How closely do you look at the seam finishes, top stitching and the inside of all the garment pieces you created? In the world of bespoke couture, the inside fabrics and finishes are as important as what you see on the outside.
A meaningful story
A great story my husband told be comes to mind. He was painting a bathroom for one of his clients, the very demanding and formidable Mrs. O. After he was done, Mrs. O came in to inspect her new and improved bathroom. She was very particular about her expectations, so to check the quality of his work she bent down to check if the toe kick on her cabinet was not overlooked. In the process, she noticed that not only the toe kick was painted, but behind the cabinet was painted as well. Mrs. O looked at him and said: “Anyone who is so meticulous to even paint the places that would not be seen is a master of his trade.”
The same goes for any art or craft. The hallmark of bespoke sewing is excellent fit and finish. Inside construction details, like correct underlining, lining and interfacing, are all parts of that. If you are just starting in sewing, you may overlook these important details or think that since no one can see them, they don’t matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. They play a crucial role in the look and feel of the finished garment. Let me explain the differences between these materials, their uses and little tips from the Haute couture masters of the past that can teach even old dogs like me new tricks.
Facing to Make Edges Look Pretty
Facings are used to finish garment’s raw edges, such as neck, sleeve and pocket edges, and even jacket hemline. Facings can be cut as extensions of the garment or as separate pieces. Dior ateliers frequently created self-facings by extending the edge of the pattern piece and then folding it back which eliminated a bulky seam and created a soft and gentle roll. (Palmer) If the facings are cut separately, they either duplicate the garment edges or cut as bias strips and molded to the shape of the edge.
An important consideration when you see facings in your pattern pieces is the weight of your chosen fabric to make sure there are no bulky seams. When I started sewing vintage clothes, I got a cute Givenchy dress pattern which I planned to make from medium weight linen. The pattern had very complicated facings, as is typical of earlier Givenchy designs. I soon discovered that it added too much bulk to the neckline even after pressing. I had to scrap my unfinished dress and get a lightweight silk fabric instead.
The fabrics used for facings are typically self or contrasting fabric. Just make sure that the care instructions match. As I was working on this article, I discovered a great idea to use a lightweight lining fabric as facing which was Chanel’s favorite technique. (Shaeffer, Couture Sewing Techniques)
Interfacing To Control the Shape
Interfacing is basically additional fabric used for support in between a facing and a garment to prevent stretching in necklines, buttonholes, waistbands, and pocket edging and to control the shape of the collars, cuffs, waistbands, lapels, plackets, sleeve caps so they don’t collapse during wear. (Nudelman) Have you ever made a shirt that looked great before the first wash and got a misshaped collar stand and a curled or wrinkled collar after? This is because you didn’t select the correct interfacing to support the fabric. I usually get the samples of the face fabric and different interfacings I have in my collection and I feel them with my hands to compare them for thickness.
Keep in mind that the interfacing fabric can be crisper than the fashion fabric you chose, but it can never be heavier than your fashion fabric. (Khalje)
Another important trick of the trade is to use different interfacing for different parts of the garment. For example, the interfacing for a shirt collar stand or a sleeve cap of a tailored suit is usually crisper than interfacing for a pocket. I use muslin, cotton batiste, handkerchief linen and lightweight, medium weight and heavy weight hair canvas as interfacing.
Chanel was very creative in using lining fabrics for interfacing. (Shaeffer, Couture Sewing Techniques) You can also use silk organza, silk habotai, organdy, cotton flannel, lamb’s wool, net, tulle, crinoline, Egyptian cotton, faille, silk taffeta, charmeuse, chiffon, and even self-fabric. There are many choices here. It is important to make sure that the care instructions of all fabrics match. With practice, you will know right away which interfacing to use for your project. A word of advice: keep all the bigger scraps of interfacing to use in your next projects.
The interfacing is usually cut on a bias, especially for a collar, a bodice front or a cuff to avoid it being stiff. But you can cut interfacing on lengthwise or crosswise grain if you don’t have enough fabric.
Underlining to Reinforce
Underlining, also called backing or mounting, is used to reinforce very fine delicate fabrics, such as lace, chiffon, organza, raw silk. It also makes sense to support loosely woven tweeds so these fabrics don’t lose their shape after construction.
The difference between interfacing and underlining is that interfacing is attached to just a part of the garment, like a collar, a pocket or just the facing part of the bodice, with seam allowances of the interfacing usually trimmed off. Underlining is attached to all pattern pieces. Each underlining piece is cut as a copy of the main pattern piece. They are attached to each other and treated as one thereafter with seam allowances finished together by overcasting.
