Cloning Designer Garments, couture sewing, French jacket trim, French Jackets, Uncategorized

New Classes Open

Registration is open for classes in Palm Beach Gardens. Join the 7 day French jacket class from Monday, November 7 through Sunday November 13, 2022. These jackets involve considerable hand sewing and do take time, so expanding the class to 7 days made sense.

What is unique about this class? We will start with fine tuning the fit of your jacket toile. Detailed instructions will be sent several weeks prior to class.

Vogue 7975 is often used as the basis for a French jacket. It is easy to change the jacket’s length, neckline, sleeve and front closure. The pattern has princess seams ending in the shoulder which simplifies many fitting issues. Curvy figures need more shaping which can result in any horizontal stripe in the fabric to be mismatched along the upper part of the front princess seam. This photo shows the difference.

The right side (right side of photo) of this sample has been cut and sewn according to the pattern. For the left side, I’ve made some simple changes to the pattern and shaped the front side section with a steam iron. Note how the horizontal lines in the weave carry across the upper chest uninterrupted.

We will examine techniques to eliminate darts. For this sample, I wanted a very curvy figure, easily accomplished by a bra filled out with extra padding. It’s easy to achieve the look on a small busted model but harder when dealing with more curves.

The pronounced curves of this figure required additional shaping which could have been accomplished by adding a dart either from armhole to bust or side seam to bust.

Either dart placement isn’t ideal and will create unnecessary bulk. Fortunately most boucle fabric is pliable and can be molded with steam. Any distortion in the weave is hidden under the arm and a better solution than darts.

A few patterns have the classic three piece sleeve. Vogue 7975 has a standard two piece sleeve. It’s not difficult to convert the pattern. This method can be used on any sleeve.

Learn how to customize the look of a basic pattern. The neckline is easily converted to a stand collar, round or V-neck.

Coco Chanel said, ”never a button without a buttonhole.” Machine buttonholes are an option but handworked buttonholes are a true couture finish. Loosely woven boucle fabric isn’t the easiest to work with and mastering buttonholes does take practice. There are a few tips and tricks that make the finished result more professional.

Trims are the final embellishment. Shopping for pre-made trim can be difficult. You rarely find something that’s the perfect color, width and texture. Often trims are rigid and difficult to navigate curves and corners. Creating your own trim using fibers from the fabric and coordinating yarn isn’t difficult.

November dates not convenient? Another Couture Sewing Class is scheduled from Monday, January 16 through Saturday, January 21, 2023. This class isn’t strictly for French jacket construction but you can certainly work on one. It’s a perfect opportunity finish (or make significant progress) on a previously started jacket. Work on anything you like. Maybe you’re hesitant to work on tricky fabric or an unfamiliar style? Take advantage of expert help with planning and executing your project.

Register by clicking on ”Classes” from the main menu. Any questions email me: mf953@aol.com

creating designer trim, French jacket trim, French Jackets, Uncategorized

Couture Trim Class with ASG Atlanta

I’m presenting a couture trim class with the ASG (American Sewing Guild) Atlanta chapter on Friday March 25 and Friday April 1. This is an 8 hour class (split into 2 four hour sessions) which will be presented via internet on Zoom. Both sessions will run 1:30 to 5:30 PM EST. One fee includes both sessions. The class fee also includes the trim kit so you will be able to create the trims along with me. This class was designed exclusively for the Atlanta ASG and open only to their members. The class has a few available openings and I have permission from the Atlanta group to open the remaining spots to my readers.

This trim from a Chanel jacket has always intrigued me and I FINALLY figured out a way to replicate it. It will be demonstrated in this class along with numerous other techniques including Kumihimo braiding.

If you’re interested, go to http://www.asgatlanta.org and register. The class will not be recorded so you will need to be available during class time. Registration will close on March 19 to allow time for your trim kit to be shipped to you.

There will also be a class on couture custom sleeves on Saturday, March 26 from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM EST if you’re interested.

I will be offering additional trim classes later this spring and summer on my site. Thanks for reading.

Drafting Patterns, French Jackets, Uncategorized

Convert a Two Piece Sleeve to Three

A distinctive feature of many French (Chanel) style jackets is the iconic three piece sleeve. Vogue 7975 is a favorite starting pattern for many; however the sleeve is a standard two piece. I’ll go through my method for converting the pattern from a two to three piece sleeve.

