V7975: Sherbert Bomb Chanel

And it is completed – Couture baby, woooooo!!

I enjoyed working on this garment so much more than I ever thought I would. The 8 other ladies I took Susan Khalje’s Classic French Jacket class with were an absolutely delight to work with, and I’m so looking forward to seeing theirs completed (come on girls!! I want pictures!!). Thank you guys so much for such a wonderful week!

But enough talk – here it is:

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Despite the seriously close fit in an unrelenting woven fabric, there's plenty of room for a hair flick.

Despite the seriously close fit in an unrelenting woven fabric, there’s plenty of movement available for a hair flick.

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The total time spent? 153 hours, including preparation of the muslin which I had to bring along to class. The only parts stitched with a machine on this was the quilting lines, the vertical seams on both the bodice and sleeves, the shoulder seams and the stay stitching around the neckline. The rest is entirely hand stitched…. I’m clearly a slow sewist.

Taking this class was absolutely enthralling – and I now truly understand why this garment has held so much fascination to sewers over the years – it really is a subset of couture in its own right. Virtually everything about the construction of this garment was new to me, and I was riveted the whole way. Nothing is wasted, even though it seemed awfully extravagant to cut out such massive seam allowances. I think what amazed me the most is how those seam allowances were utilised throughout the garment, like at the armscye – simultaneously providing the role of a sleeve head and a light shoulder pad at the same time, as well as in the princess seams to provide strength and stability to the body of the jacket. I’m tempted to call it a cardigan more than a jacket – because that’s how it feels (and how it should feel, too). It’s so much less of a jacket than I originally thought it would be. And yet, just look at the shape – nary a shoulder pad in sight – gorgeous.

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The fabric is a loosely woven Chanel boucle, bought from Mendel Goldberg – and the reason I figure I can get away calling this post what I have. It’s lined in a lilac silk charmeuse from B&J fabrics, and my trim – bling-y buttons and a silvery grey beaded thing was from M&J Trimming, all from New York. I was originally planning on having two rows of trim with potentially some orange velvet ribbon in the middle, but when it came to pinning it on the jacket, it just looked too much and the orange of the ribbon too harsh. Thanks to all the girls from Social Sewing for their general consensus advice on this matter of crucial importance! So, one row of trim it was.

Some closeups:

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My first (half lousy, half good) and second attempt at sewing on the hardware. Such a shame the pretty stitches are then covered up by the lining! Click to Enlarge.

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And the fit? Well, it’s probably the best fitting thing I’ll ever own, assuming I don’t put on or lose weight. The jacket is definitely snug, but super comfortable at the same time.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing however. One of my favourite anedote of Susan’s from my time in Baltimore was hearing her voice her disappointment when she got her white-gloved hands on some historical couture pieces from this and last century whilst at a museum in France (I forget which one) because not only did the pieces have little quirks – they had flaws. I think that’s a prudent reminder that even at the top tier, garments sewn with the utmost of skill can be imperfect. The pursuit of perfection is soul killing? Either way, she said that anything sewn by a person is going to have human aspects to it – those little imperfections that make us what we are. Now, my jacket has a few imperfections, for sure. But these are learning experiences, and the next one I make will be that much better for it. Like – if you have a non-symmetric trim, it would probably be a good idea to make sure you get it the right way up all the time. Unfortunately for me, I only realised this after sewing the trim on #3 of my four pockets. It would have potentially ruined the fabric and the trim to unpick it, so… eh.

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I ended up quilting my pockets as well – with the lining fell stitched to the pockets, then fell stitched onto the jacket. It was a mission not to let any of the stitches show through on the lining. But! These are entirely functional pockets, woo!

And somehow in the fitting process I missed that Susan pinned my sleeves a lot shorter than I would ideally like. The 2 inch seam allowance came to the rescue, however I would have preferred even more than this. It meant my quilting lines (the support to the fabric) are a long way back from where they probably should be:

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So there’s the little imperfections we can live with, and the ones we can’t… like how I got within inches of finishing sewing on my chain, only to line it up and realise that I hadn’t been pulling the blasted thing taught – the links were all squished up next to each other and as a result I was 2 inches short from having the chain meet the other side of the jacket.

So totally NOT FUNNY.

So totally NOT FUNNY.

