On Saturday September 9 and Sunday September 10, I’ll be presenting a workshop to the Haute Couture Club of Chicago demonstrating how to create custom trims. There are several spaces still available. Register through the Couture Club’s website here: https://hautecoutureclubchicago.com/crochet-jacket-trim.html
I can’t ship kits containing fabric samples and yarn to arrive in time but you don’t need the exact yarns I’ll be using for the demonstrations. The purpose of the workshop is to teach you various methods of making custom trims. You can then select yarns and fibers to coordinate with your own fabrics. I will send a supply list prior to class; basically you need crochet hooks in sizes D, E and F plus a selection of sport weight yarn. I will follow up with a detailed instruction manual of all the trims plus photos of each step used in the various trims. The manual will be sent to you as a pdf file which you can print out for your reference. Any questions please email me at email@example.com
Manipulating and shaping fabric using heat and moisture is frequently used in tailoring. Rather than using seams to create shape the fabric is molded to shape with an iron, referred to as “ironwork” in the tailoring world. I’ve experimented with this technique for quite a few years. Here’s a link to my first post describing the process.
I incorporate this in my French jacket classes to eliminate the pattern mismatch along the princess seam lines. Vogue 7975 is frequently used as a starting point when constructing a French jacket. It has minimal ease and princess seams which extend from shoulder to hem, allowing plenty of opportunity for fit adjustments.
Many of the boucle fabrics used in making these jackets have a definite horizontal pattern. When the fabric is cut according to standard procedure, a mismatch of the horizontal lines is obvious along the princess line, especially the upper portion of the front from bust apex to shoulder.
I wanted to see how far I could push the ability to shape fabric and eliminate this mismatch. Many fitting demos are done on a standard dressform which is shaped more like a runway model than that of the average body. The difficulty increases as you fit more curvy figures and the fabric is required to mold to that curvy shape. Why not increase the bust curve of a mannequin and see what happens? Here’s a standard dressform wearing a fuller size bra which has been filled out with bust pads. Let’s see if I can get the fabric to mold to this very curvy shape.
I started with Vogue 7975 in a size 10 which was the best fit for this figure’s shoulders but much too tight in the bust. Using a larger size which fit the bust would have been massively too large in the shoulders, and a much more difficult alteration. Also, standard patterns are drafted for a B cup size so while the bust circumference increases, so do the shoulders and upper body. Compare the two patterns: Vogue 7975 on the left and the corrected pattern on the right.
The shoulder width on both patterns is the same but notice the much larger bust apex to shoulder dart is wider for more shaping. Increasing the dart width while maintaining shoulder length pushes the dart (shown in red) closer to the armseye. I don’t like the look of the princess seam placed that close to the armhole, so rotated the dart (shown in black) closer to the neck edge. Now let’s see what happens with the horizontal pattern found in many fabrics.
Photo on the left shows my pattern with horizontal lines drawn as the fabric would be cut in a standard layout. Middle photo demonstrates how those lines intersect along the seam line when the dart ending mid-shoulder is sewn. The lines don’t match and start to slope upwards. Try the seam placed closer to the neck. It’s a little better but still not a great look.
What would happen if I manipulated the princess seam on the side panel into a curve and forced the straight grainline to follow the curve? Start by moving the upper portion of the side front panel to curve towards the armhole. The fabric will start to bubble up where it wants to form a bust dart. Working carefully so you don’t press creases into the fabric, steam and compress the fibers into a curve. Keep the shaping along the lower armhole and where a horizontal bust dart would be placed. Most boucles are loosely woven and will tolerate an impressive amount of manipulation. In the right photo see how much I’ve been able to curve the fabric. Work slowly. The most common mistake students make is to try and compress too much at one time. You can always curve more but it’s very, very difficult to remove an unwanted crease.
Comparison between the left side which has been shaped and the right side which has been cut and sewn according to the original pattern. Horizontal balance lines thread traced in black are helpful when fitting.