First, trace the pattern onto translucent pattern paper. Eliminate the seam allowances. It’s much easier to alter patterns when you aren’t dealing with seam allowances. Make changes to the pattern, then add seam allowances back if you are more comfortable working with patterns which have seam allowances included. Include the marks indicating underarm and shoulder points as well as grain lines. Mark the front and back of the sleeve cap to eliminate confusion.

Working on a grain board/cutting mat makes it easy to keep the pattern properly aligned. Arrange the pattern pieces as shown with grain lines parallel to each other and seam lines just touching along the back armseye seam. Tape or weight the paper so it doesn’t shift.

Using a second sheet of pattern paper large enough for the entire sleeve, trace the shape of the sleeve cap from the underarm point to shoulder point, continuing through the front armseye seam. Mark the underarm and shoulder points. Also draw a line at a 90 degree angle to the grain lines intersecting the underarm point. This line represents the biceps width.

Move the undersleeve pattern to the front, arrange grain lines parallel to each other and trace the remainder of the arsmeye seam to the underarm point.

Also shift the grainline on the upper sleeve section so it is in line with the shoulder point. Connect underarm points with a horizontal line which should be perpendicular to the grainline.

Your draft should look like this:

Draw dashed lines from the underarm points to the hem. They will be parallel to the grainline and be the same distance apart as the biceps width. Measure the distance along the biceps line from back to the new grainline (intersects the shoulder). Measure distance from grainline to front underarm point. Compare the measurements. I’m working with a size 10 pattern. The back measures 7”; front measures 6.5”. Therefore the grainline is offset 1/2” from the midpoint of the front and back underarms. If your pattern size varies slightly, then use the measurements from your size. The additional curves which are mirror images of the armseye seam will be covered in upcoming steps.

Now calculate the sleeve taper from underarm to wrist. Measure the wrist on front and back sleeve sections and add them together for total sleeve wrist measurement. Size 10 is 9 inches. I want to offset the wrist by the same amount of the biceps. Divide 9 by 2 equals 4.5”. Add 1/4” to 4.5” for 4.75” back wrist. Subtract 1/4” from 4.5” for 4.25” front wrist. 4.75” plus 4.25” equals 9” so the total matches amount measured in the previous step.

Also draw in the elbow line. There are various methods for determining the elbow placement. You can measure from underarm to elbow. If you’re not sure, divide the underarm seam in half. Place the elbow about one inch higher than the midpoint.

Where the elbow and underarm seam intersect on the sleeve back, mark a point 1/4” wider than the elbow. Measure the distance from this point to the center grainline. Divide this distance in half (should be about 3 inches). Measure 3/4” down from the elbow line. Draw a line from this point to the halfway point just plotted, forming a dart at the elbow.

At the back wrist, mark a point 3/4” towards the center and 3/4” below the wrist hem. Connect the lower elbow dart leg to this point. The wrist will be shortened 3/4” so 3/4” needs to be added to the front underarm. Draw a line from the elbow to a point 3/4” to the right of the original seam.

Connect the front and back wrist hem with a smooth curve. Also shift the center grainline from elbow line to wrist 3/4” as shown.

Fold the pattern vertically, matching back underarm to grainline. Turn the pattern over with underside up. You will see the armseye curve. Using a red pencil, trace the curve as shown. Repeat for the front.

Now you will draft the narrow under-sleeve. Starting at the underarm, measure 1 and 1/4” to left of grainline; 1 and 1/8” to the right. Move to the elbow line. Measure 1 and 1/4” to the left, 1” to the right. Move to the wrist. Mark 1 and 1/8” left of the angled line, 7/8” to the right. Connect the points to form the under-sleeve. Shown in green.

The under-sleeve now needs to be removed from the outer edges of the back and front sleeve. Measure towards the center of the sleeve on both back and front, the same amounts that were used to draft the under-sleeve. Back underarm, measure in 1 and 1/4”, front underarm 1 and 1/8” towards center. Elbow line 1 and 1/4” along the back, 1” along the front. Wrist 1 and 1/8 at back, 7/8” at front.

This is the right sleeve. The under-sleeve as drafted is for the left sleeve. To create a right side pattern, flip the sleeve draft over and trace the under-sleeve onto pattern paper.

Flip the draft back to the right side and cut the back and front sleeve sections as shown. The elbow dart won’t be sewn as a dart. When constructing the sleeve, you will ease about two inches either side of the dart, drawing up the excess length to match the under-sleeve seam.

