French Jacket Class: Day 3

Hi everyone! I’m thinking of changing my tune a little around here.


Well, since starting this class, I’ve had a steadily growing sense on unease about sharing it with you via this platform. Words aren’t something I’m all that great at using to describe how I feel about something as I usually work on intuition, but I’ll try and explain as best I can.

At what point does knowledge become proprietary? I’m torn between wanting to respect the know-how of the ebullient Susan Khalje (she’s amazing) and wanting to share my experience. Is it fair on her that I come here and talk about everything in detail? (I’ve got a whole stack of drafts which cover in detail what we’ve been working on). Probably not.

But – as I said to Susan – who is going to take over from you after you decide to retire? I want to keep doing these classes – hell, I’m already dreaming of going to Paris. (Alas, we’re supposed to be saving for a house, not to mention paying for a wedding. Sometimes being responsible can be so boring). So the good news is she’s bringing out her own range of videos (Starting with the Classic French Jacket, apparently going to debut pre-Christmas this year – whoo!) but being immortalised in dvd won’t quite fill the void – there really is no one else at this level with the experience and knowledge she has who also can teach, and teach well!! And it was this belief that the value of coming here to do these classes was in the one-on-one teacher time – anyone can sew along (don’t read that badly – I adore a good sewalong) or watch a Craftsy class, but it will never offer the kind of learning you get in person.

On the flip side of the coin, I must have read Marina’s and Gertie’s posts on their Susan Khalje classes oh, I don’t know – 50 times? Each time I read them I got more and more excited about taking these classes. I think talking about it on here gives Susan great publicity and allows those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to take part the chance to see what’s going on. And one of the things I love most about the sewing blogosphere is the positive sharing of experience.

So where does one draw the line? The simple answer is “I don’t know”. So I’ve decided to continue posting about it… but not in a technical manner. I think that is a happy enough medium to quell my unease. 


Back to regular programming – because it’s like Christmas morning every 5 minutes here!

A few of the other ladies and I pop down the road to Joann’s – a place I’ve read about in so many other blogs, so it was kinda cool to be able to walk into one, regardless of what people think of it. They have plenty of thread which is what we’ve come for, along with quilting rulers and the Clover fork pins.

There’s not really anything particularly groundbreaking or interesting to report on today – apart from making a fair bit of progress, and it’s all about quilting each of the 7 jacket pieces before joining them together.

Hearing the whirr of multiple sewing machines is a beautiful thing, and it’s a real pleasure to actually do some machine sewing!


Those lines are stitched with the lining facing down, following the grain line of the boucle fabric, in which the top thread is virtually invisible (unless you know what you’re looking for).

The quilting process provides the structure and support to the rather floppy boucle fabric, and gives it a completely new feel. Having a walking foot is an absolute must – you simply couldn’t do this without one. Comparing the hand of my quilted pieces to those of others – they’re now on a more level playing field, whereas before my poor boucle was definitely punching above its weight.

After a steaming and very light pressing (which I can get away with because my boucle doesn’t really have much loft) and Susan shows how to pull the purposely long tail threads through to the inside, which are then knotted and cut short:



The next step is to join the pieces… and this is where you thank your lucky stars you have ginormous seam allowances, because all the handling equals fraying.

I pin to match the boucle’s repeat/pattern starting at the bottom and working my way up to the top – the ability to match stops where the curve of the princess seam starts. Then, using the fork pins to secure the match (with plenty of flipping over to check!) it’s ready to sew.

The rest of this is homework as somehow it’s 6:30 already…


The fork pins do an amazing job of preventing the layers from slipping and you can sew right over them so your match isn’t compromised by taking the pin out just before your fabric goes under the feed dog.

About 90% of the time I got a perfect match with this method, with just a few small spots that I’ll unpick and fix up (like at the left) – a pretty darn good hit rate for sure:


Late at night after the day’s homework is complete – I’ve got this messy-looking but super snuggly thing:


All ready to go for the next fitting tomorrow!



