I purchased this lovely boucle fabric from Apple Annie Fabrics and started experimenting with custom braids to compliment the fabric. Possible choices of materials: navy cotton tulle, gray silk georgette, chunky ivory and charcoal yarns to stuff tubing, gray yarns, ivory with flecks of gold yarn and thin silver metallic yarn.
First step was to make narrow bias tubing using the tulle and georgette. Cut bias strips of fabric about 1.5 inches wide. Fold in half lengthwise and stitch 1/4 inch away from folded edge. Trim seam to 1/8 inch.
To turn the fabric tube, insert the largest brass tube (available here) that will comfortable fit inside the tube. Gather the tube of fabric onto the tube.
Thread a length of sturdy thread that is at least twice as long as the brass tube. Stitch through one end of the fabric tube and pull thread ends so they are even and make a loop. Pass the cut ends of thread through the tube. When they emerge from the other end, pull gently on both threads. The fabric tube will easily turn right side out.
Pin the right side out tube to your ironing surface, pulling gently to stretch the fabric. Steam gently while pulling; don’t rest the full weight of the iron on the fabric tube. You don’t want to flatten it.
Reinsert the brass tube into the right side out fabric tube and gather the tube onto the brass tube.
Take the heavy thread, cut ends together, and insert into the tube. Pull through until there is a loop on one end. Loop the chunky yarn through the loop and pull gently. The yarn will be pulled through the brass tube. Holding yarn and fabric tube, pull and the yarn will go through the fabric tube, filling it out.
I repeated this using navy tulle and filled it with ivory yarn. The gray georgette was filled with dark yarn. Gently steam and stretch both fabric tubes.
I made a three strand braid using one length of gray georgette, one length of navy tulle filled with light yarn and one length of ivory sequins on a thread chain.
To give a more finished look to the braid, I wanted a crocheted edge along both sides of the braid. None of the yarns in my stash were exactly right, so I un-wove several inches (on the crosswise grain) of fabric.
I chose one yarn and combined it with the thin metallic silver yarn to work a single crochet in each loop of the braid. Chain 1 between each single crochet. The yarns from the fabric were 54 inches long (width of the fabric) but can easily be tied together and the knot positioned on the wrong side. Work the yarn tails into the wrong side and clip.
Completed trim. The sequins show more yellow in this photo. It is a perfect match IRL. I also love that the trims created by this method are soft and flexible. They can be turned at a right angle without any puckering.
Here’s another trim version I considered. I used the navy tulle cord threaded through a crocheted base and added chain stitching around the edge. The samples are quick to make and allow you to preview before committing to a long length.
Here’s the step by step method I used to create this custom trim for a fabric from Linton Tweeds. I used a sport weight black yarn which had a fine strand of silver thread running through. I made knitted tubing with fine linen yarn using the Embellish Knit device mentioned in the last post. The yarn tube was filled with a soft thicker dark charcoal yarn. Finally a line of metallic silver chain stitches in the center of the braid.
I use this crocheted base as a starting point for many trims. It’s very simple to make. I make a sample using about 30 stitches to test yarn combinations, yarn weights and stitches before committing to a long length. If you’re creating trim for a jacket, I would suggest doing trim for the sleeves in one length, all the pockets as another length, and finally enough to do neckline, fronts and hem if desired. The trim is very soft and can be pieced if necessary.
Here’s an illustration of two variations of the stitch pattern. Chain a length as long as you want. Keep the stitches loose; you can also make the chain with a larger hook to avoid pulling the stitches too tight. Then switch to a hook 1-2 sizes smaller. I make the lengths several inches longer than needed to avoid running short. Chain 4 more stitches. Turn. Make double crochet in the 4th stitch from the hook. Chain 1. Skip one stitch on the chain and make double crochet. Chain 1. Repeat to the end.
To make the double crochet bars closer together, you can work a double crochet in every stitch and omit the chain stitch between the double crochets. Experiment to see which look you prefer.
Samples of both variations worked in bulky yarn.
For the braid shown in this post, I used the second version (double crochet worked every stitch). It doesn’t show well in black.
Next, I used the Embellish Knit (available on Amazon) and thin beige linen yarn to knit a cord twice the length of the crochet base plus several inches. The weight supplied with the knitted wasn’t heavy enough to pull the yarn over the tiny latch hooks. I’ve discovered the key to success with this knitter is fine relatively smooth yarn, adequate weight to pull the stitches over the latch hooks and turning the hand crank slowly until the stitches start forming. A surgical clamp with several large washers works well. Add or subtract washers until the stitches form easily.