Side views of both methods. The fabric is distorted in the underarm area but much of that will be hidden once the sleeve is in. I think it’s more important to have a clean, uninterrupted look across the upper chest.
I’ve also experimented with decreasing the dart width and incorporating the needed shaping in an armhole dart but prefer the look obtained by shaping the garment sections.
Another modification that larger busted shapes find flattering is a V neck. The vertical lines created by the V tend to visually slim the figure. It’s easy to change the neckline. I have students start with the jewel neck and place a ribbon/drafting tape along the front to determine where the V should end. It can be placed higher or (if you plan to wear a blouse or camisole under the jacket) lower for a more vertical line. The jacket often looks better with a small shoulder pad. Here’s one taken from a RTW Chanel jacket.
This extreme shaping does require judgement when choosing fabric. Boucles such as these are:
1. Loosely woven which gives space to compress the yarns closer together
2. Have subtle horizontal lines or relatively solid color
3. Not too much metallic or other yarns which don’t react will to heat and steam
If you will be incorporating a great deal of shaping, use caution with fabrics that have a large obvious check, sequins or large amount of metallic yarns. The fabric on the right is mostly cotton with a tight weave. A student brought this to class. It wasn’t behaving so we split the jacket front into 3 panels, so each panel required less shaping.
Join me in Palm Beach Gardens to learn more about this technique. I’m also offering a variation of the French jacket: The Couture Boucle Bomber. It’s a more casual look, looser fitting and requires about 3/4 yard of boucle; great stash buster! We’ll add contrast fabric or leather sleeves, ribbing and loads of fun embellishment. Details coming soon.
This dress was christened the “Tel Aviv Dress” owing to the fabric’s design reminiscent of the distinctive architecture of the “White City” or Tel Aviv.
The fabric is from Mendel Goldberg Fabrics, NYC and is a silk cloque. The name cloque is derived from the French term for blistered, meaning the fabric has an irregularly raised, “blistered” surface. It is a border print so the biggest challenge was deciding how to place the pattern pieces for the best effect.
The best way to visualize this was to spread the fabric on a large surface and experiment (using yardstitcks) with various positioning of the skirt and bodice sections.
The best option seemed to be that of the large photo as it placed most of the middle design around the skirt hem and still left room to cut the bodice. The hem would be faced so no need to allow several inches for a turned-up hem.
Rather than mess with altering a commercial pattern, I work from a custom block/sloper drafted from the client’s measurements. Once I have the master pattern, it’s a matter of manipulating the darts to obtain a princess seamed bodice.
The skirt was to be full but the rigidity of this fabric didn’t lend itself to attractive gathering or pleats. I opted to use large darts. A center back zipper can be incorporated into a dart, (shown in red on the right photo), eliminating a center back seam.
A wide strip of fabric allowed me to shift the bodice pieces around and play with the design placement.
Always fun to see the finished dress on a live model.
This past October, Threads Magazine invited members of ASDP (Association of Sewing and Design Professionals) to create an outfit based on historical patterns. For my entry, I chose to create a feminine version of a WWII bomber pilot jacket. The jacket was worn over a blouse of soft silk georgette and incorporated design elements found in 1930’s and 40’s clothing. Coordinating slacks of wool lined with silk crepe de chine completed the ensemble.
My entry was awarded “Finest Construction”!!! Due to space constraints of the magazine, some of the construction details couldn’t be included. Knowing that the competition would be other professionals, inspires you to produce your best work, plus incorporate couture level techniques.
Historical research revealed that most WWII bomber crews painted images of pin-up girls on their planes. The artwork was a bit of light-heartedness during dangerous times, served as a good luck charm and reminded the men of loved ones left at home. My late father-in-law was a B-24 bomber pilot stationed in the Philippines. His crew named the plane “Dumb Dora” after a popular cartoon strip of the time. Dumb Dora was embroidered on the lining as a nod to this tradition.
I feminized the jacket by using a French metallic lace (from Mendel Goldberg Fabrics). The lace was underlined with grey linen and black silk tulle; lined with silk charmeuse . I chose tiny tooth zippers which didn’t compete with the delicate feel of lace.
