Monday, October 3, 2011

Bouclé, Charmeuse and Quilting à la Chanel

Ok, my quilting tutorial is an epic. Again. 

I somehow manage to produce annals on simplest things. Give me a catchstitch and I will return it with a PhD-worthy manual.

The same is happening here. And before I overload you with details, check out this quick intro on what you will need to quilt your bouclé à la Chanel.

How did I learn these techniques? First by reading Claire Shaeffer articles, book and instructions for her highly-coveted Vogue#8259 Chanel Jacket, which I was very lucky to find. I also took a Classic French Jacket Class with Susan Khalje, and the techniques I learnt there were very similar to those I learnt myself, but nothing, of course, can replace face-to-face learning experience. 

I am now working on my Colette Fall Palette cape, which I decided to make from a nice black and white even plaid bouclé I bought at Mendel and Goldberg. The cape is lined with printed silk charmeuse from Mood Fabrics. It was only natural to make it following Chanel techniques, instead of following Burda instructions, because I wanted to have a piece that feels luxurious, soft and warm, and, at the same time, a piece that would last longer. 

Techniques you will find here are a mix and modification from classes, publications and pattern instructions, see the resources at the end of this post. At the end of the post, you will find links to resources that go into depth about quilting. 



I bought relatively loosely-woven bouclé for the cape. I (now) know that, after a while, some portions of the cape will sag if I don’t stabilize it. This will happen mostly to the upper part of the garment, since it carries the most weight. Excess fabric will show at the bottom part which will look like a bubble... 

So, the action plan is: quilting lining to boucle, and adding a layer of silk organza on the upper portion of pattern pieces as an interfacing - to further stabilize the fabric and the seams without adding bulk.

Here is what I am using for my project:
  • Wool bouclé 
  • Silk Charmeuse Lining – silk charmeuse is a very good choice for warmer garments. However, there are more choices for silk linings - I discussed some of them in my Burda Style guest post.
  • Silk Organza for interfacing. 

Got scrap organza? Never through away remnants of organza, or organza selvedge!!!! Never!!! You will need every square inch! Bigger pieces (5 to 10 sq. in.) are good for interfacing the area around armscye. Smaller, literally 1 sq. in. pieces, are great for interfacing buttonholes and button areas.

  • 2"-wide transparent ruler – is a must, since makes life so much easier 
  • WHITE chalk markerpen-style Clover chalk liners are the best I have tried. Never use yellow! It will leave permanent marks on your fabric.
  • Finest silk pins – you don’t want to leave marks on your precious silk
  • Japanese hand basting needles – for thread-tracing and basting
  • Silk thread in contrasting color for hand basting and thread tracing. Pulling out silk basting is much easier! 

QUILTING IS DONE BY MACHINE, and you will need…
  • A walking foot – you will struggle without, but still can try if you want on a scrap.
  • Silk floss, machine embroidery threador mercerized cotton for machine-quilting
  • Microtex needle - I am using Microtex because it works best with both, silk and bouclé, which often contains some novelty threads (Universal needle just could not pierce through the latter without breaking thread). #70 works great


As promised, here are some resources you may want to explore in addition to the upcoming tutorial:

Claire Shaeffer. The Comfortable Side of Couture: Practical techniques of Coco Chanel. First published in Threads Magazine, June/July 1989, Issue 23. Republished in The Best of Threads: Designer Techniques, Spring/Summer 2011 (Thread Archives contain several Chanel-related tutorials and articles by both, Claire Shaeffer and Susan Khalje).

Claire Shaeffer. Couture Sewing Techniques:Revised & Updated. Chapter: Applying Couture Techniques: The Quilted Lining (p. 195)

Vogue Patterns # 8259. Chanel-inspired jacket. Custom Couture by Claire Shaeffer. Here, the quilting is slightly different then in the other sources, but the pattern has great step-by-step instructions and the highly-coveted three-piece sleeve.

For hands-on experience, join Susan Khalje’s class Classic French Jacket, usually in Baltimore, MA, or Claire Shaeffer class in Palm Springs, CA.

Part II of the Quilting à la Chanel will include: 
  • Laying Out & Cutting Lining.
  • Adding Interfacing.
  • Preparing Layers for Machine-Quilting. 

I will post the second part on Wednesday - at the moment both, me and my 2-years old are still sick, so tomorrow a lighter treat:  trend report inspired by this week's Sew Weekly Challenge: Spanish Harlem.

That’s it for today, readers! Questions?


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