For the longest time, I didn't feel that I was ready to make a true Chanel-inspired tweed jacket because this project is so different from classic tailoring. However I wanted to learn the authentic sewing techniques of Chanel's seamstresses and get this very unique set of skills under by belt. I finally made my first tweed jacket and I am hooked. The enormous satisfaction I got after completing this project is indescribable. I will guide you along my personal experience in the hopes of inspiring you to do the same.
My first task was to research everything I could about Chanel, the history of the brand and, more importantly, the particular methods of construction so characteristic of this timeless brand. I highly recommend you do the same because it will open your eyes in terms of how the success of the Chanel brand was a combination of the incredible skills of designers, fashion illustrators and seamstresses hired by Chanel and what a shrewd business woman she was for hiring the best in the first place. A complex woman, a controversial person, but talented and successful, no doubt.
If any of you are still questioning that the Chanel brand is relevant, just search online and you will see the astronomical price tags on Chanel jackets. As you progress through these Chanel jacket sewing tutorials, you will see how you can easily make Chanel style jackets yourselves. Most of us are visual learners, so I will include the videos for your reference. And these techniques apply to tweed jackets or dresses of any design. You can make tweed anything once you understand what is done and for what reason.
Part of it is the result of years of successful branding and marketing, of course, but also, because of the exclusivity of the fabrics, buttons, trim and the enormous amount of manual work involved in making these iconic pieces. It is important to mention that the fabrics, buttons, lace and other embellishments are made specifically for Chanel brand and you will not find them in you local fabric stores.
That being said, you can come pretty close to the authentic Chanel jacket. I made the jacket you see on the video from tweed fabric I purchased at Fabric Land. One word of advise I can give you: try to find the best quality tweed that your money can buy. The more loosely-woven and the thinner the fabric, the more 'hang' you will notice in the pockets and the general look of the jacket.
It is ultimately the custom fit and the iconic details, like the trim and the buttons that make the jacket look like it was made by Chanel. Let's keep in mind that the skillful hands of Chanel seamstresses made these beautiful pieces and if they can do it, so can you and I.
The first and the most important thing you need is the pattern. I will be using Vogue V8804 sewing pattern. But, really, you can use any sewing pattern for a ladies' jacket without a collar, front-buttoned and with three-piece sleeves. Don't worry about pockets, or trim. These are customizable anyways. I will be using a crochet trim all around, hand-made buttons and just two lower pockets.
Mademoiselle Chanel never printed any patterns but it is hard to prevent the masses populaires from imitating something that we like. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery in the words of Mademoiselle herself. I believe that even Chanel herself imitated others or incorporated what she saw or experienced herself in her designs.
It is my firm belief that everything we see in the fashion world is a repetition of something that was already done in the past. The Chanel brand was fortunate to keep their tweed jackets in circulation year after year because they symbolize status and wealth. But tweed jackets are not exclusive to Chanel. I see them everywhere. Check out Balenciaga and Balmain. The cheaper versions are at Nordstrom and such.
For me, it's a great learning experience (not to mention that it looks fantastic with jeans). When you start, you will quickly discover that every step is a bit different from what you were trained to do in tailoring. No stiff canvas, no domette interlining, no separate lining, different steps of construction. I mean, it is a completely different process. I even started a special folder of all the construction methods I encountered so I can refer to them in the future.