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.

French Jackets, Uncategorized

French Jackets and Custom Trim

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

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

One sleeve set  Shaped front

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

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

Unweaving yarns Trim Yarns plus silver

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

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

Practice trim

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

Trim weaving setup Finished Trim

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

Finished Jacket

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

Jacket Front with Trim Lila Jacket

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