When I decided to make a version of a 1937 Chanel jacket I covet, I chose a “modern” (1997) pattern as my starting point.
The best thing would have been to draft a pattern from scratch, using my personal blocks and working carefully to create all the design features I love in this jacket. Another idea would have been to start with a vintage pattern from the era and make changes to that. In the end I went for the 1997 Ungaro pattern. It is somewhat dated, of course, but it is a well drafted, old-fashioned, fairly classic, but relatively simple unlined jacket without lots of tailoring, padding or structure and I thought it had a “feel” of the original. By the 1990s the pattern companies were creating easy to construct items that were not yet fully dumbed down (as I feel a number of modern patterns are).
The punch line is I really, really enjoyed making this jacket. A nice straightforward pattern, clear instructions and a really quick process. They suggested using nylon knitted fusible interlining throughout, except for the sleeves. I didn’t do this. I only interfaced the collar and facings, and I am so glad I didn’t over structure the jacket. It is fairly firm anyway, as a result of using a meium weight inen fabric. The dying project adds body too (I have always found this – do you agree?). The collar (with a stand, an upper and lower collar with slightly different dimensions so that the seam is hidden perfectly) is nice. The cuff is well designed and straightforward while also requiring proper button holes. Just a great pattern.
Of course to get it to look more like Coco’s surgery was required.
- I reduced the length of the jacket by 3 inches to take away that 1990s look
- I recurved the hem to resemble the 1937 jacket
- I slimmed it down through the waist and torso by relying on the size 6 or 8 cutting lines (I mainly made up the size 10)
- The front bust darting on V1977 is rather distinctive – two long shaped darts and a little easing at the side seam. I thought about this for a while. Chanel has one short underbust dart in her jacket, but I left the darts in. I wanted to see how they came out. They get the bust fullness into exactly the right place – giving a blouse-like quality to the jacket.
- I redrew the button positions increasing from three to four and placing them, more or less, as on the Coco jacket
- I knew the sleeves would be too long for me, but left them as designed (regulation length!) so I could fold them back
- I didn’t cut out the collar or pockets initially as I knew I would want to toile them. To do this I use a firm cotton or calico and attach the piece with a basting stitch.
- When I toiled the original collar I just really liked it on me and felt the proportions were right. It isn’t that similar to Coco’s but I thought her slightly oversized collar (and very high break) might look a bit weird on me.
So in summary by retaining two of the original Ungaro features – front darts and collar – I have a hybrid look. But one I really liked. I may make a further jacket and change the collar and dart to make it even more similar to the inspiration picture. This would also give me a chance to produce a lighter pink jacket, or maybe white or light taupe/stone/grey instead.
The sewing instructions rely on flat felled seams throughout with decorative top stitching (nooo!). The armholes and various other seams are bound with bias binding. Vogue suggest covering the shoulder pads (mine are grey!) in the lining fabric and attaching them. I will be lining the jacket (I am sure Coco would have lined hers) with the pink viscose I dyed simultaneously dyed.
Once I have done the collar and sleeves I will have to tackle the patch pockets: Chanel has four whereas Ungaro has just two. I am not very good at patch pockets and always find the construction problematic. I will leave them until the whole jacket is made so I can get the size, shape and placement right. Then it will be a matter of adding the shoulder pads, lining and button holes. Give me a week.