Classic French Jacket – Number Four

Many of you, no doubt, are familiar with the “10,000 hour” theory. In a nutshell, it purports that to master something, artistically or technically, you must devote at least 10,000 hours to that endeavor (assuming you have a proclivity for it in the first place.) Well, cognitively I know I have a long way to go towards having 10,000 hours devoted to these Classic French Jackets, but it sure seems like I just devoted at least half of those hours to my current, just-finished jacket!

That said, I was aware of an interesting phenomenon as I plugged away on this project. I felt more confident in the process on this one – and more confident in my ability to execute it well. I noticed this especially when I got to the point of inserting the sleeves. The sleeves are, as many of you know, inserted entirely by hand. In previous jackets this has always been my least favorite part. For one thing, you are working within the confined area of the armhole, with lots of very wide seam allowances and “flapping” fabric. It is messy, but precision is necessary to get a beautiful shoulder line and a sleeve that fits well and feels comfortable.   This time it did not feel like an imperfect process; I actually felt like I knew what I was doing!

Getting ready to insert one sleeve.

Voila! It’s in.

Perhaps another of the clues to my feeling more confident in the process of this jacket is the fact that I felt I could take it in a little bit of a new direction. The most obvious departure from the norm is the fact that it has no buttons. Having seen some of the real Chanel jackets in my Pinterest feed that are embellished with bows instead of buttons, gave me the idea to change up this jacket. I really like bows, and I thought using bows would be the perfect foil to this rather regular, non-whimsical hounds-tooth boucle.

I also decided I would eliminate the sleeve extensions and go for curved hems, set off by the trim alone – no bows even for this professed lover of them, as I thought that would be just too much.

Before the trim is applied.

Here is what it looks like on the inside.

Another guiding principle I used for the embellishment of this jacket is the fact that I am planning a matching sheath dress for it. Obviously I want the two pieces to complement each other beyond the shared fabric, so the dress will be trimmed in a manner coordinating with the jacket. (These details will be shared in a future post when I have the dress underway. Eternally optimistic here!) Anyway, envisioning the jacket and dress worn together led me to add both the waistline trim and the trim above the bust (which is across the front only.)

First some details on the waistline trim: I set the pockets to follow this line; the trim is continuous across the top of the pockets (which pick up the curved hems of the sleeves.) I gradually dipped the back edge of the jacket by ½ inch in the center back (a couture technique I picked up from Susan Khalje) and had the waistline trim follow that contour, which I think adds a very graceful look.

I sewed the pocket linings by machine, as that gave the curved dip a better turn. I sewed first along the stitching lines and then cut the curve.

The slightly curved back of the jacket.

Second, I decided I needed the trim across the upper bust as an anchor for the bow I had planned. Obviously I had to set this trim in place before I inserted the sleeves.

The left sleeve pinned in place, the trim already applied.

It was a difficult decision for me to forego a printed lining for this jacket, but I am so glad I did. The black charmeuse has been tiring to work on for my blurry eyes, but it just seems right in this application. And just think – now I have an entire dress to concoct using more black lining!

The boucle is from Mendel Goldberg Fabrics; the trim is from Britex Fabrics, and the black silk charmeuse lining is from Emma One Sock Fabrics.

Until the matching dress is finished, a black sweater and black skirt will have to do.

A red handbag is just what this rather dark and dreary day needs.

I will definitely be ready for some bright Spring colors when this entire ensemble is finished.


Filed under Boucle for French style jackets, Bows as design feature, Chanel-type jackets, classic French jacket, couture construction, Linings

46 responses to “Classic French Jacket – Number Four

  1. Bernice

    Karen, this is gorgeous and I love it! Fabulous job.

