I’m tired of Coco, how about you?

Okay, here are a few last details of the construction of Chanel Jacket #4 that I’d like to add before moving onto my next, much more fun topic, a Coco Chanel vs. Madame Vionnet Smackdown! Are you working on a Chanel-style jacket right now? If so, leave me a comment; I’d love to hear about it.

1962 Chanel pattern released by Spadea

1962 Chanel pattern released by Spadea

As I mentioned before, this Spadea Chanel pattern from 1962 was drafted from a retail jacket, the design of which was licensed from Chanel by the US company Suzy Perette. This was a common practice back in the days before off-shore manufacturing. In fact, the pink suit worn by Jacqueline Kennedy on the tragic day of the assassination, though often attributed to Chanel, was actually a copy made in a New York haute couture boutique. Here’s a story about the historic preservation of that suit from the New York Times:


The instructions from the 1962 Spadea Chanel pattern I used were very thorough and old school in terms of construction. Though I had never made welt pockets before, by following the instructions they were a breeze.

Pocket welts

Pocket welts

I created the flaps, attached the pockets, sewed up the side panel seam, and voila, a pretty little pocket made of colorful lining. Though Chanel jackets don’t typically have vertical pockets like this, I have seen examples from this era.

Completed welt pockets

Welt pocket in progress

Let’s talk about the obsession with 3-part sleeves, shall we? The two godmothers of haute couture, Susan Khalje and Claire Shaeffer, both have their disciples make 3-part sleeves for their home-made Chanel jackets, so the sleeve has a graceful bend at the elbow and the vent is high enough on the cuff to show off the trim and buttons.

But the truth is, not all Chanel jackets have had three-part sleeves. In Claire Shaeffer’s new book, for example, she shows several vintage Chanel jackets with two-part sleeves. The Spadea pattern I used cleverly fakes the three-part sleeve with a one-part sleeve by putting some ease in the seam to give it the bend at the elbow. Then the vent is added by cutting a slash in the sleeve and adding a facing that goes around the cuff.

Sleeve facing

Sleeve facing

Whether this is the original Chanel design, or a change made by Suzy Perette for US manufacturing, we’ll never know. But it does work pretty well. It’s still time-consuming, but probably not as much of a hassle as building a three-part sleeve.

My last comment on the sleeve is that I added sleevehead under the sleeve cap and then steamed it on a sleeveboard like this, to give the sleeve cap a nice, round shape.

Shaping sleeve cap

Shaping sleeve cap

After lining the jacket, I added the trim, chain (cleverly woven into a 5/8″ tape–much easier to sew on), buttons, and button loops, then collapsed.

Finished cuff and chain

Finished cuff and chain

My blog has been visited by people from around the world and I appreciate you all. Even the spammer guy from Korea! What projects are you working on? Please leave me a comment and let me know.

10 thoughts on “I’m tired of Coco, how about you?

  1. The final result is fabulous! You deserve to rest 🙂
    I am working on my jacekt as well… almost finished. I have few lessons learned as well. Anyway I like this way of construction and I will make another jacket.

  2. Pingback: Weekend full of handstitching | Red Point Tailor

  3. I just discovered your blog through Sew Retro and I love the way you work with vintage patterns. Are you selling copies of that vintage Chanel pattern from Spadea? If so, I would really like to buy one. I have the Claire Shaeffer pattern from Vogue that I bought on Ebay in 2012. Thanks for sharing and hope to hear from you.

    • Hi Lamar, thanks stopping by. I’m currently not selling copies of this pattern, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. I have a few hurdles to get over, but I’ll keep you posted.

  4. Hi Lamar, thanks stopping by. I’m currently not selling copies of this pattern, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. I have a few hurdles to get over, but I’ll keep you posted.

  5. Hi JetSet Sewing: I adore your Chanel jacket and the work involved. I grew up in Milford, NJ, where the Spadea Pattern Co. had their sewing offices — located in a refurbished old water mill, right along the Delaware River. I remember the pretty wood floors, open spaces, and how creative the atmosphere was, from the few times I visited, at about age 10-13 or so.

    Friends of my Mother’s worked there, and sewed the patterns for test copies. I always envied them because of the beautiful clothing they made, plus they were great sewing people!

    I used to spend hours (it seemed) looking at the Spadea pattern catalogues and booklets that somehow we were given. The clothing seemed so dreamy, and well, fashionable.

    IF you sell a copy of your Spadea Chanel #2182 pattern, please let me know. I’m very interested. I would love to make one of these. I also have Claire Schaeffer’s jacket book, dvd, but haven’t tackled it yet.

    I appreciate hearing that you enrolled in a Craftsy class on Couture Techniques, that is probably posted on Pattern Review.

    Many thanks for posting your Chanel jacket blog here.

    • Hi Meg, I loved hearing your recollections about Spadea! That company has a fascinating history, and the patterns are fantastic. I’ll definitely let you know if I’ve decided to release copies of the Chanel pattern.

  6. Ok, I understand you may be tired of the Chanel-like or, French Jacket. Wellll! I’m just getting started. So, I’m asking you to please provde more information about weaving the 5/8″ ribbon into the chain. Please?
    Too, the beautiful picture you provided on this part if your jacket, at the end if the article, looks as if the woven chain was placed over black ribbon. Is this the case?

    • Wow, that was a flashback! I had to look at the picture again to remember how it worked. I actually bought this chain as is, already attached to the ribbon. (I think it was from Mood in L.A.) I thought I was being clever, but actually the chain attached to the ribbon made it stiff. If you look at the jacket I made recently, I used another chain pre-sewn to a ribbon (from Paris) but it was stiff, too, so I had to trim away the ribbon. Bottom line, it’s a pain to sew on the chain by hand, but it’s the best way to go in the end.

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