Little Black Jacket

I was completely seduced by the video, "CHANEL: the Secrets of the Little Black Jacket".  I have watched that video so many times now that my heart starts beating a little bit faster when I hear the music accompanying the video.

I don't wear much black, but the seduction was so complete that I could not get the idea out of my head.  I set out to make my very own version.

I chose to make a version with cropped sleeves.  I wore this jacket on a trip to Melbourne in winter.  I layered it over a long sleeved merino top to combat the cold temperatures.  The cropped sleeves turned out to be quite advantageous, as whenever I put my elbows on the table whilst sipping / sampling the local cuisine, I did not have to worry about putting my beautiful wool tweed in any crumbs or spills.

I have made a couple of similar jackets now, but this is the first time I have made one with a button opening.

I chose a different pocket placement than my inspiration jacket.  It is actually difficult to get the pocket placement right for a button opening jacket and have them look okay when the jacket is worn both open and closed.   There must be some formula to get each the right distance from the centre front.  I hand-sewed these pockets on at least twice, very late, on the evening before I flew to Melbourne.  I am a little disappointed in the pockets.  I made a template, but being fully lined in silk, the pockets ended up a little misshapen.  I needed to stabilise either the tweed or the silk.  I was rushing these the day before I left.  I have enough fabric left to redo them at some future stage in my life when I am blessed with a little more time.  Once I started wearing the jacket, I did not notice the uneven pockets any more.

 I placed two buttons on each sleeve, and a button on each pocket.

 All the button holes are fully functioning.

I made spanish snap button holes (more detail here)

I used many hand-sewing techniques on this jacket, but I did not set the sleeves by hand.    I used the method in the Threads article "Shortcuts to a designer jacket" (Jan 07).  I have yet to bind the armhole sleeve allowances.  I might take the jacket with me over the summer to complete this hand-stitching.

Like many of you, I have gathered quite a few resources on the techniques to make a quilted jacket, including several Threads articles and Claire Shaeffer patterns.  As far as I was able, I stuck to the methods shown in the Chanel video.  I think they machine their button holes, so I did differ in that regard.  There was quite a bit of stabilising with what looked like iron-on Vilene tape.  I did a lot of hand-basting and hand felled seams, though the front edges and princess seams were machine sewn. 

I don't normally talk about costs on my blog, but I thought some of you may be interested in the cost to make one of these iconic jackets.

  • Linton Tweed - 2 m 44 pounds, shipping 30 pounds ($135 - I have enough left over for a pencil skirt, should I decide to make one)
  • Silk charmeuse lining from EmmaOneSock - 2 yds @ $25/yd, shipping, say $10
  • Braid, from M&J Trimming - 5 yds -  $24.90 (I bought enough braid to go around the hem, but did not use that much.  I left the braid off the hem because I wanted it to be easy to let-out / take-in the jacket if required, anticipating that this jacket will be around for decades :)
  • Metal Chain, from M&J Trimming - 2 yds $5.96 (I haven't added this yet.  I am wondering if I bought the wrong weight of cahin, because it doesn't feel heavy enough to affect the hang of the jacket)
  • 14 buttons, from M&J Trimming - $37.52 (1 spare)
  • Shipping from M&J Trimming $19.95
  • Pattern - it was adapted from a Patrones pattern.  I'm not sure how to cost that in.  I visited my sister's sewing teacher, who helped me fit my muslin and adjust the pattern in a 1 on 1 session (what a joy that was!) for which I paid $100.  The pattern was heavily changed, so much so that it is not worth giving the pattern number.
  • Vilene tape ~$15 from Spotlight
  • poly-cotton remnants and interfacing remnants from stash - considered free
  • thread - say $12

Of course, some of that is in $US and some in AUD, but at the time, the 2 currencies were close to parity, so I am ignoring that fact.

All that totals to just over $400.  a lot for one piece of clothing but a little compared to RTW versions.

I think I need some help styling the jacket.  These jackets are supposed to be very versatile, but so far, I have only paired it with jeans or a pencil skirt.  Probably doesn't help that not much of my wardrobe is in neutral colours.


  1. Wow, it looks gorgeous. I'd love to see it on you. I really enjoyed this post considering I'm in the process of making my own French jacket. Much food for thought...

  2. Thanks for the detailed post, including an estimate of the costs. I'm sure it will be well worth it once you tweak it. I, like you, have to pay someone to fit patterns and her fee is comparable. But there's no point in putting all that effort and money into a pattern that doesn't fit.

    I will add this to my growing compendium of Chanel-style jacket information.

  3. What a great idea to get fitting help on the pattern. That cost could be divided over however many garments you use the pattern for and seems more like an investment. And your jacket looks fantastic! In addition to pairing it with jeans and pencil skirts, I'll bet it would look lovely with some of your bright fitted dresses (like this one http://sewblooms.blogspot.com/2013/09/donna-karan-body-con-dress.html).

  4. Wow - go you! What an amazing jacket. Everyone has to have a Linton tweed jacket in their repertoire and yours looks amazing. I do hope you oblige us with a photo of it on you, although I understand you might boil to death in the process now you are back in the tropics!

  5. Beautiful jacket. Such a classic piece. Well done.

  6. Oh wow, it's amazing. Very well done.

  7. Just beautiful, and will go with just about everything I'm sure :)

  8. Wow - beautiful jacket and spending some time with a professional to help with the fitting/pattern changes must have been wonderful.

  9. Lovely version of this jacket style. I didn't add up the cost of the one I made and I am glad I didn't as I gave it to a girlfriend as it never really worked for me (wrong colour, wrong style)...sigh!

  10. I've never added up the cost of my projects because I really don't want to know! But I do know that this hobby of ours isn't cheap or done to save money either! You've made such a fantastic jacket, the cost per wear over the coming decade will be very good I'm sure!

  11. I agree with Kristy on the tally...best not to know. I do know the cost of new Chanel jacket though and your jacket definitely passes.

  12. Beautiful jacket--you've got me scheming about giving it a try myself. Thanks for sharing your process and costs.

  13. Katherine, I don't know how I missed this back in December but I am just admiring your work on this jacket! This is definitely one of those sewing bucket list projects, isn't it? You made a good call on getting someone to help with the fit. It just makes all the work so much more gratifying!