Sunday, July 15, 2012

DIY Chanel Jacket: The Resources

I don’t know about you but I need to have lots of nice inspiration around me when I am starting a new project or setting a lofty goal for myself. For my Chanel jacket I have found a lot of information online from generous and talented bloggers (listed below) who have gone on this path before me and I want to add to that body of knowledge by sharing with you a list of the inspirational and technical resources I am using.

The Books

CHANEL: Collections and Creations by Danièle Bott

I love looking at this book for inspiration, it shows different versions of the famous Chanel jacket in different decades. Apart from that it is a great book for any lover of Chanel.

The back of the book. Look at the gorgeous fabric of this Chanel jacket!

Coco’s favorite model Marie-Hélène Arnaud. By Sante Forlano for Vogue France, 1958.

CHANEL: The Couturiere at Work by Amy de la Haye and Shelley Tobin

I just bought a used copy of this book on Amazon and haven’t yet had a chance to delve into it but hope that I will get to read about the nitty-gritty of Chanel’s working methods.

Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B. Shaeffer

Shaeffer has a whole section devoted to “Chanelisms” which I plan on referring to often.

From the section on Chanel jackets.

The Magazines

Vogue Patterns

Featuring the six-part series Claire Shaeffer is writing about sewing the jacket, based on the pattern she designed. This particular issue, August/September 2012, features the second article in the series, with a piece about fabric selection.

Vogue Patterns, August/September 2012.

Threads, No. 121, November 2005

This was not easy to find. Taunton, the publisher of Threads, is sold out of the back issues online so I turned to eBay. The issue I wanted eventually turned up after a two-week search. The article, “Inside a Chanel Jacket,” was written by Susan Khalje, whose online “The Couture Dress” class I took earlier this year on Craftsy. The article is wonderful but I have to say it scares me a little because I feel it is for advanced sewers (which I am not). Still, a great resource.

Threads No. 121 from November 2005.

The Videos

Signé Chanel

I am probably most excited to have learned about this documentary, made for the Sundance Channel in 2006. I had never heard of it before and it features something near and dear to my fashion-loving heart—haute couture atelier seamstresses. Oh how I love watching those ladies at work! I will do a separate review of this show in a later post. This was another eBay gem.

I'm getting a peek into the Chanel atelier watching this series.’s “The Jacket”

Chanel’s quick video showing the seamstresses making a jacket is one I have already watched several times. I need to channel the offhanded confidence, not to mention technical know-how, of the head seamstress (herself in a Chanel jacket). And are Chanel jacket seamstresses really that good-looking?

You can watch this little black jacket being made on

The Bloggers

Erica B.’s DIY Style

Seeing Erica’s finished jacket has been a big inspiration for well over a year and her sewing blog is one of my favorites.

Frabjous Couture

Marina took Susan Khalje’s Classic French Jacket course (which costs $1,195) and her posts and pictures on the class are fantastic, I felt like I was there. I plan on re-reading her wonderfully detailed posts as I make my jacket.

Restless Grace

Grace is the reason I found out about Threads No. 121 and Signé Chanel (Thank you, Grace!). She also lives in Brooklyn and said she is making the jacket using Claire’s pattern (V8804) too. I hope she will blog about her experiences. I also hope we get to meet and compare notes on our muslins!

Another Technical Resource: Mom

My mother has a lot more sewing experience than I do and it’s so helpful to be able to ask her questions. It’s a lot better than consulting my Vogue/Butterick Step-by-Step Guide to Sewing Techniques, or feeling my sewing dyslexia coming on (What are selvages again? How do I lay out pattern pieces?) and dissolving into a DIY panic.

Next time I will show you the three fabric swatches I’ve narrowed it down to. Until then:


Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I so admire you for tackling this, Jill! I cannot wait to see the final project. Thanks for sharing each step with us!

Shiny Green Penny said...

I am also planning a jacket in the near future. Can't wait to see your swatches....where did you source your fabric from?

Veshoevius said...

what an exciting project! And such dedication Jill pulling all these resources - it's bound to be a sensational jacket when it's finished.


