Sunday, May 29, 2011

Classic French Jacket Class: Day 1

I hope you will forgive my week-long absence after reading my diary about the making of my Chanel-inspired jacket, dear readers. It was one of the best classes I have had, and I spent about 15 hours a day sewing - this is the reason for not updating my blog during this time! Did you know that the jacket, which is constructed using couture methods, takes 70 to 80 hours to complete?... Unbelievable, but I will try to prove it here. In addition, some of you asked me about the class, its structure and the work involved, and, so, I will try to give you as accurate account as possible...

So, here is the Day 1: Friday, May 20.

Sleep: 2,5 hours
Alcohol intake: 2 glasses
Food intake: one breakfast bun, maccaroni and cheese (lunch), and a huge pizza at 10:00 p.m.
Exercise: carrying Eve and 3 more bags, four blocks in total.
Shopping: 5 hours
Happiness level: 5 (out of 5)

1:00 a.m. I am still working on my muslin. Of course, I should have done it much earlier, but until the last week I was still playing around with the style, pattern choice and the fabric. So, now I am sitting here thread-tracing the Vogue 7975, which was one of the recommend patterns for the class. We were to choose a simple style with princess seams and any length.

4:00 a.m. Bodice is done, traced and assembled, but I still need to assemble the sleeves. I decide to leave them as is and hope to get a few hours of sleep. The group is traveling from Baltimore, where the course takes place, and is arriving in New York at 12:00, so I will be meeting them at Mendel Goldberg.

6:30 a.m. All three kids are up and I got to join the family for breakfast, say good bye to everyone and start packing. Will miss the little mischiefs....

11:00 a.m. All packed: Eve (my Bernina 1008), a sleeve board, a box full of sewing notions and tools, and my latest project - silk charmeuse tunic for some additional evening sewing, and all the usual travel stuff. Eve is carefully snugged in a quilted jacket and tucked from all sides in a sturdy suitcase; another bag for the sleeve board and sewing notions.... I end up with four bags!!!! Auch! Well, never mind, now it's time to get a cab and drive to Chinatown - I am so excited!!!

11:15 a.m. Hmmm, the streets in New York are not made for rolling super precious Swiss sewing machines - Eve is being carried three blocks where I am getting a cab and enjoying the ride to my dream - Classic French Jacket!... On the way, I am texting Susan (Susan Khalje - our celebrity instructor!) that I am on my way. She is texting back that they will be arriving soon as well, and that I will probably meet another three New Yorker participants there... How great!

12:00 a.m. I am at Mendel Goldberg! Alice, owner's daughter and store manager, is there to greet me and is keen to show me her treasures. Her father and her daughter are there as well - they are all set for a busy afternoon. I have to disappoint her - I already bought my fabric - but I would love to see what else is on offer there. I meet Rosie (if you decide to take a class with Susan, make sure Rosie is one of the participants - you won't be disappointed!) - she is one of the veteran participants and a few minutes later I have a feeling I know her for ages!.. The group arrives, and I am somewhat relieved that the attention of the store owners and sales assistants shifted toward the newly arrived -  just want to look at fabrics quietly....

some of the summer fabrics suitable for Chanel-like jackets
Alice (left), Alice's daughter (center, with her back toward the camera, Cheryl (right)
Center: Diane (she has made three Chanel-inspired jackets) talking to Susan, who helps her to choose fabrics
Right: Becky (another class participant) talking to Alice (left)
These gorgeous fabrics range from around $85 to $500 per yard. You may be lucky to find end of bolt or out-of-season pieces for less, but, still, expect to pay from $300 to $900 for both, fashion and lining fabric for the jacket. 

The lining choices are charmeuse, georgette or crepe de chine, we were explained.  The latter two are more suitable for a lighter version. I was not able to make up my mind, so I had both, charmeuse and crepe de chine, which I bought at the Mood. However, I must say, you cannot compare the Mood to Mendel and Goldberg when it comes to printed charmeuse! The store carries amazing prints from Valentino, Roberto Cavalli, Dior and others, which sometimes cost more than bouclés we chose for our jackets. In fact, many of the class participants did chose printed charmeuse as lining. 

At the end I decide to use charmeuse. The thing is, charmeuse felt sooo good on bouclé that I almost felt like making a 'snuggie' out of this combination, cuddle up and spend the rest of my life in it. Seriously, you will never want to wear a fused ready-to-wear jacket after this. 

Rosie with Susan's husband
2:30 p.m. After a brief lunch in the neighborhood we head toward M&J Trimming in the Garment district and spend close to three hours selecting trims and buttons for our jackets. I am skipping this whole experience, since, by the time I had my trim and made a decision not to use any buttons on my jacket, I was exhausted! I must say, Susan was there to help everyone! So, despite the fact that I hate extended shopping and was in a desperate need for sleep, I was very happy to be part of the group. Only one single day separated me from getting my hands on my own 'Chanel' jacket. 

3:30 p.m. Everyone is in the van and we are all set to go back to Baltimore! It seems that excitement are over for the day, and it's time to relax, when Rosie unveils, as by some magic, a box of super delicious macaroons from the Macaron Café. We all Ooh! and Aah! and then slowly settle in in our sits exchanging our stories and personal backgrounds. Amazing group of people! I think of the coming days and doze off.

9:00 p.m. We arrive at our Hotel. I check in and half an hour later join Diane and Sue for a late dinner at a close-by restaurant. Two glasses of wine, a pizza, and an interesting conversation with my fellow couturiers...

11:45 p.m. (in my bed) I am so relaxed... apparently, tomorrow is the Judgement Day, and I think it's quite alright to be sewing a 'Chanel' jacket on this significant date. What can be better than that!

(to be continued)


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