Done and Done: The Chanel Coat

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This coat has been many years in the making. In September 2015, I decided I would take a sewing class at a local shop to “unlearn bad habits” and work my way up to a pattern alteration course. I knew I probably had to start with a beginner class, so I signed up for a basic skirt course. When I walked in to the shop, I immediately fell in love with the most amazing grey and silver wool in a rose pattern. I asked if I could use that for my skirt. “It’s Chanel,” was the response. So I guess that means no?

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Later that fall, the shop had a sale and I decided I would just buy three metres and hang on to it until I could sew my way up to the jacket course. It took another year, but I finally got the go-ahead to enroll in the class to make Burda 8292. It was a chaotic time – we moved and I was newly pregnant, so not only did I not quite finish the jacket in class, but by the time the course was over, it didn’t fit anyway.

I decided to stash it in my closet until it might fit again and then I would finally do the button holes and sew on the buttons. That moment finally came when I realized I was headed to a show in Toronto and would need something a little bit more formal than my Kelly Anorak. It’s pretty warm, I thought. I’ll just wear it open if I have to.

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Never in my life have I been more terrified to do button holes. I have probably made a thousand button holes in my life, but something about doing something so irreversible to this amazing (-ly expensive) fabric was horrendously scary. So I practiced on a swatch. Measured and pinned. Measured again. Then I did it.

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This jacket is by far the most expensive thing I have ever sewn. The fabric, even at 50 per cent off, was still $100 a metre. I interfaced all of it on the advice of the instructor to give it more structure (which was a great suggestion), so I also bought three metres of fusible interfacing. I lined the whole thing with thinsulate lining (so it’s actually super warm). And lastly, I bought the most expensive buttons I liked because, one does not simply put plastic buttons on Chanel fabric. I found the receipt with the buttons and know that each, gorgeous, shiny abalone button cost $7. At one point, with materials and the class fees included, I calculated the cost of this jacket at over $1000.

By some miracle, the jacket actually closed (though it was a bit snug) and I was able to wear it all weekend. I am confident that this is actually one of those makes I will hang on to literally forever. I hope that some day I will be able to hand it down to my daughter or her kids, which is kind of cool because how many garments (aside from wedding dresses, of course) can you say that about any more?

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