Shorten the front sleeve seam about 1/4” and redraw the wrist hem curve. The front seam will be stretched during construction to produce a better curve in the finished sleeve. Yes, the front sleeve seam that attaches to the under-sleeve will be slightly shorter than the corresponding seam on the under-sleeve pattern.

If you want to add sleeve vent for buttons/ trim, tape extensions onto the pattern. I used 1 and 1/2” wide and 4” long. If you want longer vents for more buttons, then just make the vent longer.

The grainline of the undersleeve can be changed to bias providing a little more flexibility in the sleeve.

Drafting Patterns, French Jackets, Uncategorized

French Jacket Shoulder Pad

I’ve created a new category on my main menu which will be links to free patterns, sewing/workroom tips, and other topics which readers may wish to refer back to. Not everything is linked yet but will be updated as soon as I organize. Having everything listed under one category will eliminate the need to search through past posts.

Here’s my pattern for a shoulder pad I designed several years ago. I love the shape of this shoulder pad as it has a built-in sleeve head and you can vary the thickness according to your needs. I’ve started making these using wool felt (which is available at JoAnns Fabrics) for a very couture shoulder pad. The wool felt is not inexpensive but one yard goes a long way and it’s a perfect use for the discount coupon. Cotton quilt batting also works well.

Link to pattern:

Continue reading “French Jacket Shoulder Pad”
couture sewing, French Jackets, Uncategorized

French Jacket Pattern Matching

Several years ago I began experimenting with techniques for a better pattern match along the princess seams of the French jacket. Here’s a photo and link to the post explaining my approach.

Techniques used in this jackethttps://cloningcouture.com/2017/12/

Since then, I’ve continued to refine the method. It’s easy to achieve this match across the upper chest on model shapes but what about figures that have more curves? I started by giving one of my mannequins a much curvier (about a G cup) body and started playing with the fabric.

Continue reading “French Jacket Pattern Matching”
Cloning Designer Garments, couture sewing, creating designer trim, Drafting Patterns, French jacket trim, French Jackets, Uncategorized

Guest Post by Joyce: “amakersshowandtell”

I’ve been writing this blog since 2014 and am thrilled to learn the tutorials presented are helpful to other sewists. Joyce posted photos of her completed jacket on Instagram and tagged me as a resource for her construction methods. I invited her to write a post, highlighting the information she found especially valuable.

Thank you Joyce, for taking the time to write this and allowing me to share your work.

Hello! My name is Joyce. After my recent completion of a French jacket, Mary asked me to write about my experience in a post for her blog. Before we get started, here’s a bit about me: I live in southern Manitoba, Canada with my husband, who is also my best friend! We have raised two children, who have blessed us with five grandchildren. I am a retired Interior Design Consultant & Kitchen Designer. My talented mother taught me to sew, crochet, knit, and hand embroider. From the time I was five years old, she allowed me to use her sewing machine. I made a lot of clothes for my dolls until the age of ten when I began sewing my own clothes. My favourite things to sew are coats, jackets and dresses. My favourite fabrics are made of natural fibers. 

About seven years ago, I began dreaming of making a French jacket. While reading blogs of sewists who documented their experiences on the subject, I became aware of the hours involved, as well as the couture techniques they had learned along the way. It was when I discovered Mary’s blog, cloningcouture.com, that I soon realized what a treasure store of information it is. Her precision and her impeccable attention to detail reveal incredible skill. I was amazed that she was willing to share her extensive knowledge and experience with her readers at no cost to them. I read each post in detail, bookmarking those I wanted to refer to later.
By early 2019, I had collected all my supplies for this project, and was ready to begin. My fabric is appropriately called “Giverny Tweed”. The lining is silk charmeuse.

Of course, the first step was to make a well-fitting toile. I cut the body of the jacket according to Vogue 8804, but in reading online reviews, I heard repeatedly that the sleeve in this pattern was wide. Since I have thin arms, I knew I would have to draft a narrower sleeve. This is where Mary’s post https://cloningcouture.com/2014/08/04/chanel-and-the-sleeve/came to the rescue. I know she has since updated it, but her original method worked for me! I also changed my sleeves to full-length instead of the three-quarter length from the pattern. 

