Monday, January 10, 2011

Good Chanel, Bad Chanel

I took a great online class for Stitch and Flip jacket techniques from the late, great, wonderful Shannon Gifford who taught for years through  Because of her clever techniques for sewing linings and fashion fabrics together, I was able to create comfortable, almost sweater like jackets with her technique.  Here's the progression of successful ones (I use my basic Simplicity #4256 and just modify it for each version.)
First stitch and flip done with piping and facings
Silk tweed also done with facings and piping
First "real, faux-Chanel" with no facings and fully "quilted"

In autumn of 2009 I joined my first sew along blog, Go Chanel or Go Home and loved seeing others make various versions of the iconic Chanel jacket.  I love this one the most.  I think the colors are good for me, it's comfortable and can be casual or dressy depending on accessories.
Go Chanel or Go Home blog sew along version

So what happened next?
I was feeling confident and excited to work on my next version last spring, while here in Florida.  Ok, maybe more than confident, perhaps a little cocky and full of myself:-)  Result ....Mon Dieu, bad Chanel jacket.
Yikes, Coco would not be happy with me.
I decided that I know so much more now, I'll improve upon the method that Shannon taught and do this one a little bit more my way.  Ha!!  Joke's on me.
Rather than block fuse the fabric with lightweight knit interfacing, which I had done for every other jacket above, I decided to use silk organza as the underlining.  Yes, I hand basted the silk organza to each of the eight pattern pieces, but only in the seam allowances and I think that was my big mistake.  The trick to the stitch and flip technique (also described in issue 111 of Threads magazine) is creating a sandwich of fashion fabrics right sides together then lining pieces right sides together, stitch the center back seam, press open, trim the seam to 1/4" then top stitch.  By adding that layer of silk organza, just as fiddly and wonky as Ambiance lining fabric, I gave the now six layers more opportunity to get ever so slightly off grain.  I made my way around the jacket to the front, then hand basted the bias strips of fabric on the outside and tried on the jacket....ugh....see that wonky pulling in the back?  I was heartily PO'd last spring when I saw it.  Put it on hanger in the sewing room thinking I would get back to it and never did.
The nice part about leaving for 5 months is that when I came back this year I had some emotional distance from this project.  First of all the fabric is not flattering on me.  Lovely silk tweed but in a bright mix of colors that don't complement how fair I am.  As of today, I've taken the trim off, done some trimming and pressing and will give it one more try before totally abandoning it.  

Plenty of sewing lessons here.

  • Pick fabrics that flatter you or you may not enjoy wearing that project you spent so much time sewing.
  • Follow the directions until you understand fully what deviations will provide new challenges.  I believe that I could have prevented this from happening if I had hand basted that organza along several parallel grain lines....and with that much hand basting would have decided to block fuse after all.
  • Put that annoying or disappointing project away until you can analyze what didn't work and turn it into a sewing lesson.  For the more mature among you, that may be a short time....takes me longer to get over my frustration.
  • Don't give up.  Sewing has many great results....garments that fit and flatter and wonderful friendships along the way.

 Ok, requisite dog pictures and update.  Lucky is showing his true terrier side, some stubbornness and willfulness starting to display.  He's quite good at responding to correction....but I'll admit it's wearing me out a little just monitoring him.  Definitely like being proud of your baby walking.....and realizing, whoops, be careful what you wish for:-)  DH and I are the ones who have to agree on what's acceptable and what's not and how to be consistent.  We made some mistakes early on with Sam the basenji and I  don't want to repeat those again. Good news is that the two boys walk wonderfully on leashes together now and started playing together which is wonderful exercise for both.  I'm channeling my inner pack leader (yes, I adore the Dog Whisperer and his advice is in my head all of Lucky's waking hours.)  Tomorrow's the big groomer and vet day so he'll be sore and quiet for a while but I bet he'll be back to his perky self soon.


  1. Wonderful array of jackets! Learning from our mistakes is the only way to keep on going.

  2. Lovely Channel! I bought the ingredients to make your soup. Just in time too because we are on winter lock down for a few days. Thank you for following my blog!!!!

  3. You have made some very pretty jackets here. I really like the one you made for the sew along too. The color does look perfect on you.


Love your comments, opinions, advice and questions. I just ask that we all "play nice."