Thursday, October 4, 2012

DIY Chanel Jacket: Mishaps in Muslin

When one is working on a muslin of one’s DIY Chanel jacket and a terrible case of sewing dyslexia has set in and because a muslin doesn’t have a “right” side or “wrong” side per se, the dyslexia comes worse, and one then realizes that if one can’t even put the muslin together one is completely crazy to think of doing this jacket in $40 a yard (or more) bouclé, it is helpful to remember that Mademoiselle was not sewing her famous jacket herself.

She could sew, of course, she worked at a military tailor’s shop as a seamstress when she was a young woman in Moulins, it’s how she got her start in fashion, you see, but atelier-level seamstress she was not and by time the company bearing her name was making the jackets we know and love, in the 1960s, (and Coco was in her 70s) she was not doing the grunt work (although I understand she loved to work and rework the placement of a sleeve).

I am trying to take comfort in this.

This is looking too smock-like for my taste.

I don’t know if I’d call my muslin a disaster, it is my very first one after all, and it’s really to check fit, but I don’t know if I’m feeling super confident after making it either. I don’t like the fit at all, to tell you the truth, I want it to be shorter, tighter, more form-fitting, which may mean using a completely different pattern, not just cutting a smaller size—though the 3-piece sleeve in this pattern is divine. Even if I use an alternate pattern for the body of the jacket, the sleeves are staying!

The sleeves and pockets I like. The sleeves and pockets can stay!

I’m hoping to come across a pithy quote from Coco re the difficulty of making clothes. Until then, watching episodes of Signé Chanel, which shows the Chanel atelier seamstresses struggling with the construction of an entire collection, makes me feel less alone.

I also like this quote of Coco’s, from Paul Morand’s L’Allure de Chanel:

“I was self-taught; I learned badly, haphazardly. And yet, when life put me in touch with those who were the most delightful and brilliant people of my age, a Stravinsky, or a Picasso, I neither felt stupid, nor embarrassed. I had worked out on my own that which cannot be taught…It is with this that one succeeds.”

This is what I want my DIY Chanel jacket to look like when I’m done.

Any of you sewing babes out there have any words of wisdom for me?


Lisa said...

Jill...I responded to your comment on my black and blue post...and I posted the link above to the studio I told you about in my response.

I love the muslin jacket/top...I think it looks great on you!

Jane W. said...

Don't be so tough on yourself! It's only a muslin.

To make it tighter, I'd take in the side seam allowances evenly all around. Have someone pin it for you, and then mark where they've pinned it.

Does the pattern indicate where to shorten?

You might need to make a second muslin of the torso only, and reattach the sleeves.

Hope this helps.


A Well Styled Life said...

You could take in the side seams and the princess seams down the front,(of course that means altering the pockets), to slim it up a bit. Muslin is a beast, I agree with you. Chanel is meant to be boxy but I'm with you on wanting a bit more body consciousness to it.

jill815 said...

Hi Lisa, I'm going to check out that site you recommended to find out what it's all about. XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Ooooh Jane, good ideas. Yeah, I can shorten the pattern and maybe I will take in the side seams and retry on this muslin. The crazy perfectionist in me immediately wanted to retry the whole thing by cutting a 10. XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hiya Well-Styled Life, yes, you've hit it exactly, I know the Chanel jacket is traditionally a boxy style, the problem is, the amazing $5,000 jacket I tried on at Saks was slimmer and tighter and that's what I am going for. That's the style I have in my head! I am going to retry on this muslin, making the pockets smaller won't be too hard at all, and I think you and Jane are right, take in both side and princess seams. Stay tuned! XO, Jill

Veshoevius said...

My words of wisdom - don't be afraid to experiment and make mistakes - it is how you discover what works! But I guess that is what the muslin is for right?
Things are taking shape! How exciting!

Anonymous said...

Dear Jill, don't be so hard on yourself.
I admire you for the courage and the patience you have to make this jacket yourself. Sorry I can't help with any suggestions on how to. I could help with cross-stitch (hehehe, I don't think this is something you'd like on your Chanel inspired jacket) or if all goes wrong - I have a lovely, very well working glue gun... ;-) Good luck, you can do it! :-)

A Well Styled Life said...

I can't to see what you come up with. Style is meant to flatter us, not beat us up.

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

No wisdom...just can do this and I believe it will look great! I do think you are too hard on yourself...just power through!! It is beginning to come to life!

Adrienne said...

