Fabric shopping in Paris and…Steampunk Chanel?

Hello again, friends. Having been forcibly removed from Paris by train and coerced by family members into days of sliding down an Alp on a couple of laminated boards, which was then followed by slumber-inducing 5-course French meals, I haven’t had the opportunity to update you about the Paris sewing outpost that puts the FAB! in “fabric”.


In a previous post, I wrote about last year’s visit to Janssens et Janssens during which I pounced on the remnant table and then attempted to move into the place permanently, as I had basically spent the mortgage before I left.image

Like mecca, I had to return. Feast your eyes on those delicious tweeds.imageimageimage

Silks and Italian wools:


The fancy stuff’s in the basement.image

And the trims!image

I found a couple of trims that have chains woven into them. So much easier to sew on if you’re making a French jacket:



All of these things pictured can be found at Janssens et Janssens, at 3-5 rue d’Anjou, at the corner of rue Faubourg St. Honore (janssensparis.com). While I was there, I bumped into another American blogger and fellow Chanel jacket obsessor, Mary, of the blog “Cloning Couture.” She’s already whipped up a pretty spiffy tweed jacket, and I’ll be watching her blog to see what she makes from her Janssens haul.

So now after my nightly couple three glasses of wine, I’ve had time to reflect on the year ahead. I’m going to move on to American Look designers! I’m going to make things that are easy and fun! I’m going to endeavor to make a dent in my massive fabric stash, and in the meantime, not buy anymore!

But really what I’m thinking is…the minute my feet hit the ground back in Paris, I am running to Janssens et Janssens, to get me some black tweed. See, I bought some antique brass snap tape at Bon Marche, and the grosgrain with brass chain imbedded in it at Janssens (above), and well, I think it’s time to bring the funk to Chanel.

I’m talking a Steampunk Chanel jacket. Steampunk is a look cooked up by people who got tired of being punk or goth or anime or whatever and came up with this Buck Rogers meets Wild Wild West (60s TV show that’s impossible to explain) look where they dress like Edwardian aviators or motorists and decorate their iPads with antique watch  parts. It’s a great look for the guys, though the women tend to look more like Liza Doolittle (pre-makeover), “Little House” schoolmarms or Miss Kitty, the saloon girl from Gunsmoke, and I say this knowing I’m going to get in trouble with the entire Steampunk community for this post. Just google it. I’ve got to hand it to the Steampunk people, though, they really get their sewing on.

As a vintage sewing hack I was thrilled when my son wanted to be Steampunk for Halloween, and in the midst of cranking through Chanel jacket #4, I powered down and made him a Steampunk vest, in the course of which, I learned to bag a lining. From a Big Four costume pattern!


Chanel herself was plenty Steampunk, what with the Liza Doolittle hats and layers of hardware. And Lagerfeld, well, all you have to do is make his outfit sepia-toned and he’s good to go.

So the jacket of my reverie is going to be black, with antique brass snap tape to hold it together, and a brass chain tape at the bottom. It will need a lining that’s either Beaux Arts flowery or maybe 20s Singapore Chinoise. Will I try to bag it and then quilt it? Or stitch the whole thing together wrong sides together and fringe the raw seams then quilt it? (like I did in Chanel jacket #3, my “fake it till you make it” Astronaut Wives Club raw silk job) And the trim, the trim, hmmmmm… this is how I get in fabric trouble.

Was I dreaming? I believe that if you’re in your mid-fifties and still doing vintage (and honey, I was a 40s pin-up in the 70s, when old clothes first became “vintage”, and young Bette Midler was singing “Company B”), vintage needs to be a) wearable in public, and b) not too costumey. And it can’t look like it’s still in your closet from way back when.

And when you make a Chanel jacket repro, you do run the risk of looking like granny having brunch at the country club. So you’ve got to funk it up.

Steampunk Chanel. Of course! All of those chains and faux baubles, so Machine Age. Another glass of wine and I’ll have figured out that trim. What do you think; should I go for it?

11 thoughts on “Fabric shopping in Paris and…Steampunk Chanel?

