“Secret” Ingredients

Like that extra dash of nutmeg, which makes a dish sparkle in an indecipherable way, Classic French Jackets also have some secret ingredients. Except, they really are not secrets at all. They are, however, a few of the components which help to make these jackets so “classic” and just a step above ordinary.

Before I get to those details, however, let me show you my finished – yes, finished! – jacket.

To start with, one of the main features of a classic French jacket is the three-piece sleeve. The seam placed along the center point of the shoulder and running down along the outside of the arm does two things: it allows for the all-important vent and it provides a gentle curved shaping of the sleeve. The under-sleeve piece, which straddles the underarm area reduces bulk in the lower armscye and also contributes to the shaping of the sleeve.

The depth and width of the extension on the vent is entirely subject to the decision of the dressmaker. I opted to make my vents and their extensions suitable for two buttons. I originally planned on making a three-button vent, but I changed my mind, for reasons you will see in a future post.

Probably the most visible component of one of these jackets is the trim. This is such a personal choice, and the selection of the trim can really change the entire complexion of the jacket. As you all may know by now, I decided to use a layer of Petersham ribbon under the braid I selected. Once the Petersham was on, and I had started applying the soutache braid, I took this picture to illustrate how combining two layers of trim can effect such a different look.

On this jacket I placed my trim right on the outside edges of the parts being adorned, but this is also a personal choice.   Yes, there are “rules” to making these jackets, but the way you trim your jacket is not one of them! I also like to apply my trim after the interior of the jacket is finished, but I have seen a number of very successful jackets where the trim was applied before the edges were finished in the interior.

In the Classic French Jacket Class I took with Susan Khalje a few summers ago (which I cannot recommend highly enough!), she made the point that a lot of couture jackets are hemmed slightly longer in back, allowing for a gentle curve that is flattering and feminine. I love this look and used it again for this jacket. I think it is particularly effective with contrasting trim.

The gentle slope of the back hem is a little more apparent in this side view.

Obviously the trim has to have a starting point and an ending point somewhere on the jacket, right? Common sense tells us it should be in the most inconspicuous place – which, for the most part, happens to be in the side seam under your non-dominant arm. I am right-handed, so I made my starting and ending spot under my left arm.

I decided to make a double continuous loop of the soutache braid in order to reduce the bulk at the beginning and ending spot. Here you can see how I looped it in order to apply it this way.

From a little farther away, it is barely perceptible. By the way, do you see how that pocket is buckling?  I realized I had sewn the button on a little too low, so I had to do that over.  Seems there is always something to “tweak” at the end!

Because the boucle I used for this jacket is more of a lightweight weave, I decided I needed to anchor the buttons in some way. So I sewed them on (with waxed and ironed, double thread, of course), attaching them on the lining side with small white buttons.

While we are looking inside, here are photos of the jacket turned inside out.

I did not make any attempt to “match” the print because I did not think it would have made any difference.

Another key, necessary ingredient to one of these jackets is the chain which weights the jacket and keeps it looking neat and tidy. Sewing on the chain has to follow the Goldilocks rule: not too tight and not too loose.

I chose a silver-toned chain for this color combination.

The lining fabric I used for this jacket is such a lovely silk twill print. It seems a shame to hide such a beauty on the inside, although the interiors of these jackets are one of their most delightful secret ingredients. You will, however, be seeing more of this silk, along with photos of me wearing my jacket – all in a post to come soon!


Filed under Boucle for French style jackets, Chanel-type jackets, couture construction, Linings, Uncategorized

33 responses to ““Secret” Ingredients

  1. Mery

    Yea! The whole is even prettier than all the parts promised. Thank you for sharing – the details and the whole.

  2. It’s stunning! O, the tweaking…I finished my jacket two weeks ago but keep going back. I’ve resewn the chain twice so I hear you on the Goldilocks rule!

  3. Beautiful! Your tailoring skills are fabulous! Loved seeing the jacket inside out. I was taught that a garment should look just as finished on the inside as it does on the outside. You def passed!!

  4. Wow! What a GORGEOUS jacket!!

  5. Jaenice Palmer

    Wow, that is a honey, and I look forward to more pictures of the jacket. I can only applaud such relentless attention to detail. Yowzah!

  6. Such a delight to read about and see your beautiful jacket.

  7. What a gorgeous jacket! You do beautiful work! I agree totally about taking Susan’s French jacket class. I also find that Susan’t video class is the next best thing. Can’t wait to see your next outfit! Sharon

  8. So, so pretty. Love your lining and your trim. The whole process is so much fun, as you have shown us!

  9. Gorgeous jacket – the color combination is so lush and the lining is spectacular!

  10. That trim really does make that a stand out jacket! Another fantastic job with all the little details that create the foundation for an investment piece like this! You have to be enjoying the satisfaction of finishing such a lovely piece!

  11. It looks fantastic! You’ll enjoy it for years.

  12. Very lovely jacket and impeccable workmanship. Thanks for showing all the detail work. It’s the little things that make these jackets so special.

  13. Amazing. These are some of my favorite colors. The craftsmanship is impeccable. Well done!!!

  14. Fabrickated

    What an amazing achievement Karen. It is very beautiful and will complement your colouring perfectly.

  15. Marguerite

    A true work of art! I love the colors. I’m in awe of your craftsmanship and patience! The fabric was a wonderful gift and you’ve created such a lasting piece from it.

  16. Oh goodness…… it takes a village to make an outfit!
    Karen, it’s beautiful. The French Jacket details…. the shoulder tabs… the lovely fabric…. the divine fit in your sheath. Congratulations on another stunning ensemble 🙂

  17. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. I would take every opportunity to show off that wonderful lining!

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