I downed tools at that point and went off to kill some demons in Diablo III to vent my frustration. I came back later to unpick and resew, but also managed to work out a much faster and more even way to sew the chain the second time around! Ah, the good ol’ learning curve.

Regardless, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed sewing a garment more than I have this. Am I hooked on sewing these? Definitely. I’ve already bought a gorgeous blue boucle as I’d really like to make one of these for my mum. Let’s just add that to the post-wedding-dress sewing queue, alrighty?

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The Stats:
153:00 hours

Fabric Utilisation = 6.2m (Shell fabric, underlining and lining)

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162 thoughts on “V7975: Sherbert Bomb Chanel

  1. Hi Melanie,

    wow, this is really a beautiful jacket, and you look so happy with it! I am still not sure if this style would be for me, but I would like to sew one just for the construction techniques. Thanks for showing so much details. I have learned a lot.

    • Thank you! And yes, I do absolutely love it. I didn’t think the style would be for me either… I decided to do this class purely because it was exactly the week before the Couture sewing school and it seemed a little silly to fly to the other side of the world just for a week. Make it more economical to do two! And I ended up enjoying it probably more than the second week. Having a jacket I’ve ended up loving was an unexpected side effect – ha! I would highly recommend the experience :)

  2. You’ve done a beautiful job and it looks super on you! Thanks for sharing your experience, I know how wonderful it is.

  3. Hello couture goodness! Mel, this is absolutely STUNNING and even more than that it is a story and a memory and an experience all rolled in to one. This garment will hold so many stories AND look absolutely fierce- isn’t that what this sewing caper is all about? So. Dang. Cool.

  4. You did an amazing job! I think 153 hours is not that much for all of that hand sewing you had to do! Great job, it looks perfect! (if only you had not told us about ‘flaws’) :-)

  5. Congratulations Melanie. This jacket is divine and I am so proud of you, Plus you look radiant in it. All those miles you traveled and hours you have put into this beautiful French jacket have been so worth it. And not only that, you have inspired so many home dressmakers with your wonderful and informative blog about the process in making this jacket. Thank-you Melanie so much for sharing.
    And now I am off to the Chanel shop in Brisbane to have a serious look at a jacket!!!

    • Thanks Marjorie! I still want to do that… just to compare. I wonder if we’ll be let down by what we see? One of the ladies in New York told me she actually got into an argument with a Chanel boutique salesperson – who believed that a RTW chanel jacket was ‘couture’ (and apparently the RTW versions aren’t even quilted!), hehe. Let me know how you go with the research ;)

  6. Air high-five to you! You’re jacket looks fabulous and your smile suggests you feel pretty damn fabulous in it too. What a wonderful experience and journey. Unforgettable I’m sure.

      • That 153 hours of yours make me wonder if it wouldn’t be better to postpone this project till after the holidays! I don’t want to rush it and squeeze it in between too much other jobs that have to be done. Perhaps it will be better to keep it for those long dark January nights….

      • Just take it one step at a time… a little bit here and a little bit there. Don’t get frightened by the whole thing as one! Work through it in your own time and enjoy the process :) If that means January sewing… then so be it!

    • Hand sewing piecemeal! Little bits here and there. That and being in some kind of strange trance whilst actually there in the class. It’s like the cone of silence but filled with sewing! haha. Thanks Christy! :)

  7. Wow, absolutely stunning couture jacket, the work and effort was worth every minute! I’m completing the pockets on mine as I write this.

  8. Omg this is amazing!!! I’ve been hanging to see this finished for so long. I love the fabric. All the little details you added and just perfection. You did a fantastic job!

  9. Wow, wow, wow! Loving the jacket and your beaming smiles. Looking forward to seeing the jacket in person soon. Such a fun series of posts to read. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    • But how could I not? Must. Consolidate. The. Skillz.
      And it’s a seriously enjoyable thing to sew! Granted… it’ll be a long term thing in between other stuff to break it up… but my mum seriously deserves one of these! Thanks Reana :)

  10. I am speechless. That doesn’t happen very often! It is a thing of pure beauty. What a fabulous experience and jacket. V7975 is on my table right now. A black version. I can’t decide about the fit across the shoulders. I’d love to take it in more but am wary as the last work jacket I made (Cordova) is like a straight jacket. Any tips?? Amazing jacket once again! Well done.

