Monthly Archives: May 2013

In Pursuit of My Very Own Classic Cardigan (aka Chanel) Jacket

As I eagerly anticipate the Classic French Jacket class I will be taking with Susan Khalje in June, there are several things I am doing to get ready for it.  First, of course, is doing my homework.  That includes selecting the pattern I want to use and making the muslin.  I am sticking with the old stand-by Vogue pattern #7975 (which Susan recommends), as I really do want the classic princess-seamed cardigan look that has evolved from its original “boxy” styling.

Chanel jacket pattern

The view in the lower righthand corner is the version I anticipate starting with.

I’ve prepared my thread-traced muslin pieces, as seen here –

Chanel jacket muslin

And now those pieces are sewn together as well.  We (the members of the class) will be shopping for fabric and trim(s) on the first day of class, so what I end up with is still to de determined.  Am I looking for a particular color?  Yes, sort of, but who knows what wool will entice me – other than probably the most expensive one!

Having classic “Chanel” on my mind has made me think about how enduring this style jacket has been over so many decades.  From looking through some of my Vogue Pattern Book Magazines from the 1950s and 1960s, it is obvious that this is one fashion that is always in Vogue (pardon the pun).  The October/November 1957 issue stated “The Chanel look of the easy jacket is in the news in both suits and ensembles.  Box jackets often have cropped sleeves to show cuff-linked shirt sleeves.”  Here is how that statement is llustrated:

The sketch in jade shows a "best-selling" pattern, newly available printed and perforated.

The sketch in jade shows a “best-selling” pattern, newly available printed and perforated.

Here is the opposing page to the previous illustration - more on the "Chanel look."

Here is the opposing page to the previous illustration – more on the “Chanel look.”

Shades of Chanel are obvious in this style from the August/September 1960 issue, with the statement:  “[T]he most versatile suit ever – the checked, straight jacket is buttonless and bias-trimmed…”

This suit definitely shows shades of Chanel!

This suit definitely shows shades of Chanel!  I like the suit much better than the hairstyle.

Two years later, the August/September issue included a classic Chanel-look suit in its wardrobe for Vogue’s fictional character, Mrs. Exeter.  Called “the suit of the year”, it is described as “. . . very Chanel, with its easy cardigan airs; its dark bands of braid on pale rough tweed; the silk blouse with its own flip and tier bow.  The slim skirt has a low bit of flare.”

This is the most classic Chanel image I found from the 1960s in my copies if VPB.

This is the most classic Chanel image I found from the 1960s in my copies if VPB.

The very next issue in 1962 featured a classic Chanel look on its cover.  The accompanying caption states:  “Take a clean-lined suit design (shades of Chanel) and make it shimmer:  a springy white suit wool scored with gold metallic and red braid . . .”

Chanel jacket images #9

That same issue of Vogue Pattern Book Magazine gave away this “secret” in a feature entitled VPB’s Boutigue Corner:  Couturier Flourishes:  “The secret of the suit jacket and the overblouse that hang beautifully is apt to be a “Chanel” chain.  A finishing touch by couturiers, the chain is tacked near the hemline as a weight.”

The topic figure shows the "Chanel" chain fastened to a hemline.

The topic figure shows the “Chanel” chain fastened to a hemline.

Ordering information for such chains was included in the same issue.  However, I know for a fact that these types of chains could be purchased in fabric stores, as I still have one (in its original –albeit tattered – packaging) that I purchased in the late ‘60s!

This "vintage" chain still looks new!

This “vintage” chain still looks new!

The back of the packeage shows the copyright date, 1966, and includes instructions on attaching the chain.

The back of the package shows the copyright date, 1966, and includes instructions on attaching the chain. 

Finally, an article in the February/March 1963 issue of the magazine gave some of that age-old advice on “pattern selection that can visually help to minimize your figure problem.”  The advice given “if you tend to be bosomy” seems like it could be good advice for just about every figure problem (or problem figure, depending on your point of view) as it states “In suits, the boxy Chanel-type jackets are your best bet…”

If you can get past this awful illustration, you can read the accompanying text about Chanel-type jackets!

If you can get past this awful illustration, you can read the accompanying text about Chanel-type jackets!

Gosh, I think Chanel-type jackets are just about perfect for everyone.  How else would this classic style have endured so beautifully for so long?

