This sewing out of season is perplexing. On the one hand, I am happy to have been able to complete this dress. But on the other hand, the timing of its completion means it is too late in the season to even think about wearing it – or much too early. Not that it will matter six months from now.
After my successful use of a new sheath dress pattern earlier this winter, I was anxious to use it again. And I just happened to have a piece of cashmere herringbone wool tucked away for such an occasion. I had been on the hunt for a wool to coordinate with the Classic French Jacket shown, and I was quite excited when I found this selection at Farmhouse Fabrics. The bonus was the fact that it is cashmere, and oh, so soft.
Wool is quite possibly my favorite fabric on which to sew. Christian Dior certainly had kind words to say about wool in his Little Dictionary of Fashion. “Wool shares with silk the kingdom of textiles… And like silk it has wonderful natural qualities. Always before you cut woolen material it has to be shrunk to avoid disappointment afterward.” [I always steam wool fabric heavily before I cut into it for just this reason]. Dior continues, “Wool has the great advantage over all other materials in that it can be worked with a hot iron and molded.” (The Little Dictionary of Fashion, by Christian Dior, Abrams, New York, New York, c2007, Page 122.)
Additionally, I have always loved the herringbone weave. The chevron pattern in this particular fabric is achieved by the use of two contrasting colors, yellow and pumpkin, which produces the lovely and soft deep persimmon color.
Making this sheath dress was very straightforward, its details identical to the sheath dress which preceded it: lapped zipper, underlined with silk organza and lined with crepe de chine, under-stitched neckline and armscyes, and a real kick pleat.
This jacket and skirt will be perfect for Fall – and I am delighted to have a dress to wear with my jacket which I completed two years ago.
And now for those of you who like to see the sewing I do for my granddaughters, here are two more dresses which were definitely too early (although on time for Spring birthdays.) Unseasonably cold Spring weather kept these dresses on their hangers apparently, but I do have pictures of them before they went on their journey across many, many miles to their final destination.
I found the fabric at Emma One Sock last Fall. It looks and feels like Liberty Lawn but is not. The bordered eyelet which I used for the collars is from Farmhouse Fabrics, as is the pattern, which I have used before. (This is the last year for this pattern for my girls, as I used the [largest] size 12 for my very tall and slender eight-year-old!)
The buttons are vintage Lady Washington Pearls. The pale pink rickrack is also vintage – and 100% cotton – which makes it lay beautifully flat, molding itself with the cotton fabric.
So quickly these weeks turn into months and then into seasons! Whatever the season from whence you are reading this, I wish you dresses which are just right! One of these days, mine will be, too.
Something Old is New Again – and Again – and Again . . .
Coco Chanel said it herself, “I am against fashion that doesn’t last.” Could she possibly have known her Classic French Jacket would become such a lasting icon in the annals of fashion and style? Would she be amazed at how often her jacket has been imitated and copied – for decades now? And could she possibly have ever guessed the allure this style has for those of us who sew fashions for ourselves?
I really do not know the answers to these questions. From what I do know of this enigmatic woman, I can only guess that privately she may have suspected her creation had staying power far beyond most fashions. And certainly, as I have said before, “only Chanel is Chanel,” but what a blueprint she gave to those of us, either as individuals or as fashion companies, to copy and to change and to make her classic jacket into our very own.
I have been thinking about Coco Chanel quite a bit these days as I work on my fifth Classic French Jacket. Last Fall, about the time when I was getting ready to cut out my #5, The Wall Street Journal had this feature article on “Chanel-ish” jackets.
This article appeared in the Weekend Section of The Wall Street Journal, October 27 – 28, 2018. The center caption states: “8 Chanel-ish jackets that aren’t by Chanel, demonstrating the pervasiveness of Mademoiselle Coco’s enduring – and constantly reimagined – tweed jacket design.”
The featured jackets range in price from a “zara” version at $129 all the way up to a Gucci one at $13,500. I suspect few, if any, of these jackets are channel quilted as a real Chanel would be, but they all have that familiar, yet varying look that is so recognizable – the tweed or boucle fabric; the embellishment in the form of fringe, trim, and buttons; the boxy or minimally shaped profile; the symmetrical, balanced demeanor; and the ability to be worn casually or dressily.
Just about any women’s fashion catalog you open has examples which relate to Coco Chanel’s jacket. For example, in the span of just three pages of a recent Gorsuch catalog, four jackets have that classic Coco look.
A longer version of the classic jacket, its roots are immediately recognizable.
Another longer jacket which would look equally at home with a lace dress or, as shown, with denims.
And a traditional shorter jacket, shown in two colors. All these examples are in the Gorsuch GETAWAY catalog, Winter of 2019, pages 30-32.
Those of us who make our own Classic French Jackets are privy to the reality of hours of hand-sewing and unusual construction techniques inherent in one of these jackets. These are not fast projects. However, the pleasure of taking this classic design and having the stylistic freedom to choose and decide on all the components, while adhering to the “rules” of the basic style, make all those hours worthwhile.
Or so I tell myself! Here is where I am with my #5: quilting completed, lining fell-stitched in place as much as possible, sleeves assembled and ready to sew onto the body of the jacket.
Here the right sleeve is just pinned at the shoulder.
It is always a relief when I am sure the sleeves are going to match the plaid of the body of the jacket.
There is something about the shaping of these three piece sleeves, with vent, that is just so lovely.
I am still deciding on trim for this jacket, although I believe there is going to be fringe on this one. Perhaps a two-sided fringe with a pop of coordinating color between the edges. It would be fascinating to know what would Coco suggest. But then, it is such personal decisions which give these jackets their individuality.
I will be deciding on either Petersham ribbon or velvet ribbon as the underlay in the center trough of the fringe. It has been quite a search for the best color to use.
Coco Chanel was also known to have said, ”One cannot be forever innovating. I want to create classics.” Well, that she did with her classic jacket. And we are all the beneficiaries of her genius. Her idea, hatched in the 1920s, then defined to its current look in 1954, is an old idea which is continually reimagined and reformulated by those of us fortunate enough to sew. Merci, Mademoiselle Chanel!
Filed under Chanel-type jackets, classic French jacket, Coco Chanel, Fashion commentary, Uncategorized
Tagged as Chanel-inspired jackets, fashion sewing, quotes about fashion, Wall Street Journal Fashion coverage