    • Thanks Leith! It’s a real joy to wear, although I am a bit nervous it’s going to catch on something! How do you find the fit of Vogue jackets (presuming you’ve sewn one before) in general? I’d need to see it to know more about what you’re talking about I think. I would recommend comparing the dimensions to a RTW jacket you like the fit of – it’s how I usually start when I have no idea :)

  11. Congratulations on making such a beautiful jacket! Your time and hard work have paid off in the most beautiful way. The smile on your face says it all! :)

  12. stunning work! the fit is just spectacular. what an accomplishment, and what patience! i love that color on you also, the fabrics you choose are soooo gorgeous! man, i would be terrified to actually wear it anywhere… thanks for sharing the process :)

    • Thanks Lisa! I won’t lie – I’m VERY aware of it when wearing it. I’m actually wondering if I might have to take the front pocket buttons off, because already they’ve caught lightly on the sleeves a few times. I have heart palpitations just thinking about potentially ripping some of those loosely woven threads out… My next one will be uber practical and hardy, you can bet on that.

  13. I have been hanging out to see this and it is truly a work of art. Wow, I only hope mine can be a fraction as good as yours. I will be studying the pictures closely for the tiny details as I work through mine. Congratulations on a beautiful job.

    • Aw, thanks so much Megan! I’m so glad you like it as much as I do. The hard, slow and precise work is all worth the result in the end, I can tell you. And if you want to chat about a particular thing as you go – just email me :) x

  14. This is just incredibly gorgeous!!! I don’t really have any words for it! Haha! Just as a garment, the finishing and technique and details are totally superb (and I’m sure completely worth all the knowledge you attained!) But just as a jacket that’s part of your wardrobe, it’s stunning!! The color and fit is SO flattering on you, seriously! You look like you’re glowing in these pictures!! Perhaps both from pride AND a flattering color choice… Congratulations Melanie!!!

    • Oh thanks Sallie!! Definitely a lot of pride beaming out there – it’s easily the creme-de-la-creme of my sewing career to date. I love it to bits! I’m SO glad you like it as much as I do :) x

  15. Congrats! That’s a stunning jacket and it does flatter you so nicely. Thanks for sharing your progress, that must be a looot of hand sewing.

    • Oh absolutely it was. You should have seen the gashes in my finger tips when I was doing the bulk of it – I never did quite get used to the feel of the thimble! Thank you so much Nela :)

  16. Wow, what an amazing learning experience and such a satisfying end result for you! That’s incredible! :D I’m glad you’re so proud and happy with it. You should be :)

  17. Amazing! I have so enjoyed the telling and the honest portraying of making such a garment. I wish New Zealand was a little closer and I would challenge myself with one of Susan’s classes.
    Well done.
    RobynK
    New Zealand

  18. Congratulations! All of your hard work really paid off – your finished jacket is glorious! I’m so curious to see how many hours your next jacket takes compared to this one and what you do differently (after the wedding gown, of course!)

    • Thanks Morgan! You know, I was thinking about that too. I would definitely be better and faster at the sewing part, but having to adjust for fit (due to fabric differences) and setting in the sleeves by myself would set me back… Susan does both of those in the blink of an eye so it seems like it’s something super-easy to do! I’ll be keeping tracking for comparison, you can be sure ;)

  19. Oh wow, this is incredible! It’s already such a pretty jacket from far away but all of the details are just breathtaking! Congrats for finishing it!!

  20. Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m so inspired to start my own jacket. I’d love to take Susan Khalje’s class one day. And thanks for the anecdote about imperfections; I feel the same way about things made by hands: it just reminds me that someone took the time to do it. I used to get upset about flaws in my work, but now, as long as it isn’t major, I just shrug it off.

    • Oh you absolutely should! I couldn’t recommend it enough. Check out the french jacket sewalong with Inna (Thewallina) and Leisa (A Challenging Sew) for all the inspiration and deets you could possibly need :) Love your attitude to the little imperfections – there really is no point getting hung up about such things. As long as it looks good and is comfortable, it’s a win! Thank you :)

  21. Holy moly it is amazing! And you look amazing in it. I am planning one very soon – need to find fabric – but am unsure about whether to couture-sew it or do more everyday-sewing. Yours is incredibly inspiring!!

