Your Questions About Jacket Chain Answered by Claire Shaeffer

We’ve had several questions about chain since we discussed how to sew it on your jackets several months ago. The questions included: Why is chain important? What kind of chain? Where is it placed? and Where can I buy it?

Called a “Chanelism” by the editors of Vogue Magazine, the decorative gilt chains used on Chanel suits replaced the inexpensive lead weights used in tailored jackets and coats. Chain is an essential component that controls the drape of the lightweight jackets. it keeps the hem level and reminds it to return to the intended position after the arm is raised, eliminating unsightly horizontal wrinkles at the waist.

The original chains were brass; today’s chains are finished to look like brass, silver, or pewter. You can choose any colour you want, but I usually coordinate the chain with the buttons. Flat 6mm (1/4”) wide curb chains are used on jackets. Lightweight link chains are better for blouses. Coats rarely have chains.

One of the most important things to consider when placing the chain is that it should not lap at centre front. When the jacket is lined to the front edge, begin the chain at centre front. If the jacket has front facings, begin the chain at the edges of the facings. When the jacket has heavy buttons, place the chain only on the back to counterbalance the weight of the buttons.

The placement of the chain in relation to the hemline is generally determined by the jacket lining. When the lining extends to the hemline, place the chain 6mm (¼”) to 12mm (1/2”) above the hemline. When the lining has a tuck at the hem, place the chain under the tuck.

If your local retailer does not sell chain, check at a large haberdashery, mercerie, or fabric store. In the UK, you can order from Claire Tyler Couture:

In the US, you can order from Linda Homan Design:


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