Thursday, October 24, 2013

A little something of a jacket

It is easy enough to post about my latest project, but when it comes to writing the title I was stumped. This is in the style of, and mostly inspired by the classic Chanel but oh, so far from the meticulous versions I have seen recently. So I wanted to call this my "faux french jacket."  It is faux because the fabric does not deserve the full treatment, quilted lining and all but I wanted to play around with the pattern and proportion on a jacket for myself.

This boucle-ish fabric is some kind of wool and acrylic blend which has been in my storage closet for almost 3 years. To see my first use of it scroll down to the bottom of this post - which also has lots of tips on working with plaid. Appropriate as I decided to focus on plaid matching in today's post, in particular sleeves and how to match them to the body of the garment.

I did make a muslin of this jacket because I wanted to cut it apart and then use each muslin piece to cut out the boucle fabric in a single layer. That is really helpful for matching the plaids as you can see everything lining up and don't have to rely on the folded or doubled fabric layers staying aligned. It may not be visible but I have marked all dots and notches in pencil on the muslin and then will do tailors tacks.
French jacket cutting out

Ok, lets talk plaid matching. Firstly it is soooo much easier with an even plaid, which this is. If you look at older sewing and tailoring books they usually have great examples of even and uneven plaid. But my tip - stay away from the uneven ones unless you want to tear your hair out. 

French jacket muslin matching map
The red squares indicate places where the plaid should match. This fabric has 1" squares of blue thread and then a black metallic thread so I am using the blue as it is easily visible. I actually started with the front pieces, and matched at the center of the bust on the front princess seam and them moved from there. Depending on the style it may get wonky as you go around the jacket but you want the front to be the very best spot. Important NOTE:  the matching is at the seam line, not the edge of the muslin or the paper pattern piece. Does that make sense?  This is more noticeable at the shoulder, where the edge has a sharp angle. Sometimes it is not possible to match completely here, and a princess seam makes it a bit more tricky, but I just chose a spot and matched front and back. 
I made a note about the one inch seam allowance at the neck as that will come into play later.

Once I get the body of the jacket all stitched together then I cut out the sleeve. Sometimes I do it all at once but I think it is better to do it after, then you can use your muslin pieces and see where the notches etc. are actually landing on plaid.

French jacket sleeve matching
To place the sleeve on the plaid, I match the front single notch of the sleeve to the single notch of the jacket front body. If the pattern is properly designed, and you have kept on the straight grain then the sleeve should match at the armhole and match the jacket body as the arm hangs. This is a simple 2-piece sleeve, on a non-faux version it would likely be a three piece sleeve. But let's not get crazy for this not worthy fabric. For the under sleeve, I match at the top where the double notches are on the back seam. This seam is more likely to show than the front seam which is more hidden under the arm. Grainline is very important here, and then there is usually some ease on a good pattern for the elbow as I note above. 
I am pretty impressed with this pattern, Vogue 7975. I started with a size 12 which is my usual Vogue size and only adjusted a little at the hips. The sleeves fit very well into the armholes with no excessive ease. I am making View B which meets in the center front, no buttons. What is up with View A here? She is looking a bit stern and cranky as I would be if they put me in that weird neck bow version. 

V7975 pattern envelope

So after all my persnickety plaid efforts how did the sleeve turn out?  Here is a sneak peek at the jacket in progress. I am happy! Maybe this fabric is not so unworthy after all. In any case, the sleeve is just sewn on, no pressing or sleeve head yet. Plenty more steps and some sleeve sewing details in my next post. As for the trim, I got that last week at Discount Fabrics in Berkeley where I was pleasantly surprised to realize just how many unusual things they have on their shelves. Most trims were about $1.29 a yard. Every time I go there I pet all the leather and suede of these days I will buy one. So this trim,  I am still pondering but leaning towards yes, seems like this jacket needs a bit of punctuation and the color match is perfect. 

French jacket sleeve finished
Can you see my yellow tailor's tacks there in the princess seam?

So that is the progress so far on my "Shanel" and credit for that name goes to Goodbye Valentino who just finished her gorgeous classic version here

Truth be told I started this jacket as a dry run. One of my sewing clients inherited a piece of Irish wool from Avoca handweavers and it is going to be sewn into this style jacket, soon I hope. My mom has always wanted a Chanel style jacket so I think one could be in the works for her as well, with more of the classic handstitching details. She deserves it :)

So onward with my fuzzy ravel-ly black fabric, I am at the "just want to be done with it" stage.

Happy sewing,  Beth

Today's SunnyGal garden photo, some purpley blue asters which are outgrowing their pot.

Blue aster


  1. When I put my muslin for Vogue 7975 on, I was more than a little surprised at how nice it was. The dowdy sketches on the front don't come close to doing it justice! It's got wonderful lines, an armscye that doesn't dip too low like most Vogue, and a pretty great sleeve pattern to boot. I'd call that a pattern win. And I'm looking forward to seeing your finished garment! :)

  2. Wow. You have some mad skills.

  3. Beth, this looks so pretty. Love your "Shanel" and I hope you blog about the version you make for your Mom. Sweet :-)

  4. Your jacket is beautiful so far -- I love the colors. And thanks for the helpful information on matching:)

  5. Looks fantastic! I love the fabric, understated but very elegant. Looking forward to seeing it finished!

  6. I'm in awe of the plaid match! I really need to get my own version of this jacket made. May I ask a question? Do you plan to add any additional embellishment to the trim?

  7. It is lovely. Your plaid matching is great, as is the trim matching.

  8. Excellent plaid matching, and thanks for the great tips!

  9. Thank you for such great tips. With plaids I´m always extra careful when laying the pattern and I, more or less, use the same method. I´m so glad to read that a pro like you do it like that too! Feels very good!
    And that jacket is looking fantastic!

  10. Beth, you've helped me realise 'how to match plaids' without tearing my hair out. I have to use your matching points soo.
    Your Mum will love her 'shanel' jacket.

  11. Your jacket is looking great, Beth! If I am ever crazy enough to sew a plaid French jacket I'm coming to CA to make it under your tutelage :) :)

  12. It's looking really great Beth! I've made up that pattern too, it is such a good basic :)

  13. Lookin' good!! Lladybird posted a tutorial recently on how to match plaids too. Maybe someday I will try it!

  14. Looking lined jacket for the PR contest is in an even plaid as well. so I have my hair...but I did spend hours on the matching. Stripes and plaids - I like them both so much, but they do require a certain amount of 'gotta have it' !

  15. Lovely jacket - every time I see one I want another! Perfect matching too.

  16. I love your fabric selection and your braided trim, both are very pretty! I know this jacket will be gorgeous!

  17. OOOH, thanks for the tips. I'm going to be using them shortly!

  18. Your jacket is looking great, the trim is perfect for just bringing out the blue in the fabric. I'm working on a boucle jacket at the moment too, my sewing room is a mess!