French Jackets, Uncategorized

French Jackets and Custom Trim

As promised in my last post, I’ve been experimenting with more custom trims.  The fabric was ordered from Linton Tweeds last summer.  Finding suitable trim in the right colors and weight proved impossible, so the perfect solution was custom trim. Here’s a preview early in the construction process.

I cut the jacket sections following the straight grain and then shape to match the contours of the pattern.  The process is detailed in my last post.  I’ve found I prefer that look to an off-grain line along the front princess seam.

One sleeve set  Shaped front

If you look closely, you’ll also notice that I cut one inch seam allowances and serged the edges.  Although some couture sources shudder at the use of a serger, this fabric was so loosely woven that it practically fell apart just touching it.  I certainly wouldn’t sew seams with a serger, but it did provide a nice stable and clean finish.  I also serged the lining seams (using a two thread stitch and extremely fine thread).  Every Chanel jacket I’ve been inside of uses these seam finishes.

While the loose weave was maddening to sew, it made the unweaving process much easier.  I ordered an extra 1/2 yard of fabric which provided plenty of yarns to work with.  In addition to fabrics, Linton also has a wonderful selection of yarns. They are inexpensive and I always look to see if there is something suitable for coordinating a trim.

Unweaving yarns Trim Yarns plus silver

The unweaving process is messy! Work over a waste bin and keep the vacuum handy.  I unwove for an inch or so, then trimmed the warp yarns and wound the weft yarns (keeping each type separate) on a card.

There is no set formula for the braided trim so some experimentation is necessary. I set up several test strands and make a few samples until I was happy with the combination.

Practice trim

The first tries produced a braid that was too stiff and thick but I kept revising the weaving technique and number of strands.  I settled on a ten strand flat braid using this combination of teal and silver yarns.  My goal was to produce a braid that matched the fabric yet had enough of the silver to contrast.  I’ve explained the braiding process more fully in my Create Custom Trim for your French Jacket.  The weighted bobbins and counterweight are essential in maintaining even tension and keeping the braid soft and flexible. I used 10 strands, 6 yards of each combination, to produce a generous 4 yards of completed trim.

Trim weaving setup Finished Trim

The jacket closes with a custom zip and I’ve refined my techniques for hand-worked buttonholes, which I’ll show next time (coming soon, I promise!).

Finished Jacket

Before that, I wanted to show the previous jacket again. It was a birthday present for my dear mother-in-law who wore it to her recent 71st Anniversary Party.

Jacket Front with Trim Lila Jacket

How many couples are fortunate enough to have 71 years together?  They met shortly after WWII when my husband’s father returned from his service overseas as a B-24 pilot (not too many of those pilots are around either).  They enjoyed a wonderful family party including their four children, spouses, 6 grandsons and 7 great-grandchildren.



62 thoughts on “French Jackets and Custom Trim”

    1. Thanks Marguerite. I think the trick is to use fine thread when serging. All the RTW Chanel jackets that I’ve taken apart have serging along all seams.

  1. As always, stunning and beautifully executed work.
    Thank you for sharing the details on constructing bespoke trim.
    Swoon worthy.

  2. Thank you much for the tutorial on making custom trim!
    Lovely fabric choice on your jacket and gorgeous jacket. My Linton tweed, partially constructed, is waiting patiently for my return from an 10 year hiatus…

    Did you do anything to protect your fabric along the zipper edge from getting caught in the teeth?
    I have a RTW jacket in a wool boucle that I liked very much, but the zipper and loops along the center front was problematic.

    Amazing in-laws! WOW! They look fantastic.

    1. Hi Joan. I hope you get to your Linton tweed. I used about 3/8 inch seam when hand sewing the zipper in. It doesn’t seem like it will be a problem. I also inserted ribbon inside the lining along the front edge to keep the lining from getting snagged on the zipper. More about that in the next post.

  3. Mary, this is a stunning jacket. So is the jacket made for your MIL. Will go back and read previous posts about the jacket constructions as I get ready for an October class to learn to make the French jacket. Your tips and ideas are so helpful. FABULOUS skilled results!

    1. Thank you Margene. I’ve linked all the posts for French jackets to make it easier to find the topic you’re interested in. Scroll down and there is a drop down box on the right with categories. I’m sure you will enjoy the class in October. These jackets have so much room for variations you never tire of
      making them.