  1. Hello happy new year . Perhaps you could use safety pins as closures? Where is this store with the great trims ? I am going be in Paris in September and am in the 3rd arrondissement . Your plans have inspired me .i promised my niece a c jacket for her 18th and it is now close to her 19 th . I have the fabric a blue black soft Chanel tweed and I have done the toile and got the fit right so really could move ahead but the trim thing has me a bit stumped . She wants just fringing so maybe I should just go with that . I have some red and white checked lining in silk bit am worried about the quilting as it would need to be in black or very dark navel . I had thought about quilting into silk organza and doing the lining over that . What do you think ? Also the buttons . It’s so hard to decide . I might just use hooks

  2. Hi Marianne, I think safety pins are a great idea. Steampunk and punk at the same time.
    Your niece is a lucky girl, and that jacket will be worth the wait. All of the trims and fabrics in this post are from Janssens et Janssens, which is on the rue d’anjou right off of rue St. Honore, which I believe is in the 1st arr. (a block from Hermes). Personally I think the method where you quilt to organza then line separately is easier to control and makes a stronger jacket than the traditional lining onto fabric method, but it’s a matter of opinion. If you go that route, I suggest watching Susan Khalje’s Couture Dress course on Craftsy.com, as she walks you through the whole thing. There are a number of articles on the Threads Magazine website by Claire Shaeffer regarding cuffs and trims, so that’s a good place to look for inspiration.

    • Marianne, I just double-checked the address of Janssens et Janssens, and it’s 3-5 rue d’Anjou, at the corner of rue du Faubourg St. Honore, in the 8th arr. near Place de la Concorde. I hope you make it there in the spring!

  3. Hey, just read your description of steampunk and it did make me chuckle. Arguably the easiest way to describe steampunk is Victorian Science Fiction. It’s looking at today as the Victorians would have seen it 100 years ago in their imaginations. It’s not just sticking watch parts on an iPad (although I’m certain some are guilty of that), it’s making the iPad look as though it’s powered by clockwork (although that falls more under clockpunk) or steam. Even if additions are defunct, they need to at least LOOK like they work. :O)
    Take a look at my site if you want to know more. I’m UK based which is more based on Victorian London while US steampunks are more Wild West – though NOT Buck Rogers. ;O)

    • Hi Matthew, thanks for taking the time to give me some clarification on the basis of Steampunk, and being a good sport about my flip comments. Some of the homemade steampunk outfits I’ve seen online are amazing works of sewing.
      Now, can you give me some advice? If the quintessential Chanel “little black jacket” looks like this, http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/23/go-for-broke-chanel-jacket-4710/?_r=0 what can I do to make a steampunk version? I realize that it’s more of an early-mid-20th century design so it may not work, but I’ll take any thoughts.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I love the idea of a Steampunk/Chanel jacket. And I really agree with your comment: “…you do run the risk of looking like granny having brunch at the country club.”

    I’m looking forward to following your sewing this year. I’m thinking of some Bonnie Cashin inspired things myself.

    And that store’s inventory is incredible!

    • Thanks, Lizzie! How’s your jacket going? Maybe you could put some Bonnie Cashin turnlocks on it to make it more steampunk. Actually I bought some brass shoe hooks and rings for my upcoming Claire McCardell projects that would look pretty great as closures too. I’m looking forward to getting back to my sewing machine.

    • Carmen, I blame you and everyone else commenting on this post for causing me to buy some black Italian wool tweed at Janssens et Janssens today for another you-know-what. All black this time, maybe even the lining. I’ve already named it “The Kaiser”, which is Lagerfeld’s nickname. We’ll see if it ends up being steampunk.

      • I will take no blame for this! You are an addict and if this goes on any longer, we’ll do an intervention (in which we will raid your stash and make RTW copies of your copies!)

      • Carmen, you are so right, I admit that I have a Chanel jacket problem. In the coming year I swear to enter rehab at the School of Quick and Sloppy Sewing, but in the meantime, I need you to tell me how to bag a lining as I think I’ll trying bagging and then quilting on this one. And it’s the last one, honest!

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