, pockets or seams. Follow these steps and you'll have a unique blouse upcycled with style in no time.
The blouse is now a unique, personal blouse and it has cost little money. The shirt is now usefull, the fabric for the sleeves is no longer a leftover. The trims had been in the closet for years, and buttons: many a seamstress have a lot of buttons storage. If you do not have a large stock of materials, we recommend that you to start your own haberdashery collection.
Upcycling: how easy it can be! We would also like to see your examples!
For years, I have been following the Chanel fashionhouse. I read every book about Chanel or Chanel couture and I even create the famous Chanel jackets myself, according to the strict rules of Haute couture (and my beloved Claire Schaeffer). My quilty pleasure ... in capitals!
But now, a new book. A real treasure! You can hardly give a bigger gift to a Chanel-fan like me. Figuratively but also literally. Because it is a big book. A beautiful coffee table book with a striking light blue front and a very appealing content. But different than the others, because it stands out among all the glossy Chanel books, which have been on the coffee table for some time.
The making of a Collection
The book is richly illustrated by Jean-Philipe Delhomee. No illustrations as a side issue, but drawings that are at least 3 to 1 in relation to the text. No photo in this book, not even on the inside flaps of the cover and back page. The illustrations are beautiful, cheerful and very modern. The text of Laetitia Cénac is easy to follow in English for people our Dutch readers. Pleasant letter font, written well and clearly arranged.
Who are the makers of a couture collection?
Apart from all information about the Fashion House Chanel, about Gabrielle Chanel, history and even a list of important dates (pages 234-238), the book is mainly about WHO makes Haute-couture. Every step, from the process of idea (even an interview with Karl Lagerfeld) till the catwalk. The book is mainly about people who all do their work, which contributes to the beautiful couture collections of Chanel.
The first pages are devoted to a fashion show. Before the first model with a beautiful Chanel jacket arrives on the catwalk, a lot has happened. Many people are already involved, who are an important part, but you have never thought about it for a second. Illustrations of the sound designer, the make-up artists, the fitting and dressing team, the stage manager etc. Presenting a collection is not a one-man show of a designer, but a well-oiled machine in which many people play a (big)role.
The book elaborates on this. Back to the very beginning; from fabric to Haute couture. Every part of the collection and the entire making process is discussed, from bags, shoes, gloves, hats, jewelry to fabrics, yarn and threads. There are many pages dedicated to how the materials are made, how choices are made and where and who supplies this material.
An ode to many people, to them all. To all people behind the products, to all people who cooperate or who are important suppliers of the basis for the Chanel collection.
From now on I look at the Chanel collections with even more interest. A superficial world? Opinions are divided on this. The fact is that it is a whole industry and that more people are involved than you might think.
A lot of glitter and glamor in this book, but strikingly enough, the emphasis is more on the entire creative process than on all the lavish luxury, the big money and the inaccessibility of Haute couture for ordinary people. This is mainly due to the modern, joy full drawings and the design of the book. Very well done, because in these times the environmental, climate and economic problems are too big to admit the money smelter of the upper class.
This book is an eye-opener that very cleverly emphasizes the old crafts, manual labor and all the people behind the scenes who do the work.
(Let's just hope that all these production processes will also be carried out in an environmentally friendly way and that they will be able to maintain themselves in the coming years. So that we can continue to enjoy the Chanel Haute couture)
At least I have enough inspiration to climb behind the sewing machine ... if I manage to put this book aside for a while.
As a seamstress you might wonder WHY you need an overlocker and WHICH overlocker.
We will answer loud and clear and help you to decide which overlocker works for you.
An overlocker: yes, but why?
First of all: it is not a sewingmachine. A (good!) sewing machine can do almost anything, but an overlocker is a the dessert after a delicious meal. The finishing touch, the whipped cream on the cake, the golden thread that makes your sewing work so professional finished. Do we know more metaphors? Probably, but let's stick to the (sewing) lesson.
For example, an overlocker can sew elastic materials together and finish with a 3 or 4 thread-stitches without any difficulty. For example: these stitches at the end of a t-shirt. Turn your t-shirt or sweater inside out and take a look down. So now you know why! Even the best seamstress in the world can't get it done with a sewing machine. An overlocker sews and CUTS the fabric at the same time.
So put those zigzag scissors away and from now on finish your own clothing with an overlocker. The result will be the difference between: "Nice jacket, mmm ... homemade?" And "Wowwwww, such a nice jacket. You are kidding me, did you make it really yourself ???”
