Monday, February 15, 2016

French Jacket: Part One- Inspiration

This is the first in a series of blog posts on my journey of sewing my first French style jacket.
Above: Day Suit 1963-68 by Gabrielle Chanel 

The documentation of the process is as much for myself as it for my readers. I am already enjoying the process so much that I can clearly envision several more of these being created for my wardrobe!

I thought I would start with what has inspired me to go down this intensive path of French jacket creation.

As with many people, Coco Chanel sparked my initial desire. I am a firm believer of learning from our past and taking that information and moving to the future with it. There have been many famous designers that have struck me with wonderment! Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Charles James, Jeanne Lanvin, Cristobal Balenciaga, Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen to name a few. However, Coco Chanel really drew me in with her style of easy elegance that just lets a woman feel at home and look beautiful. 
Above: photo of Gabrielle Chanel from book Coco Chanel, an Intimate Life by Lisa Chaney

For some reason Chanel got under my skin and I just could not shake the desire to create and design some amazing clothing based on her style. She was an amazingly strong woman who was able to succeed in a male dominated world during such a tumultuous time in history. In creating in her honor I feel almost fearless! I decided to start with a classic French style jacket and move on to a day suit. There are a plethora of resources for the home sewer to use for sewing these jackets. 
- Susan Khalje has both a hands on class as well as a video class on creating a classic French Jacket.
- Claire Shaeffer has published several books, Specifically the Couture Cardigan Jacket. Teaches hands on workshops and has several Vogue patterns.
- Sarah Veblen teaches a Jacket workshop that will help to streamline some of the couture techniques that are traditionally used as well as provides excellent fitting services.
- Craftsy instructor Lorna Knight has a video class The Iconic Tweed Jacket.

As you can see there is a wide range of teaching resources to fit into every budget.

I have chosen to primarily work with Sarah Veblen to create my first jacket. In a Jacket workshop last spring we worked on fitting, sewing techniques and design ideas. I also have several of Claire Shaeffer's books and I do have the craftsy Class.

Some day I would love to work with Susan Khalje in one of her couture workshops. I think there is much to be learned from creating a garment mostly by hand! For now I will stick with modified couture methods with a smattering of real couture thrown in.

Another reason that Chanel got under my skin is that through books and movies she has become real to me. After reading several books about her life, my favorite being Coco Chanel, An Intimate Life by Lisa Chaney, I just felt that it would be a wonderful thing to create something in her honor. For her to somehow know that she has inspired an untold number of home sewists to create beautiful garments, I think this would be such a surprise to her. Another way that her legacy lives on in many people.

Another inspiration for me is the use of the fabrics and trims that is used in French jackets. The feminine style of soft shaping combined with interesting fabrics, beautiful colors and exquisite trims just draws me in. I have several lengths of boucles and tweeds in my fabric collection that have been there for years and I finally feel confident enough to cut into these and create some beautiful garments.

And my final inspiration is from actual French jackets! Several of these are actual Chanel Jackets and some are French style jackets. 
Above: Day Suit 1960 by Gabrielle Chanel 

Above: Day Suit 1986-87 by Karl Lagerfield

Above: Chanel Jacket, date unknown photographed with permission of Susan Khalje

Above and below: French style jackets designed and sewn by Sarah Veblen.

"May my legend prosper and thrive. I wish it a long and happy life" - Coco Chanel

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking us along on your journey Steph. My first French jacket has been unfinished for almost three years now and I've promised myself I'll get back to it by the summer. You are reminding me why I embarked on the project in the first place.


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