Chanel Cardigan Jacket

 Jacket Front

Claire Shaeffer pattern – Vogue 8259 (out of print)

Coco Chanel was the epitome of elegance and her classic cardigan jacket is a timeless garment.  It is my humble opinion that no wardrobe is complete without at least one version.  Then, if you are going to be a purist, it must be constructed using classic couture techniques.  Being a huge fan of sewing by hand, this suits me just fine.

This year I will be teaching a 4-day workshop at the Australian Sewing Guild annual convention on constructing a Chanel jacket incorporating couture methods.  Although there is a considerable amount of hand sewing required, you still do get to use a sewing machine.  The order of construction is quite different to what you may be used to.  For example, normally the lining would be the last thing to be inserted into a jacket.  Not so with the Chanel jacket which has the lining quilted to the body.  This means you attach the lining to the fronts and backs BEFORE you join at shoulders and side seams.  Quilting the lining to the fabric provides wonderful stability and body to the garment particularly when using the traditional tweed boucle fabric which is a loose weave.

I now have two versions of this pattern in my wardrobe.  The first one I made was a a navy textured wool/polyester blend  I made it with a collar, two pockets only, and gorgeous retro-print silk lining.  The pattern (Vogue 8259) has a 3-piece sleeve with a lovely curved vent (with buttonholes, of course).  This sleeve is wonderful for fitting larger arms, as the extra seam gives you more opportunities to enlarge where needed, particularly in the upper arm area.

The fabric used was stable enough that back, side front and sleeves did not require interfacing – the quilting provided enough body.  The jacket front still requires interfacing and I choose to use tailor’s canvas.

For my second jacket I choose the more traditional boucle fabric with a check design which means careful cutting to match the pattern across seams.  This being a loose weave fabric, I interfaced the body pieces with silk organza before quilting the lining.  Four pockets in this version and no collar.  Loving the laser-etched Italian buttons.  In fact, the whole jacket was designed around the buttons!

What would I do different next time?  I should have made the front facing from a contrasting fabric like a silk dupion to reduce the bulk at the front.  I’m still very pleased with the result and it fits beautifully.  Now I just have to wait for winter to wear it.

Vogue 8259 is now out of print but a very similar pattern (also Claire Schaeffer) is V8804.  No collar with this pattern and a 2-piece sleeve but otherwise the same.  It would be easy enough to adapt the sleeve and add a collar.

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Chanel Cardigan

This was my Easter weekend project. The challenge was to make something without having to go to the shops to buy supplies – i.e. USE THE STASH! The fabric is not that old, only purchased a few months ago at Pitt Trading in Sydney. At a quick glance it looks like the classic Chanel jacket. On closer inspection it is a simplified version – the Chanel cardigan.

Construction:
I used KwikSew pattern 2759 (for I’m sure the 100th time). No variations this time other than to add the pockets. The garment is super easy to make with just 5 pieces in total – 1 x back, 2 x fronts, 2 x sleeves. The front and neck edges were stabilised with fusible edge tape which is one of my favourite products for stabilising all manner of things.  I buy it in 100 metre rolls from Hawes and Freer Ltd. (NZ) who have a wonderful range of tailoring products as well as beautiful fabrics.  Digging through my stash for a suitable facing, I decided on good old cotton bias binding (2.5cm wide).  Pockets are lined with cotton voile and stitched on by hand.  The beauty of working with this fabric is that you don’t have to take great care with your stitching as nothing shows.  All stitching disappears into the highly textured fabric.  To finish it off , black braid trim (also attached by hand) which makes it a ‘Chanel’ cardigan. No buttons, no fastenings – just a simple style made special by the fabric and trim.

It’s a cold night on the Gold Coast today (yes, we do get ‘cold’ weather) and I am off to the ballet in Brisbane.  I had a strappy little number all picked out which has now gone back into the closet.  Out comes the basic black knit dress, topped with this super cardigan!

 

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