In addition, an overlocker also creates decorative seams, even threads beads or pearls on the fabric and is able to do a lot more magical tricks.
And imagine you are working with a sewing machine to deal with a huge piece of fabric that should become a curtain: an overlocker would turn the big job into a piece of cake.
But we won’t tell anyone, because you have just saved a huge amount of money by making your own curtains...
Why do you need a lock machine?
That's why. For all those things that an overlocker does and a sewing machine does not. Or maybe the sewing machine is able to the job but you need special feet. And above all: an overlocker is cutting and sewing at the same time.
Now don't dump your sewing machine straight to the thrift store because with an overlocker in addition to a sewing machine, you create beautiful sewingwork and it definitely looks more professional.
Which overlocker do you need?
Overlockers are for sale in different price ranges.
The cheapest is around 200-300 euros and the most expensive are around 1000 euros.
The difference between the cheaper variants and the expensive ones is often in the fact that an expensive overlocker has an air pump threading system.
The threads are blown through the machine, on the way to the end at the needles. This is especially easy for people who are less handy or who don't have the patience to manage the threading themselves.
The expensive overlockers often have more options in terms of stitches and some options are automatically. The same as with a sewing machines. The more expensive the sewing machine, the more options and possibilities.
Often the remark "Did you make it yourself..." does not feel like a compliment. Somehow people are noticing the difference between self-made clothes and the stuff you buy in a store. But as soon as you start working with an overlocker, you will no longer hear these words. Why not? Because your sewing work is now so precisely finished; it looks very professional!
Let’s start adding beautiful labels with your own name or "self-made" on the clothes, because from now on, nobody believes it anymore. With an overlocker: your sewing work looks like Haute Couture Yourself.
And "Oh wow, did you really make it yourself???" becomes a very big compliment! And you will answer very proudly: "YESSsss!"
The best buy: Overlocker Lewenstein 700DE
Vogue V9250 is a Claire Schaeffer designed pattern, published by Vogue. We know Claire Schaeffer from the books: The Couture Cardigan Jacket, Making Designers Trims and The Couture Skirt. In her books she describes how Coco Chanel designed her famous Chanel jacket, the faux-wrap skirt and other classics. The sewing pattern V9250 is an example of a classic Chanel jacket and completely focused on the couture sewing techniques.
The vogue pattern is a pattern for a loose-fitting, lined jacket with princess lines, two-piece sleeves and many fringes. The fabrics for this jacket: Tweeds, Linen, Wool and crepe. It is advisable to stick to the fabric recommendation, although we have opted for a green summer bouclé. You will need buttons, shoulder pads and lots of extra fabric to make fringes.
Sewing level: advanced
The pattern has been titled "Vogue ADVANCED". We agree with this. Claire Schaeffer provides great detailed instructions, but you must have sewing experience to understand them. Also 'bouned buttonholes' are really only possible to make if you have a lot of experience. As a seamstress with a fair amount of sewing experience you can figure it out on your own, but make sure you can ask for help if you get stuck in the project or do not fully understand the instructions.
Sewing-by-hand or 'Hand-sewing'
As mentioned, a lot is work for this project is sewing by hand. You gotta love this. You can find the stitches you need in most books and on the Internet. Claire Schaeffer also explains it nicely, but first learn more about it. Sewing by hand is more than just basting, the stitches have to be really strong and above all demonstrable.
The sleeves consist of two parts and we think the sleeves are quite narrow at the top. Make the pattern out of muslin first, to make sure it fits properly. Sleeves that are too narrow is really a pity. As a result, you cannot move comfortable in the jacket and there is even a chance that you will tear out, especially if you use delicate fabrics such as tweed and Bouclé.
Claire Schaeffer's extra 'couture instructions' are very nice. This allows you to really learn to sew with couture techniques that you will enjoy later on. The instructions are "the secrets of the master". This way you can make a real couture jacket from an affordable pattern and fabric of your choice.
We made the jacket from light green summer bouclé. The Bouclé fabric was light and not too loose. This Bouclé offers the possibility to easily make the fringes.
Note: make the fringes from a double row of fabric. This gives a nicer effect and thus the fringes are easier to see. Use an overlocker to make a nice flat edge that you can easily sew onto the jacket. Or rather: between the different pattern pieces.
