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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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.
How much fun is selecting fabric, lining and buttons for your French jacket? Finding the perfect trim can be another story. If you are looking for black, white or a standard color you may get lucky but what if your fabric is a wonderful mix of other colors and the trim you’re considering just doesn’t look quite right? Another issue I frequently encounter is that many of the trims are too rigid and bulky to curve around corners and the stiffness detracts from the wonderful fluid nature of these jackets.
I searched for some time and experimented with many methods to produce a soft, flexible custom braid. Finally I stumbled upon Kumihimo braiding and modified the traditional technique to create a braid I’m finally happy with. By creating your own braid you aren’t limited to the choices found in the trim section and can totally customize it to complement your jacket. There are many books and videos explaining the Kumihimo method which can be used to create round, half-round or flat braids. Since I was interested in jacket trim I focused on flat braids. Kumihimo braids are normally tightly woven and fairly rigid; not what I was looking to make. By using soft yarns and increasing the counterweight I’m able to get the desired result.
Traditional Marudi or Takadai are expensive and since this started out as an experiment, I wanted minimal financial investment. Home Depot had a round wooden disk and wooden dowels which made a serviceable stand. I cut a braiding plate from craft foam using internet photos for the design. Braiding plates are also available online; most beading suppliers carry them.
The simplest braid is an allover design. You don’t need to arrange the cords in any particular pattern. I’ll show a 10 strand braid and then explain the specific yarns I used for trim. The numbering system on this plate may differ from one you find. I’ve wound 10 bobbins (available from Beadalon and others). I’ve also used 10 different colors of embroidery floss for demonstration.
Tie the cord ends together and slip through the hole in the beading plate. Attach the counterweight. I used two large washers slipped through a surgical clamp. Traditionally a small bag containing weights is used. The weight is adjustable, depending on number of bobbins used and the desired effect. Most instructions will advise weighing all the bobbins and using a counterweight of about 50%. My bobbins each weigh 24 grams times 10 bobbins for a total weight of 240 grams. The counterweight is very important to maintain an even tension. THE MORE COUNTERWEIGHT, THE LOOSER THE TENSION. Since I wanted a soft braid I used a 75% counterweight. My bobbins weigh 240 grams, 75% of 240 is 180, so the weight of the washers plus surgical clamp is 180 grams.
Place a cord in slots 3,4,5,6,7,8,14,15,16,17. The position of each color doesn’t matter. This is just to illustrate the braiding sequence.
Move the cord in 5 to e (small case e on the right side), move 6 to E (capital E on the left side) Don’t ask why e and E (just the version I used)
Move 15 to 5 and 4 to 15.
14 to 4 and 3 to 14
16 to 6 and 7 to 16
17 to 7 and 8 to 17
Then E to 3 and e to 8
That completes a sequence. Keep repeating until you have enough braid. This took much longer to write than actually do and after a few repeats you won’t need the instructions. For each repeat you bring the center cords to the side, alternate cords on the left side, then the right side, and then move the side cords back to top. There are also many versions and videos of this pattern online if my version is confusing. Search for 10 cord flat braid and you’ll find many tutorials.
To guestimate how many strands of yarn for the width braid you want, twist multiple lengths together until you get close to the size. For the pastel braid I used 36 strands divided evenly among the 10 bobbins. I wound 6 bobbins with two strands of pom-pom yarn and two strands of metallic silver. Then 4 bobbins with one length of pom-pom, one metallic silver and one off-white angora.
Since the braid is so pliable, it can be stretched slightly to narrow it. To widen the braid, gently stretch it crosswise.
The braid is very easy to shape around curves and corners.
The jacket which appeared in Threads Magazine was trimmed with braid using these yarns from Linton Tweeds.
How long should you cut the strands? I found about 1.5 times the desired finished length plus 10-12 inches for knotting. Since I didn’t want to piece the trim around the jacket edge, I wove two lengths for each jacket. One length for the sleeve edges and pocket trim, the other length for the jacket body. I did the shorter length first to see if I liked my yarn combination and to test if 1.5 times finished length would be correct. Test a few short lengths before committing to yards of trim you might not like. If the braid is too narrow, add more strands of yarn. As you braid, the counterweight will move lower; when it gets close to the bottom of the stand just unclamp and move the counterweight up. I clamped right onto the completed braid with no damage. How long does this take!!! It isn’t fast but not as long as you might think. After doing two jackets I can braid about 20 inches per hour and need about 140 inches per jacket to do sleeves, 4 pockets, and all around the edges of the jacket body. Most sewers plan on at least 50-70 hours (and often more) so another 7-8 hours to get exactly what you want isn’t crazy. It’s great TV work; you will memorize the sequence quickly and do it without thinking.
This loosely woven trim will unravel very, very easily so I machine stitched a length of tulle to stabilize before cutting lengths for the pockets and sleeves. Secure the ends of longer lengths also.
Next post will explore different braiding patterns and incorporating threads from the fabric. I hope you enjoy this and consider using some custom braids.