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by Marga van der Vet
August 3, 2020
First of all, we all need clothes, nobody is walking around naked in our society. And the range of enthusiasm about clothing goes from total disinterest to a very exaggerated mania. From fashion haters to fashion addicts. From unbelievably cheap clothing to over-the-top expensive haute couture. There is a lot going on about clothes. But why should you create your own Chanel style jacket?
Your wardrobe or style is saying more about you (on first sight) than your curriculum vitae. Stupid but true. It actually always have been. Every generation, every culture, every time has its own standards, values, (moral) codes and fashion build around clothes. And what about religious norms and values? Or status/profession related clothing rules? It has always been a big issue. From that perspective, talking about a beloved couture item is not such a big deal. But why do we love the French Chanel jacket so much? Why do we want to know about the construction, the sewing techniques, the history and above all: how are we able to manage to make one on our own? A lot of reasons, not just because….
If we know why Coco Chanel invented the couture Chanel jacket, we would want to make it even more. Even though the Chanel jackets are shaped till perfection, in the early fifties, they were a totally new symbol of freedom after decades of tight corsets and an over-the-top hour-glass silhouette with almost unreachable waist size and pointy high breasts. The shape of the first Chanel jackets seemed almost boxy and masculine in that perspective. Chanel was indeed inspired by menswear but kept an eye on the total look of the suit or outfit which was very feminine and elegant. The jacket has its history and all women loved the new feeling of freedom while looking classy and sophisticated enough to be admired by everyone. The combination of easy-wearing and still looking awesome is something we always wanted. Let’s call it reason number one.
Number two is probably because we love the feeling of luxurious clothing. It is very easy to buy mass production these days and we all do it. Cheaper than cheap. Big deals. Bigger Shopping bags full of clothes or delivery within 24 hour.... Apart from cheap, fast and easy-going, we also love the idea of having something special, something unique and very personal. Creating a Chanel Inspired jacket is a very personal experience. Everything personal feels luxurious as it makes you feel unique and not just a face in the crowd. Therefore reason three goes hand in hand with reason two. Reason three is probably the idea of being unique and having your own style. Style is very important for people and specific women. We want to show our taste, our status, our profession or job and our self-esteem. A Chanel Inspired jacket is a status and a signature and it is very stylish. If you wear your Chanel jacket, everybody will be flabbergasted. It is like being at your very best.
Reason four. “Did you make it yourself?” Is actually not something a seamstress wants to hear. Why not? You should be so proud. It took “some” time and knowledge to make it yourself. You should be so proud! But yet we do not want to hear this question. We want to let people think you bought a real Chanel or you ordered some very luxurious piece of couture from a professional seamstress or atelier…. Whatever your feeling is, it does not matter. It is still a very big compliment because the jacket shows you have a lot of styles. Reason five. You always have been very creative. It shows. You are very handy with needle and thread and it is a piece of cake for you to make your own curtains, pillows, trousers, skirts or even coats. The Chanel Inspired jacket is next in line. It is a challenge as there has been no challenge before. Finishing the project and wearing the jacket one day, will be a big reward. And maybe you already planned the next jacket-project for yourself or somebody else. Talk about creativity. Reason six is almost the same. The Chanel Inspired jacket might be a tightly directed approach, but it provides a lot of freedom as well in being creative about the fringes, the buttons, the binding, the colour-combinations and even the length. You can spend more creativity in this jacket than in any outfit you ever produced before. Personal fitting should be one of the first reasons. The reasons are not in a logical list here. Seven. The jacket will suit you as a comfy sweater lounge outfit. If you took the time to fit and shape it on your body, it will be very perfect.
To make this socially acceptable and a little less selfish, we can also report that it is all very sustainable. A big reason eight, although it could be reason one for sure.... The materials are often of the best quality and last a lot longer than the cheaper ones. The construction of the jacket also provides the opportunity that it can be repaired or changed if needed. Sure it will be a hell of a job, but it is possible and it is an option if you’ve lost or gained weight or if it is accidentally damaged. (reason 9?)
And now the most generous reason. We are assuming that the seamstresses are making the DIY Chanel jackets for themselves. But it is also likely that you are going to make the jacket for someone else. A very nice niece is begging you for years now, a good friend knows your sewing skills and gives hints on a regular basis or some other beloved girlfriend wants to pay you more than you ever had earned before. Whatever the reason might be, it is very rewarding to sew clothes for somebody else. It’s a pity it can not be a total surprise ( because the fitting-steps really can not be skipped), but the gift will be a big thing anyway.
It will be very satisfying spiritually to do this for another. Enjoy the process and especially enjoy the moment when the receiver unpacks the package, try it on and she will be happier than you could imagine. (And pictures will flow around the internet soon...) The receiver will be in your debt for a long time, and you will be the absolute hero for years. Last but not least. (Are we still counting?) Sewing is a hobby or a profession which is very peaceful. Women have been busy with needle and thread since the beginning of times. Mostly out of necessity, but also often as a relaxation in the form of a moment of rest. Crocheting, knitting, sewing, embroidery, they are activities that people like to do. Mindful meditation is a great way to reduce stress and relax. The results are mentally satisfying and very rewarding. Last but not least (really….) Talking about mindful sewing; producing this jacket is certainly not a hasty job. It will take hours, days, weeks, maybe even months before it will be done. Do not make a deadline. Just enjoy the process and realize it will be a slow-sewing project. Especially with all the hand-sewing which requires a bit of experience and skills. It might be even a good option to deliberately delay it yourself sometimes. Step away from it and start something easy. Come back to it when you really have the spirit. However you work, it should be fun.
Marga van der Vet is a 50+ Dutch model and seamstress. She specializes in sewing Chanel-Style jackets and started https://www.sewingchanelstyle.com/ a few years ago to share information about sewing Chanel-Style jackets and all about the brand Chanel. Lately, she has expanded the website with blogs about sewing for LARP, Cosplay and Fantasy events. Marga lives in the countryside in the North of the Netherlands with her family, her dog and horses. Modelling and Haute couture are, of course, very glamorous but she has a sustainable and green lifestyle. SewingChanelStyle promotes sustainability and women who are having small arts and crafts businesses.
Why should I make a mockup or toile when I have a pattern? Isn’t it overkill? This concern comes up often so I think it’s important to clarify the importance of making a mockup, or a test run of your garment, also known as the toile or muslin.
Your mockup should be a shell of your garment that you can actually try on complete with zipper, collar, pockets, sleeves and any relevant pieces of detail, such as marked or drawn placements of your buttons and buttonholes, and even a rough drawing of applique, embroidery or beadwork.