One particularly challenging detail was to line up the lace motifs to match when the front zip was closed. Collar and lining both inserted by hand.
The blouse is a modified version of a Marfy pattern, available free, on the Marfy website. Look under “patterns” for the free top. I extended the shoulders and added cap sleeves. If you use the Marfy pattern, be aware that the underarm is quite high. I lowered it about 1.5 inches. The pattern is designed with gathering along the front neck, but it’s easy to convert to released pleats. Blog post from 2014 explains how. Tiny self covered buttons close the back. Narrow French seams on sides and shoulders give a clean finish to the inside.
A typical hem finish in the 1930’s-40’s was a picot edge. I found considerable overlap of the terms “hemstitch” and “picot hem” while researching the topic. The Art of Dressmaking (Butterick Publishing Company, 1927) describes Picot Edging as “simply machine-hemstitching cut through the center.” Doesn’t work!! Cutting through the middle as described causes everything to come undone. Singer made a machine, the 72W19, which has two top threads but I think only one bobbin. I managed to find the instruction manual on-line but it seems to refer to only one bobbin. It’s also described as a hemstitch machine, so the stitches done with this machine also might come undone if cut through the middle. Attachments also exist for vintage Singer machines which move the fabric side to side, replicating a zig-zag stitch but again, one top thread and one bobbin.
My method of replicating the stitch is as follows: I used stitch 1345 (Bernina 780 machine). The stitch does a triple stitch lengthwise, then a triple stitch to the right side, repeat. Other machines probably have something similar. Adjusted stitch for length of 3.6mm and width of 3.5mm. I used a 90/14 topstitching needle; the wing needle created pulls and too large of a hole in my silk georgette fabric. If you are using a cotton or linen fabric, the wing needle may work better. Lay tissue paper over the fabric and (using 50 weight cotton thread) stitch about 3/4″ away from the raw edge. Tear the left side of the tissue away.
Tear the right side of tissue paper away. There will be little pieces of tissue between the stitches. I picked them out with fine tweezers. You could experiment with water soluble topping. I didn’t as I didn’t want to wash the completed silk georgette top. Using very sharp scissors, cut just outside the horizontal stitches. You don’t want to nick the thread as that would cause stitches to come undone. Run your fingers back and forth along the cut edge to fray it slightly.
Looks better when done with matching thread. A simple pair of solid tissue weight wool slacks, lined with silk crepe de chine complete the outfit. The challenge required a complete ensemble, so it was nice to have one uncomplicated piece.
I’m working on the next Challenge to be held in Denver this October. No previews as Threads prohibits any publishing of your work before it appears in the magazine. Wish me luck!!
The Couture Trim class will be held Tuesday, May 2 from 5-7 PM (Eastern time USA). If you registered, you should have received a link via email to the class. If you didn’t receive it, please send me an email: MF953@aol.com ASAP. Most of the time, cyberspace cooperates but things do get misplaced, so check that you have the information to join the class.
When registering for an on-line class please include your email. I’ve had a couple of incorrect/missing email addresses. Unfortunately, I can’t send you a Zoom link without your email.
I’ve secured a larger workroom in Bristol, so there are a couple of openings in the Rhode Island class. The house we used last year will be used as well as another Air B&B which has a much, much larger workspace as well as 4 private rooms. I’ll be sending additional info over the summer to those registered.
There are a few openings in the Couture Trim workshop being held at Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in NYC, May 20, 21. We’ll experiment with loads of trim ideas to compliment the new collection of designer boucles.
Hope to see you soon, either virtually or in-person.
Registration is open for my upcoming in-person classes. I’ll be hosting a sewing retreat in Bristol, RI October 2-8, 2023. Immerse yourself for 7 days of couture level sewing in the charming town of Bristol. Class fee includes 7 days of instruction plus accommodations at an Air B&B, snacks plus a group dinner at one of the lovely historical restaurants.
