Saturday, 6 July 2013

Chanelling Chanel

Perhaps you have a certain fetish for all things Chanel, but can't afford, or don't wish, to lay out the several thousand dollars it would take to buy a genuine Chanel piece. And, since you've got some knitting skills, you wonder if you might create a Chanel-esque piece for yourself. If so, you're reading the right blog post, because I've paid my own little tribute to the House of Chanel by putting together a post of ideas and information on how to knit your own Chanel-style vêtements et accoutrements.

The photo above is of a genuine two-piece Coco Chanel knitting pattern, published in 1935. It has a Ravelry pattern page, but you may have great difficulty tracking down a copy of the pattern as it is long out of print. But if you succeed, it will be well worth the effort, as the booklet that the Chanel pattern is in also contains a genuine Elsa Schiaparelli design for a one-piece dress. (I mean, holy shit, that Bucilla booklet must be the holy grail of vintage knitting pattern booklets.) Recreating the pattern from the picture is also a possibility for skilled knitters.

The most accessible Chanel-style knitting project is probably a Chanel-esque jacket. If you're serious about knitting yourself a Chanel-like jacket, you really must begin by reading an excellent article from Yarnstylist on how to do so. In it, the Yarnstylist poster discusses the reasons why a Chanel-style jacket must fit perfectly, must be knitted with a fine-gauge, high-quality yarn, must be expertly lined, and must be carefully finished. There is also an accompanying article on why it's so difficult to find a knitting pattern that looks enough like a Chanel design to be satisfactory.

And once you've read those, perhaps you'd like to have a look at the selection of Chanel-inspired knitting patterns that I've put together.

The Window Panes pattern, by Judy Andersen, probably comes as close as any pattern I've seen to looking like a genuine Chanel jacket in terms of texture, details and fit. Alas, it may take some doing to find this pattern. It was in Knitter's Magazine 80 which came out in Fall 2005, and the issue doesn't seem to be available on their website anymore. (ETA: As you can see from the comments for this post, one of my readers tracked down Knitter's Magazine 80, and it seems that despite what the Window Panes design's Ravelry page says, it is not in that issue, but is in Knitter's Magazine 81, Winter 2005, so if you're interested in making this pattern you'll need to look on eBay for that number instead.)

The Chanel-ish Cardigan, by Mary-Heather Cogar, is probably the other nearest knitted imitation I found to a Chanel jacket. This, unfortunately, is a rather lacklustre picture. This project has been done many times by other Ravelry members and you'll be able to see from their project photos that this sweater can look very sharp indeed. This pattern was published in Greetings from Knit Cafe, by Suzan Mischer.

Perhaps, though, you don't care to make a too-literal Chanel jacket, but only to evoke it by knitting something in a similar cut with one or more of the Chanel jacket's trademark characteristics. I love this Basketweave pattern, by Jean Frost, for its strikingly graphic rendering of a Chanel-like texture. One of the biggest challenges of making a knitted Chanel-style jacket is imitating the woven texture fabric in knitting without bulking up the sweater. This pattern tricks the eye into believing that this has been accomplished. This pattern appears in Jean Frost's book, Custom Fit Knit Jackets: Casual to Couture.

This Ladies Jacket pattern, by Renate Foos, offers Chanel-like details on a more casually styled version of the jacket. This pattern appeared in SMC Select Moments No. 014 by Coats GmbH and is available for free here.

This pattern, by the Phildar design team, looks to me like an updated version of a Chanel jacket, and it's adorable. But the pattern, from Phildar No. 066, Hiver 2011/12 Edition Limitée, is only available in French. Je suis très désolé!

If you don't care to make a too-authentic looking project, Khloe Chanel-Inspired Jacket, by Teresa Chorzepa, as it simply evokes the Chanel style with its texture and cut. This pattern is a $6(USD) download.

If you want something to wear with your newly finished knitted Chanel jacket, or the idea of knitting a Chanel jacket is too much, you might consider knitting the CoCo purse, by Janine Le Cras. The pattern is a free Ravelry download.

If you don't care to wear any knitted version of Chanel's designs, you could always make some Chanel-inspired toys. The Chanel-suited bunny and Chanel modiste bunny patterns, both by Loly Fuertes, are available for $4.50(USD) each.


  1. The Phildar jacket is just amazing. I wonder how they get a fabric with the right stiffness to fit like that ... maybe they use fusing fabric beneath the lining?
    However, Phildar once more shows us what fabulous things we could knit if only we were fluent in French. Merci for that. I don´t get their marketing strategy. Maybe we need to start a petition for Phildar to open up to the English speaking market. There actually COULD be profit in this for them.

  2. What an inspired collection...good on you for ferreting these out.

  3. Too bad the bunny patterns are only available in Spanish, according to the link to Ravelry.

  4. Knitting a Chanel jacket has been on my to-do list for some time, so when I saw the jacket at the top of this post I went straight to eBay and was delighted to find issue 80 of Knitter's magazine and bought it immediately. It just arrived but as I paged eagerly through, my heart slowly sank, because that design is not in issue 80.

    1. Oh no! I would message the designer on Ravelry and ask her where the pattern appeared, as the Ravelry page for the Window Panes pattern clearly says that the pattern is in Knitter's Magazine 80. I hope there were some other things in that issue that you'd like to make.

  5. Actually, I've heard from BOTH the designer and Knitter's at this point. The pattern was published in issue 81, Winter 2005. All's well that ends well however, because the designer, Judy Anderson graciously sent me a link to the design!