  4. Mary, your jackets are beautiful. What a labor of love for your mother-in-law. I was particularly interested in your in-laws’ story as I have spent this past weekend helping my husband and his sibs move their mother out of the house she has been in for fifty years. She too married a WWII soldier after his return from the war. In the process of the move this weekend, we were given my father-in-law’s flight jacket, uniforms, and medals. He was a WWII B-17 bombardier in Europe. He was shot down and captured and was a prisoner of war in Romania until he escaped. After his escape, he was sent to the Pacific were he participated in missions aboard B-24’s! Small world. I wonder if he and your father-in-law ever crossed paths. Sadly, my in laws did not have the long life together that your in laws have had, as he passed away in 1978.

    1. Dear Peggy, They may well have. My FIL flew bombing missions in the south Pacific until he was shot down over the Philippines. Only three of the crew made it out of the plane and he was lost in the jungle for several weeks until American troops found him and the other two crew members. By the time he made it back to the US, the war was ending. He has been very fortunate to have lived a long and successful life surrounded by a loving family.

  5. I love your jacket and your trim is perfect. Thank you for the details. I know how messy my baby steps were! Next time I’m at Linton I’ll be sure to look at their yarn.
    The jacket for your mil is also lovely.
    I didn’t finish my seams but do think they’d benefit from that though it hasn’t been suggested in the class I attended.

    1. Thanks Anne. I thought you might like the braid. Your version was very well done an looked wonderful on you. Chanel RTW does finish all their seams. It makes the inside look so much neater and makes future alterations easier.

  6. How many women are fortunate enough to have a daughter in law who makes a French Jacket for them?
    Mary, I love the new touches you’ve incorporated to this jacket. The zipper and collar bring a sporty spirit to this classic. Love your trim too – so smart to play up the metallic thread.
    Thanks for sharing 😊

    1. My MIL has been the recipient of many lovely outfits over the years. She says the custom made things feel so much different. The zipper and the collar were decided upon as the jacket progressed. The wonderful thing about making these jackets is that you get to make decisions as you go. Thanks.

  7. This post was really 2 wonderful stories. I love reading about how you talented and dedicated sexists work out your beautiful and amazing projects!
    Then the wonderful story of your remarkable in-laws – so many blessings for all of you.

  8. I really like the zipper closure in this jacket and I’m looking forward to more info on this application. This jacket has such an elegant look to it with its clean and (seemingly) simple lines, and its fabulous trim. Really, really lovely, Mary!

    1. Thanks Karen. I hope to get the next installment up soon which will detail the zipper, buttonholes and a few other details. I always love seeing what you are working on.

    1. Thanks Melanie. I may make a revised and better version of the weaving jig. My first one was hastily thrown together as I didn’t want to waste time/money on something that wasn’t going to work. I’d love to see your version.

  9. Gorgeous jacket- I love your posts and detailed descriptions. I’m a big fan of Chanel-style jackets, and trying to improve my own skills, so I really appreciate your sharing of your approach.

  10. Hello Mary, I have found your blog just recently as I am about to embark on my first LFJ. Your jackets are just gorgeous and I am collecting notes like a young freshman! Finding a suitable braid has been very difficult and if I get to LFJ No. 2, I am thinking that a self made option will be a must. May I ask which jacket pattern you started with? I have four Vogue patterns and my dilemma is which one to start on.

    1. Thank you for your compliments and for letting me know you enjoy the blog. I used Vogue 7975 for the body of my jacket. It is a good basic pattern and can be tweaked to your liking. The sleeve pattern is a standard two piece tailored sleeve. I changed it to a three piece in keeping with the lines of a traditional Chanel jacket. You can find my method in blog posts of August 4, 2014 and September 5, 2014. The alteration takes some fairly involved drafting but take it slow one step at a time. I’m always happy to answer questions. Using the two piece sleeve will also work fine. The classic Chanel sleeve is narrow (creates a slimmmer silhouette) so be sure to fit your sleeve carefully during the muslin stage. Enjoy making your version!

  11. Wow, the teal jacket is stunning. The pattern matching and the trim are so, so good-looking. The one for your mother in law is beautiful and I’m so impressed you have the patience to make one of these for someone else!