The November class in Palm Beach Gardens, FL is geared towards creating a custom French Jacket. You’ll construct a muslin test jacket prior to class (instructions provided). After perfecting the fit, you will be guided through the steps to create your own version of this iconic jacket. Read the class description for additional information.
The January 8-14, 2024 class is an opportunity to work on, or complete, your French jacket, construct a custom dressform or another project of your choosing. I will contact you prior to class to discuss your plans. Some students begin a new project while others bring partially completed ones for expert assistance in completing the garment.
This class is a great time to create a dressform which replicates your body. You will also draft a master sloper which serves as the basis for altering patterns or creating your own. Completed forms fly easily in a golf bag as checked luggage.
I am also offering a 1 or 2 day class this spring, May 20-21 at Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in NYC. The class will be geared towards creating custom trims to coordinate with Alice’s exquisite boucle fabrics. She will clear the shop for us to work Saturday and Sunday. This is a hands-on workshop where I’ll guide you through how I choose yarns and design a trim to match the fabrics. Techniques used are crochet, braiding, braiding on a Japanese Kumihimo stand and more. I will also explain my method for handworked buttonholes in boucle fabric and the specialized notions which give a professional result. Different topics are covered each day; Saturday and Sunday are NOT repeats, so attend both days for the best experience. You will enjoy this class more if you are comfortable with basic crochet stitches.
Class registration can be accessed through the “Classes” drop down menu or “Shop” and then look at the Catalog. Hope to see you. Any questions, email me at MF953@aol.com or leave a comment. Thanks for reading.
Interested in learning how to create custom trims to perfectly match your fabric? I’m offering several classes via Zoom in which we’ll explore various ways of creating trim. I developed these techniques after becoming frustrated with trims available in shops. Much of what I found was too thick, stiff and not the right colors to look like couture quality.
The classes offered on March 21 and April 11 will demo basic crochet stitches and we will create at least 6 different trims using a variety of techniques. Although I will go through all the stitches needed, you will enjoy the class more if you have a working knowledge and some practice with crochet.
I’m also offering a couture trim class on May 2. This class will focus on more complex trims using better quality fabrics and yarns. The trim kit for this class includes fabric from Mendel Goldberg and Linton Tweed plus many yarns sourced from Europe. Link for the trim kit WITHOUT hooks for those who have crochet hooks in sizes C, D E and F. You will enjoy this class if you are familiar with crochet and are comfortable working with trickier (slippery, multiple strands, metallic) yarns. You can also source your own fabrics/yarns and use this class as inspiration for creating your own versions.
Several of the trims utilize a set of brass tubes I’ve developed to facilitate trim making. I’ll demonstrate their use during class. Not all trims require their use. If you have a set, have them handy as they do make many aspects of trim easier.
I recently returned from a trip to London and was able to take photos of new Chanel trims in the Chanel shop (largest in the world) there. I’ll be showing images of trims I saw and we’ll explore how to recreate these designs for your fabrics.
Class dates are linked to registration. You may also browse the class offerings in the shop. Thanks for reading and hope to see you in class.
What better way to start 2023 than with a Chanel style jacket! This version used fabric from Linton Tweed and features trim created from coordinating yarn plus yarns pulled from the leftover fabric.
Vogue 7975 is a great starting point for the jacket. I shifted the princess seams closer to the neckline and shaped the fabric as described in several previous posts. The round neckline as shown in the pattern was changed to a V neck.
Creating custom trim to compliment the fabric is the part of jacket construction I enjoy most. Here’s my method for this trim: step by step.
Using a size E crochet hook, chain as many stitches as you need for the length of trim desired. I make samples using 20 stitches. Measure the length of your sample to calculate number of stitches needed. If 20 stitches makes 4 inches of trim, then I need 5 stitches for every inch of finished trim. I measure the length needed for the sleeves and make that length first just to double check that I’ve calculated right. These sleeves required 13 inches each. I add a couple of inches to allow for turning under the ends. 15 inches per sleeve times 2 sleeves equals 30 inches. If every inch requires 5 stitches then 30 inches needs 150 stitches.