    • Fabric is definitely the hard part… trim and buttons potentially harder still, but I know you’ll find something :) Totally up to you on which sewing road to take… I would definitely recommend this one though! Especially with the little french jacket sewalong that Inna and Leisa are doing right now. All the resources you could possibly need ;) Thanks Rachel!

  22. Such an epic make – and I grin at the thought of how much you must have spun in front of the mirror once you finished it – and rightly so! I adore the shell fabric, it’s just gorgeous… even if it isn’t blue!

  23. You look so amazing in this beautiful jacket. I’ve been following along your construction posts and have been dying to see the finished jacket – it is totally worth all those hours of construction. Do you think the price of a Chanel jacket is justified now?

    • Thank you so much, Kristy! And yes, I do think the price tag is justifiable. It’s all relative, really! If I were to take the time spent on this an multiple it by my hourly rate… well I just did and choked!

  24. This jacket is so beautiful and I’m sure you’ll treasure it for many decades or longer. I really enjoyed following all your construction posts and you would have inspired so many other seamstresses to take on a challenge like this, including myself (though not just yet). I didn’t even know you could do courses like this! Here’s to embracing slow sewing and the lovely rewards that come with.

    • Thank you Rosi! I absolutely will, and I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the journey – I’ve enjoyed sharing it! Potentially being able to inspire one or more people to do the same is the icing on the cake. Cheers to slow sewing!

  25. Oh my, it is BEAUTIFUL. Your trim is just beautiful and compliments our jacket so well. Thanks for sharing your journey, that was just was wonderful as your finished jacket. I looking forward to following your next one :)

  26. It was worth the wait, Mel! Your jacket is oh so gorgeous and looks divine on you. So we have a new word for our mistakes, do we? … Human aspects….. I’ll remember that! Why don’t you ask Susan to send you more chain?
    I’m delighted I could see the jacket in process. Congratulations on a job masterfully done!

  27. Hi Mel
    Amazing work quite an inspiration. bet that Wedding Dress is going to be fantastic! Back in the day it was a tradition amongst patchwork quit makers to always make a deliberate mistake…… the idea being nobody is pefect (only God)…. it`s a tradition I have found myself following …..mostly by accident!! :-))
    p.s. i`m the lucky owner of two pre-loved RTW chanel jackets….one of which i had to take to bits in order to make it fit …..and I can say yours is so very very much better made!

    • Hi Cazza – thank you! That’s really lovely to know – I like the concept behind that. Like you, I do this most everytime – more often unintentionally than not!
      And lucky you on the jackets – where on earth do you come across things like that? But you’ve just totally made my day there! hehe :)

  28. Look at that fantastic back fit! I can’t look away, it’s so beautiful. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. I have to admit I screamed out loud a little bit when I read the bit about the chain…Diablo III sounds like the perfect break but I’m not sure I could’ve come back to that unpicking! Good for you for sticking it out!

    • Aw, thanks so much! With the chain it was a case of… well I’ve come this far, I may as well do the last few hard yards!!! It nearly did me over, but my kill streak post chain-distress was phenomenal. haha!!

  29. I really love this delicious color–great choice!–especially with the purple lining. Congratulations on achieving such a sewing (and fitting!) milestone! Anything made in such a holistic experience would be worth gold to me. Details-wise, I especially love the shape of that shoulder–elegant.

    • Thanks Amy! I’m so glad you like it :) The shoulders are my favouirite point, too. How they actually come to be through use of the seam allowances just blows my mind!

  30. Wow, it’s stunning. I really welcome your thought about imperfections!! As I struggle through the french jacket sewalong your comments are so timely. Thank you. Can’t wait to see your next one – I know I am already planning another (despite my current one being a mess of unraveling urgh)

    • The pursuit of perfection really isn’t worth it! It was a lovely anecdote, for sure. Just enjoy the process, and the result will speak for itself! Can’t wait to see how everyone’s jackets from the sewalong turns out :) And thank you!

  31. Wooot!!! I’ve been following along your ‘learning’ posts and looking forward to the finished product. I have to say, it’s absolutely perfect! Fits you really great as well. Nice work, you should be very proud.