  2. Patricia

    Karen, I love seeing your post appear in my inbox. Another beautiful jacket,
    well done..very classy

  3. Karen Mizzi

    Oh wow! I just totally love this jacket. It looks perfect and I am excited to see the matching dress. It will look fantastic. Once again I’m inspired to make one for myself. It is definitely on my list of sewing things to do. Beautiful beautiful work. Kx

    • Thank you, Karen. We have a ton of cold weather predicted which will be helpful as I start work on the dress! I am always a bit “exhausted” when I finish one of these jackets, but I really want to finish the dress as long as I can.
      I think you will enjoy the process when you make your first classic French Jacket!

  4. Nancy Priest

    Really beautiful and it looks wonderful on you. I think it is one of my favorites. You did such a great job.

  5. Cheryl

    This jacket is so beautiful. This must have been such a satisfying project as you were able to plan and watch the transformation. Thank you for advisory ng your sources Helen. I am searching for chain weight at the moment and would be delighted if you could make a suggestion for this also.

    • Hi Cheryl, You can find the perfect weight chain on Susan Khalje’s website/store. She carries it in gold and silver tones, and it is sold by the inch. Hope this is helpful and thank you so much for your lovely comment.

  6. Jackie

    Simply beautiful!

  7. Love, love, love. You have really changed things up with this version and it is spectacular.

  8. Heather Myers

    Stunning! Looks wonderful on you!

  9. Mary Lynn

    This jacket is just a knockout. You always have such an elegant personal look, which enhances everything you make! And… what you make enhances your elegant look! I love the colors and the different set of the trim.

  10. Stunning! The curved lines work so well with the houndstooth. And those bows….be still my heart!

  11. Some beautiful changes here! I understand the advantages of handsewing any sleeve, although it is a small space and ackward, I remember having difficulty machine sewing in a sleeve. When I pinned it and held it is was fine but when I sewed it it slipped and bunched and was ruined. I ended up sewing it in by hand just to get it right, and I was only working on a shirt – not something as lovely as this!

    • When I sewed my first French Jacket, I was worried that the sleeve would not be secure enough, but after it was finished, I realized it was probably more secure than if I had sewn it by machine. It’s an interesting process, for sure!

  12. Stunning work, Karen. I love the planning stage…and by the time the work is actually at hand, the next work is tingling in the background! Looking forward to seeing the sheath intended for this jacket!

    • Thank you, Jacqueline. I love the planning stage, too, and tend to spend many hours thinking about my projects as I am doing other things. Fashion sewing is just so interesting, isn’t it?!

  13. Loree K.

    I love your treatment in the back. These jackets tend to be boxy so the trim gives it more shaping and interest. This is beautiful.

  14. Mery

    Wow! It’s amazing and everything everyone already said. I didn’t know they could be this awesome. And then you put it on and it’s even better. And the purse is perfect. Even strangers surely smile when they see you in this. Just seeing this post tickles us with delight like opening a unique valentine.

  15. I love how you used the sleeve curves on the pockets and then took the trim around the back in a continuous line, and in front to the bows. That will forever mark this as a Karen original.

  16. This is just gorgeous. I have to confess thinking it looked rather plain and uninspiring in previous posts (I’m not a huge fan of houndstooth), but the trim, bows and curved edges completely changed where I thought this was going. Beautiful work, and beautiful design details.

    I echo a previous comment: your personal style is so elegant, and the garments you make complement that perfectly.

  17. I love what you’ve done with this one! Several years ago I admired a Chanel RTW that had the same curved trim detailing on the pockets. Your version is absolutely stunning. The bows are perfect and i agree that more bows on the sleeves would have detracted from the ones on the front; sometimes less is really more. I’m anxiously awaiting the unveiling of your matching dress but meanwhile it looks wonderful with a black skirt and sweater.

  18. Beautiful jacket! you did a great job
    – Moira –

  19. Wonderful work and I Love the bows. I like this jacket edge to edge and that is a wonderful solution to doing it up.

  20. Lyrique

    I think this is the most sophisticated, classic and eye-appealing of all the classic French jackets we’ve seen. So lovely and couture. So very well done. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  21. Oh my, thank you! I so appreciate your lovely compliment!

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