You often see the underlining instructions on designer patterns from the 50s and 60s. For example, Givenchy liked to underline all pattern pieces on his dresses and blouses not only for fabric support reasons but also to provide a layer to which the complicated facings can be inconspicuously attached.
Another strong reason to use underlining is in bridal couture. For example, before you apply lace or beading to silk, it should be strengthened with underlining fabric to withstand all that additional weight.
Fabrics often used for underlining are silk organza, handkerchief linen, muslin, flannel, cotton batiste, or even self-fabric.
It is typical to have all pattern pieces underlined but it is fine to use different underlining for different pattern pieces. For example, on wedding dresses, you may want to choose a slightly firmer (not thicker!) underlining fabric for the bodice to support the beading work, the weight of the skirt and the sleeves and to cover the boning. (Khalje)
Interlining for Added Warmth
As if it wasn’t confusing enough, interlining is another layer which is also sandwiched between the lining and the fashion fabric but it is mostly used to add warmth to the garment without adding too much bulk. (Nudelman) Horsehair canvas, domette or flannel fabrics can be used for interlining the chest panels and backs of tailored jackets and coats. Interlining can be attached by hand or machine-quilted right over the interfacing.
Lining to Cover It All Up
Lining is the material you are most familiar with. After you finish the jacket of a skirt, you usually (not always) attach a lining and it is that final couture finish to cover up all the ‘guts’ of the garment that you don’t want to see, like unfinished seams, any clips or darts, and pieces of interfacing and/or underlining. Think of lining as another luxury detail which feels fantastic next to your skin when you wear it and makes your garment last longer.
Christian Dior never used cheap fabrics as linings and he wrote in his memoires that “everything that does not show or shows very little should be made of just as good - if not better - materials than what is apparent”. Linings were a Dior signature. His designs frequently included transparent linings so you could see the skilled workmanship of finished seams and the excellent pressing of the darts. (Palmer)
Another great master couturier, Cristobal Balenciaga, liked to use luxurious linings in his designs as well. (Miller) He was a perfectionist and a master craftsman who paid very close attention to details like that.
The fabrics used for lining are silk organza, silk habotai, silk charmeuse, polyester, light weight cotton, acetate, rayon, and crepe. The lining fabric can match the fashion fabric or not if you want to achieve a special effect. Whatever fabric you use, it is important to match the care instructions of the lining fabric and the rest of the garment. In the haute couture world, the lining is skillfully attached by hand, but in ready-to-wear it is machine stitched to cut on labour costs.
What you may not know is that the lining fabric can also be used as a trim on couture cuffs and collars for a special effect. Chanel designs often had such interesting trims. (Shaeffer, Couture Sewing: Making Designer Trims)
The great Mademoiselle Chanel liked to line the jackets and skirts with the same beautiful and expensive fabrics as the blouses that were worn with them. It’s quite an haute couture touch, don’t you think?
You can see now how all of the layers I explained have their roles to play in the final look of the bespoke clothing. Use only what you need to achieve the perfect fit and look, but make sure to choose the best materials, match their thickness and pay attention to care instructions.
Clive Hallett, Amanda Johnston. Fabric for Fashion: The Complete Guide. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2014.
Khalje, Susan. Bridal Couture: Fine Techniques for Wedding Gowns and Evening Wear. Iola: Krause Publications, 1997.
Miller, Lesley Ellis. Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. London: V & A Publishing, 2017.
Nudelman, Zoya. The Art of Couture Sewing. New York: Fairchild Books, 2016.
Palmer, Alexandra. Christian Dior: History & Modernity | 1947-1957. 45-46. Royal Ontario Museum and Hirmer Publishers, 2018.
Shaeffer, Claire B. Couture Sewing Techniques. Newtown: The Taunton Press, 2011.
—. Couture Sewing: Making Designer Trims. Newtown: The Taunton Press, 2016.
—. Couture Sewing: Tailoring Techniques. Newtown: The Taunton Press, 2013.
Amy De La Haye, Shelley Tobin. Chanel: The Couturiere At Work. New York: The Overlook Press, 1996
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 coutureinstructor Angelina di Bello (Montreal, Canada), dressmaking program at Mohawk College (Hamilton, Canada) and online needlework courses at the Royal School of Needlework (London, UK).
Ladies, A Guide to Fashion and Style
The book Ladies, A Guide to Fashion and Style is a 2002 edition, a translation of the book "Die Lady, handbuch der Klassischen Damenmode" by Claudia Piras. It is a 2002 edition; it surprised me because the book looks more published in the eighties. This is mainly due to the photos, texts and old-fashioned layout. Personally, I suspect that the photos are mostly from older advertisements whose copyrights can no longer be traced. This explains why this book, which is only 17 years old, looks a lot older and can also regularly be found in thrift stores or second-hand on bol.com. (The new editions are also for sale, of course, so you can be sure that the book is intact and no notes have been made in it.)