The resulting cord measured about 1/4 inch in width. I though it would add additional interest to fill the cord with a contrasting color yarn. I chose a tube (https://cloning-couture.com/products/trim-tubes ) which looked small enough to thread through the center of the knitted cord and large enough to allow the fill yarn to pass through.
Although the brass tube will feed through the center of the knitted tube, it’s easier to insert a crochet hook, hook side first. The crochet hook will stop at the wider thumb rest, creating a slightly rounded end. Insert the crochet hook end through one of the stitches in the tube and feed the brass tube through the middle of the knit tube. The knitted tube will likely be longer than the brass tube. Allow the excess to bunch up.
Next take a length of heavy thread about 30 inches long, fold in half and insert the cut ends into one end of the brass tube. Push the thread through until the ends emerge from the opposite end. Pull the thread until a loop remains on the end. Insert the fill yarn through the loop and pull the cut ends of the thread, pulling the fill yarn into the brass tube.
Holding the fill yarn and knitted cord in one hand, gently pull the brass tube back, leaving the fill yarn inside the knitted cord. Ease the scrunched up knitted cord towards the tube end and continue pulling until the entire length of knitted cord is filled.
Don’t try and make 5 yards of trim in one shot. I measure the positions I want to use the braid and work in manageable sections. I like to do the shorter lengths first and longer sections after a bit of practice. If I’m doing a very long section, maybe for a jacket neckline, fronts and hem, I’ll make the crochet base and cording in one long length and do the next step of weaving starting at the center and working out to both ends.
Next, select the smallest tube that the now filled knit cord will pass through and weave the tube in and out through the bars of the crochet base.
Use heavy thread as before to pull the filled knitted cord through the brass tube. Hold both crochet base and filled cord in one hand and gently pull brass tube out, leaving the knitted cord woven through. To secure the cut ends of knitted cord, wrap with thin yarn or thread, tie and cut.
Use the blunt end of a crochet hook and force the cording to one side of the base. Thread the brass rod alternating the previous weave, as shown. Remove the brass rod.
I wanted the black edges a tiny bit more defined, so added a row of chain stitching to both edges using the same black sport yarn and a size E (3.5mm) hook. I also used thin silver metallic yarn and size D (3.25mm) hook to make a line of chain stitches along the middle if the braid.
Final braid is very light and flexible. I’ve pinned to the fabric and even without any steaming or stitching, it turns a tight right angle without any bunching or thickness. To invisibly join edges I steam heavily placing the edge of the iron at exactly the point I want the braid to turn under. Place a clapper, edge of clapper on the line which will be turned and allow to cool. You want to completely flatten the braid which will turn under and not flatten the braid which will be seen. Secure the cut edges with a couple of rows of machine stitching or narrow strip of light fusible interfacing.
Trim used on RTW Chanel jackets is thin, light and flexible. Most pre-made trims available are heavier and won’t navigate tight curves this easily. Here’s a view of several jackets I took during a pre-COVID shopping trip. Notice how the trim curves easily in the pockets. I’ll show my method for recreating this version in the next post. Thanks for reading.
I received a comment suggesting that the fill cord could be added while knitting the cord, eliminating the step to insert fill yarn after the cord was finished. I had experimented with this in the past but did more testing to determine if it would work. This is what I found. You can do short lengths but the knitted cord spirals as it is formed, causing the fill to twist. You can untwist the fill for several inches but when working a length longer than about 10 inches, it becomes difficult. You also need to watch carefully that the fill cord stays in the center and doesn’t get caught on the latch hooks. It’s worth a try.
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.
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.
Dress is finally finished and I’m very happy with the finished result. I’ve also posted the progress of this dress on a few private Facebook groups and have many requests for detailed instructions explaining how I created the trim.
First, here’s some photos of the finishing details. Rather than attach the lining at the armseye seam, I took a tip from Valentino (this technique is often used) and bound the armseye of the lining with narrow bias cut from the silk crepe de chine. French tacks keep the lining in place and allow for easy movement. A thin shoulder pad is also covered with silk crepe.
Gutermann gimp and silk twist for loads of handworked buttonholes. I’ve read that Gutermann no longer produces gimp but I’ve managed to find a supply so click on the link if you’re interested. It does help produce very professional buttonholes.