What a thorough post, Jill.
I bet you come out with a magic jacket.
Love having met you mum.

Anonymous said...

I am so excited to see the stages and the final product. The best sewing project I completed is still hanging in my closet after 20 years: a Ralph Lauren dress that I made from a really pretty piece of muslin when I was in college. My mother taught me sewing skills, and they came in handy for many years.

When life settles down, I have a shelf full of fabric I picked up at Mood and I want to flex my sewing mating again.

Adrienne said...

I can't even imagine trying to make a Chanel-style jacket. I know you're going to hit this one out of the park if it turns out anything like your black lace pencil skirt.

Can't wait to see it!
xoxo, A

Grace said...

I need to get a copy of the Vogue Sewing. I've been hunting for it and it's either sold out or hasn't arrived at my usual magazine shop.

I'm finishing up a class at FIT this week but next week I'll get out my Chanel jacket to examine my progress. Now that I have some more patternmaking and muslin making experience I make want to revisit my muslin yet again.

Let's do it!

Grace said...

Oops, I meant that I need to find a copy of that Vogue Pattern magazine.

Anonymous said...

This is such an exciting project. Are there significant differences in the jacket from decade to decade?

Anonymous said...

Wow Jill!
I can't wait to see the outcome!!


jill815 said...

Hi Pam, I am hoping to finish my muslin this month and will post photos! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Shiny Green Penny, I am getting my fabric from Mood most likely. I have loved three boucles from Oscar de la Renta. I am still shopping around at stores in the Garment District in NYC and want to go to Mendel Goldberg on Broome Street as well, but I know they are very expensive so it may just be a visit to admire their beautiful boucles. Are you blogging about making the jacket? I want to see your progress, it will inspire me! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Veshoevius, I keep hoping if I take my time everything will go well. But then I see all the stitching lines on the pattern for quilting the lining to the fashion fabric and I get nervous. Oh dear. Still, I'm going for it! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Sacramento, thank you for your kind words. And I think my mother will probably be more involved in this project than she wants to be! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Rebekah! Between your post about libations and now your comment about your fabric stash from Mood, I wish we could meet so we could have some Lillet and maybe work on a sewing project (or just enjoy Lillet and talk about sewing, hee hee hee)! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Adrienne, oh wish me luck, my dear, this project will be a challenge but I think I'm up for it. XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Grace! Vogue Patterns magazine just showed up at Barnes and Noble last week and they only got like 10 copies (this is the 7th Avenue Park Slope store I'm talking about). They have a ton of knitting magazines but very few on sewing. You are so lucky to be taking classes at FIT and I cannot wait to follow the progress of your jacket. Please blog about it! For me! I need the inspiration! Also, let's make a plan to meet. XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Terri, so far in my research I'm finding out that Chanel has always done a suit but they weren't as popular in, say, the 1930s, as they were in the 1960s. I find it fascinating that her suit, as we know it and love it today, was actually a product of her comeback in 1953. And she was 70 when she reopened her house! It's amazing, when you think about it, and I have a few things to say on that topic, which I will write about in a future post. XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Jeannie, I wish we could go to Saks together and check out some Chanel jackets very up close and personal. I know I would be inspired by the fabric and the workmanship, plus it would be fun to try Chanel jackets on again. XO, Jill

Jane W. said...

Go Jill! I'm psyching myself up to do this sometime in the fall.

You and your mother are quite the chic pair.

jill815 said...

Hi Jane, thanks for the compliment about me and my mom! It's kind of hard to shop for boucle when it is so disgustingly hot outside but I know that if I don't start working on this project even though it's summer, when fall is here and I want to be in the thick of sewing I will be terribly behind. Are you going to blog about making the jacket? I would love to see your progress! XO, Jill

Lizzie said...

Oh my gosh, I can't tell you how many times I've watched Signe Chanel. I especially love the woman who makes the famous braid.

Several years ago Claire Shaeffer put together a PDF file on her collection of Chanel garments, and she is probably still selling the CDs. It is a great resource because she shows close-ups of the details and has written explanations for everything.