Sew! Lets Get Dressed – French Jacket Fabric

Carrie's French jacket materials

Carrie’s beautiful fabric with lining and trim

Why does bouclé always look so beguiling at the fabric store?  I believe it is the interesting mix of textures and colors that draw me in.  So, I must also confess that four times I have succumbed to the temptation and purchased pieces of this stunning fabric.

photo boucle 1

White Bridal jacket with silk pique flower.

My first two pieces were purchased at a winter sale at  A Fabric Place in Baltimore over 10 years ago.  I used a very small white-on-white piece to make a little winter jacket for the strapless bridal gown on the dress form in my studio.  To me it was the perfect attire for a bride with a classic fashion sensibility.  The flower on the jacket is made with 5 large petals from our rose pin pattern.

photo boucle 2

Bronze jacket with selvage trim.

The other remnant was shades of bronze and I puzzled over it for a while before stitching it into a boxy asymmetrical jacket edged lavishly with the fabric’s wonderful selvage.  I underlined the entire jacket with silk organza, which made it light and pliable but did not control the boucle.

I wore the bronze jacket for several years, satisfied with the bouclé addition to my wardrobe.  However, the invitation to accompany a friend to Susan Khalje’s Classic French Jacket Class rekindled my love of bouclé.  Here was an opportunity to learn to sew bouclé perfectly.  I used the pattern chosen for the 2010 Threads Magazine challenge to ASDP members.  It met the classic French jacket requirements – shoulder princess seams and high set-in sleeves.

photo boucle 3

Chanel; Number 41, my challenge entry made in Susan Khalje’s Couture French Jacket Class

My  fabric was purchased at Mood in NYC several months before the class would even begin.  Again, I loved the mix of textured threads.  The brown, grey and black fabric that I selected would match everything in my wardrobe!  On the class shopping excursion to New York, I acquired the perfect lining at Mendel Goldberg Fabrics, but at M & J Trimmings none of the pre-made trims satisfied me.  I decided to craft trim myself using sequin trimmed velvet ribbon, feathers, and threads harvested from the fabric.  It was a labor of love.  I finished constructing the jacket in the class, but spent countless additional hours completing the intricate trim application.

photo french jacket lining

A close up of the intricately matched lining.

My ensemble, which included the jacket, made it to the challenge finals.  I wore it in the ASDP fashion show, but I never felt comfortable in the close-fitting neck, shoulders and armholes of the jacket.

photo boucle4

My raspberry fabric, both trims and some adorable frog lining draped on the dress form.

Once the Tabula Rasa Jacket Pattern was completed and we began creating pattern variations, I got the bouclé itch again.  Maybe I would find the jacket more comfortable if I used classic “Chanel” style construction techniques with the square armhole shaping I love.  I succumbed to the temptation in the Mendel Goldberg booth at the 2012 American Sewing Expo.  Then I went directly to the Soutache booth and matched the luscious raspberry fabric with ribbon and a complementary sequined and beaded net trim.

Edye's French jacket materials

Edye’s French jacket materials

Over the last 2 years, Carrie and Edye hopped on the bandwagon, too, acquiring fabric, lining and trim for their own jackets.  With you as our witnesses, we are beginning this week.  January 2015 is the month of the Tabula Rasa French Style Jacket experiment.

We have been reading all sorts of blog posts, magazine articles and books to prepare.  To help us visualize style options for our jackets, I started collecting design ideas on a Pinterest page.  Our materials are in hand; take a peek at these photos of our delicious bouclés, linings and trims.

Our first task, of course, is the careful pattern work and muslin mock- up stitching, which we started today.  We are each planning different shapes, lengths, necklines and sleeve treatments.  Tune in next week to see how we are progressing.  We will share our successful pattern adjustments with you so you can be inspired to sew along… just in case you want to use the bouclé on your shelf.

Happy Sewing in this new year!  RAE

2 Responses to “Sew! Lets Get Dressed – French Jacket Fabric”

  1. Kate January 6, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    Love the fabrics and I am looking forward to the jackets. I agree that the classic Chanel can be a very uncomfortable garment.

    Whenever you do the next pants blog could you discuss how to do the flat facing with elastic? We had talked about this during our pants seminar. Thanks.

    • Rae Cumbie January 6, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

      Hi Kate, Hopefully the TRJ will be comfortable. I have made my mock up and plan to wear it while I sewe for the next few days before I cut the real jacket. We will try to get that pants post for you soon. Happy New Year. RAE

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