Thursday, August 27, 2009

My First Chanel

Two weeks ago I saw the movie Coco Avant Chanel (which I loved), then last week there was a wonderful sale at one of my favourite fabric shops "The Fabric Store" in Sydney and this week, as part of a pattern-making course I have been doing, I was able to have my muslin professionally fitted. The stars are aligning and I am now launched on making my first ever Chanel-style jacket.

The pattern is Vogue 7975 and the fabric a beautiful lightweight loosely woven wool coating in lavender, pink and aubergine tones.

Something I hadn't realised until cutting out the muslin is that the pattern is sized as a "Misses". When I checked my body measurements against the chart I noticed I was between a size 12 and 14, when I am usually a size 10. Since the pattern I'd already purchased was sized 6-8-10 I made the muslin in size 10 and surprisingly it required only minor adjustment at the hip (despite the variation between the pattern measurements and my actual body measurements). In fact, it appears to be a perfect fit everywhere with only slightly extra hip width needed at the front (less than .5 cm on each princess seam below the waist line).

I do love the cut of this jacket; it seems to be very well designed and elegant in its simplicity. I've decided on View B, with full-length sleeves and no buttons. If there is enough fabric over at the end it would be lovely to make a matching skirt as well.

Is anyone else working with wool? I'm not sure of the best way to pre-treat the fabric. I'd rather not take it to the dry cleaners, so am considering steaming it in the drier with a wet towel or rolling it in a wet sheet over night, then steam pressing it with the iron. These are two suggestions I read on the Great Coat Sew-Along archive.

I am also wondering about fusing a very lightweight (possibly stretch) interfacing to the fabric before cutting, instead of quilting the fabric to the lining. The fabric is a loose weave and I thought this might help stabilise it. However I don't want to loose the soft cardigan like quality and drape of the Chanel jacket design. There is an interesting and informative discussion on this topic over at Lindsay T's blog,

… and, having read further on Lindsay's wonderful site (under tag 'Chanel') I am feeling more confident about the interface as my fabric sounds like it is a similar weave, my pattern is the same and I LOVE Lindsay's finished jacket. So, after pre-treating the fabric, next step is to fuse a very lightweight interfacing to my wool, initially as a patch test to ensure I don't loose the softness I'm after.

I'm enjoying everyone's posts and looking forward to the Chanel journey.



  1. Hi Sandra-- looks like you are making good progress! I love the fabric.
    I just read a great tip from Pam on preshrinking wool--I was going to write a post on pretreating. Here is the link =

  2. Thanks Cindy, Pam's tutorial is so clear and it is encouraging to see the method she used and the results side-by-side. Serging the edges first is also a good tip and something I hadn't thought about. My only hesitancy is the loose weave of my fabric compared to Pam's samples, so I'm not sure if my fabric might warp slightly when tumbled. Secretly I'd love to skip the pretreating since the fabric looks so nice as it is (but its ok, I do know better ;-)). Looking forward to your post on pretreating.

  3. Sandra- I actually have the same concern about pretreating boucle. I am wondering if steam is the best way to go? More research...

  4. In Sandra Betzina's book More Fabric Savvy she reccommends pretreating wool by holding a steam iron 1/2" over the fabric. I like to lay out the fabric on my sewing table with a thick towel underneath and steam it. remember to let it cool and dry before moving. And as to interfacing I would sure try a sample first and also try quilting a sample too. The quilting should give you the soft structure you want. And if it doesn't I would underline instead of interfacing. When I took Susan Khalje's jacket class everyone was using a loosely woven fabric and no one used interfacing.

  5. Definitely preshrink! I once had a beautiful red wool boucle that I did not shrink, and when I started to work with it, it became too small! Had to throw it all out! That was the last time I "forgot" to preshrink.
    I underline my boucles with fusible weft insertion interfacing, and I"ve never had a problem. I think you are on the right track if you want to skip the quilting...

  6. Hi and thanks for the compliments! I'm taking a class now with Susan Khalje and she is not an advocate of fusing your boucle. The stability in your jacket comes from quilting your lining to your fashion fabric, says Susan. Hmm. So don't please don't take my word as gospel: Fusing worked for me, especially with my coat, but I think I would have preferred not to fuse with my black wool jacket.

  7. Hi, thanks everyone for all the suggestions. I'll try Sandra Betzina's method of steaming the fabric first and see how I go.

    Lindsay thanks also for your feedback on the black jacket, which I still think looks super with the interfacing. However, I could be pursuaded on the idea of quilting, especially when we are all sewing along together, and it would be fun to make a Chanel jacket the Chanel way.

    I'm not sure where to start with the quilting but am aware it can shrink the fabric if done after cutting. In the meantime, I'll work on getting my fabric, lining, trim ready and hold off cutting it out till I find out more. Thanks again!

  8. Just wondering if I am correct that the Threads issue 121 with the Chanel article by Susan Khalje is sold out on their website. When I click the "Buy this issue" link it goes to their full catalogue and my cart is empty.