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Making My Chanel Inspired Linton Tweed Jacket

By Di, Nov 10 2016 05:37PM

This jacket is so comfortable, read about making it.

In April I went to the NEC vowing not to spend too much money. I made two significant purchases, one a piece of Liberty Lawn from Aberchan and the other some Linton Tweed. I had always wanted to make a Chanel style jacket made with quality materials and using genuine techniques. I had envisaged a jacket that would be softly structured and comfortable to wear.

I was so lucky to find two 1 metre skirt lengths in a fabric that definitely had some character and was incredibly fluid. It is woven on neutral cotton warp threads with three decorative threads and braid for the weft, all cellulose based, either cotton or rayon. At home I had some charmeuse that had been in my stash since Janet Reger had closed her factory in the local town of Wirksworth. This would make the ideal lining.

If the jacket was to made to the exacting standards of a Paris atelier I would need to do some research. I had an understanding of how the jacket would be made and as I have a collection of Threads magazine I knew that there had been articles by Susan Khalje an amazing couture sewer. Claire Shaeffer also writes for Threads and has a number of designs for jackets produced by Vogue Patterns. One of her Couture Sewing books is The Couture Cardigan Jacket - Sewing secrets from a Chanel collector, so I bought that as well.

Choosing the right pattern would be important and I decided on Vogue 8991 by Claire Shaeffer as it wasn't too boxy and it's shaping would suit my body type. It had important features of a Chanel jacket , the front being made from two panels with a narrow side panel as well as a three piece sleeve with a functioning vent at the centre and machine quilting. I also wanted to include a collar.

Having collected together most of the materials I needed I was ready to make a toile. At 5'2" I know I need to shorten a bodice above the waist. I copied all the pattern features including grain lines and quilting lines onto the toile. Getting the fit right at this stage is really important as the construction process is quite different to dressmaking. Once I was happy I cut up the toile exactly on the machine lines to use as my pattern.

This pattern is not for the faint hearted, it has very detailed couture instructions that have been adapted to be accessible to experienced dressmakers. As I was using 2x1m lengths of fabric I had to work out my own cutting layout. Although the fabric had very distinctive threads it wasn't going to be possible to match the design exactly, but I could see certain yarns that needed to follow across the seams. Cutting the cloth was the first major technique that was different to dressmaking. Rather than cutting round the pattern pieces each body panel is cut as a rectangle, due to the fluid nature of my cloth I cut one layer at a time to be sure I was cutting on grain. As my fabric was so loosely woven I only cut and worked one panel at a time, otherwise it would soon disintegrate. I started with the front and using my cut up toile I thread traced on the seam lines marking the notches with stitches that crossed them. I also thread traced the quilting lines. This process was the same for each pattern piece. I cut the same sized rectangles from the Charmeuse for the lining. The front is supported by a layer of silk organza.

I would be making hand stitched buttonholes and I was concerned that the wide yarns of the fabric wouldn't hold the stitching. So before starting the jacket I experimented with making buttonholes. I discovered that using a strip of soft, knitted interfacing fused behind the buttonhole helped stabilise everything. So I marked the buttonholes and applied small pieces of interfacing to both front edges so it would support the buttons as well. I also herringbone stitched strips of selvedge from the silk organza down the front edge. These were cut to the exact length taken from the pattern tissue and will support the front edge helping it to hang straight.

All the pieces were machine quilted before joining them together. The front panel was quilted to the silk organza, whereas the rest were quilted to the lining. The quilting lines needed to be thread traced and basted through both layers to keep everything from shifting when I began machining. I tied off the machine quilting between the main fabric and the lining.

I had intended to hand stitch the darts and seams, but I decided to machine due to the unusual yarns and loose weave of the tweed. I worked one body panel at a time to reduce the risk of fraying. Each piece was still a rectangle, so I matched the seam lines and left the seams untrimmed until I was ready for the next process, stitching the lining seams. Working on the ironing board allowed the layers to lie flat. I matched the lining fabric to the body fabric. Trimmed all the seams and hand stitched the lining seam being careful not to catch the body fabric.

Next to turn the outer edges. The collar will be attached later so I left all the excess fabric as the more you trim the more the fabric will fray. I interfaced the hem, catching the edges with herringbone stitch. Then I turned all the edges over on the thread basted seam line and tacked about 5mm from the edge. The edges were trimmed leaving them slightly larger than I usually would. All the edges were herringbone stitched to enclose the fraying edges.

It took quite a while to choose the trim which had to be attached next. In the end I hand layered bought trims onto grosgrain ribbon. I decided not to trim the lower edge as I didn’t want a harsh horizontal line at hip level. To get the trim to turn at the neck edge I eased the ribbon and steamed it before attaching the other trims.

Before stitching the lining at the edge I made the hand stitched buttonholes. I had originally intended using buttonhole silk over gimp, but decided this would be too stiff. So I prepared the buttonhole opening, sealing the cut edges with clear nail varnish. You can use white glue or Fray Check. I then made the buttonhole stitch over 2 lengths of silk buttonhole thread for added body. On the wrong side the buttonholes are backed with small welt made from the lining fabric.

The lining was then turned in so that it was just shy of the outer edge, trimmed and fell stitched in place. The lining was split at each buttonhole and slip stitched to the welt.

The collar was made from a rectangle cut on the grain and eased to fit the silk organza interfacing. The edges were trimmed, turned to the wrong side and herringbone stitched. The trim then added to the outer edge.

The collar was matched to the neck edge of the jacket and felled in place. Only then did I trim the body fabric at the neck edge, again herringbone stitching to the inside of the collar to stop it disintegrating! The collar lining was the felled to the inside.

The jacket body is finished except for the buttons and chain for the bottom edge. Both of these took quite a lot of tracking down. In the end the buttons came from and the chain

In all the information I could find the 3 part sleeves were cut to the actual pattern pieces and then made in the same way as the body, leaving the seam from the shoulder to hem open. Knowing how much this fabric wanted to fall apart I chose to cut rectangles and only trim when I could secure the cut edges. To keep the genuine techniques I made fully functioning sleeve buttonholes, but these didn't have the welts behind them. Finally stitching the seam and hand stitching the lining.

I have quite square shoulders so chose not to add shoulder pads. I used my tailoring knowledge to ease the sleeves into the armhole, backstitching them twice, once from each side. After trimming the sleeve lining was slip stitched to the armhole seam.

Nov 12 2016 09:42PM by Delwyn Weusten

Wow! What a fantastic account of your project! Great how informative your account of the process is and clear photos to accompany.

Nov 13 2016 07:31AM by sonja

Making a jacket in Chanel style is a lot of work, but when you make you like you dit it pays of. Your jacket is amazing.

May 16 2017 10:40AM by Wendy Duncan

A very thorough and helpful account of the process. It's a lot of work but it's definitely worth it! It looks an extremely useful and comfortable jacket. I'm about 3/4 of the way through mine and haven't used exactly the same method but if it turns out half as good as yours I'll be happy.

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