  1. as others have already said, your excitement comes thru and the information is just….well, to sempstresses it may as well be a bowl of ripe framboises and heavy cream :)

    re: your thoughts here: “At what point does knowledge become proprietary? I’m torn between wanting to respect the know-how of the ebullient Susan Khalje (she’s amazing) and wanting to share my experience. Is it fair on her that I come here and talk about everything in detail? (I’ve got a whole stack of drafts which cover in detail what we’ve been working on). Probably not.”

    you could always ask Susan Khalje. After all, this is a public arena, so she’s as likely to find your posts as not. Best wishes, and try not to over-snuggle your jacket overnite (heehee, i’d be hard put not to sleep curled up in it myself)! steph

    1. Thanks Stephanie – I do have a particular weakness for heavy cream and berries!!
      I already have discussed it with Susan, and as you can probably tell I’m now significantly more sympathetic to her views on the topic. As this is my forum though, I’m certainly not going to quote her – that would be bad online manners. But thank you! It is awfully snuggly :)

  2. Great to see the progress – still jealous. Looking forward to the other posts. And I think your concerns about Susan’s IP is very considerate. I’ll look forward to her videos. I have some Italian boucle and silk just waiting for some help.

  3. I’m loving these post. I think you’ve already found a perfect balance between sharing your excitement and giving us a glimpse of what you’re covering. Eagerly awaiting the next installment… Jealous much… HELL YES!

    1. Hi Anna – yeah, it’s kinda wierd because I still feel I’m being slightly unethical in a way. But then… I switch and feel this is appropriate. I’ve dug myself a comfortable hole though, so I’ll be here for a little bit longer yet ;) Glad you’re enjoying reading about it!

  4. Holy shit balls I can’t imagine the amount of work you’ve done!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts – it didn’t even occur to me as a reader but I guess the moral dilemma is obvious. I know you’d only ever post stuff you would feel comfortable posting and, if it helps soothe your thoughts:
    1. You’ve all but convinced me to participate in one of Susan’s classes (I may or may not be browsing her site right now. Paris. My God.), and
    2. There is no way you have provided enough information for me to even attempt to make a poor-ladies’-“C Word”-jacket. Not. Even. Close.

    I also wanted to say, as part of the world’s longest comment ever, that you could have your wedding IN Paris. BAM. 2 birds, 1 stone. Just have 2 hens’ nights, and one of those can include Susan’s Paris Tour (I will bring a flask). x

  5. This is exactly why I left my French Jacket posts rather vague. It’s such a dilemma! I want to maintain the reputation of my teacher’s class but also share my new knowledge. Very difficult line to walk. Your jacket is coming along beautifully. Good luck with the hand sewing

  6. Why don’t you split it into two? Do a public experience post, and private technical posts that only you can see? That way you still have a record (and technical reference) for yourself, Susan gets well deserved publicity, and we can all still get the cheap thrills ;)

    1. Eh, I’ve got all my notes in my notebook and photos saved on the hard disk, so I’ll probably just leave it at that. I promised mum I would try and make her one so at least Ill get to put it into practise fairly shortly, which is the best way of cementing it in my noggin, for sure. Whooo, cheap thrills!!! There’s plenty more to come :) x

  7. I agree with Vicki, your posts are convincing me that a class in Baltimore is the only way to go with Susan. Your absolute joy just glows from these posts and giving me so much pleasure. I am so happy for you Melanie because sewing is such a wonderful thing to do and to learn from the best is an absolute privilege. Continue to enjoy.

  8. I’m enjoying your posts SO much and if they become less technical, so be it, but just reading your experiences is such an amazing advertisement for Susan – I can almost hear her voice from Craftsy and look forward to her DVD releases.
    And jealous… totally emerald!!

  9. Don’t feel guilty, dear. We’re all saving up to go to Baltimore, you’re doing great on marketing Susan’s class! And guess what’s on top of my Christmas list?
    Your pattern matching is superb!

  10. I hear your dilemma regarding these posts and it did cross my mind yesterday. In saying that, nothing would beat doing the classes in person, and personally I think you have done a great sales job and now many of us they may not have considered it previously, now want to go to our own classes! I may or may not be looking at the ones in Paris ;)
    Enjoy the rest of the classes and share whatever you feel comfortable sharing, for me it is all fascinating, no matter the level of detail.

    1. Yeah, that was my attitude to start with, for sure. I still do feel like I’m being slightly unethical though, which rankles! Here’s hoping my intent outweighs any bad karma. ha! And thank you – I absolutely will.

  11. Wow, it’s already taking shape! Your excitement about this class comes through in a beautiful way and I definitely share it with you even if all of this is taking place far, far away. I would love to take any of her classes if I ever had the opportunity. Her Paris tour seems AH-MAZING.

  12. i completely understand your dilemma, it’s a fine line to walk. for myself, i enjoy reading about your enthusiasm for the class more than the technical details. just hearing about your experience places such a high value in actually being able to attend her class, you may be singlehandedly responsible for many future bookings! and that seam matching… pure eye candy.

    1. Aw, thanks Lisa. I still am awfully impressed at the matching too. That pack of 35 forked pins will be put to work as soon as I get home as well – the stability they provide is amazing. I can see plenty of perfect seam matching in my sewing future as a result!

  13. I think IP is such an important issue – and as an academic one I deal with daily. I can’t see how you’ve contravened Susan’s IP though – you certainly haven’t posted enough information that someone could replicate this jacket from your posts, and you’ve attributed it back to Susan, the author. Instead, like others, I think you’ve acted as a great marketing device for Susan’s teaching products!!

    1. I agree on its importance – although I think it’s just as much an issue of ethics as IP. She’s had a 25 year career in couture and her teaching comes from that knowledge and experience, so I don’t particularly want to take that and give it away. Thanks for your opinion though – it’s comforting that someone who works in this area thinks that. Cheers :)

  14. i agree with you completely about how hard it is to find a balance between sharing your project and your enthusiasm and respecting the fact that susan makes her living this way. fortunately, susan tends to be extremely generous about the sharing and photographs and even videos, so i try to pay her back by being conservative about what i am explaining and always, always crediting her as the source. plus, her chanel article really does give a good low-down on the basics, so when i take one of her classes, it is purely for the added value of having her right there with me – and as you say, that cannot be replicated completely by a video or a craftsy class.

    1. And to me that’s where the reason for taking a class with her gives back to you in spades. Having a real person there with that knowledge and experience is invaluable! Something a dvd can never come close to providing, although such a medium is great from a technical aspect. You’re right though – she is very generous. Footage reminders saved my homework on several of the nights ;)

  15. I completely understand the sharing dilemma!! I am loving these posts – and appreciate all your sharing! Love your quilting – and I think your matching looks FIERCE!

  16. Another good post. And, I’ll second (third, fourth, whatever) the thought that these reviews serve more to make me stalk Susan’s site and think about budgeting for one of her courses than anything else. But, I do think it’s good to leave out a lot of the secrets. I’ve reviewed a bunch of online courses and books (oh, how I wish I’ve reviewed an in-person class!), and I’ve often wondered where the line is between covering the material (and, in turn, serving as advertising in a way for the author) and infringing on the author’s rights. I’ve definitely stumbled in the past, and I’m sure I’ll stumble again in the future. But, I think if your intentions are in the right place, then that goes a long way. And, it seems that yours are. That said, I do think if you continue to progress with your skills and turn something you learned from this course into something that’s entirely your own, then you can write about it in full detail without any guilty conscience.

    1. Budgets suck, don’t they? I know exactly what you mean – it’s how I felt stalking those who went before me, and logging onto Susan’s website a gazillion times. Thanks so much, Amy!

  17. I may be a little late to the party here, but I don’t think anything will substitute a class with Susan Khalje in person. To get an insight into each day of the class is the best marketing anyone could every receive. I really enjoyed your first post because I felt like I was looking through your eyes but I don’t feel like I could read your post and make a jacket. Your pattern matching is inspiring.

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