Oooh la la! A classic French jacket

Tuesday 4 July 2017

The very cold weather we have been having in these parts lately has meant quite a  few nights on the lounge under a blanket but it has resulted in me finally finishing my classic French jacket. Sure, it's many months after I started making this jacket at Susan Khaljie's week long course in February but to be honest, I still can't quite believe how many hours of work has gone into this jacket - all that hand-stitching certainly takes time.

Admittedly, since I last posted about this jacket back in February I didn't do much work on it because the weather had been too hot - I couldn't find the motivation when I knew I wouldn't wear it straight away. But this is very much needed though, and even though my outer fabric is quite lightweight and loosely woven, with the silk fabric lining it's a very warm jacket.

Sewing on the trim is quite time consuming, and luckily I kept my trim quite simple so I had less work to do than some of the ladies in my course. The white grosgrain ribbon is hand-stitched down the centre of the ribbon, and the black gimp braid is hand-stitched on both edges. It's about 5m around the jacket and cuffs, so that is 15m of hand-stitching of the trim alone!

I agonised over that trim and buttons. There aren't many stores in Sydney with a wide range, so it wasn't easy finding something that would work. I was lucky to have stumbled across the white grosgrain ribbon from Tessuti, but I couldn't find any flat black ribbon to my liking so I went with braided gimp. The buttons are from a store called Buttons Buttons Buttons now located in the Dymocks Building on George St - if you are ever in the Sydney CBD you should definitely drop in because there are literally thousands there to choose from. I narrowed it down to three choices, but went with the white and black stripe button in the end because I thought it looked a bit more modern.

The other big area of hand-stitching is the lining. All the lining seams internally are hand-stitched, and then the lining is stitched to the edge of the jacket around the entire edge of the jacket and cuffs. The traditional chain, which is placed along the bottom of the hem to help the jacket hang properly, is also hand-stitched:

My jacket is cropped to hip length so I've decided to leave off the pockets at the front but now I'm wondering if the front looks too plain. After all, the pockets (either two or four) are a signature look of the classic French jacket.

When I wore this jacket to work last week I kept the jacket done up because it's really cold in my office and I like the symmetry of the trim along the centre front. The neckline is really high though so I had to leave the top hook & eye undone so that I could hunch over my computer without choking. Susan advised making the neckline quite high because the eye would be drawn to the lower edge of the white trim due to the high contrast between black and white and not the upper edge of the jacket. 

My favourite aspect of this jacket is the fit - with Susan's expert pinning and tweaking I've managed to get a very close fit around the shoulders and the lower back which are areas I always struggle with. I think the fit of a jacket around the shoulder is the key to a good looking garment, but with my narrow and forward sloping shoulders I don't always achieve a close fit.

I've even bought a vintage bakelite brooch off ebay to wear with this jacket, which I think is a very sweet look:

Being a classic black and white jacket its pretty easy to find many things to wear it with, including my recently re-made wide leg pants:

So will I make another classic French jacket? Definitely! I may leave off the trim in future versions because that is the time consuming part and it makes the jacket very distinctive, and instead just make a simple collarless jacket which would suit my corporate wardrobe really well. I've done the hard yards with Susan's help to get the pattern to fit me perfectly, so it would be a waste not to make more. Watch this space....