Saturday 8 December 2018

Second 'Lifestyle Uniforms,' the pseudo Chanel jacket

The new blue/black/silver/bronze/white bouclé
the Hong Kong-tailored workhorse from 1990 on its third change of buttons
my favorite V7975 with 3/4 quarter sleeves, waist length
first stab at my own trim
cheerful lining, but could have used contrast band/fringe option
the 'other' Vogue OOP pattern w/self band and four
pockets. I think I prefer four pockets
my first V7975, okay,
but much better once sequins hand-sewn to purchased trim
Tweed too flat, but okay for day. Note "Chanel" buttons!
the longer-waisted V7975 sober daytime option.

Besides a Little Black Dress and a variety of jodphur/leggings to go under knee-high boots, (post to follow) there's another item I've always had on hand when I have to get out of jeans and look more grown-up and citified. Admittedly, that doesn't happen as often as it used to.

I learned the meaning of easy chic when I was a bureau chief in Hong Kong and had a tailor run up a custom-fitted Chanel-style black bouclé jacket. I wore it to our goodbye party as we left Hong Kong forever and then every other diplomatic event required for the five years we were posted to the UN in NY where my husband was a Head of Mission. (This black item is still going strong, although I removed the huge shoulder pads without regret. I've changed the buttons over the years from pearl to gold to sparkly black.)

But one solid black Chanel-ish jacket  is only the baseline, hardly the end of the story. And if you're interested in my Chanel fetish, check out my exploding Pinterest "Chanel Inspiration Board" here:

I have just cut out a lovely navy, black and silver bouclé to sew up—hip length with full-length sleeves and four pockets, two more than shown in the Vogue 7975 pattern. I've finished the body and am now adding four pockets trimmed with self-fringe cut on the bias and secured down the middle with navy braid. I'll post a photo of it as soon as it is finished!

But as I delved into this project, I felt rusty about my design choices and fit. So I reviewed my 'Chanel-lite' collection so far. And I must say, I do love three of my home-sewn versions, but am less thrilled with a fourth. And frankly, they are all looking a little 'too loved.' Forgive their saggy, tired appearances in the photos above. It just shows how much they've been worn. So it's time I had a new one.

Very long ago, working at the BBC in London around 1979, I invested in a wonderful white bouclé wool and made the Vogue Designer tk. (photo below) And I bought the Vogue Designer Albert Nipon around the same time, (see below.) I've used Vogue 7975 and Vogue tk to make four pseudo Chanel jackets for evening or meeting/conference wear. I say pseudo, because I really do use the Vogue instructions which are less complicated than the 'classic' Chanel's. I fully respect those sewists who do the whole quilting-lining-to-bouclé-by-hand thing for true authenticity. Their results look great with nice fit and drape. And the chain is a nice bit of authenticity as well.

I can't do it. I'm sorry, but I just don't like hand-sewing all that much. And I don't want a chain sewn to the lining running between the small of my back and the hard back of a concert seat for two hours, no matter how authenticate it is.

The next Chanel experiment after the Hong Kong buy, around year 2000, was the black-and-wine bouclé hip-length version. Once I'd put the black braid around it, I wasn't satisfied. So a year later, I hand-sewed black sequins scattered along the trim. Now I was very happy. I've worn it to death over black skirts or pants ever since.

My favorite is the wool pink-baby-blue and bronze-threaded one from 2007, the shorter waist option of Vogue 7975 with three-quarter sleeves. But after a few years, I lent to my daughter in London. She brought it back needing a wash. I hand-washed it to protect the bronze metal threads from our village drycleaner and it now feels a little tight, still workable but maybe this baby needs retirement. I love the gorgeous fabric, a remnant from an elegant shop in Lausanne that closed. I braided my own trim with yarns selected to match the threads of the boucle.

Third outing was the yellow, pink, and black Vogue OOP7860 which I might have exploited a bit better by using a contrast fabric for the banding. SewTawdry used this pattern very nicely here:
My bouclé here was less expensive than my wool choices, a cotton choice that looks great for spring with pink lining. This Vogue pattern is  boxier than the Vogue 7975 and has big shoulders that needed cutting down. It also has a front seam that curves from the armhole seam into a dart and this construction doesn't lend itself to the traditional quilting process I skipped. I might use this pattern again because it fit me well and possibly the construction lends itself to matching discounted remnants of expensive fabrics.

Fourth outing was my 'loser' in green. I used the longer length of Vogue 7975 again and made my own trim with braided yarns, but  I think I don't get any buzz because I used a tweed remnant of a high quality wool that wasn't a bouclé. But at least I scored some imitation Chanel buttons! Even so, I don't like the look of a buttoned Chanel, especially as none of my sewing machines make perfect buttonholes. Live and learn. This definitely goes over jeans. Maybe my disaffection is also because my hairdo experiment as a redhead is over and my 'redhead' foray into green and jade colorways reminds me of some very, very difficult years past.

There are a couple of Burda jacket patterns I'd like to try. I think Burda measurements allow for more refining and I'm definitely not the body I was when I first sewed V7975. One option is a Burda Easy 2016 with the possibility of a flared sleeve and a peplum. The other is the Burda Classic 2013 that includes a collar option.

The one pattern I haven't been able to find is one that mimics the Chanel jacket shape featuring an upright circular collar that sits wide and clear of the neck. If you see one, please link me to it!


  1. LOVE the new blue/black boucle! That's going to be amazing!

  2. Thanks, Lisa, Despite the suggestion elsewhere that 'fringe' trim is out-dated, I'm kind of in love with self-fringe on this new one and midway through applying it. Hope you like it!

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