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Is a little black jacket on your sewing life list?

All the fashionistas in NYC are buzzing over The Little Black Jacket exhibit that’s in town through this Friday. Have you heard about this exhibit? Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld dreamed up the idea when Carine was having a black Chanel jacket custom-made. They gathered up over 100 celebrities, Karl photographed them in versions of the iconic jacket, and voilà, a book and an exhibition was born.

All this hoopla has me obsessing once again about Chanel jackets and being thankful that I can sew my own, since owning a real Chanel jacket could easily cost several thousand dollars. Making one seems to be a right of passage for sewists, many of whom flock to Susan Khalje’s French jacket sewing classes and read everything Claire Shaeffer writes on the subject.

Me, I made a black Chanel-style jacket about four years ago. I like it, but I’m not in love with it (too short in length, gets a little warm to wear for any extended period of time). Time for a do-over! I really like the longer length of Vogue 8804. Yesterday morning at Mood I swatched a piece of black wool bouclé  and then played around with some trim and buttons. Half the fun of making a Chanel jacket is picking out the perfect fabric and trim, right?

Italian black wool bouclé from Mood NYC, $35/yd. Toying here with a beaded trim, though I’ll probably go with a more traditional braid in the end.

Have you made a Chanel-style jacket? Do you think making one is something that needs to be on every sewist’s life list? What other iconic garments belong on such a list? Tell me here!



11 Responses to “ Is a little black jacket on your sewing life list? ”

  1. Vicky

    On my list, besides a Chanel-like jacket is a perfect trench coat.

    1713 days ago   |   Reply
  2. Nancy Karpen

    I looked for the boucle you picked out online and couldn’t find it. If I call the store can I get a swatch of it?

    1715 days ago   |   Reply
    • Meg

      Nancy, I got it in the NYC store. Call 212-730-5003 and ask for Tarek in the wool department. He can swatch it for you.

      1713 days ago   |   Reply
  3. Kathy

    I would love to see the exhibit and visit Mood.

    1716 days ago   |   Reply
  4. Sensible Sewer

    The black jacket is my white whale. Working towards it…

    Other garments to which I aspire:

    The perfect T shirt;
    The perfect blouse;
    The perfect menswear-style shirt;
    The perfect skirt (cotton, wool, leather);
    The perfect A line dress;
    The perfect sheath dress;
    The perfect empire waist dress.

    I’d also one day like to make a version of some Laura Ashley corduroy jumpesr/playsuits/rompers I bought on eBay.

    1717 days ago   |   Reply
  5. Nancy Karpen

    I’ve been thinking about making one as well. I have the new Schaeffer pattern. I pulled out my issues of Threads with the articles on sewing a Chanel jacket. There is a much earlier article by Claire Schaeffer as well as the Susan Khalje article.

    1717 days ago   |   Reply
  6. Rita

    Meg, when you look at the pattern and it says “pre-quilting required” what does that refer to? The fabric doesn’t have to be quilted so what are they referring to.


    1718 days ago   |   Reply
    • Meg

      Rita, quilting is a hallmark of couture Chanel jackets. It’s where you “quilt” the lining to the boucle before you sew any seams. The two layers are joined together then, making it a really soft and comfortable jacket to wear. See if you can find any of Susan Khalje’s articles online on This will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

      1718 days ago   |   Reply
      • Rita

        Ah, I see. Basically vertical “quilting” of lining to fabric. In pieces, I assume? that seems easier than traditional lining.

        Sorry if this was a stupid Q.

        1717 days ago   |   Reply
        • Meg

          Not a stupid question at all! Yes, you do it in pieces. Actually goes together pretty quickly.

          1717 days ago   |   Reply
  7. Patty

    Yes! I’ve been wanting to make a Chanel-like jacket for a couple of years now, and I think this Fall I can find some time to mark out just for that purpose. I agree, just thinking about and looking for the fabric, trims etc is half the fun :-) Just wish I was in NYC to see this exhibit! BTW did you you see the Chanel dress that Drew Barrymore wore for her wedding……exquisite!

    1718 days ago   |   Reply

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