I used Sesia elegant yarn and a size E hook to chain 150 stitches. Turn the chain and make a double crochet in every stitch. Here’s the (what felt like miles) length needed for the hem, front edges and neckline in one length.
To even out the stitches I use my set of Trim Tubes. Weave a larger size tube (I used sixth largest tube) through the stitches and steam. Allow to cool and block the next stitches. This is the same as blocking your knitted or crocheted work.
Once the stitches are blocked use a smaller tube to weave two strands of yarn pulled from the leftover fabric through the crochet stitches. The yarns from the fabric are 54 inches long but they can be joined on the wrong side of the trim so the joins don’t show.
Nudge the blue yarns to one side and weave another double strand of blue yarn through, alternating the up/down with the previous row in a basket weave pattern.
I used an eyelash yarn in light grey and made a chain stitch along the edges.
Finally, a chain stitch using a smaller hook (size C) with silver cord along the middle of the trim.
Handworked buttonholes and silver buttons to complete. More jackets with new trim ideas in the works.
Finding trim for your French jacket is easier when you are working with a multi color fabric, especially one with black, white or another neutral color. I think finding something pre-made for this color would be near impossible. You could introduce a contrasting color but often that’s not what you want.
Here’s a step by step tutorial on the process I used for this trim. If you’ve taken one of. my Zoom trim classes, much of this will be familiar. I used a silver metallic yarn for the base of the trim. Using a D hook, chain the desired length. Turn and make a double crochet in the fourth stitch from the hook. Chain 1 stitch. Repeat this pattern (double crochet, chain 1) in every other stitch.
If you make several lengths of trim, be sure to be consistent in which side you choose as the “right” side. Some trims look better when one side vs. the other is used as the “right” side. For this jacket, I used the side with the purl stitches for the right side.
I used the shiny yarn with variegated shades of teal. Some yarns can be pulled through the fabric. This one didn’t pull easily, so I cut closely along each shiny yarn and pulled it out. Tie the strands together and work a chain stitch along the long edges of the metallic base. To determine number of stitches needed, I make a sample using 25 stitches. Measure the sample and multiply number of stitches by the desired finished length. This jacket required 600 stitches for a length of trim which would go around the hem, along front edges and around neck. The trim for the sleeves and pockets was worked as another piece.
The trim is uneven and needs to be steam blocked into shape. I used the third from the largest tube from the Trim Tube set. Weave the tube in and out between stitches and steam. Hover the iron over the trim; you don’t want to compress it. The tube is 12 inches long so steam 10-11 inches at a time, let cool, and weave the tube through the next section. The ends where the teal yarn has been tied together will be tucked underneath when stitching to the jacket.
Stitch the trim in place. It works best to sew the outer edge around corners, then work the trim in place along the inner edge. The join between lengths of teal yarn can be tucked to the underside. The trim is very flexible and easily navigates curves and corners. I join the trim at the left hem.
When you’ve determined where to join the ends, press hard to flatten only the trim which will be turned under. Use a tailors clapper to flatten the trim as much as possible and let cool. Turn the ends under and stitch. The join will be almost invisible.
To create a finished end (nice on pockets and the sleeve vent), measure the finished length needed. Starting along one long side (it’s harder to stop and start at a corner) make the chain stitch with teal yarn. To turn the corner, make two chain stitches in each corner. One stitch for the long side and one stitch for the short end. Make 1-2 stitches across the short end of the trim. Then two stitches in the next corner. When you reach the starting point, pull yarn to the underside and fasten with a few small hand stitches. To secure the metallic yarn, machine stitch across a few times, compress the end with steam and cut off close to the stitching. The flattened end will turn under.
I will be offering additional trim classes via Zoom. Probably one in December and more starting in January. There are also a few openings left in the January class if you would like to work in person. We’ll be doing a variety of projects in the class: pattern drafting, French jackets: both starting one and completing ones already begun, dressforms and more.
My trim classes have sold out quickly in the past, so leave a comment if you would like advance notification of the schedule. Have fun creating your custom trims.