You might remember that when I last visited New York, I bought fabric with which to make a Chanel-type jacket. Any really serious sewer would have the jacket finished by now, and to tell the truth, I’ve not even started. Part of the reason I put this project off was because I was waiting for the publication of Claire Shaeffer’s latest project, The Couture Cardigan Jacket: Sewing secrets from a Chanel collector.
Claire has spent years examining Chanel garments, figuring out the special techniques that make the work of the house so distinctive. Many of these techniques have been shared in her earlier work, Couture Sewing Techniques. This latest book is more about the special assembly of the Chanel jacket. Also included are an in depth chronology of the House of Chanel and a close look at the jackets in Claire’s collection.
When I got the book this week, I sat down and read it all the way through. I wanted to know exactly what I’d gotten myself into. Then, today I watched the video. It is a great accompaniment to the book, as watching the sewing being done cleared up any questions I had after the reading. I suggest that anyone who gets the book take it chapter by chapter, so as not to be overwhelmed as I was.
As with all of Claire’s books, you do not have to be a sewer to find the contents valuable. But in this case, you do have to really want to know more about how the Chanel jacket is constructed. Any lover of couture who has a special interest in construction needs to add this to his or her library.
What is it that makes couture so appealing and special? This 1960s Chanel jacket is an example of the attention to detail that goes into couture. The collar, cuffs and lower edge of the jacket appear to have been made from solid red fabric, but upon examination you find that the red areas were formed by stitching tucks to conceal the beige stripe. Even in the close-up photos it was hard to see where the tucks had been taken. It would have been much easier to have cut these areas out of red fabric.