The Chanel-style jacket has a classic look and is easy to combine with any kind of outfit. Green is not really a popular color, but it is certainly special, especially if you are looking for Bouclé fabrics in green tones. Everything about the color green & Chanel! Moreover, green is very easy to combine with jeans for a casual look, but also with black and white for a chic or business outfit.
Vogue V9250 is a special sewing pattern to make the Chanel-Style jacket according to the vision of Coco Chanel and explained by Claire Schaeffer. (in the instructions for this pattern and in all of her books). The instructions are very comprehensive and clear. Yet this jacket remains a challenge for every seamstress.
Keep this in mind if you don't have much experience with 'couture sewing techniques' yet. The sewing pattern is a Chanel-style jacket par excellence. Good luck !
As a fabric connoisseur, I like the concept of upcycling because fabric to me is like precious gold and diamonds to a jeweler. When I touch luxurious Italian silk and feel the softness of Spanish bouclé tweeds, I am fully aware of the many labour hours that go into weaving these beautiful textiles and in sewing the final garments. I understand why some fabric costs are higher and I can tell the difference between Haute couture and fast fashion ready-to-wear. The price point argument set aside, all clothing was made by someone somewhere. When I see the clothes purchased in heaps and discarded so effortlessly, as if all the work that went into them means nothing, I get frustrated.
Upcycling in fashion involves taking old or used clothes or fabric and making beautiful garments out of them thereby giving them a new and hopefully more glamorous life. With determination and creativity, it is possible to make a stunning garment out of gently used clothing. I have recently made a trip to Value Village, one of the larger Canadian second-hand stores near me, in search of some interesting ideas for a potential upcycling project. The thrift stores in North America may be different from Europe, but the shopping strategies are the same. Let me share my ideas for finding beautiful fabrics in the thrift stores with you.
#1: Know what you are looking for before you enter the store to avoid impulse purchases.
As with any fashion collection, look for some inspiration first and you can even create a moodboard to get an idea of the general colours and textures that you like. Don’t go into drafting a pattern yet, because your choice of fabric will ultimately dictate the design. Are you going to make an upcycled evening gown, a glamorous day dress, or an unusual trench coat? (Alternatively, you may already have a pattern in mind, in which case you just skip this step. Pull the pattern out and read the fabric suggestions before going shopping.)
#2: Shop alone or with a friend who shares your vision.
I personally prefer to shop alone when I am looking for ideas for my design projects because at that point I am focused and I am in my creative zone. But if you have a generous friend who shares your vision and knows what you are looking for, she/he can be your second pair of eyes in spotting a bargain. (Don’t forget to show your gratitude and take your friend for lunch afterwards.)
You and your friend can go to different parts of the store so you are not looking in the same spot and don’t feel bad if you want to go back and take a second look. Sadly, there are just so many clothes and it’s easy to miss a great find. If you frequent the same store often, you will probably notice the days of the week that the new items are put on the shelves and you can focus on shopping on those days only.
#3: Don’t look for your exact size, but for one or more sizes bigger.
The bigger the size, the more fabric you get to play with. The clothing section in the thrift shops here is usually huge, and some of the items there are brand new or worn only once, like wedding dresses. Look through the clothes in the dresses, skirts and tops sections. Although tops don’t have much fabric, you can still use them for patch pockets, decorative welts and accents. And what about using those for couture appliques and trims?
Are there any fully functional long zippers or even corsetry boning pieces you can use? Those items are expensive if purchased brand new. At this point you have to have an open mind, look past the dated garment because you are not buying it to wear but to use it for something else. Focus only on the fabric and how its colour and texture fit your vision for the upcycled garment.
A gorgeous guipure lace with beading (and lots of it!!!) all along the hem of a voluminous large-sized wedding dress which will give you plenty of material for lace trim or applique. On the right is an inspiration: upcycled wedding dress from Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 runway.
On the left is a medium size dress with overlapped blue spangles from top to bottom. On the right is your inspiration: a lovely day dress with beaded collar and sleeves from Chanel Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2017 runway.
On the right is a lovely velvet dress with a 12” zipper on the side and a metal belt. On the left is an inspiration: a blue velvet dress by Burberry from their Fall/Winter 2020 runway
#4: Look for interesting prints, weaving patterns and/or fiber content.
Always refer back to your mood board to stay on target in terms of your general colour theme. The sophisticated weaving patterns like jacquard and velvet are not that rare, and if you are lucky you can find some gorgeous twills and satins in the wedding/evening dress section or sumptuous knits in the women’s tops. And the more natural the fiber content in the piece, the better. Find the garment’s care instructions which will tell you the exact fiber content. 100% silk or 100% linen items are rare, but you can still find those.
