Coco Chanel reopened her House of Chanel in 1954, and by the early ‘60s, her suit with its narrow skirt and boxy cardigan jacket, famously made from beautiful boucles, was a dominant fashion look. I could not help but think of another product of the early ‘60s as I was working on my Chanel-inspired Jacket No. 2: the song, written by Sammy Cahn and set to music by Jimmy Van Heusen, entitled “The Second Time Around”. I wondered if making my No. 2 would be “lovelier the second time around”? And you know what? It was! I give so much credit to Susan Khalje, from whom I took the Classic French Jacket Class, whose tips and teachings gave me much confidence as I tackled No. 2 on my own.
There were a couple of additions and subtractions I decided to try with my second jacket. The easy one was deciding to have just two pockets rather than four. The more involved one was deciding to add buttonholes to the front edge, the sleeve plackets, and the pockets. However, I remembered Susan’s statements about making buttonholes in one of these jackets – and the reason she advocates in her class the use of “hook and eye” fasteners at the abutted front edges. It is very difficult to make acceptable hand-done buttonholes in this loosely woven fabric, unless one is extremely skilled in this procedure. Since the only hand-done buttonholes I am used to doing are bound buttonholes – not acceptable in this application, due to the type of fabric – I knew I had to figure out another way to get buttonholes in my No. 2.
Fortunately, I have an issue of Threads Magazine from June/July 1989 in which Chanel jackets are featured. This picture gave me the idea for seam-slot buttonholes.
I would just have to add on a separate piece for the right front, make each pocket in two pieces, and make the plackets on the sleeves separate pieces, sewn on with openings in the seams to make the buttonholes. Here is an example of what I did.
Of course doing these extra pieces meant I had to apply separate linings to each extension.
The entire time I was quilting the jacket, working on the seams, and figuring out these buttonholes, I was pondering the trim. Some of you may recall (if you read my blog regularly) that I could not decide between two different trims.
Because of the lining fabric I had chosen (and from which I am making a blouse), I was leaning towards the red, white and blue trim, but I thought it looked a little “weak”. What to do? I started looking at as many pictures of Chanel jackets as I could find, but the one that made the light bulb go off was one from that same issue of Threads Magazine:
If I could find a Petersham grosgrain ribbon in the right color, I thought it would be the perfect backing for either trim. Once again, Britex Fabrics (from which I had already purchased the boucle, the lining fabric, the buttons, and the two trims) came to the rescue: I ordered 5/8 inch Tomato Red ribbon – and then paired it with each trim.
I thought it added just the right amount of depth to the multi-color trim, and my decision was confidently made.
I sewed the Petersham ribbon on before I did the finish work on the inside lining seams. Then the ribbon provided a wonderful surface on which to attach the trim.
So – here’s the jacket (shown on my dress form for now. Once I get the matching blouse finished, I’ll “model” it for you.)
There is no way to make this jacket quickly. The extra steps I added (buttonholes and 2 layers of trim) added to the length of the process as well. But – it was incredibly satisfying to see it turn out as well as it did. I am grateful that I made this No. 2 shortly (well, within 6 months) after my first jacket, as it reinforced my knowledge of the process. For my next one I’d like to add a “mandarin” type collar, as shown in these examples:
So when will No. 3 commence? I don’t see it on the horizon yet, but perhaps when it does, the third time around will be … “the charm”.