  32. Congratulations on this stunning accomplishment. I’ve devoured every word of your description of the experience. Your description of the silence in the room while you and your classmates stitched was wonderful- it sounds so zen. Wear it proudly and enjoy it always

    • Thank you so much, Julie! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed reading about the experience as much as I have sharing it :) And yes… it was an amazing atmosphere – what I wouldn’t give to have that on a more regular basis! And I absolutely will :)

  33. I’ve returned to garment sewing in the last 12 months and have been devouring sewing blogs. Your jacket is a culmination of the most important thing I’ve learnt from following you – to take pride and take your time to produce something beyond ordinary that you’ll love. Congratulations, your jacket is sublime!

    • Deb I think you’ve just converted into words my exact modus operandi when it comes to sewing! Slow sewing it absolutely completely and totally worth it. Thank you for your lovely comment! :)

  34. So glad you are thrilled with this gorgeous jacket, you can see your joy so clearly. Thank you for the detailed journey, the memories you have of this jacket will be with you always and the rest of us can come back here to enjoy and learn.

  35. OMG, your time and effort were definitely worthwhile and such a learning experience too! You have been so inspiring and whilst I can’t see me wearing a jacket in this style, to learn the couture techniques would be amazing. BTW, you are totally rocking that jacket, it really suits you.

    • You know Liz, I thought the exact same thing before sewing this. I never expected to like the style on me… but I can totally see you rocking one of these! It’s the unexpected jacket – it crawls up into your conscious slowly and before you know it – BAM! You’re in love with it. I couldn’t recommend making one more. Thanks :)

  36. Um, WOW! That is not only the most amazing jacket I have ever seen, but also one heck of an impressive achievement! I take my hat off to you, lovely lady!

  37. Lovely. Just lovely. I am so thrilled to see you so happy in your finished jacket. I just love it! I really must figure out a way to take this class! Wear that jacket with pride!!!!

    • Thanks Amy :) I’m so happy to have it finished! And I’m so glad you like it – I couldn’t recommend the class more. I was originally just going to go for the couture sewing school… but figured seeing as that class was the week before, it would be silly not to take it. And I’m glad I thought that, because I ended up enjoying the french jacket class more! If you ever get the opportunity… take it ;)

    • Thanks Inna! So glad to hear your move across the lands is done and dusted! And there most absolutely will be more. I’m definitely addicted – such an amazing process! x

  38. What an absolutely amazing achievement! You must be glad for this cool spring weather so you can get a bit of wear out of it before summer sets in :) And that colour on you is perfect!

  39. So beautiful! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about both of your couture sewing experiences. I will be taking Susan’s french jacket class in San Francisco next year — just signed up! — and reading your posts has been so fun. I can’t wait for my class! Enjoy your gorgeous jacket!

    • Thanks Jean, I certainly will! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading along – I thoroughly enjoyed sharing it. And how exciting for you – it’s going to be amazing! Can’t wait to see what your jacket looks like :)

  40. I don’t know how I managed to miss this post when it went up… But I am so excited to see your finished jacket! The amount of work is just mind blowing. And makes me feel like such a lazy bum for having not finished the insides of some bound button holes for the past few weeks. All of the details are magnificent – the finished jacket is just lovely. Definitely a garment to be proud of!

  41. This is The most beautiful jacket!!
    If I ever have a chance of a class with Susan Hale this post has shown me how wonderful it would be. The hand quilted lining is perfect!! I read about this technique used with boucle wool a la Chanel so am excited to see your example.
    Lovely Lovely fabric choices!!

  42. I’m not a seamstress. My research assistant is. We’ve been discussing the modern lack of respect for domestic skills and the clothing engineering required for women in the spotlight, such as First Ladies. She sent me this fabulous post. The jacket/cardigan looks lovely on you and I throughly enjoyed reading the pleasure you take in sewing as well as the commentary on well engineered clothes.

  43. I am researching as much as I can before beginning my Chanel jacket (I think my fear of starting is behind my seemingly never-ending research). I so appreciate your candor about your mistakes and redoing or not redoing and the whys behind it all. Thank you!

  44. This is absolutely beautiful! I was saying to Sarah I want to make one and she said ‘check out Mel’s blog, she did a whole class for it!’. Simply perfect. You’ve got me totally terrified and excited at the same time!

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