Trim: here’s my process for creating this braid to match the boucle fabric. Finding this pre-made would have been impossible so there was no choice but to invent. I started with orange, turquoise and lilac silk double georgette. Cut bias strips 1.5 inches wide. Tissue paper is an immense help in taming slippery, stretchy silk. I put a layer of tissue on the cutting mat; tape in place. Place first layer of silk on top, square the grain and tape in place. A second layer of tissue paper next. Then the second color of silk. Another layer of tissue; third color of silk. Interesting that the turquoise and lilac silk ripped cleanly on the crossgrain but the orange refused to do so. All were ordered from Emma One Sock who carries a wide range of colors. A final layer of tissue paper covers all. A rotary cutter allows cutting without moving any of the layers but you can use loads of pins and scissors. I use my collection of antique irons to hold everything down.
Fold the bias strips in half and stitch a scant 1/4 inch away from the folded edge. Trim the seam allowance to about 3/16 inch and turn the tube right side out. A narrow brass hollow rod makes turning the narrow tube easier. I thread a large tapestry needle with sturdy thread. Take a stitch in one end of the fabric tube. Drop the threaded needed through the brass rod and pull gently. The fabric tube will easily turn right side out as it passes through the rod. I don’t try and make trim in one long length for the entire dress. I’ll do the hem in one length, another for collar and maybe one pocket, a third length for other pocket and sleeve hems. Pin the fabric tube to your ironing surface, pull gently and steam. You want to stretch the fabric and create a narrow tube of fabric. Try and keep the seam from twisting.
Thread the turned tubes of fabric back onto the metal tube. Using the tapestry needle, attach thread to a length of yarn (worsted weight wool yarn is soft and springy; works well). Pull on the thread to pass the yarn through the tube. Pull both fabric and yarn together to create a tube of silk fabric filled with yarn. The yarn adds a little loft and volume to the fabric but is still light and flexible. The goal is to keep the trim soft and easy to shape.
The brass tubes are similar to another product: Fasturn tubes, available on Amazon. The Fasturn tubes have larger sizes but I needed tiny tubes for this. I’ve sourced the tubes in sizes from 3/32 inch to 8/32 (1/4) and may offer the set if there is sufficient interest. Set of 6 tubes would include 3/32, 4/32, 5/32, 6/32, 7/32 and 8/32 inch. I used the 7/32 size for this project and have additional trim tutorials in the works which utilize more sizes. Let me know in comments if you’re interested.
Secure ends of three strands (one of each color) with a short machine stitch. Use a standard three strand pattern to braid the strands together. Secure the ends with machine stitching.
Next I added a row of single crochet along both sides of the braid. Make a slip knot in the yarn. Insert into a loop of braid. Make single crochet. Single crochet in each loop of braid. I created custom lengths of braid for pockets, sleeve hems, collar and lower hem. Start a couple of inches short of the length you need. Crochet to where you want the braid to end. Make two single crochet stitches in the same loop of braid; that will form a corner. Rotate the braid and make one single crochet along the short side, then two single crochet stitches in the loop on other side of braid for the second corner. Work down the opposite side. Double check you have the desired length, turn another corner and work back to starting point. Joining the yarn along the straight edge is easier and less conspicuous than doing it at a corner. Overlap the yarn and secure with regular sewing thread and small stitches.
To complete, chain stitch around using metallic thread. Keep the chain stitches fairly loose. I’ve attached a couple of videos. This actually takes longer to describe than to do. The first video demonstrates how to add the single crochet border; second video the chain stitch. Note that the chain stitch is done through only one loop of the underlying row.
For the backyard wedding, I wanted something easy, yet elegant. When you’re the resident dress designer/maker, showing up in something not of your own creation doesn’t work! I had my hands full with the bride, mother of bride, bridesmaids, etc. but managed to crank out a tunic style dress with Coco (and Karl) in mind.
My starting point was fabric from the Haute Couture section of Mendel Goldberg Fabrics. I chose a wonderful French boucle highlighted with tiny sequins woven into the fabric. With careful planning, the dress required only one yard of fabric; here is what was left over.
I used my basic pattern block and made the following adjustments. If you start with another tunic style pattern, and want to get this look, make sure your pattern has a high, jewel neckline. If your pattern has a lower neckline, the collar might be too large and will stand away from the neck.
Close the armhole and shoulder darts, combining them into the underarm dart. Angle the new underarm dart towards the lower edge.
I chose to eliminate the front fisheye darts and transfer some of the dart shaping to the side seam. The bib placket drops from just outside the neck edge to the bust line. I played with shaping the bib wider at the top and tapering slightly but that design created a problem with trim placement. Having the bib placket the same width from top to bottom allowed the trim rows to be evenly spaced. The back was used as is with fisheye darts. The shoulder dart will be eased. The skirt was pegged about 3/4 inch from low hip line to hem.
