French Jacket Class: Day 1

Wow. It’s almost a little surreal that this is finally happening! I’ve had two days of fabric shopping in New York which passed in the hungover haze of jetlag, and now I’m adjusted, ready and rearing to go.

Bryant Park, New York
Bryant Park, New York – my favourite spot for lunch whilst shopping for fabric!

Day 1 of Susan Khalje’s French Jacket Class is all about acquiring the materials needed for the next 6 days. I’m meeting Susan and the other French Jacketeers at Mendel & Goldberg in New York when they arrive around midday, but I’m here two hours early to peruse fabrics and just enjoy a bit of introverting.

This shop really does have the best of the best – Valentino and Etro silks, Chanel boucles, Elie Saab beaded laces and on and on. Boucle is the fabric of choice, due to its loft which allows you to quilt the fabric and lining together without the stitching showing through. If you’re keen to know more – I’d highly recommend this read by Leisa which is part of the French Jacket sewalong :) Like with any fabric, you can choose to pay as little or as much as you like – but unravelling the edges of the more expensive stuff and you can see why it costs as it does.

I’m looking to get boucle and silk charmuese to line it with (although you can also use crepe de chin or georgette – suited for lighter weight boucles for warmer climes). Before everyone arrives I’ve picked out two potential options and matching linings with the help of Josie:


After looking at my blog banner/carousel the other day and noticing that just about EVERYTHING I’ve made recently has been blue, I vowed to not buy a single piece of blue fabric whilst here… it seems I’ve slipped quite comfortably into a rut!! I thought the orange/lilac or the yellow/grey would be excellent to kick the habit.

When the van from Baltimore lands, there’s a flurry of activity and 8 other jacketeers to meet! And would you believe it – another Australian! Whoooo, represent!! I meet Susan (um, celebrity alert?) and we all talk about fabric choices, guided by her expertise.


Alice, the shop’s 3rd generation proprietor (and character extraordinaire…) has a ‘killer’ (in joke) eye for a good match. It’s a riot just to watch her from the other side of the room! The woman is outrageously flamboyant and a has an eye for a good match.

After lunch we all head to M&J Trim in the garment district to find buttons and trim to match our fabrics – the choices seem endless but Susan manages to help each one of us find something to really make the fabric shine.


I picked out a fabric from Mendel & Goldberg’s last season of fabrics, and unfortunately Alice didn’t have anything left in stock to match from the Northern Hemisphere’s summer silks collection!! Although to be fair, my hip-pocket was pretty happy about this. So I made a quick mad dash to B&J’s (not that I minded – that place is my own personal heaven) to get a solid silk charmeuse to match and a really, really lightweight cotton batiste to underline my boucle fabric with. This is highly unusual apparently (the underlining) – but my boucle is so lightweight that it’s actually see-through…

And here’s what I end up with – Chanel Haute Couture (I haven’t hunted down which year or collection as yet) which has a greyish white base with lots of sherbert-y orange and lilac, a matching lilac charmuese, an off-white beaded trim with an orange velvet ribbon (not sure on that yet) and some bling-y buttons:


Then it’s time to settle in for the long drive back to Baltimore and the chance to chat and get to know the other Jacketeers – many of whom have already done this class multiple times. I check in to my serviced apartment down the road from the Khalje carpet gallery where we’ll be sewing – home for the next two weeks. Tomorrow the sewing starts in earnest…

When I first visited Susan Khalje’s website, I’ll admit I wondered why it was called the French Jacket Class and not the Chanel Jacket Class. Reading up about it online I got lost in a web of links (as you do), and discovered that back in September 2010 Chanel took out a full page advert in WWD magazine which went like this:

“A note of information and entreaty to fashion editors, advertisers, copywriters and other well-intentioned mis-users of our Chanel name:
Chanel was a designer, an extraordinary woman who made a timeless contribution to fashion. Chanel is a perfume. Chanel is modern elegance in couture, ready-to-wear, accessories, watches and fine jewellery. Chanel is our registered trademark for fragrance, cosmetics, clothing, accessories and other lovely things. Although our style is justly famous, a jacket is not ‘a Chanel jacket’ unless it is ours, and somebody else’s cardigans are not ‘Chanel for now.’ And even if we are flattered by such tributes to our fame as ‘Chanel-issime,  Chanel-ed, Chanels, and Chanel-ized’, PLEASE DON’T. Our lawyers positively detest them. We take our trademark seriously. 
Chanel, Inc.” 