As many of you already know, after fitting the toile, it is cut apart and used as the pattern to cut the pieces in the tweed and lining fabrics, adding wide seam and hem allowances. In hindsight, I should have fused Pro-Sheer Elegance Couture interfacing to the tweed at this point, since I was working with a fabric that frays very easily. Mary gives this advice in the following post: https://cloningcouture.com/2018/02/15/finishing-details-the-french-jacket/Instead, I used a stepped zigzag to secure the fibers along the edges.

Detail of the front, ready for machine quilting

Over the next couple of weeks, I interfaced the fronts with silk organza, quilted the silk charmeuse lining to the front and back pieces, before joining them along the princess and side seams. I really enjoyed slipstitching the lining seams together by hand.

Now that the body of the jacket was taking shape, it was time to turn my attention to the trim. I was unable to find a ready-made trim that complemented my fabric, but then I remembered Mary’s post on making your own. My first attempt was a crocheted chain using fibers from the tweed, but it was too narrow and did not contrast enough with the fabric. I was intrigued by Mary’s detailed instructions on Kumihimo braiding, so I decided to try my hand at it. See her post here:  https://cloningcouture.com/2017/08/30/create-custom-trim-for-your-french-jacket/After locating a Kumihimo plate at my local fabric store and watching some YouTube videos on 10-strand braiding, I was ready to begin. After a couple of false starts, while deciding which fibers to use, I settled on four blue strands and two ivory from my fabric, in combination with four strands of ivory Phildar yarn left over from a sweater I knitted for my husband many years ago.

This was the set-up I used. It is certainly not the traditional way, but it worked for me. Every few inches I had to stop and release more material from my “bobbins”. It took me about three days to work out my setup and make three and a half yards of trim. 

You can see it being “auditioned” here with the buttons I planned to use. Btw, although these were inexpensive buttons, they remind me of Coco Chanel’s favorite camellia rose. 

After making the trim, I did some work on the sleeves, then packed the project away before going on vacation in March 2019. As it turned out, this is where the project stalled out until a couple of weeks ago.

I had been putting off making the handworked buttonholes, but one day I gathered up courage and got to work. First, I made a sample buttonhole to work out the method. Then, in a pleasant afternoon’s sewing, I made five buttonholes on the jacket front. You can see Mary’s post on buttonholes here: https://cloningcouture.com/2020/01/07/buttonholes-and-more-trim/

After crossing this hurdle, I knew I was on the home stretch. The next two days were spent finishing the sleeves.

Completed sleeves with trim and handworked buttonholes

After this, I applied the trim to front and neck edges with a running stitch and the occasional backstitch. It was actually easier to do than I thought it would be. Then I fellstitched the lining to the jacket edges. This was my favourite step!

Stitching the sleeves in by hand
Sleeve lining basted into place
Completed jacket

In summary, I learned so much about couture sewing methods while working on this project. I easily spent a hundred hours on it, but the result is something I will wear with much satisfaction for years to come. It has also given me a great appreciation for the work of couturiers. They are indeed a skilled lot!


Mary, many thanks for all your informative, detailed and inspiring posts on couture sewing! Thanks also for letting me share my experience with your readers.
You can find me on Instagram at amakersshowandtell, where I post photos of my projects. They include sewing, watercolor painting, home decorating, gardening, knitting, and occasionally, upholstery. 
Best regards, Joyce

creating designer trim, French jacket trim, French Jackets, Uncategorized

Woven Trim Variation

This is a variation of the trim in the last post. I’ve used the same crocheted base and woven three knitted cords through. For the base, I used a sport weight yarn and size E (3.5mm) hook. This will produce trim which is about 5/8 to 3/4 inch wide.

Crochet a chain the length of trim. Turn and work double crochet in the 4th chain from the hook. Work double crochet in every stitch.

Knit icord three times plus several inches the length of trim. You can use three strands of the same icord or any combination. Insert the knitted icord into the smallest tube it will pull easily through. The knitted cords can be threaded on a large needle and pulled through, but feeding them through a tube is easier and prevents the cord from fraying. A larger tube will be more difficult to weave through the crocheted base, especially when inserting the second and third rows of cord.

Weave the tube with cord inserted in and out of the crochet stitches. Hold the ends of the crocheted base and cord in one hand and pull back to remove the tube, leaving the knitted cord in place.

To prevent the knitted cord from unraveling, tie thread around the cord at the end and beginning of each length. Weave the second cord through, alternating with the first cord. Nudge the first and second cords to one side and repeat with a third cord.