For women who are loving the timeless, classic fashion (brands), this book is a nice manual or, frankly, a lot of background information. Of course, we don't really need a manual to dress ourselves stylishly, because with the classics, which are discussed in detail in the book, you will never go wrong....
Classics are always good
And even if you would wear for a fancy twinset, above jeans, a trench coat and a pair of nice sneakers underneath, not to mention a beautiful Hèrmes Birkin or Chanel bag, it looks really always good… Eighties, 2002 or now! It doesn't matter, these fashion classics have proven that they can be there and will stay.
What are the classics actually?
The association of "classic" fashion often has something old-fashioned. We immediatly think about a woman with a knee-length plaid skirt, plain sweater over it and blouse underneath. Flat shoes and a hair clip….
Fortunately, this book shows that the image of classic fashion is really a lot better and more modern than the fussy prejudice. From casual to outdoor clothing, from sportswear to beautiful sneakers.
Timeless "classic" is fashion that is not subject to the speed of commerce but has proven to last for more than a few decades. Some items even become "Collectors items" over the years, such as Aigner's famous Chanel bags, Cartier watches, Hèrmes scarves, Barbour wax coats and gloves. So many more examples in this book, without it becoming annoying advertising.
Timeless = sustainable
We really like this book because of the beautiful classics and background information, but also because it shows that fashion can be timelessly beautiful. No woman has to follow fashion to look good. Buy a few basics and you can vary endlessly. Moreover, you don't need much at all. A pair of nice coats, shoes, jeans, sweaters, a handbag and nice quality gloves and you can go for years. Some items even last a lifetime. Get rid of waste, get rid of cheap junk that is broken after three washes. The underlying thoughts of timeless fashion is a great approach.
Fur - no!
The only downside, as animal lovers, are the pages about fur. The photos are outdated, as is the text. Fur is no longer a status symbol and looks rather cheap than chic.
This beautiful red almost square book with glossy pages, could be even better in a new edition with a slightly more modern tone. Green, durable, timeless classics that don't even have to be expensive, but 'just' good. I am sure that this book will be loved by many, and not only my generation (in their fifties) but also younger generations who also like to go for timeless - sustainable - ladies' fashion.
Do you prefer to wear a nice, silk blouse under a Chanel-style jacket? A blouse that fits comfortably, has something extra and is also nice to wear with the jacket over your shoulders. The Butterick B6710 is a great blouse, with or without a nice bow and quite easy to create.
The Butterick B6710 sewing pattern is a pattern for a blouse in three variations. You can wear the bow around your neck, you can wear the bow crossed and loose or you can skip the bow completely.
The model has a tailored fit but is comfortable and also quite casual. The sleeves also offer variations: with a ruffle, with a nice cuff or just with an elastic band.
The blouse closes with buttonholes and buttons.
Which fabric do you need to use?
The recommended fabrics are: Crepe de Chine, Charmeuse, Double georgette and silk.
(We made the blouse in dark red silk and we liked it. The fabric came from a thrift store and was sold as 'table silk' for only three euros. A wonderful find and a great idea for recycling and upcycling! )
Crepe de Chine is also a pleasure to work with. Charmeuse is less suitable for the novice seamstress. This fabric does not fold nicely, cuts nicely and is not pleasant to sew.
If you want to find an alternative to the (expensive) Crepe de Chine or silk: make sure the fabric is a flexibel fabric. In our opinion, viscose and chiffon can also be used for this blouse.
Sewing level: 'easy'
The sewing pattern is suitable for the novice seamstress. We agree with it.
The sewing pattern has no pitfalls or difficulties. Practice beforehand on a test piece for the buttonholes. Incorrectly sewn buttonholes in lightweight fabrics such as silk are difficult to mend. An alternative would be press studs instead of buttonholes.
Butterick 6710 is an easy sewing pattern for a classic, silk blouse. This blouse looks great under a 'Chanel-style' jacket because the bow makes the - often collarless - jacket even more beautiful and classic.
The blouse can also be worn casually over jeans or pleated trousers, for example.
The instructions are very comprehensive and clear.
This sewing pattern is recommended to use often. You can also vary enough with the pattern.
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)
Written by Paula Kuitenbrouwer
Ocher and ochre are different spellings of the same word, referring to (1) any of several earthy mineral oxides of iron occurring in brown, yellow, or red and used as pigments, and (2) a moderate orange yellow. The only difference is that ocher is the American spelling while ochre is preferred outside the U.S.
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 ...
All about creating your own Chanel-Style jacket, Chanel-lovers information, Historic Costumes, Couture & Sewing book reviews and tutorials.