Quite simply, they could sue you for using the Lord’s Chanel name in vain. Many websites I visited talking about this ad had statements from Anna Sterba, an intellectual property attorney who reiterated that a trademarked name cannot be used as an adjective without the permission of the company that owns the trademark. From commentary online it appeared that this request was perhaps less a case of protecting themselves against Genericide and more about being able to prove in a court of law in the case of a trademark infringment that they were doing enough to protect their brand (thus giving credibility) before going on the knee-jerk offensive and brandishing their lawyers about the place.

So in keeping with this, I too will be refraining from using the C word. Instead, it’ll be the F word all the way… hehe



  1. Awww I feel so nostalgic and remember my first day with French jacket class.. What an exciting journey is ahead of you! This is a great fabric choice – perfect summer colours. Can’t wait to see what you’ll show us off on the weekend :)

    1. oh my goodness Inna… so much amazing. My senses are reeling!! And the camaraderie is instantaneous and utterly fabulous. I have just acquired 8 adopted mothers, I think!! ha! x

  2. GORGEOUS Fabric pics Mel! I hope the class continues as amazing as it sounds like it’s started. I can’t wait to see (and feel?) the jacket you end up with!
    Have an amazing time!!

  3. Oh. My. Goodness. I am filled with jealousy. That is going to be suc a wonderful jacket. What a dream holiday you’re on… the fabric shopping alone sounds fantastic. Can’t wait to see the in-progress and finished product!

    1. Hi Rachel :) I certainly hope so!! Especially with all the hard work that’s going to go into it. Everyone in the class is still riding high on optimism… but I’m sure when the depth of handsewing required becomes palpable, it’ll be a bit of a struggle!!! Thanks :)

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed your post today and I’m with you vicariously. ;-) So glad to hear about that post by Chanel! I have been calling it a Chanel jacket and need to go change some names on my Pinterest board. Totally get their point in that. I’m looking forward to your week with Susan. Have fun!

    1. Oh, so glad to see you’ll be sewing along with Inna and Leisa!! I’ve just read your fitting post and I’m nodding – seriously, fitting ones self is the hardest part. No, fitting in its entirety is hard (although made slightly easier with a buddy). It’s something you really only can learn through trial and error – and watching other people do it. That’s what is making this course so invaluable for me – watching a master work at it is incredible!! I’m looking forward to seeing how your jacket progresses :)

      1. Loved your fabric choices. Did Susan recommend a preferred weight charmeuse for lining?? 18mm, 30mm etc? Having to order online which has proven a challenge.

      2. I’d definitely go the heavier weight charmeuse. The lighter weights tend towards being a bit sheer (which isn’t ideal) and the heavier weight will be much better suited for regular wear’n’tear, plus will provide better support for your fashion fabric :)

    1. Thanks Charlotte! It certainly does in the picture, but I’m going to need to see what it looks like on the finished garment before I start making decisions on that one… and neither can I! :)

    1. Thanks Lizzy!! Yes, there will be no more blue here for quite some time. I can’t believe it’s taken me that long to realise it… Even a few others have made comments on it!! ha!

  5. What a great experience you’re having. I thought blue was your signature colour.
    Great fabric choices. Have a great time.

  6. I’m so excited for you–this sounds like a wonderful class. Reading accounts of sewing classes inspire me, so thank you for sharing!

    I’m not an attorney, but my understanding of US trademark law is that it’s protected at the state level (not federal like copyright or patents), and trademark holders have to be pro-active with defending them. If the holders do not protect their marks, they can lose their rights to them. This is why you will often seen corporations (large and small) send cease-and-desist letters to (potential) infringers. It may seem like using a sledgehammer instead of a tap on the shoulder, but that can be the cost of doing business.

    1. Hi Rosie! I was hoping someone with a bit more knowledge than myself would chip in on that score. What you’re saying makes perfectly reasonable sense, in light of the context. Cheers!

  7. I have read every word of this blog post twice as I am going to follow your progress with absolute dedication while you are in Baltimore. Why?? I want to do what you are doing right now, so depending on how you find these 2 weeks in Baltimore, I plan to go next year. I love your fabric and trims etc, and I just know that by the end of the week we are going to see a gorgeous French jacket. Soak up every detail and really enjoy!!!

      1. Hi ladies, I am from WA and did the couture sewing class in June this year. I loved it so much!!! I am going back in March next year for two weeks, doing the jacket class and couture sewing back to back – can’t wait. You should do it Marjorie!! Just reading about your shopping trip reminds me of mine in June – mind blowing and I can’t wait to do it again.. Have fun, enjoy every second…….