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Filed under Chanel-type jackets, couture construction, The Conde Nast Publications, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns, woolens

The Return of the Ladylike Suit

It seems I just can’t get way from that word – ladylike.  Just as I was finishing the jacket to my emerald green silk suit, the weekend Wall Street Journal arrived with this article in the Off Duty – Style & Fashion section:  “Gran Larceny – Fashion’s latest rebellion is co-opting looks from grandma’s closet.”

This photo, copyright The Wall Street Journal, is the lead photo for the article.

This photo, copyright The Wall Street Journal, is the lead photo for the article.

To quote from this article by Alexa Brazilian:

“Is conservative the new radical?    The fashion world certainly seems to think  so  . . .    Designers are reimaging soignée staples for spring and summer – skirt suits, twin sets, below-the-knee dresses, kitten heels and frame bags – that appear anything but moth-eaten.

“ ‘A young girl now doesn’t want to dress like her mother; she finds her grandmother much cooler,’ said Nina Ricci creative director Peter Copping, who designed skirt suits inspired by his own nana.  ‘She wore little smart tweedy suits.  I always had a romantic notion of that.’ “

And then later in the article is this statement by Christopher Kane (which I might frame and put on the wall in my sewing room!):  “Ladylike is the ultimate sexiness,” said the designer.  “It’s clean, elegant and in control.  The famous saying, ‘It’s the quiet ones you need to watch,’ definitely applies to this style.”

Well, I won’t necessarily feel radical or even sexy when I wear my new green skirt suit, but I do believe it is an example of that ladylike style of the early 1960s — which actually makes sense since the pattern is indigenous to that decade.

This is the pattern from the 1960s I used for my suit.

This is the pattern from the 1960s I used for my suit.

Finally finished!

And here is the suit finally finished.

I make a few changes to the design once I made the muslin for it.  First, I added two tapering darts to the back.  It was supposed to have a boxy feel to it, but I felt a little narrower silhouette would be more flattering to me.  I also lengthened the jacket by about 1 and ½ inches.

The jacket is still "boxy" but less so with the added darts.

The jacket is still “boxy” but less so with the added darts.

I decided to make the sleeves below elbow length, so I added another inch and ½ to them.  Then I had to narrow them a bit as well to make them look proportional.

Now to the fun part:  the two dressmaker details I added.  In an earlier post, I already showed the turquoise silk lining fabric I chose.  Once I had such a dramatic contrast in the works, I thought I’d push the envelope a bit farther.  I found silk bias ribbon in a lovely periwinkle color and used it to add an edge detail to the lining in the body of the jacket.

Here is the bias silk ribbon attached to the edge of the lining.

Here is the bias silk ribbon attached to the edge of the lining…  Click on the photos to see them up close.

DSC_0804

… and one more picture of it.

This was so much fun to do and made attaching the lining to the jacket very easy, as all I had to do was “hand-stitch in the ditch” where the silk ribbon and the lining fabric were sewn together.

Here is what the finished edge looks like.

Here is what the finished edge looks like.

When I found the gold buttons for the jacket, I immediately knew that adding buttons to the sleeves would make it all look more complete.

The gold buttons added to the sleeves and another view of the lining (and the back of the bound buttonholes).

The gold buttons added to the sleeves and another view of the lining (and the back of the bound buttonholes).

And here is a close-up of the larger buttons for the front of the jacket, with their bound buttonholes.

And here is a close-up of the larger buttons for the front of the jacket, with their bound buttonholes.

The last thing I did was attach the label to the inside front of the jacket.

Emerald green suit

The silk shell I am wearing is a RTW one!  I purchased it last Spring and now have something with which to wear it!

The silk shell I am wearing is a RTW one. I purchased it last Spring and now have something with which to wear it!

Another view, without jacket.

Another view, with jacket over my shoulder.

When I found this emerald green silk matka online last Fall at Waechter’s Fine Fabrics, I envisioned a skirt suit – or dressmaker suit, as this type of dressy suit is also called – but I had not progressed beyond that in my planning.  Well, now this new grandmother is feeling pretty fortunate that, not only did I grow up with the styles from the 1960s, but they are making me feel quite fashionable now that I am in my 60s!

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Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, Dressmaker details, Dressmaker suits, sewing in silk, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns