Sunday, March 05, 2023

Finishing a Long-Term Project


Last week began with snow and this week with sunshine. All the snow melted quickly. This pot of crocus and pansies sits beside the front door and smiles at me when I come and go. 

The morning light is streaming into the living room with delightful warmth. I'm staying home from church this morning as I have a cold. Remember when we used to go out no matter what? If the pandemic was good for anything, it taught us (most of us) to think about the germs we might be spreading around to others. 

In my sewing room I have a glass bowl filled with spools of thread, including some old wooden spools. They are from Tim's grandmother. In the corner of the dining room of my grandparents' home sat a treadle sewing machine. It was used often with a family of 10 children - dresses, mending, and more. 

My mother sewed beautiful clothes for herself and for my sister and me. New dresses for Christmas and Easter every year. A pink velveteen dress with a wide lace collar, yellow linen with an embroidered daisy. Skirts and shorts and summer tops. She stopped sewing clothing a number of years ago and now sews beautiful, intricate quilts that are auctioned off or sold for charity. 

She taught me to sew - my first project was a pink floral A-line skirt when I was 11 or 12. Zipper, waistband, hand-stitched hem. Her standards were exacting. In Home Ec class I loved the sewing and the cooking equally, and learned much from Mrs. Kuhn. 

I sewed clothes for myself and later, for my children. There were always curtains to stitch up for the many houses we lived in. How I detest sewing curtains, but find myself still doing so on occasion. 

About 10 years ago, I started reading about couture methods to stitch a Chanel-style jacket. All fired up, I went out and bought some relatively inexpensive tweed to see if I could make such a jacket. I made some progress, but then began teaching again and the jacket was left to languish in the cupboard. Every so often I pulled it out and completed another step, but figuring out where I was and what to do next always took time. And there was always a critical voice in the back of my head telling me that it wouldn't turn out or wouldn't fit, so why bother finishing it. 

I put that critical voice on mute and decided that this was the year to finally finish the jacket. I had a deadline - Tim's retirement party. This is what I've been doing for the past two weeks. The recommended sewing time for this project is 70-80 hours. There is a LOT of hand-sewing, which I enjoy, but it does take time. Ashley, with her fashion degree, helped me with some of the later fittings. 

The party was Friday night - a really lovely event at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club where about 60 of Tim's colleagues joined in to wish Tim well in this new phase of life. Our children and their spouses were also invited and I was pleased that they could hear the accolades. And I wore my new jacket. It's oh, so comfortable to wear. I was glad that my cold showed up on Saturday and not on Friday, for I would have hated to miss the party. 

Trims are an important part of a Chanel-style jacket and I dithered back and forth about what to do, finally settling on stitching the fabric selvedge as a base, and topping it with the lace daisies from my wedding veil, for a bit of whimsy. I cut those off when Ashley married, and I beaded the veil with gold and silver glass beads. I want to change the jacket buttons, but it was perfectly wearable as is. Every one of those little daisies has six tiny hand stitches. 

I look forward to wearing my jacket open over jeans for a casual look, or buttoned up for more formal occasions. I learned so much while sewing this jacket and hope to make another one soon, and it won't take 10 years to complete! 

There's been little else accomplished these past two weeks, and I am looking forward to doing something else for a bit. 

Do you sew? Do you enjoy it? Clothes, quilts, curtains, or...?


  1. Congratulations to Tim on his retirement!
    Beautiful jacket, the gabric is lovely.

  2. Oh Lorrie, how chic you look! The fabric makes a perfect Chanel jacket, and you have put in all the things that make it very French.
    Your little pansies and crocus bowl is a delight, and I can imagine the smiley faces of the pansies.

  3. Anonymous4:30 PM

    That jacket turned out lovely! We’ll done!

  4. The jacket is beautiful! You did a great job. I used to do a lot of sewing. I sewed most of my clothes growing up, and after college when I worked in an office, sewed a lot of my own clothes. Funny that your post should come up when it did. Last night I was going through a lot of sewing blogs that I used to follow, thinking I'd like to get back into it a bit. Congratulations to on your husband's retirement. How nice that your family was included in the celebration.

  5. Anonymous10:04 PM

    Your recently completed jacket is very pretty. I especially like that you used the daisies from your wedding veil as the trim.
    Congratulations to Tim on his retirement. Granny M

  6. i love these kinds of jackets and I have three of them in blue tweed and wear them with jeans and also a brown one with fringes on the sleeves. Unfortunately I don’t sew. It must be quite difficult to do it! Congratulations for your sewing and for Tim’s retirement.

  7. Dear Lorrie, already the beautiful flowers and cheerful spools of thread made me smile and when you mentioned a treadle sewing machine the post started to look wonderfully interesting (also my mother had a machine like that and I really would like to know what happened to it). The jacket you made looks so very beautiful. Congratulations!
    I would like to sew but I have time and patience only for tiny works. I don't think I could ever complete a project of 70 - 80 hours.
    Happy spring days!

  8. First of all, dear Lorrie, your Chanel jacket is a dream, perfect fit and wonderful execution. How good that it is timeless. And I think you've gotten the urge to sew again...
    I only started sewing a few short years ago... I first sewed small bags and then larger ones and for the last year I've ventured into clothes... first skirts, then trousers and finally the short coat I featured on the blog.
    I'm really looking forward to seeing new things from you :-) I have fabrics ready and just have to keep going :-))) Too bad we can't meet, that would make a great sewing workshop... best regards to you and best wishes.

