The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Karl Lagerfeld called!!!!

OK – he didn’t call, but that’s my fantasy.

I REALLY admire this guy.  Yes, he’s sorta nutty looking and he looks like he wouldn’t invent, discover and paraticularly create anything classic.

And let me tell you.  Prima Donna was invented for this guy.  He’s announced when he arrives daily to Maison Chanel. That’s a little much……”Monsieur Karl has entered the building,” is called to the workrooms and his office.

But alas, I’m afraid all the hubbub is probably deserved.  Why?  Cause he’s taken a rather older style although classic, but it was definitely older, and has done a remarkable job in updating it.

Although this is a funny cartoon, what makes it so much funnier, is that it’s true.  On the left is the dotty dowager and on the right is the happenin’ hipster!

And here they are Beyonce (the hipster) and Brooke Aster (the former doyenne of New York Society) – both in their Chanel jackets – both probably running about the same amount.  Although Mrs. Aster may have gotten hers from the original Coco (and that’s not an insult), they are both worth the money.  Those couture jackets and suits from Maison Chanel are not chump change – they are expensive.


But here’s the thing.  Let’s face it, that creating the Chanel jacket for sewists is the penultimate jacket and in addition, it doesn’t not require a degree from FIT or from the Paris ateliers.  It take a LOT of time, and therein lies the value of the garment. So a lot of good seamsters are making and donning their jackets, causing additional probs for M. Lagerfeld.  Not only does he have to update the look, but he has to do it in a way that will warrant the high ticket on the jacket, while a lot of folks are out there making their own, or making it for clients.

That’s a pretty daunting task.  He has to stay within the realm of the icon (the Chanel Jacket formula), but venture out enough to be up-to-date.  Additionally he has to add or do something to it to warrant the huge cost of the jacket….to make it have an obvious look that makes it distinctive and yet couture, yet update it so that it can’t be copied as easily (well we sewists will do it, but when I price this out for clients, it’s about as expensive as the Lagerfeld version!)

Lagerfeld was very creative, and therein lies his genius, cause he did it.  He made the jacket fit more.  He made it hip.  And he added a trim that was incredibly time-intensive and looked it, so that patrons had no prob paying that high ticket for that hand-worked trim.

So the construction and the make-up of the jacket are essentially unchanged (which is also very time-intensive), M. Lagerfeld  added the hand-worked trim and the updated styling, and voila:  He had a winner.

Here’s a perfect example of Caroline of Monaco who is wearing a Chanel with the hand-worked trim.  She how obvious it is.  There’s something else to notice here too.  That the trim is excruciatingly evenly applied.  IOW, the workmanship is almost anal-retentively perfect.  However the ingredients are helter-skelter!  That’s the best way to define the newer, updated trim that M. Lagerfeld has employed to his mark on this classic icon.

The trim on the Vogue pattern version is nice, and it’s a great effort, but the trim on the couture jacket updated that is selling in Paris today, is thicker, and more time-intenstive.
Here’s the jacket that was used for the film of the exhibition of the Little Black Jacket, and it shows in detail the thickness and how hand-worked and time-intensive this trim can be.  If you’re going to take the time and effort to quilt your jacket and do all the construction that make this jacket so phenomenal (and it is a phenomenal jacket), then why are you going to put some drab, factory-made trim on it to finish it?  With just a bit more thought and allowing yourself some creativity, you can have a really smashing jacket with some wonderful trim on it that will make yours just as exclusive as M. Lagerfeld has made the current Chanel jacket!

This all leads to the importance of doing a trim like this for your jacket you are making – but how do you do this?

Where do you get the components to make this (oh to have the resources available that M. Lagerfeld has!!!)?

And how do you apply it?  What makes it look hand-worked?

There are a lot of things, but I think it’s best described as the ingredients are helter-skelter, but the application is bordering on psychotically anal-retentive.  IOW, the trim make-up is very creative and out-of-the-box, while the application is very exact.

What I like to do is visit a yarn, ribbon and trim store and with some of my bouclé (and really you have to use a bouclé to make the look work), so that I can blend the colors and texture.

So let’s start with color:

You can stay within several color themes, monochromatic, complementary, compound, analogous and triad.    I found a great tool for this online (to get you started – there’s more below-in the fine print-about the difference between colors in light [real life] and colors on the monitor), but click here for a really neat tool.  Put in your major color and then click the different color schemes and see what comes up.  Most of the time bouclés tend to run in monochromatic or analogous colors, but that doesn’t mean that your trim has to be in this range – remember, you want your trim to blend!

For example here some analogous schemes (the middle color is the base color)

The themes run across in rows – the greens, blues and reds – all are colors next to each other in the color wheel. (The greens, for something different, have been dulled a little).