Next I drafted a collar and stand. Some drafting books suggest curving the collar stand about 1/2 inch but I find the stand will hug the back neck better if more shaping is used. I’ll increase the curvature of the stand by shaping with a steam iron.
All collar pieced are cut from cardboard which will help when pressing. I’ve also cut a collar lining pattern 1/8 inch smaller to keep the undercollar out of sight. The Curve Runner makes measuring curved edges easy; very helpful when drafting collars to fit the neck.
The cardboard helps when pressing seam allowances under and ensures the collar is perfectly symmetrical. Fell stitch the under collar to upper collar.
Pressing over cardboard also helps shape the collar stand. I used satin faced organza to line the collar, stand and as a base fabric for the bib. This organza is more opaque and stiffer than regular silk organza and is harder to shape into a smooth curve.
Designing trims for the placket was the most fun part. I used the same satin faced organza as a base fabric and applied multiple layers of ribbons and braids. Most were sewn on by hand to maintain a soft, couture feel.
I had some leftover tweed from Linton. I save my scraps of tweeds and boucles as there is often wonderful trim hiding in the fabric. Linton fabrics are woven with continuous strands so un-weaving produces a long continuous length of trim. I also used the fringed selvedges from the French boucle. Also found great buttons!!!
I had just enough scraps to cut bias strips for a hem fringe. Two layers of cotton batting padded the center. A blunt tapestry needle helps to un-weave the edges.
Finished! Here’s a glimpse of the inside. Silk crepe de chine fell stitched to armseyes and placket. Side zip makes it easy to get into.
Next post will detail the design and construction of the bride’s outfit.
This jacket was inspired from a Chanel couture collection. For the jacket body I used a lovely open weave boucle from Mendel Goldberg Fabrics. The fabric is a very open weave and needed to be backed with another fabric for construction. I used a lightweight ivory wool crepe and quilted the two fabrics together along horizontal stitching lines. Thank goodness I used quite a bit of steam on the fabrics before quilting as the boucle tightened up with steam.
Wide seam allowances prevent too skimpy seams and the walking foot kept the layers from shifting during the quilting process.
The fun part of this jacket was designing the sleeves. I used two layers of silk organza as a base for the trim. Scouring NYC’s garment district turned up nothing for a ruffled trim. I had planned on using butterfly pleated organza ribbon but absolutely no one had any. One store offered placing a custom order but the minimum was 100 yards and 6-8 weeks time frame. No choice but to make it.
I decided polyester organza would actually work better than silk. Silk fabric creases and presses much better than polyester but I wanted the ruffles to hold their shape so the wiry nature of polyester was an advantage. I cut strips of organza along the lengthwise grain and finished the edges with a narrow ziz-zag stitch; stitch width of 1.8mm and length of 0.5mm on my machine worked well. The strips were gathered down the center and drawn up to a 2:1 fullness.
A narrow beige ribbon layered with gold tubular yarn from Linton was sewn down the center with a serpentine ( width 5.0, length 1.25) stitch.
The garment district did yield several suitable trims, including a gorgeous sequin banding. The double organza sleeve was sewn along the back seam, leaving the less obvious front seam open. Seam and hem lines had been thread traced to ensure the trim fit the finished sleeve. Trim was arranged, keeping the sequined trim and ruffles out of the underarm area. The sequin banding was catch stitched on the wrong side to prevent sagging as the jacket was worn.
Excess sequins removed from the seam allowances and ends of the braids are steamed and flattened before sewing the seam.
The black jacket is also complete. Fringe from the selvages was paired with a soft, flexible braid. I opted for a custom made zipper from Botani. They use Lampo (Italian) zippers and you can choose tooth color, tape color, pull and length. The small 3mm size works well for this.
Next project is a Chanel inspired summer tunic and playing with more trims. Thanks for reading.
Thank you all for the many comments and compliments about this jacket. The finishing details are what sets French jackets apart and make this jacket unique. In addition to the custom trim, French jackets feature hand worked buttonholes, sleeves are set by hand, countless tiny stitches secure the lining and a metal chain inside the jacket allow it to drape perfectly when worn.
I think the sleeves are actually easier to set by hand and would be almost impossible to do by machine due to the unique construction methods. Although it would be easier to sew the armseye seam through all layers, I find joining only the outer fabrics together before hand basting the lining in place gives a softer, more fluid feel.