A row of chain stitches can be worked in the front of each stitch along the outer edges if desired.

More examples of trim with three cords woven through the basic crochet base. The top trim used three strands of the same cord and a chain stitch worked along the edges. The bottom trim used fine variegated sock yarn for cords, the darker shade along the edges and lighter shade in the middle. Have fun creating additional combinations. Trims using a three strand braid as a base coming next.

creating designer trim, French jacket trim, French Jackets, Uncategorized

Crocheted and Braided Trims using Trim Tubes

Since the last post on creating custom trims, I’ve been inventing more combinations and ways to vary the three cord braid shown in this post. Here are a few ideas.

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I’m usually frustrated when shopping for pre-made trims. What’s available is wrong colors, wrong size, too rigid, they have 2 yards and I need 5, etc., etc… Much easier to create your own. I’ve developed two trim styles, one based on a three cord braid and the other on a crocheted base. This post will cover trims based on a three cord braid. I’ll explain the crochet base in the next installment.

The cords used for the braid should be 3/16 to 1/4 inch wide. Soft, pliable cords made from tubes of fabric filled with wool yarn work very well. Knitted fabric tubes created with this knitter have volume yet are flexible and won’t result in a stiff finished braid.

This little gadget is available on Amazon. It produces yards and yards of soft, knitted cord in minutes. I’ve discovered a few helpful hints for getting this to work. 1. Use THIN yarn: fingering, lace or sock weight yarn works great. Thicker yarns such as sport weight will cause the tiny latch hooks to jam up and break. I see tons of product reviews of customers complaining that it broke with medium weight yarn. The directions say fine yarns and they mean it. Yarn with a relatively smooth surface also works best; fuzzy yarns and those with slubs tend to get caught on the hooks. Start slowly and make sure the yarn is feeding properly. If the yarn doesn’t drop below the hooks, try adding more weight to the end of the cord emerging from the bottom of the knitting device.

I often fill the knitted cord with a contrast color yarn. The fill adds some volume and is more interesting than a solid color. I created this set of brass tubes to help with turning, filling and weaving the trim.

I’m using the third tube from left (5/32 inch) and a 2.75mm (size C) crochet hook. Exact size isn’t important. Choose a size that is large enough for your filler will slide through easily and is small enough to fit through the middle of the knitted tube.

Insert the crochet hook, hook first into the tube. It will stop when the flattened thumb rest reaches the tube opening.

Insert the rounded end of the crochet hook into a stitch in the knitted tube and thread the hook and tube into the middle of the knitted tube. Hold the open end of the tube against a table or your leg to keep the crochet hook in place. Don’t try and force the hook further into the tube or you will cause damage. The tube can be threaded through the knitted tube but the slightly rounded end of the crochet hook makes it easier.

Make sure the entire length of knitted tube is on the brass tube and remove the crochet hook. Fold a length of heavy thread in half. The thread should be several inches longer than the brass tube when folded (brass tube is 12 inches long so thread should be at least 30 inches). Insert two cut ends of thread into one end of brass tube and push through until the thread comes out opposite end.

Insert end of filler through the thread loop. Pull the two opposite ends of thread. The filler will be pulled through the brass tube.

Holding both filler and knitted tube in your left hand, gently pull the brass tube with your right hand, easing the knitted cord over the filler.

Cut the filler several inches longer than the knit cord. I pull the finished cord gently, pin to my ironing surface and steam to block and set the stitches. Make the cord a little longer than you think you need. If I’m creating trim for a jacket or dress, I break the trim construction into manageable lengths. I’ll do the pocket trims as one length, sleeve trim as one or two lengths. If I’m making a length to do the neck, fronts and hem as one length, save until last when you’ve practiced with shorter lengths and worked out any problems. If I need to fill a very long length, start at the midpoint and work to each end. Much easier than working all the way from one end to the other.

Next post will cover braiding and adding crochet edging to create a more finished look.

Testing out trims to compliment this Linton tweed fabric. Trim turns a right angle corner easily. Beige linen yarn knitted tube with black wool filler yarn woven through black crocheted base. Line of metallic silver chain stitched through middle.

Cloning Designer Garments, couture sewing, Drafting Patterns, French Jackets, Uncategorized

Drafting the Three Piece Sleeve

I’ve written about this in the past but have revised the method slightly. I’ve seen converting the two piece sleeve to a three piece by simply splitting the upper sleeve at the shoulder point. This method results in a wide under sleeve. The classic Chanel design has a much narrower under sleeve section. I’ve found the easiest way is to convert the two piece pattern to a one piece sleeve; then split the sleeve.

