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
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.
Butterick B6710: a classic, silk blouse
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.
How do you make your own Chanel-inspired jacket ? There is a simple answer to that question: read the books by Claire Shaeffer! 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 Shaeffer 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 Shaeffer'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 Shaeffer & Chanel Couture
Anyone who says 'Chanel jackets' in the sewing-world, says Claire Shaeffer. Conversely too. Claire Shaeffer 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 Shaeffer.
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)
Let us respect earth’s pigments
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.
Vogue V9245 jumpsuit! review
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.
How to be a Parisiènne, review
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 ...
Burda 6462; long coat, review
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!
Was Coco Chanel a bitchy lady boss?
"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 patterns: problems and tips
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.