And here’s an example (from the online color schemer) of some complementary schemes:

And here’s where the caveat starts (see below for more detail explanation).  These are for print and monitor (most web pages) use, not for real life (with sunlight) use.   But they still have some ideas – like the orange and jade which make nice combinations and the green and purple another nice combination.

So say you have a deep purple jacket and you’re looking for trim – try some green in with the purple.  You can do this different ways, with a green ribbon, yarn or cording.   Twist that into the purple color and possible a lighter shade of the same purple, and maybe with a black and  you have a great set of colors to go with.

I know this looks a little weird, but look at this with a purple boucle

See how this works?  By putting all these colors together, suddenly you come up with something that is really exciting.

I love using complementary color schemes in my color selection for trims.  It’s one of the most commonly and successful color combinations.  The reason is that you can add a lot ofcontrast with this color scheme and still stay within the boundaries of the color palette so that you don’t look like a clown (with too many colors).

Texture –

The next thing to think about is texture, and this depends upon how formal or non-formal you want the jacket to go.  And remember since this is YOUR jacket you get to decide.  What you have to do is look at your lifestyle and do you do many luncheons?..are you a formal person? – then you’re going to the formal side – are you retired, and just want a nice jacket to thrown on to go to the grocery store – you’re jacket is more casual.

Mixing the textures in a trim can be very exciting.  It’s fun to throw in a rayon cord (shining and very strong) with some dull yarn or fuzzy yarn.  If you’re a formal gal, then make some of your strongest colors in the shiner trims, if you’re a casual gal, make some of your trims more dull and if you want to use a shiny, make it recede:  black, dark colors of the color scheme you’re using.

How you’re going to bring it all together –

Finally how are you going to combine all this mish-mash and make it work.  My favorite way is to use a store-bought trim as a base (or maybe one of the bias fringed strips from your lining), lay that down by machine, straight and exactly where you want the trim – measure, measure, measure! This should be on the contrasting side of your color scheme.

Next is twist some of your other pieces together – at least three, no more than five or six, and this will include more of your blend-able (matching the main jacket color), and then use a color in the family of the jacket (not contrast), but will stand out to either wrap around the whole trim, or to sew it on with.  I like to twist not braid, unless the braid is going to look very haphazard.  Braiding can sometimes look very structured, and this is the part of the trim that should be non-structured.

Now the final part is what binds it all together.  Either you can wrap it around all this, or you can use a zigzag design to attach this onto the jacket.

In my newsletter this month, I go into great detail about the trim, with a video that shows all about how to create this and make a trim that makes your jacket look more updated.  It’s great to have the Brooke Aster version, but really the Beyonce version is what’s sold and is what Maison Chanel is making now.

Hopefully this gives you some ammunitionto play with and by all means be creative – you say, “Claire, I’m not creative,”  Balderdash!!!!  This is really just a matter of playing with these ideas until you get something you like.  And if it doesn’t come the first, second or thirteenth time – try again – it will.  Most of all have fun with it!





OK – as promised – here’s the caveat on colors on your monitor as opposed to those we see in real life – these are the colors that are caused by the sunlight shining on the object and that object reflecting back a color.    Therein lies the first difference, as the color on your screen has generated light – IOW, the reason you see it is that nothing is bouncing off it, the light is coming from your computer screen.  The light you see outside and that folks will see on your clothes comes from the light and the color is reflected off those clothes.

So that means the colors from your computer will be more in the “day-glo” category

You’re most used to seeing these as your printing colors too for your printer….the CMYK group – Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), Yellow and Key (Black).  But in reality – in the real world with sunlight – these colors aren’t either appropriate nor are they real.

In the real world, the light comes from the sunlight and is reflected from the garment you are wearing, so more realistic colors are like this:

They aren’t as vibrant on your computer monitor, but in the real light they are and look great.

The reason why this is important is that when you start doing color combinations, you’ll have to watch your shades.  In the web world/printer world, the opposite of orange is jade (the far left color on the top band), in the real world the opposite of orange is blue (like in the bottom band – next to each other)…the opposite of purple is a yellow green – in the real world, opposite of purple is yellow.

The reason why this is important is that in reality it’s going to be hard to find those monitor/print colors in the fabric store.  Actually you can’t, because you are actually seeing the color in an entirely different way and that’s why it’s hard to find them.  That doesn’t mean that you won’t get the same effect of contrast between the complementary colors, it just meanst that you may have to vary the color a little.

I know this cause of my extensive art back ground and because I paint and mix all these colors regularly.  Sunlight colors can not create light-generated colors, because the light doesn’t come from within – it comes from the sunlight.

Hopefully that will help you with your color choices and most hopeful that will prevent you for looking for the day-glow green or orange in the fabric store for your trims!

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