Here’s an inside view of the armseye seam. Probably one if the messiest times in jacket construction. Yes, I used Pro Sheer Elegance Couture interfacing which was fused the jacket sections. It’s extremely lightweight, flexible and doesn’t change the drape of the tweed. Linton actually recommends doing this with their more loosely woven fabrics. I’ve serged the edges of the tweed with a wide stitch but finished the seams of the lining with a narrow two thread stitch using fine thread. I like Gutermann Skala 360-U81, Invisafil by Wonderfil Threads, or 80 weight Maderia or Aurifil cotton. I use two strands of regular sewing thread, waxed and pressed, to set the sleeve. I sew the top part from the right side using tiny fell stitches and the underarm portion from the inside with a backstitch.
Notice at the point where the shoulder seam meets the sleeve seam, the seam allowances haven’t been caught but are allowed to float free. This allows the seam to press more smoothly and feels less rigid. I’ve not included the sleeve lining; I feel I get a better result by joining only two layers of fabric at one time.
I create a sleeve head from cotton batting. Cut about 2.5 inches wide and 7 inches long. Fold along a long side about 1.5 inches from the edge, pull along the folded edge while steam pressing to curve. The folded edge is sewn along the armseye seam at the sleeve cap to provide additional shape and support.
Baste the sleeve lining just inside the armseye seam and trim away the excess fabric. I’ve struggled with getting the lining over the sleeve cap evenly if the jacket is lying flat. I’ve found it much easier to turn the jacket inside out and place on my dress form with a sleeve form attached. Now the jacket and sleeve are supported and it’s easier to manipulate the lining into position.
Pin along the seam and sew a line of tiny running stitches. Pull the gathering thread up to fit and tie a tailors knot at each end. Trim off the excess and the fabric will fold under easily along the gathering line. I set the sleeve cap first, baste, then remove the jacket from the form. The lining at the underarm is brought up and around the seam allowances.
I had originally planned for front buttons, but decided I liked the look of trim without buttons, and considered a front zipper. Botani Trimming in NYC makes custom zippers and does mail order. You select the zipper tooth size, length, color and pull. The zipper arrives in a few days and they even had chain for the hem. Finding the right zipper in a local shop would have been impossible. Just as an interesting side note, Botani sells Lampo zippers. They are made in Italy and the same brand that Chanel uses!
How to deal with the lining? I could have folded it back past the zipper teeth and stitched into place but that left the zipper teeth exposed on the inside of the jacket. In true couture fashion, I wanted to cover up that metal. Placing a length of ribbon inside the fold beefed up the edge of the silk charmeuse so it would be less likely to catch on the zipper pull. This was one time when that rigid, slightly raised edge on polyester ribbon was useful. Now zipper teeth are concealed, both inside and out.
The dreaded buttonholes next. Machine made buttonholes lack the couture finish this jacket needed. I’ve experimented with countless ways to improve my hand worked version. I’ve found that sewing around the buttonhole before cutting, especially in a fabric such as this, helps tremendously to keep the layers together. Marking and sewing this manually on the machine requires much twisting and turning of the fabric so I searched for an easier way. My machine sews a square buttonhole using a straight stitch so I tried that, stitching around the buttonhole twice, once at a narrow width and again a little wider.
Looks OK but I didn’t like the thread buildup at the beginning and end (impossible to stop the machine from knotting the threads) plus I really wanted a keyhole buttonhole.
My Bernina does embroidery and I have digitizing software so I created a template for the buttonholes. I hooped a square of heavy muslin, stitched out the placement lines for the sleeve; then cut out a window so the stitching wouldn’t get caught on the muslin. The sleeve was pinned onto the muslin. Working wrong side up worked better. The sleeve was easier to place and keep the fabric clear of the stitching area, plus the embroidery foot wouldn’t get snagged on the loose fibers of the tweed. The embroidery software will insert buttonholes automatically, but I wasn’t able to adjust the shape and stitch length satisfactorily. I also wasn’t able to do the double rows. Mirror the image for the other sleeve and remember to cut another window so your muslin doesn’t get stitched to the fabric.
There are several YouTube videos showing hand worked buttonholes if you need a review. I worked under a magnifying light and tried to keep the buttonhole stitches just inside the second row of machine stitching. It provided a nice guide for straight, narrow stitches. Buttonholes aren’t easy and most people say they need to work a hundreds before somewhat mastering the art. I’m always trying to make mine better but these aren’t bad.
I’ve been inspired by the photos of sheath dresses with matching jackets ( Helen Haughey’s class looked wonderful) so that’s next in the sewing lineup. Thanks for reading.
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.