  12. Following your blog with each step for this jacket has been amazing…like having my own personal teacher! Love the new jacket…color, shape, technique and the fact that the lines on the horizontal match perfectly on the sleeves…OH MY! My parents also celebrated 71 years of post war marriage until my dad died last Fall. Although they did not look as happy as your parents…ha ha.

    1. Thanks Mrs. Mole. This was a subtle woven stripe and harder to match than something more noticeable. Lots of slip basting from the right side! I remember when you lost your dad. We are grateful for every day our parents are with us.

  13. Mary,

    What an absolutely spectacular jacket! Gorgeous color and trim. I do have a question on the construction, are you quilting these jackets to the lining as per a traditional Chanel haute couture? It appears that Chanel does not quilt in their ready or wear, although I may be incorrect.

    1. Hi Pearly and thank you. Yes, the jacket is quilted to the lining and seams are finished by hand as in traditional haute couture. You are correct that Chanel doesn’t quilt the linings of their RTW jackets. I’ve had the opportunity to take apart many RTW Chanel jackets and am very familiar with the construction methods. The price point of the RTW versions ranges from about $4,500 to $7000 depending on how elaborate the jacket and trim are. It’s my understanding that the couture version, which is quilted, is much, much more. I’ve heard $30,000 to $40,000 and up. Chanel guards their client names and pricing very closely so there is no way to verify this information.

  14. Mary, thank you so much again for such a detailed blog post. I love reading your posts and always learn so much about couture techniques. Would you mind sharing why kind of thread you used to serge the silk lining? I’m almost at that point on a silk lining I’m working on for a Chanel-type boucle dress. Thanks again, Sharon.

    1. Thank you Sharon. I use a narrow two thread serged edge and have been experimenting with a variety of fine threads. Gutermann Skala 360 U81, Invisafil by Wonderfil Threads, Aurifil 80 weight cotton and Maderia Cotona 80 weight are my choices. The idea is to use an extremely fine thread to keep the serged edge as un-noticeable as possible. I don’t buy cones of every color and have found black, white and a medium gray blend with almost everything. Please post your dress. I’m also finishing my version of a Chanel sheath dress.

  15. I just discovered your blog. I am impressed. Lots to learn. You clearly put in a lot of thought, care and taste. I will be going through each single post in the next weeks. Thank you for sharing!!!!!!!

    1. I’m happy you’ve found me and are following. Thanks for the input; I’m always glad to hear that others ind this info useful and interesting. Please comment if you find something especially interesting or have a question. The feedback is helpful.

  16. Gorgeous work Mary! I love your experimentations in trim making!

    I’ve noticed often on high-end RTW that they use a purl merrow rather than a regular serger. It creates a narrower/more delicate edge. But this is probably not what is done for loose wovens like you tweed since it wouldn’t ease the handling as much!

    1. Thank you Delphine. I feel as if I’m just starting with trim possibilities. I used a four thread finish on the tweed as it desperately needed stabilization at the cut edges. For the silk lining I wanted a lighter seam finish and the two thread narrow edge with fine thread worked well. I’ll investigate the purl merrow, Thanks.

  17. I don’t know how I missed this post Mary but as ever inspirational work. And wow on your parents in law: 71 years?! Amazing. You’re a very good daughter in law making a jacket like that as a present. You must admire your MIL a great deal.

  18. Another fabulous post! Your projects, fabric, ideas and photographs are superb. The blue Linton is gorgeous, and I am interested in your preference for making the princess seam on the straight grain. Especially enjoyed learning about your mother and father-in-law and their many years of loving marriage. It makes me very happy to think about such close bonds. Works philosophically with the weaving, too.

    1. Thanks. I feel that by trying to keep the princess line on as much straight grain as possible the pattern of the cloth is less interrupted. It also sends to disguise a very full bust.

  19. Hi Mary. I’m practicing Kumihimo so I can make my own jacket trims. I love the subtlety of these braided trims. I purchased matching yarns from Linton do not convey yardage or meters. Do you know how many yards are in a ball of yarn? I purchased 5 so I think it will result in a beautiful 10 strand brand. Your blog is so helpful. Thanks. Connie (in Florida)

    1. Glad you found this post helpful. I don’t know the yardage of Linton balls of yarn. I usually use several coordinating colors/textures and have always found 1 or at most two balls plenty. I would love to see what you create. Thanks for reading.

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