On the left is a large size dress with vertical rows of bright silver spangles on netting. These spangles would be great to use in gold work embroidery as well. On the right is an inspiration: a dress with generous embroidery throughout from Chanel Fall/Winter 2017, runway
Also, check out the belts and scarves section. Many scarves are 100% silk or silk/cashmere mixtures. You can upcycle a wide silk scarf into a dress bodice, a beautiful summer tank top or sleepwear.
#5: Hidden treasures in the drapery section.
Depending on your project, you may find amazing yardage of fabrics in these sections. The store associates hang the fashion fabrics in this section. Unless you are an expert, you wouldn’t know if the fabric is made from natural fiber or not. Assume it is all polyester blends, trust your hand instead and feel the fabric. Is it rough and cold or silky and wonderful against your skin? Would you like to wear a garment made from this fabric? If in any doubt, put it back.
#6: Most importantly, set your budget.
And finally, be focused or you’ll end up picking up useless trinkets instead. Have a definite budget in mind. Are you going to spend $20 or $50? Your $4.99 and $8.99 purchases add up quickly, so hold your purse tightly and keep track of your items. You will have to make decisions on the spot because if you come back to the store tomorrow, the clothes you liked may not be there. Ask the store clerk about their return policies in case you change your mind.
About the Author:
Elena Tran is a Canadian dressmaker and an entrepreneur passionate about haute couture sewing using
beautiful fabrics and notions. After her career as a college administrator and mathematics professor, she
pursued her interest in sewing and opened an online luxury fabric store baudekinstudio.ca. She is
constantly learning and improving her craft. Her training includes lessons with the legendary couture
instructor Angelina di Bello (Montreal, Canada), dressmaking program at Mohawk College (Hamilton,
Canada) and online needlework courses at the Royal School of Needlework (London, UK).
Organza fabric is a synthetic fabric woven with polyester and nylon. It is a very thin, transparent fabric, but because of the mix of the fabrics it is still very strong and very easy to sew. Organza is a cheap fabric and can be used for many sewing projects. The fabric is also extremely 'Haute couture' and chic. The two-tone organza is especially worth magic!
The use of organza fabric
Everyone has 'met' organza fabrics in their life. As a party decoration of flowers, in bridal clothing or draped around tables. Also for parties an festivals, the fabric is bought in bulk and used to decorate the cars up to beautiful costumes.
And this fabric is used a lot for Cosplay and Fantasy costumes. A party fabric par excellence!
But we also come across organza in everyday life, such as net curtains and furnishings for bedrooms. Also think of ribbons around gifts or decorations in flower arrangements.
Despite the cheap image now, organza was once made exclusively from silk and acted as a super chic fabric for Haute couture. The former designers made the most beautiful evening dresses from organza. These were exclusive masterpieces. The fabric was and is also very popular for wedding dresses including decorations such as flowers.
Organza & Haute Couture
Organza is liked by designers for Haute couture. In the past but also today. We are talking here about the silk variant and not the synthetic one. Chanel used organza very recently in a beautiful dress. See: "LAYERS OF ORGANZA, FALL-WINTER 2020/21, HAUTE COUTURE, A story of transparency plays out in an organza cape" worn over a silk dress - the CHANEL Fall-Winter 2020/21 Haute Couture collection, photographed by Mikael Jansson .
Organza is loved because of the possibility to process in many layers. From one layer: extremely thin and sophisticated (and sexy) to multiple layers that give shape and structure to the clothing. Don't confuse it with tulle. Tulle is more the cheapvariant and does not have the qualities that Organza does. You hardly see tulle in Haute couture.
Organza is often combined with silk. A dress of pure silk and organza guarantees luxury and exclusivity. The fabric is mainly used as 'over-fabric' to give clothes extra mystery. Or a more luxurious look due to the transparent nature of the fabric. The fabric also provides movement, dynamics in the clothing. With the slightest movement or breath of wind, the clothing (extra) comes to life.
LARP, Cosplay and Fantasy
In LARP we hardly see the material. The fabric is delicate and hardly ever appeared in historical clothing. In terms of decoration, lace and velvet are more often used. Organza just does not fit in the total picture.
