Monday, 21 November 2011

Chanel No 1

When I brought Doris home, patched her up and gave her the honoured position in the sewing room, I thought I had been transported to an atelier in the Rue Cambon. So one of the first projects just had to be a Chanel suit - what else?

I read every blog at the time on Chanel construction techniques and bought the Claire B. Schaeffer books on couture sewing - read cover to cover and back again.

Fearless, and completely innocent I went straight for the shell fabric - no mucking about with toiles (muslins) for me. The pattern was Claire Schaeffer's own couture jacket, which sadly is completely out of print - not even available from the Vogue web page, so I'll have to take great care with mine.

So this gallant premiere main proceeded undaunted - removed the stand-up collar, skipped most of the facings and interfacings for a genuine Chanel look of round neck line and edge to edge lining.

The fabric came from a local fabric shop and I thought at the time that it sort of looked Chanelish - being wool and checked and sort of tweedish.

Construction  went pretty well considering I hadn't a clue. As usual, choosing suitable buttons was beyond me so I opted for the covered version.

The trim was made from lengths of the fabric, sewn over on one edge to stop fraying and then I sat for weeks deliberately fraying the other side, then sat for another few weeks sewing the stuff on by hand.

I'd bought plenty of fabric to allow for mistakes and ended up having enough to make a matching skirt. Pattern for this is forgotten but it's just a straight, below knee (keeping Coco in mind) side zipper skirt.

I think the suit looks more like country English librarian than Parisian chic, so I rarely wear the two together. The jacket is really comfy and goes well with jeans or plain dark brown wide-legged trousers (pants). The skirt is usually worn with a short slim-fitting dark brown suede jacket and dark brown boots.

The sleeves are three piece, with vents.
Handworked buttonholes and covered
buttons that are virtually invisible.

The trim goes all the way around the vent and all the pockets.

For a complete contrast, I made a blouse from the same fabric as the lining - as did Chanel.

Those of you who care about these sorts of things will notice that the 'black' side of the blouse matches the 'black' side of the lining on the left and white on white on the right hand side. That was pure fluke by the way!  The button holes on the inside were bound in this same fabric.

I went a bit anal on the blouse.
On the right is the side seam and I matched up the flowers from front to back - sad.......

Did the whole quilting thing with the lining and of course the famous brass chain for weight. I must admit this really does make a difference to the hang of the jacket, though it weights a tonne when you're carrying it.

I had to do a few other things which I can't really remember now how I did them but I had to edge the hem and the inside neck line with a bias strip because I wasn't following the exact pattern instructions.

Oh, and as I cannot leave a scrap of fabric untouched, the remainder of the blouse fabric became a scarf that ties in a bow at the neck to complete the prim and proper look.

Thanks for reading. Ruth


  1. one day I want this much skill and patience. Beautiful.

  2. This is perfect! What a wonderful work! The bow makes it really look like Chanel and completes it. I really love this outfit. Congratulations for such a great couture sewing.

  3. This is so beautiful and Chanel looking like.If you wear it in a Chanel shop in Paris,all the eyes will be turned on you!Congratulations too.
    JBB fan of fashion and sewing

  4. This is awesome! I was impressed with your great work. Your passion for sewing is ace!

  5. Just beautiful. Also, I love the fabric - it's different from what you usually see used for chanel-esque jackets.

  6. This is lovely, can you tell me where you got the chain? I live in the UK but miles away from any decent haberdashers.

  7. Susan, I have real difficulty sourcing sewing notions in NI, don't laugh but go to B&Q. Needs must.

  8. I am honestly impressed! Great work!

  9. Wow. This is one for the Pinterest board. I have the new Claire Schaeffer Chanel jacket pattern, I will be referring to this post when I get around to attempting it. This is stunning. Again, Wow.

  10. I have the new pattern too but sadly no fabric! It's on the 'to do list'

  11. This is just beautiful.You stayed really true to the real thing! A true classicClaire's new pattern is in my patterns collection and I want to make one soon. I have perfect fabric, buttons, chain weight, etc. I've made several Chanel type jackets and know what a time commitment it takes so I'm procrastinating.