What Do a Chanel Jacket and a Chicken Have in Common?

Not much – unless you were in my sewing room last week.

When we were out in California very recently, my son’s girlfriend, Rachel, showed me a Chanel jacket she had found at a store which sells vintage clothing.  Sadly, she had never been able to wear it because it had very prominent shoulder pads, which screamed 1980s.  Otherwise it was a very wearable cropped jacket with petite convertible collar, in a creamy white wool with just a hint of  a sparkly windowpane weave.  Rachel asked me what I thought could be done with it.

Hm-m-m-m, I looked inside it, felt around those shoulder pads hidden inside the lining, and guessed that I could easily remove them and replace them with a much more reasonable sleeve header.  Of course, I’d need to bring the jacket home with me, so in the suitcase it went, landing in my sewing room.

I carefully removed the stitching from the lining at the right shoulder and took a peek.  The shoulder pad had been attached with hand stitches, easily snipped.  Out it came.  I cut a piece of French sleeve heading tape, called Cigarette, which I had purchased from Susan Khalje’s website. (I had used this in my Craftsy course The Couture Dress.)

The shoulder pad is in plain view in this photo.

The jacket has top-center seams on the sleeves, so with that extra fabric bulk, I determined that the simple sleeve heading would be enough shaping.  Here is the jacket with just the side on the left fixed:

Can you see how bulky the shoulder on the right is?

Here I have placed the shoulder pad on top to show some perspective on its bulk.

And here is the jacket with both shoulders complete and all sewn up inside (with itty-bitty stitches):

The padded hanger helps to simulate the shoulder line.

Of course, I had to guess a little on the final fit as I did not have Rachel here to try it on.  But I am sure, once it completes its return trip to California, that it has a better chance of being worn now than before!

It was interesting for me to be able to see inside a Chanel jacket – I discovered some details I thought I might find – such as 1) the wool fabric was totally underlined in what looks like silk organza; and 2) hand-sewing was evident in quite a few areas.  However, the seams were not catch-stitched to the underlining, which I thought they might be.  The most amazing thing was actually seeing those shoulder pads – as their construction was almost exactly like view C of Vogue 7503, my vintage pattern from 1953. How cool is that?

Two authentic Chanel shoulder pads!

View C is right in the middle.

So that was Chanel.  But what about the chicken?  Another project I wanted to finish last week was an auction item for my garden club’s annual fundraiser.  As I am the only one in my club who has a backyard flock of chickens (yes – can you believe it?), I like to put together what I call a “Little Red Hen” basket to add to our auction selection every year or so.  Besides the main attraction of a couple dozen of our farm-fresh eggs, I add other items with a chicken theme.  Some examples are egg poachers, an egg timer, cocktail napkins with chickens on them – things like that.  Of course, as one who sews, it is impossible for me to do a project like this without adding something handmade. So this year, I made a tea cozy with a matching chicken potholder.  I had already completed the tea cozy a couple of weeks ago, but the potholder  – well, it had to take its place behind Chanel.    It did not take long for me to fashion this little hen (in red, of course) to match the cozy. Here she is, ready to perch on the handle of any hot pan:

She is interlined with several layers of heavy cotton flannel.

She’s pretty underneath it all, too!

Here is the little red hen in front of the tea cozy.

Tthe bottom of the tea cozy can be folded out to fit a higher pot.

So what was more fun – and what did really come first– Chanel or the chicken?  Now there are two questions for the ages!


Filed under Chanel-type jackets, couture construction, Shoulder shapes (shoulder pads), Uncategorized, underlinings, Unprinted patterns from the 1950s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s, Vogue pattern 7503 for shoulder shapes, woolens

10 responses to “What Do a Chanel Jacket and a Chicken Have in Common?

  1. Aww, your chicken cozy and potholder are so cute! And oh, that jacket is so much better without the shoulder pads!

    I’ve had to cut open expensive men’s suits for alterations many a time. Occasionally, I will find the seams stitched to the underlining in a few small areas. But I would say that most seams aren’t catch-stitched to the underlining unless something is custom-one-of-a-kind or made from a difficult fabric – that’s an extra step that’s more for controlling the fabric if it’s trying to shift or roll.

    The one time I stitched all the seams down to the underlining was for a prom dress that was made from a fabric that melted with an almost cold iron. I had to stitch it because I couldn’t press it enough and the stitching held it pretty flat.

  2. You’re a fine person to give so much of yourself to others! I’m sure taking a look inside a Chanel jacket was enlightening especially after having completed Susan’s class!
    Time to sew for yourself now! 🙂

  3. Carol

    This beautiful autumn weather here in Northern California and your last post from Britex in The City made me wish I was a bird. I’d catch a rising thermal wind current and aloft, I’d drift down the coast with a kettle of migrating hawks. At Hawk Hill, I’d cross the Golden Gate, hang a left toward Union Square and be at my dream destination, Britex SF, in no time. (ggro.org (Golden Gate Raptor Observatory) posts its daily counts of the many different birds on their southern migration, in full force right now.)
    Discovered your blog while shopping at Britex online for wool and silk for my dream (soon to be a reality) quilted Chanel-style jacket.
    Re: your linen pants pattern: Moygashel was acquired by Ulster Weavers in 2001. Have read that Heal Fabrics designed for Moygashel. In Lesley Jackson’s “Twentieth Century Pattern Design” (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002) on p.146 she states that Heal Fabrics had 80 different designers working for them in the 1960’s. Viewed that at Google books online. Victoria and Albert Museum has list of resources for “Irish linen”. fergusonsirishlinen.com has a History of Irish Linen entry.
    Thank you so much for the pictures showing the construction details.

  4. Well, I can picture your path down the coast to Union Square! We should meet there sometime – wouldn’t that be fun!
    I hope to hear more about your Chanel-style jacket – that, too, as you know, is a dream of mine.
    And – thank you for the info on Moygashel linen. I knew that Ulster had bought out Moygashel, but it seems they no longer produce patterned and embroidered linen, just plain goods (except for tea towels and things like that). I would love to know more about the designers producing those amazing linen designs in the ’60s and ’70s.
    Thanks so much for your interesting comment!!

  5. Carol

    I couldn’t really see if the raw edges of the seam in the Chanel jacket were overcast by hand. Just read in an old Threads magazines that old shoulder pads can be used to cushion garment hangers. The drawing showed them clipped on with safety pins.
    Love the Chicken. I have a chicken pincushion I found at a thrift store that I would like to recreate one day. It is made out of black and white checked gingham, with little button eyes. Wings and tail are trimmed with red rickrack. Wings flap and can be used for holding needles. About 5″ high and wide. Base is a 2″ circle.
    Un dernier mot, to make a reusable template or pattern, trace onto freezer paper, iron onto thin cardboard (like the white shirt cardboard), cut out with utility scissors. If you are going to press fabric over it, make sure any marks on top are not going to bleed through. Hard pencil probably best. Have also read that Manila folders work well instead of shirt cardboard.

  6. Christopher Blackmon

    Wonderful article. How was the organza underlining attached to the outer wool fabric? 🙂

  7. Black Tulip

    I’m not sure if you’ll see this comment so long after the original post, but I just wanted to say thank you for the shoulder pad information. I am currently making up a Vogue pattern for a dress and jacket from 1954, which has very little information about notions on the pattern envelope. Slipped casually into the instructions for the jacket is, “Make shoulder pads from view C of Vogue pattern 7503”, which is easier said than done 66 years later. Thanks to your two posts, I can work out what to aim for.

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