      2. Hi Wendy! Are you the lady who bought the custom dress form in NYC, and if so, have you received it yet? How exciting that you’re going back again!!! Exciting news for you both – Susan has confirmed that she, Kenneth and Julian are keen to come to Australia in early 2015 for a few weeks to do their thing… so keep that in mind! But right now… I have to get back to sewing my sleeves ;)

      3. Yes, that’s me! No I don’t have it yet :( Rohan is quite exasperating to deal with! It is on it’s way, but not without problems. Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s worth the hassle!!

      4. Oh cool!! I’m so looking forward to meeting Leisa and everyone else in just a few days, and I’d love to hear about what you think of it when you finally do receive it :)

  8. Holy Chanel, hallowed be thy name. Lead us not into synthetics, but deliver us from ill fitting jackets. Amen. This course sounds amazing! Please feel free to continue the updates :D

      1. haha… I’m with Rachel, Reana!!! You’re a work of art. And the updates most certainly will continue… just as soon as I finish my hand-sewing homework! x

    1. Thanks Kirsty – I’m going to try and document all I can remember because I know I’d want to read about it if this was someone else… it’s such an incredible experience. Cheers :)

  9. That orange and lavender boucle is HEAVENLY!! Not that the yellow/grey wasn’t also gorgeous… but I’m so happy you went with the orange! It’s my favorite! Thank you so much for blogging about this! I’m totally living vicariously! You’re going to learn SO much!

    1. So glad you love it!!! I have to stare at it every day for 12 or so hours… so it’s nice that I still like it, too! And yes… the learnings are really very incredible!! x

  10. Pretty! I’m excited to follow your progress! I’ve been taking Susan’s class on Craftsy and am attempting a french jacket on my own, following Inna’s sewalong. Cheers!

    1. You’re telling me… it’s amazing how fast the day goes when you’re doing something you adore. Eating has become an annoyance!! Highly unusual for me :) Thanks Beth!

  11. Those fabric and trimming stores look like they came straight out of a beautiful dream.
    When I saw the photo with the orange and yellow boucles I was thinking to myself “I really hope she went with the orange one!” I would have never come up with a lilac and orange combination but I must say I am in love with your (future) jacket’s color palette, those beautiful buttons and lovely trimming. I’m officially super excited to see the final result! Hope you have a fantastic two weeks in the US!

    1. The are, and walking through them is definitely on the dreamy side. I’m so amazed that New Yorkers have access to this kind of stuff on a daily basis…. wow. And how cool is the orange and lilac pairing? I’m loving it. Both the fabric and the US! Thanks Anto :)

  12. Hi Mel! Thank you so much for the trip update, I am totally living vicariously through you right now :) I am really looking forward to seeing your jacket eventuate and am sure it will be stunning especially with that fabric! Enjoy

    1. It’s coming along quite nicely so far!! But SO much farther to go… seriously, 6 full days plus homework isn’t going to be enough to get to the finish line, and that’s kinda scary! Cheers Liz :)

  13. Thanks for sharing this wonderful adventure! Love your choice of fabrics and trim. I ‘m still struggling to make a decision on those for the LFJ sewalong. Like you say: you have to like it a lot to be working on it for days in a row. Can’t wait to see your next post!

    1. Sometimes I think it’s easier to decide when you’ve got a finished jacket, so you can get a better perspective!! As I didn’t quite have that option though… you just have to dive in the deep end ;) Thanks Marianne!

  14. yes to the orange ribbon! gah i would be so overwhelmed by all the choices… just looking at your pics makes me dizzy! love what you’ve chosen though, i’m dying to see how your jacket turns out! one day i will be making one… hope you’re enjoying your stay in the states!

    1. Yeah, I definitely think the orange will be included. But I want to see it on the finished thing so I can get a better perspective of it all. Also, it’s going to be difficult to sew the orange velvet ribbon down – the stitches will show!! Might have to get a little creative there… and I’m having a fabulous time here. Everything is so big! I’m loving picking up all the little nuances and differences in the culture – my favourite part about travelling, and all the more fun when you get to spend a lot of time with locals ;)

  15. great, great choices! i wouldn’t have even considered the purple for the boucle…but wow, that will pop and be special every time you look at it. sometimes a great, unexpected solid is all you need–even with the gorgeous prints are crying out to you :-)

    1. As you well know though… there are some spectacular prints!!! I’m definitely going to sew another at some point… something a little more subdued for everyday wear. With hella bright printed lining on the inside. Yep, I’m hooked ;)

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