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.
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.
Finding trim is easier if you’re looking for black, white or common color. This fuschia jacket made from a wonderful soft Mendel Goldberg boucle wasn’t going to be easy, particularly if I wanted to avoid introducing another color. I did add silver or gold, depending on buttons.
When creating a trim, I make several variations to experiment with different yarns. If you’ve attended one of my trim classes, the techniques will be familiar.
All examples of trim use the same basic method. I make samples about 4 inches long. Once you decide which version to use, calculate the finished amount of trim you need. Measure the sample created with 20 stitches. If 20 stitches gives you 4 inches of trim and you need 40 inches, then start with a chain of 200 stitches.
First create a crochet base. Chain 20 plus 3. Turn and make a double crochet in every stitch. Weave a brass tube through the finished base to block it and even out the stitches.
Let cool and remove the tube. Weave a smaller tube through the stitches as shown. Pull the desired yarn or fabric through. Push the woven strand to one side and weave the tube through, alternating in and out with the first strand.
Chain stitch around the edge. Here I’m using a strand of flag yarn pulled from the boucle fabric. Using strands of yarns from the fabric guarantees a perfect match.
Finish with a chain stitch in the center. I did a version in gold and one in silver to audition with different buttons.
Trim 1: Using a size F hook, crochet the base with Sesia Elegant yarn with color: Rose. Chain 23, turn and make double crochet in every stitch.
Cut bias strips of fuschia silk double georgette 1.5 inches wide, fold in half lengthwise and stitch scant 1/4” from folded edge. Turn and stuff the silk tube with bulky yarn.
Weave the silk tubes though alternate double crochet stitches. Make a chain stitch through the middle with gold yarn. Finish the edges with a chain stitch using flag yarn pulled from leftover boucle.
Trim 2: Same as trim 1 except use size D hook for the base. Weave 3/8” wide bias strips of silk georgette through. Chain stitch through the middle with size C hook. Edge with the flag yarn from fabric.
Trim 3: Crochet base making double crochet every stitch. Weave one row of gold tape yarn, one row 3/8” wide silk georgette, one row gold tape yarn. Edge with flag yarn from the fabric.
Trim 4: Crochet base using gold metallic yarn and size E hook. Chain stitch along each edge with flag yarn from boucle fabric.
Trim 5: Use 3/8” wide bias strips of silk georgette as yarn. Crochet the base. Weave 4 strands pink tinsel yarn plus two strands metallic yarn through. Chain stitch inside the edge with gold metallic yarn.
Hard to make a decision. Possibilities are endless and by making your own trim you can guarantee a perfect match. Two opportunities to further explore French jacket construction and trims: New England Retreat, September 19-24 and Couture Sewing Class, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, January 16-21. 2023. These classes are not limited to making a French jacket but if you choose to work on a jacket, you will receive the identical information presented in the November French jacket class. The classes are small and allow for individualized instruction. You will receive my 100 plus page manual describing construction techniques unique to the French jacket plus an extended session on trims.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
To expand my variations of custom trim, I’ve been experimenting with tubular yarns as well as crocheting with narrow strips of fabric. Many boucles are woven using tubular yarns, such as these two.
I pulled strands of the tubular knit from the fabrics and filled them with bulky wool yarn. Wool yarn works better than acrylic or cotton as it is lofty yet soft and flexible.
The tubes can be woven through a crochet base or braided. A technique for tubes of fabric used as braided trim here. This boucle contained gold tubular yarn as well as multiple other fibers and lent itself to several variations of trim.
You can also find tubular yarns put up in rolls or skeins. Any time I find metallic silver or gold I stock up, as gold/silver compliment many fabrics.
Another interesting technique uses narrow strips of silk georgette fabric to work a chain stitch along the edge of trim. This is a version created from a combination of ivory wool yarn combined with fibers pulled from fabric yardage and edged with a chain stitch of silk georgette. The bias edge of silk frays just enough to create a soft textured finish.
Join me on Tuesday, March 1, from 5-7:30 PM (Eastern standard time) for a hands-on virtual workshop in which we’ll create multiple variations of trim. Sign up (PLEASE NOTE: This link is for the March 8 class. The March 1 class is sold out) through the Cloning Couture Shop. The class is limited to 20 participants. A kit containing crochet hooks, sample boucle fabric plus assorted yarns is available here or you can source your own materials. The class is held via Zoom and will be recorded so if you can’t participate live, the recording will be available. You can also download and re-watch the class as often as you wish.
Here is the jacket I used for demonstration in a recent French Jacket Class. The trim utilizes fibers pulled from the yardage plus silk georgette used as yarn.
I’ve been working on additional trim ideas to customize and embellish your custom French jacket. Alice, of Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in NYC, sent me a generous sampling of her new fall boucles to play with.
When creating custom trim, the possibilities are almost endless. Here’s a few variations I came up with for one fabric. I used varying textures of black yarn combined with fibers pulled from the fabric to create coordinated trims.
This trim also utilizes fibers from the boucle as well as a textured grey and white yarn.
To make this trim, I made a crochet chain, turned and worked a double crochet in each stitch. Inserted a large Trim Tube (available in my shop) and steamed to even out the stitches. Then, using a smaller size tube, wove through the chain and inserted a metallic fiber from the boucle. After nudging the metallic ribbon to one side, wove the tube through again, alternating the up and down weave, and threaded a second metallic ribbon through.
For the trim with fringing, I cut a narrow band of boucle fabric and pulled threads from each side. The crochet band was accented with a row of chain stitches on each side using grey yarn pulled from the fabric. Stitch on top of the fringed strip for the completed trim. A second variation uses chain stitching with black/white yarn around the outer edge. I prefer the softer look of the fringed version.
Here’s another idea to coordinate with this open weave ivory with gold and silver metallic threads. The version on the left is crocheted with narrow strips of silk georgette fabric bias cut 1cm wide and used as yarn. The version on the right uses wool/angora yarn. A chain of gold and silver metallic yarn is threaded through the crochet chain.
I’m also experimenting with adding pearls to the trim.
Finally, while sleuth shopping in Chanel boutiques, I found this jacket and was drawn to the unique use of ribbons and yarns in the weave. It’s listed for $$$ on EBay (untrimmed version) but stumbled across a VERY similar fabric on Etsy.
If you’re interested in a 6 day class focused on creating your own unique jacket and trim, join me in Palm Beach Gardens, FL from November 8-13, 2021. Details can be found in the shop under Classes.
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.
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.
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!
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