French Jackets, Tailoring

Jacket Finished, Plus Two More

The last step in finishing was to add pockets. I played around with different sizes and debated two versus four. A great way to visualize size and placement is to cut pockets from shop towels (they are heavier than paper towels) and play around until you get the right look.

I had four larger buttons and decided to add them at the center front. They are sewn at the right front edge and don’t actually fasten.
I find it easiest to get pockets exactly the same size and shape by pressing the pocket around a cardboard template. I interfaced the pocket with bias cut interfacing which is cut just a tad smaller than the finished pocket. The bias gives the pocket a softer shape. I cut a slightly smaller template for the lining.
Slip stitch the lining to the pocket, attach trim and slip stitch to the jacket. Don’t catch the lining when doing this.

I had a chance to get a closeup look at some geniune Chanel jackets at an upscale resale shop on Madison Ave. and noted some distinctive details. Trims are applied after construction and are made to be removed if necessary for cleaning. More about my findings in the next post.
I was sidetracked by an request from my daughter-in-law. She was invited to join the hunt staff of our local equestrian team. Hunt staff wear red jackets and bespoke versions are a small fortune. Since I had made her wedding gown, she figured a jacket would be an easy task.
Just make a tailored jacket from a commercial pattern, right? Wrong. Riding clothing is another animal. We combined my research and her knowledge and came up with a punch list of what this garment needed.
*Roomy armholes with significant ease in the back to allow the rider forward arm movement
*Sleeves pitched much more forward than conventional clothing as the arm is held almost horizontal
*Abrasion resistant lining in the jacket skirt to resist wear
*Flared skirt with most of the flare at the back to cover the seat while in the saddle
*Warm lining as hunt season runs through the winter
*Slippery sleeve lining to allow the jacket arms to slide freely over shirts/sweaters
Mood Fabrics had a beautiful heavy wool/cashmere/nylon fabric. They also had abrasion resistant lining and wool flannel for the upper jacket lining. I drafted a fitting muslin from cotton canvas which mimicked the weight and drape of the wool better than lightweight muslin. Note the exaggerated curve of the sleeve.
The roomy armhole. I would never have guessed this much ease would be required.
The jacket fabric was thick and required loads of steam and heavy use of a tailors clapper to get things flattened into shape. I found it helpful to flatten the inside of especially bulky seams with a clamp from the hardware store. Get loads of steam into the fabric, clamp it down hard, and leave until it’s cold.
Also, don’t sew across the layers of intersecting seams. You can get a much flatter press by folding the seam allowances to one side and end the stitching at the seamline. Fold the seam allowances the other direction and begin stitching at the seamline. The seam allowances will remain free and press much flatter.
Inside the jacket showing the various linings used.
The color of the upper collar is unique to the particular hunt club; her’s is purple. The fabrics were so heavy and it was applied with traditional tailoring techniques.
Here’s the finished work.
I couldn’t resist using the leftover fabric for a matching jacket for the one year old. Fittings were a bit of a challenge on a squirmy baby but we got it done!
Mommy and daughter out for a ride.

French Jackets

French Jacket: The Trim

Trim for the French jacket was slightly delayed because Elmo was needed at my grandson’s birthday party this past weekend.  When we asked mom what he would like for his party, she said, “He would really love a visit from Elmo.”

Hoping to avoid having to construct Elmo, grandpa and I made the party store rounds but everything looked so amateurish that there were really no other options. Off to JoAnn’s for yards of red fur.

There was no way that stuff was getting all over my sewing studio so the kitchen was set up as a workshop. Finally, after a trip back to the craft store for additional materials, Elmo materialized. He travelled to Florida in his own suitcase and made a grand entrance singing “Accidents Happen” from the Elmo potty DVD. Grandpa got talked into wearing this getup in 90 degree heat!  He did have one couture detail: spiral steel boning was used to keep his mouth from collapsing. It was the only thing that flexed in two directions yet held the shape.


On to creating custom trim for my French jacket. Many of the trims available are simply too stiff and inflexible for this type of jacket trim. Many of the Chanel jackets I’ve seen have trims made from the fabric fibers and coordinate with the jacket.

I decided to try fringing bias strips. One layer looked too skimpy and two layers sewn together resulted in trim that I thought too stiff. The solution was to gather bias strips, compressing the fibers into a fuller fringe. This also produced a flexible and lightweight trim. I started with one inch wide bias strips cut from the jacket fabric. Leave the ends at at 45 degree angle; this makes butting them end to end invisible.
Adjust the fullness. You could measure but I just pulled up the threads until the gathering looked even. Then steam pressed the bias strip flat.
I fell stitched a narrow braid down the center. The bias strips were just butted end to end. Hand stitching controlled the fullness; don’t try this by machine. The feed dogs will push the fabric into all sorts of unwanted directions. Machine stitching is done after both sides of the braid are fell stitched.
Using a zipper foot, stitch along both edges of the braid using about a 2mm stitch. This locks the fabric threads in place.
Looked good but I felt it still needed something. Narrow silver snake chain was coutch stitched along both edges of the braid. Light grey thread makes the stitches almost invisible.
The edges looked a little scraggly so they were cleaned up. I used a transparent ruler and rotary cutter to keep a consistent width. Fluff them up after attaching so the edges don’t look quite so neat.
Attach to the jacket with a pick stitch using doubled waxed thread. Pick up just a thread or two on the right side and don’t stitch so deep you catch the lining. The stitches can be half an inch or so apart and will keep the trim in place just fine. Do this along both edges of the braid.
Fit the outer edges of curves first and ease the inside curves.
The sleeve trim was steam shaped before applying.
Sleeve and edge trim finished.
Looks good but I think I still need pockets; haven’t decided whether to use two or four. I usually do the trim one step at a time before deciding if the jacket needs more. One more tip. If you opt to use hooks and eyes to close the jacket, it stays closed better if you alternate them on each side rather than putting all the hooks on one side and all eyes on the other.
I’m exploring other ways to do custom trims and have several other ideas in the works.