Friday, January 21, 2011

Couture & Chanel cardigans

What does Couture really mean?  The term "Haute couture" refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing.  Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and its usually made from high quality, expensive fabric with an extreme attention to detail and finished using time-consuming, hand executed techniques.  So says WIKIPEDIA.  LOL.  To me, any woman/man who makes their own clothes is a couturier except for the expensive high-end fabrics I guess.

Now I've been retired from the office scene for 15 years and my lifestyle is very casual.  9 times out of 10 I'm wearing jeans with a nice top, usually one I've made.  So couture doesn't really enter into my way of living and even if it did, we couldn't afford it.  Typical couture items can run into the many thousands.  But...I can see wearing a nice Chanel style cardigan with my jeans in my near future.  Since I've joined the Jacket A Month,12039.35.html  forum, I've found a few other blogs namely the Go Chanel or Go Home! Blog.  LOL.  I really love the look of the Chanel cardigan.  Well...I mostly love the look; I plan on updating that look somewhat. And since the jean jacket I've almost completed is my first jacket on that forum, my version of the Chanel cardigan will be my second.  Now let's get this straight from the beginning, I will come nowhere near making 12 jackets this year especially since there will be so much hand work on the cardigan.  I'll need to cleanse my sewing palette between jackets with other items.  LOL. 

So...what makes a Chanel cardigan different?  The cardigans are constructed without traditional interfacings, backings, facing or heavy linings.  As a consequence, there are only 2 fabric layers - the outer fashion fabric and the lining.  They are considered a "lined to the edge" type garment.  The fashion fabric is usually a loosely woven tweedy or boucle type fabric that is, as a norm, considered too fragile for traditional skirts and jackets.  Linings are more delicate materials such as silk gauze, China silk and silk charmeuse.

Typical construction consists of, almost invisible, quilting the fashion fabric to the lining so the loosely woven fabric will not sag and the garment can maintain its shape.  Other touches on Chanel cardigans includes a almost totally hand applied/sewn lining, braid trim and brass chains to weight the jacket hem attractively.

As I may have said before, I'm completely self-taught when it comes to sewing.  So I'll be using several reference books (and blogs) to help me construct my jacket.  I have my Threads Magazine Archive and Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer along for the ride.  I'm going to try to document my efforts more completely in making this cardigan than I ever have in constructing a garment before.  And the reason why is because I haven't found a single source, on-line or not, that does.  And basically because I want to.  LOL.

More later...

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