First cut off the seam allowances from your pattern. Pattern drafting is always done with no seam allowances. You will add seam allowances after all drafting is completed. Extend the grain lines the full length of the pattern. If the elbow point isn’t indicated, measure your arm and determine your elbow point. Line up the upper and under sleeve patterns along the underarm line. Make sure the grain lines are parallel to each other. Trace the top of the sleeve from the underarm point on the under sleeve around to the front of the upper sleeve.

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Shift the pattern to complete the top of the sleeve on the right side. Draw a horizontal line connecting the underarm points. Draw a horizontal line to indicate the elbow position; also draw the finished hem of the upper sleeve.

30ED97D8-F213-43C3-BF93-F652238E9FC0

BED09AFF-8BF0-4A58-A5DB-1850FD5736E0

EE1B8EFA-CEB5-40A2-8823-068B93DFBBC6Determine the midpoint of the underarm line (line which will divide the sleeve in half lengthwise). Extend this point to the bottom of the sleeve.

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Determine the finished width of the sleeve hem. Divide by 2. Mark 1/2 finished hem width on either side of center. Connect the underarm points to the points on the hem for side sleeve shaping.

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Shift the midpoint of the sleeve about 1/2 inch towards the right (front of sleeve). Extend this point up to meet the top of the sleeve. This moves the shoulder point, also known as the pitch point, a little further to the front and places the finished sleeve more in line with the natural position of the arm.

C9E1E0B7-DF4E-4029-B3F8-154974B7AC97

Fold the left (back of sleeve) underarm point to meet the just marked offset center point. Trace the armseye seam from the side seam to fold.

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When you unfold the paper, it should look like this:

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Repeat for the right (front side). Fold the right underarm point to meet in the center and trace. You should have the underarm curve duplicated in the center of the sleeve.

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Draw a horizontal line indicating the elbow line. If the elbow isn’t indicated on the original pattern, measure your arm either from the underarm or shoulder. Cut the pattern from the back side seam to sleeve center. Cut the pattern from the hem along the center to just before the elbow line, leaving a small hinge point of paper. Rotate the paper to open up a dart along the elbow line. The dart should be about 3/4 inch wide. Tape extra paper underneath the opened dart. Tape the overlapping pattern at the hem. The width of the sleeve hem will be shorter due to the overlap. Measure the amount of overlap and add that amount to the right (front) sleeve at the hem. Extend up to meet the elbow line.

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Draw an elbow dart 3 inches long and 3/4 inch wide (the amount the paper was opened). There will be extra fabric, indicated in green. This is to provide ease over the elbow. The angle between the sleeve midline above the elbow and sleeve midline below the elbow will be about 175 degrees. A little more or less is fine.

The undersleeve on classic Chanel jackets is about 2.5 inches wide at the underarm tapering to 2 inches at the wrist. This is for smaller sizes; you may want to adjust for larger sizes/ fuller bicep. From the center line, measure towards the sleeve back 1 and 3/8 at underarm, 1 and 1/4 at elbow and 1 and 1/8 at wrist. For the front, measure from center towards sleeve front 1 and 1/8 at underarm, 1 and 1/8 at elbow and 7/8 at wrist. Connect the points to form the undersleeve. Shown in red.

7F79F0BB-6FA0-4F9F-8B42-7EBD704DFC6D

Now remove the corresponding amounts from the side seams. Shown in blue. Trace the undersleeve onto pattern paper. I place the upper portion of the undersleeve on the bias. The lower portion won’t be on the true bias but it will be off grain. This will allow the undersleeve to stretch when worn for comfort. Chanel sleeves are intended to be slim fitting and the bias provides a little wearing ease. Trace the upper and lower sleeve sections. Your patterns should look like this:

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Using the hem length from the original pattern adjust the bottom of the sleeve. The sleeve back which joins the undersleeve should be 1/2 to 3/4 inch longer than the corresponding seam along the undersleeve. The excess length in the back sleeve will be eased in the elbow area. The seam joining the sleeve back to sleeve front will be the same length on both back and front. The front sleeve seam which joins to the undersleeve should be 3/8 to 1/2 inch shorter than the undersleeve seam. The upper sleeve seam will be steamed and stretched before sewing to give the sleeve proper shape. The sleeve hem should be slightly longer in the back and angle upwards to the front. Add vent extensions for buttons if you want. The top of the sleeve cap can be curved to decrease the amount of fabric needing to be eased into the armseye.

