Unseasonable Sewing: A Chanel-style Jacket

With the temperature in the nineties and the humidity soaring, I have just finished… a wool jacket!  Which I definitely will not be wearing anytime soon.  But to be fair, it was a fun and satisfying project.  And I think it will get worn a lot, when it is cooler.

I have wanted to make my own Chanel-style jacket for awhile.  There have been many bloggers that have posted extensively about making theirs, so I will not go into too much detail on the construction.  I actually pretty much followed the instructions on my pattern as it was Vogue 8804, a Claire Shaeffer “Custom Couture” pattern.

My fabric is a wool boucle that I got from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I bought it because I love purple, I love plaid, I love natural fibers, and the price was very reasonable.  It was only after I bought it that it occurred to me that might have been easier to get something that didn’t require pattern matching across all those seams.  The sleeves are three pieces!  Good thinking, Kiri.  My lining is an off-white silk satin that I bought at a discount fabric shop in NYC.  I actually pre-washed both my fabrics.  Some people say to never wash wool.  I disagree; I wash my wool hand knits and they are fine.  If you are worried, you can always test wash a swatch first (which it was I did for this fabric).

Matching up the plaid while cutting.

I am actually pretty proud of how well I was able to make the plaid match across the front.

Other places it is not so good, and I didn’t try at all on the sleeves.  (The sleeves are actually cut slightly on the bias, so I’m not sure it would even be possible to match the plaid.)  I used most of the fabric, so there was no re-cutting any of pieces.

Ugh, good thing this is the back and I don’t have to look at it.
Here is a cute kitten to make it all better.

A few construction notes.  The first thing I did after cutting out my pieces was to sew a slight zigzag about a quarter inch in from the edges because I was worried about the fraying of the fabric.  As I said already, I pretty much followed the pattern instructions, but there are a few things I did differently.  I did not thread trace the seamlines.  What can I say, that seemed like a lot of work that wasn’t strictly necessary.  I did not hand-work the buttonholes.  I have actually done this before, on another Claire Shaeffer jacket pattern, and I did not like the result.  I think that it takes too much practice before you can get good at it.  I just used my usual machine buttonhole instead.  There are no darts in the outer fabric, instead, you shrink it to match the lining.  I found this part to be really fun.  If you try this, I recommend a fabric that shrinks easily.  With my wool, it was not difficult at all.  And it was pretty amazing to see that little bubble of fabric just shrink away!

Pockets!  Also cut to match the plaid.

I made a few design changes.  Most noticeably, I did not used any trim.  It is usually one of the features of this style of jacket, but I don’t like the way it looks.  I only used the bottom pockets, which I must note, are really too small to be useful.  On my next iteration of this jacket, I will definitely make the pockets larger.  Finally, I lengthened the sleeves by two inches.  I think this jacket is designed to be what is called “bracelet length”.  I wanted more full length sleeves.

I used my walking foot for quilting and sewing the outer fabric seams.  This was actually my very first time using my walking foot.  The directions that came with the foot– a Bernina-brand walking foot for my 1008– were not very clear, and there was a bit of a learning curve.

When I first used my foot, the stitching looked like this:

This was with the stitch length at the longest setting.  I knew something was not quite right, so I did some internet searching and learned that I was not installing the foot correctly.  In case anyone else is as dumb as me, here is how the foot looks when it is on correctly:

The little fork-thingy should be around the needle bar.  Do not put it on like this:

Once I got it on correctly, it worked much better.  Shocker.

I’m glad that I learned how to use it, as I know it will come in handy in the future.

Now that my jacket is finished, I can tell why people get obsessed with making these.  I actually really enjoyed all the hand sewing in the construction.  I love the way the final jacket feels.  The quilting of the lining to the fashion fabric really gives it a nice weight, and it seems like it will be really warm.  Without the trim, the jacket looks a little more casual, which I also like.  I plan on wearing it pretty much as I would sweater.


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