I know zero about sewing, so no words of sewing wisdom here. What I do know is how impressed I am with that muslin piece.
Keep plugging along...I hope you get the advice and help you're looking for. I love seeing your progression - it's so interesting.
xo, A

gai said...

Good for you for making a muslin--a beastly process, but the only way to get a bespoke fit (so say my dressmaker friends). And, much better than starting right out on the gorgeous expensive fabric, only to be unhappy with the result. Take your time. Go back to Saks and try on the jacket. Take measurements, (width, length, relationships of pieces to each other) and phone photos for reference. Look at the construction w/ an eye to replicating what you want, now that you've wrestled with the individual elements. You can do it!

Anonymous said...

Hi dear,
Right now - and as you know - I am too busy working on my husband's ties... LOL.
I know nothing, zero, niente, nada, in sewing and you seem much better at this than what you pretend. I have to say that this lovely jacket is challenging but tempting. Can't wait to see the final result. How much do you charge to make a second one?

Grace said...

How about some muslin sympathy? I showed my Chanel jacket muslin to my patternmaking professor hoping to get some advise on the fit of the sleeve and he pointed out some serious flaws in the body that I had overlooked. (I've already cut and quilted the body panels!!!!!!) I needed a more agressive FBA and I had gapping in the armhole. I spent this entire weekend reworking the front panels trying several methods (FFRP, TEXAS A&M, pinching & releasing hear and there) it about KILLED my mojo. BUT I think I have finally got it close to right. I don't think I will have to recut the front panels, although I do need to retrace the seam lines. Hang in there!

Grace said...

PS, let me know if you want any help fitting that muslin. I'd be happy to help.

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silky1way said...

I am to late to this. I am planing to make my own DIY Chanel jacket. Collecting tips and tricks plus of course I do have a real Chanel fabric allready at home in my box. Do we want to support each other in making Chanel jacket?
Greetings from Vienna

Vickey Grant said...

I would like that. I just got my material. No muslin made yet!

Unknown said...

I'm probably way too late; just found your blog. Which is very enjoyable, by the way.

Here's what I see. The shoulders on the black Chanel seem to be cut wider, relatively, than your pattern. Narrow cut shoulders + loose waist = boxy garment. Double pockets add even more visual weight to the bottom half. The muslin would make a fine jacket, but not the shape you seem to be going for.

In addition to nipping in the bodice a bit, what if you set the muslin sleeves farther out on the shoulder? And your neckline trim choices can re-balance the proportions by lifting the emphasis up. Tiny changes add up. Good luck!

Jill said...

Thank you for the lovely new(er) comments! I have had no time to sew lately, but I would love to hear how it's going for anybody else working on this jacket. And I hear that Susan Khalje will return to Mendel Goldberg in NYC in the fall of 2014 to teach her very popular French jacket class. Let me know if any of you sewing foxes have signed up for this! XO, Jill

Unknown said...

If I'm not too late, keep at it, and I'll follow your lead! Also planning my own jacket.

"Unknown" dated March 15 is right. Small changes would make a big difference. You're committing serious time and money. It's worth refining the fit.

What strikes me is a mismatch in how different portions fit: snug sleeves & shoulders vs. a loose bodice. Both could be loose, or, both could be slim, but 1/2-1/2 doesn't work. I vote yes on your instinct about the sleeves being the right size.

Khalje's the guru. Her fit expertise would be worth $$$. To me, the sleeves seem to be set quite high, causing the shoulder area to pull. Slightly wider shoulders would also make the waist appear smaller by contrast. It might also make the sleeve and hem lines match, as in the model photo. If they still don't match, I'd definitely alter the body length until they do.

I'd also take in the body midsection a tiny bit, evenly in every vertical seam. Only when you reach the right fit can you tell whether the pockets need re-sizing or re-positioning. One step at a time.

It's the usual frustrating sewing puzzle, but the pieces will fall into place once the frame is set. Good luck!

Jill said...

Hello Unknown from June 4, oh how I wish you were here to help me just take this muslin apart and start over! I can't seem to get going on this project again! I think you are right on all the great points you made, I wanted an overall tighter fit, I don't like things to be too baggy on me, it's never very flattering. Maybe I need to look at Susan Khalje's sewing class on Craftsy to inspire me to get back to work. Or the documentary about the Chanel seamstresses, that's a good one too. Let me know how your jacket is going, I always love to hear what other ladies have to say about their DIY Chanel jackets! XO, Jill