Cosplay likes to work with the material. Think especially of wide skirts and Cinderella dresses. Despite the fact that tulle gives more effect, organza is a beautiful and chic addition to these costumes. Gothic and Steampunk prefer to work with tulle, as this gives it more strength and a more robust appearance. Although with organza more beautiful drapes can be made, such as black over fabric over a crinoline or red skirt.
Organza is ideal for Fantasy. Especially the two-tone organza offers endless possibilities to make skirts, capes and dresses that have a beautiful mysterious and graceful effect. See the photos of Erik Bolding. A big advantage is that the fabric can be processed in many meters without the costume becoming heavier. The fabric also gives movement and light effects to the clothing. Events and Fantasy fairs are of course all about action, movement and posing for photos. Clothing of or processed with organza fabric is highly recommended, showstoppers!
Tips & Tricks
However, working with organza fabric can be a crime. The fabric is thin, slips under the presser foot and is difficult to make hems. The fabric is difficult to fold and seaming and finishing is not easy. Moreover, cutting the fabric is not a pleasant job either.
The layers of fabric slide off each other and are difficult to lie on the table. Still it is doable if you follow these tips and tricks:
Organza is a very beautiful fabric. The silk variant is truly sublime, but the synthetic fabric certainly also has its advantages in terms of price and the beautiful two-tone colors. The material is not that easy to work with, but you can avoid all frustrations by taking our tips and tricks to heart.
Making a dress, cape, skirt or costume with organza may not be a party, but it is a party as soon as you see the result. The fabric is a real eye-catcher and worth all the extra time you have spent on it!
Vogue V8804 is a Claire Schaeffer pattern published by Vogue. We know Claire Schaeffer from the books: The Couture Cardigan Jacket, Making Designers Trims and The Couture Skirt. In her books she describes how Coco Chanel designed her famous Chanel jacket, the faux wrap skirt and other classics. The V8804 sewing pattern is an example of a classic Chanel jacket and focuses entirely on the couture sewing techniques that make the jacket something very special.
The vogue pattern is a pattern for a lined, quilted jacket. This means that the lining is attached to the outer fabric and is therefore not only Haute Couture, but also very pleasant to wear.
The jacket is intended for the fabrics: Tweeds, Bouclé and Mohair, it is important to stick to these fabrics to create a real "Chanel Style" jacket.
You also need an iron chain, buttons, trims or fringes and a beautiful silk lining. We recommend real silk, this makes sewing easier and is worth the investment.
Average sewing level?
The pattern is labeled "Vogue AVERAGE". However, we believe that it does require experience to create this jacket. You first need to prepare the pattern pieces separately (quilting the lining at the outer fabric) then you need to construct the jacket together. This also requires the necessary hand sewing experience. The instructions are comprehensive and clear, but it remains a complicated sewing project.
As mentioned, there is a lot of handsewing involved to creat this jaacket. You need to like this kind of sewing. Most books and the Internet have guides to 'do' the stitches you need. Claire Schaeffer also explains it nicely, but first try it yourself on small pieces of fabrics (leftovers). Sewing by hand is more than just basting, the stitches must be really sturdy and above all demonstrable.
The sleeves consist of three parts and end in sleeve openings. Make sure you put the sleeves together well and keep in mind that they are very short. So adjust this in time if you want them longer.
The inside of this jacket will eventually be just as beautiful as the outside. But take your time and practice on a sample first. It is also advisable to buy really nice matching yarn that is the same color as the lining. This sounds logical, but you often see that in clothing yarn is used that differs in color. This makes the garment suddenly a lot 'cheaper' in terms of appearance. Rather search a little longer for the right color than choose a color that you happen to already have at home.
We made the jacket in black Bouclé fabric with a colorful lining (unfortunately you do not see this in the photos.) The Bouclé fabric was slightly heavier and firmer. The Chanel-style jacket has a classic look and is easy to combine with any kind of outfit.
We also made the sleeves a lot longer. We also made the jacket in beige Bouclé. We have extended this jacket with additional edges around it in contrasting colors, just like the buttons.
Read more about the beige color in Chanel's vision and the making of this jacket: Beige Bouclé Chanel-Style jacket.
Not so good:
Vogue V8804 is the ideal sewing pattern to make the Chanel-Style jacket according to the vision of Coco Chanel and explained by Calire Schaeffer. (in the instructions for this pattern and in all her books). The lining is sewn to the outer fabric (quilted) and has the appearance of Haute Couture in all respects.
Take plenty of time to make this jacket. It will take longer than you think. But the result will undoubtedly be very beautiful and unique!
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