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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
I will definitely be ready for some bright Spring colors when this entire ensemble is finished.
46 responses to “Classic French Jacket – Number Four”
Thank you, Sara!
Many thanks to you, Danita!
Karen, this is gorgeous and I love it! Fabulous job.
Thank you, Bernice! Such a lovely comment!
Karen, I love seeing your post appear in my inbox. Another beautiful jacket,
well done..very classy
Thank you, Patricia. It’s very nice to know I can brighten up your inbox on occasion!
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!
Really beautiful and it looks wonderful on you. I think it is one of my favorites. You did such a great job.
Thank you so much, Nancy! I am definitely glad it is finished!
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.
Love, love, love. You have really changed things up with this version and it is spectacular.
Thank you, Cissie! Now on to the dress (after a bit of birthday sewing for a sweet little soon-to-be five-year-old.)
Stunning! Looks wonderful on you!
Thank you, Heather! It helps having a custom fitted pattern from which to work – I know it will fit well!
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.
Thank you, Mary Lynn, for this lovely comment! You made my day!
Stunning! The curved lines work so well with the houndstooth. And those bows….be still my heart!
Thank you, Marianne! Bows make my heart go pitter patter, too!
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!
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?!
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.
Thank you, Loree. I was a bit concerned that the shaping in the back might not work with the very regular houndstooth, but it worked out okay!
Such beautiful work
Thank you! I still can’t quite believe it is finished!
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.
Mery, you have such a way with words! Thank you, thank you for these delightful sentences!
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.
Thank you, Kathy! It was fun to plan and then to make it work successfully (which is not always a guaranteed thing!)
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.
Thank you so much! I’m quite anxious to get the dress underway, as I think that will really complete the jacket (as I envision it.)
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.
Thank you, Mary. I could look endlessly at Chanel jackets on Pinterest, and there are always so many ways to change up the trim. It’s really a fun process.
Beautiful jacket! you did a great job
– Moira –
Thank you, Moira!
Wonderful work and I Love the bows. I like this jacket edge to edge and that is a wonderful solution to doing it up.
Thanks, Kate! My last two jackets did not use the trim edge to edge, so this was a nice change of pace for me.
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.
Oh my, thank you! I so appreciate your lovely compliment!