Almost two months after starting work, I’m happy to say that my “French Couture” jacket is finished. Well, almost anyway. I wore it today for the first time, and there is a bit of tweaking I want to do. First, I’m going to put a large hook at the collar so I can fasten it. Also, I’m going to do another dart of shaping on the front. And the fringe needs a bit more cleaning up.
Of all the dozens of tasks associated with this jacket, by far the most time consuming was the making of the fringe. I love the way it looks, but I’m really glad I did not know how long it was going to take to make so much of it. And I thought I had it trimmed nicely, but you can see how shaggy it is after I wore it. I probably need to take a wide-tooth comb to get all the yarns straight before another trimming.
I decided on two pockets, which are perfect for a cell phone and a twenty dollar bill.
I’m glad I added the collar. I think it gives the jacket a more casual look.
That silk is so beautiful, but so slippery. I know that if I were to ever have to work in a couture atelier, I’d be in the tailleur rather than the flou – working with wools rather than silks.
I’ve read so much about how light and comfortable this style jacket is, and I’ve got to agree. This is a very easy to wear garment. There is no constriction at all in the arms and across the back. It is light-weight, yet warm, and the silk feels simply luxurious against the skin.
This jacket is one of the popular sewing projects of the moment. I have a word – or two – of warning to anyone considering this undertaking. First, you absolutely have to be confident about your hand sewing skills. You may have years of experience on the machine, but unless you have a neat slip stitch, forget it. Also, patience is definitely a virtue. All that hand stitching takes time, so this is not immediate gratification sewing.
If you insist on continuing on, then I highly recommend Claire Shaeffer’s book and dvd, Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket. You might also want to get the pattern, Vogue 8804, if for no other reason than to have Claire’s step-by-step directions. I referred to both the pattern directions and to the book. Or better yet, attend Claire’s Sewfari if you are on the west coast, or Susan Khalje’s class which is in Baltimore. I’ve heard that both are excellent.
I’ve been sewing for close to 50 years, but this project proved that I have so much still to learn. Some of the things are so simple that I’m crying that it took so long to find out about them. Probably the biggest revelation was the marking of the top of a pattern piece on the right – as opposed to the wrong – side. How did I not know to do this? Claire uses a little stitched X to show the top of the piece and the right side. This is invaluable when the fabric looks the same on both sides.
I know that many people whine about all the basting that Claire suggests, but basting really is the sewer’s friend. The one time I skipped the basting, I ended up having to rip and restitch. Also, thread tracing the seam lines was a huge help in matching corners. I’ll always thread trace corners from now on.
A big thanks to all of you for being so encouraging and interested. It helped keep me going when I was all stitched out!