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Cloning Designer Garments, couture sewing, creating designer trim, French jacket trim, French Jackets, Tailoring, Uncategorized

Buttonholes and More Trim

C2F04906-FBA3-42ED-A583-0BEE9E6284D2Although many machines can sew acceptable buttonholes, there is nothing like a handworked buttonhole to distinguish a garment as couture. Now for the good and the bad. The good thing about making buttonholes by hand is there is one basic stitch and you simply repeat it over and over. The bad is that it takes hours, and hours, and hours of practice to get the stitches narrow and evenly spaced with just the right tension.

There are a few hints that can make this process easier. Using professional materials does make a difference. After making hundreds of buttonholes I’ve found there really is no substitute for Gutermann gimp. It’s not easy to find outside of professional tailoring suppliers but it makes a tremendous difference in the quality of the finished buttonhole.

Gimp is a stiff cord that lifts the stitches off the surface of the cloth and gives a smooth surface for the buttonhole stitches to sit on. Silk buttonhole twist also comes in various weights. The thicker size F is easier to work with and requires fewer stitches but produces a bulkier buttonhole. My preference is Gutermann R753 which is just a bit thinner and makes a finer buttonhole.

Cutting the buttonhole is also easier with a couple of tools. I found an antique buttonhole cutter which cuts the circular hole and slit in one step. This probably isn’t sharp enough to use.

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What works for me is a sharp hollow punch for the keyhole and a chisel for the slit.

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To actually make this buttonhole first carefully mark where you want the buttonhole and baste all the layers of fabric together. This prevents  things from shifting around while you are working. I forgot to take a photo of just the basting so this photo shows the buttonhole cut. Blue thread is the basting.

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Before cutting anything (this is especially useful if you’re working on a loosely woven boucle type fabric) machine stitch around the buttonhole. I run two rows of stitching using about a 0.8 to 1.0 mm stitch. The machine stitching will really hold everything in place.

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How’s the time to cut. Unlike machine buttonholes which are cut after stitching, the handworked buttonhole is cut first. I use the hole punch pliers to cut a clean hole. Then carefully place the appropriate size chisel along the center of the buttonhole and tap the chisel a few times with a hammer. I use thick cardboard or a piece of heavy scrap leather underneath both the hole punch and chisel to prevent damage to the tools.

I prefer the look of a teardrop shaped buttonhole so I carefully trim away the little triangles at the base of the circular hole.

I begin stitching the buttonhole with the rounded end away from me and begin work on the left side. Thread the gimp on a large eye needle, put it between the fabric layers and bring it up just inside the cut edge. Wax and press the buttonhole twist. Rule of thumb is that 1 yard of twist for 1 inch buttonhole. Stitches are worked by inserting the needle about 1-2 mm from the cut edge. Wrap the thread in the direction you are sewing; in this case I’m wrapping the thread around the needle clockwise. Pull the thread through and upwards forming the purl knot on the top edge. Using a traditional tailor’s thimble is helpful to control your needle and place the stitches accurately. Putting you left thumbnail where you want the needle to exit the fabric also helps. You want the stitches almost touching but not crowded. Practice definitely helps. Your 10th buttonhole will look much better than the first and number 100 even better.

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Work up the left side, fan the stitches around the circular end and down the right side. Turn the cloth so you are always making the same stitch from the same position. The cloth moves, your hands and stitches don’t. Bend the gimp around the buttonhole as you work.

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When you get back to where you started pass the gimp between fabric layers and cut it off. Take three stitches across both sides of the buttonhole with the silk twist and bury the thread. Baste the edges of the buttonhole together and use a bodkin to shape the end into a nice circular shape. Press and leave the basting in place until the garment is finished.

In my quest to replicate Chanel jackets, I did a little sleuth shopping. These are from the new spring cruise collection. Looking at the price tags, I’m happy to be creating my own.

The trim was what I was most interested in. I’ve managed to create a fairly good duplication and am working on refining and variations.

Here’s my version.

Buttonholes, advanced garment shaping using ironwork, Chanel style trims and more in a French jacket class, Palm Beach Gardens, FL February 10-15. Only 2 spots left; more classes coming. Dates to be announced.