  9. Your jacket turned out so well, Lorrie. It looks beautiful on you and fits so well. I loved that last photo with the close up of the details. The colors in the tweed, buttons and daisy trim... perfection. My sewing consists of mending only. I did take home ec and learned to make a few outfits, but can't say I enjoyed the process.
    Congratulations to Tim on his retirement.


  10. That jacket is so classy and you look great wearing it. I thought, at first, that
    it was for Easter. How delightful that you wore it to your husband's retirement
    party. God bless him in many ways in his retirement.

  11. Hi Lorrie~ What beautiful flowers! They make me smile too. Gorgeous jacket! I love that you used the daisies from your wedding veil, what a fun touch. Congratulations on your husbands retirement! What a special time in both of your lives. Have a great week! Hugs, Barb

  12. The jacket turned out beautifully. I have never used a sewing machine.. can't even hem in a straight line.. Learning how to sew is the one thing I wish I could go back and listen to my mom and learn how to do.. I was too 'i'm not going to be that girl' to learn.

  13. I am not a sewer but I appreciate the handmade quilts, curtains, etc. Well done on the jacket!

  14. What a labour of love. So glad you finished it, it looks perfect and suits you well. I do sew but mainly curtains and cushion covers etc. Not sure I would have the patience to complete such a task. Hope you are feeling better. B x

  15. That is so special...and so beautiful! I am a sewer, but not too often anymore. I used to sew all my own clothes, and my daughter's dresses. Now I mostly mend and alter clothes for my grands. I enjoy sitting at the machine.

  16. First of all, congratulations to Tim! How wonderful to be hosted at a beautiful retirement gig and I'm so glad you and your kids could attend. You had to be one of the best dressed there, too. That jacket is wonderful and I am in awe of your skill as a seamstress. I don't sew a bit (I'm not even good at run-along-stitch to hand sew and don't start me on a hem, or it will look more like a mountainous skyline!). This is clearly complicated and the end result is so very beautiful. Well done, Lorrie.

  17. Wonderful accomplishment on sewing that very smart jacket! Love it. It will look great with jeans, too. Do I sew? No, my sewing skills are dismal. Even threading the sewing machine ends in catastrophe so I don't go there. I got sent to detention in my seventh grade sewing class. Hmmm...

  18. I love that! It looks great on you, you look great in it :-) What a good feeling that must be, to have such a long-term project finished and wearable. I wonder what your next sewing project will be...

  19. You look fabulous, Lorrie.
    I absolutely love the jacket.
    Congrats to Tim on his retirement 🥂

  20. Congratulations on making a beautiful Chanel jacket. I would love to know what pattern you used, as I have had similar fabric here to make one for about five years, and can't decide on which pattern option to use. Like you, I grew up with a Mum who sewed everything we wore, and began making my own around the age of 12 after practicing on doll's clothes. And I still sew, while finder my older body more difficult to fit as time goes by. Also hate sewing curtains - no fun at all. The creative gene still burns brightly for us.

  21. I'm so glad that you put that critical voice on mute! The jacket is fantastic and you look so good in it. I don'tknow what Chanel style means, but I just think this jacket is beautiful. You put so much work in it. - My mother used to sew. We didn't have much money being a refugee family, but she would sew me beautiful dirndls and dresses out of my much older sister's dresses that she had kept. She also knitted sometimes and I still have the light sweater that she made for me when I was in my twenties (that's a long time ago). I don't sew, I never got the hang of it, but my daughter does. I'm the knitter of the family and I always have several projects on my needles.

  22. Marilyn7:57 PM

    I sewed all my life, even making my wedding dress. When I retired my machine broke and I decided to quit sewing. I have missed it; so during the pandemic I bought a small machine and right now am making a couple tea cozies. I love, love you Chanel style jacket. Your crocus by the front door are lovely. Congratulations to your husband on his retirement. Glad you didn't miss the party and hope you are feeling better as the week moves along. I missed my own retirement party because I had a bad cold. So sad!

  23. That jacket is so cute on you! I didn't know what that style was called. I'm no seastress, but I can see that it would be a lot of work! Many details make that jacket unique. I hope to see you wearing it open with jeans. Like I said, I don't sew. I took Grade 8 sewing, was super hard on myself and got an A, but the teacher was no fun. It was a jumper (romper) - and we had to use cotton. I was 13 and thought stiff cotton was not the right material. Haha! I thought it should be something soft. So I never wore it. Maybe once. Sewing takes a lot of skill and patience.
    Congratulations on your husband's retirement. May this season be filled with things that make you smile.

  24. Great job! Really nice jacket!

  25. Lorrie, I love your jacket! I started teaching myself to sew when I was 11 or 12, didn't do much. Then when I was 14 or 15, I took a class and also learned a lot from a friend and began sewing a lot. And made a lot of clothes through my teens and twenties. Then in my thirties, it was mostly curtains (I feel the same way about that as you do!). After that, mostly mending. I can't seem to get my mojo back! I know I don't have the patience for a jacket that takes 80 hours and lots of hand-sewing!

  26. Your jacket is fabulous, Lorrie! Congratulations on Tim’s retirement. It’s an exciting new phase. My mom let me sew on her machine when I was in third grade. I started making baby doll clothes without a pattern! I just went for it. I majored I’m Home Ec Education and became a teacher before my four kids were born.


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