Currently Reading and Viewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket by Claire Shaeffer

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.



Filed under Currently Reading, Currently Viewing, Sewing

15 responses to “Currently Reading and Viewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket by Claire Shaeffer

  1. Gail Ann Thompson

    Easier, perhaps,, but not as special.



    Can’t wait to see it when you gain momentum!


  3. Claire Shaeffer

    And the red might not match. It’s difficult to see that they are tucked on the jacket as well. Many thanks, Claire


  4. What a great concept for a book. I’ll have to look for it at the local library.
    I’ve recently stumbled upon some vintage Kenzo and Pauline Trigere dresses and while they’re ready to wear, it’s fascinating how fine construction and materials just jump out at you at the thrift store.


  5. Love the short little red stripe jacket…the tucking technique made the solid red cuffs, collar and around the waist firm and added another dimension to the jacket. I imagine the tucking is why the collar fold over so pretty. I think I will copy this idea…. I like it much. I had not seen tucking used/ done in this way. Thanks for sharing, Lizzie


  6. Susan G.

    Do keep us posted on your progress, however slow it seems to you. There are so many fine construction techniques that we only learn by handling great clothing, and even then we can’t usually take it apart. When doing alterations on existing garments, I’m often surprised by what I find “inside.” I read Claire Schaeffer’s last book just for the pleasure of seeing those photos of couture secrets.
    I grew up in the “pellon” era, and wasn’t introduced to the wonders of traditional animal hair interfacings until I worked for a very good tailor. (Real hair cloth or hair canvas can be shaped with steam.) And some fabrics — especially loose weaves — benefit from the extra body given by a silk organza flat lining; I think that’s a Chanel practice, but I also saw it used by the Barbara Matera costume house. Remember that fabulous ball gown for “Shall We Dance?” in The King & I? Those yards of fragile silk billowed and flowed because they were supported by a silk organza flat lining — carefully pre-shrunk, of course!
    I’m sure you’ll get great pleasure from your jacket project! Thanks for letting us share it!


  7. QueensGirl

    So funny, I happened upon the Mendel Goldberg fabric store last month. I’d read about Chanel-style jacket workshops and sew-alongs, and made a mental note to return when ready to undertake that project. The quality and selection of fabrics there is breathtaking to me; I had no idea the store existed. Then I saw your post about the Claire Schaeffer book, and decided to order a copy as well; seems like it’s as good a time as any to try!


  8. Pingback: Claire Schaeffer: Godmother of Haute Couture Sewing #2 | Jet Set Sewing

  9. Kay Bell

    Claire is the best ever….I owe everything I know about creating fine Jackets to Claire….greetings from Kay Bell


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