Hot! The “Just Make a Jacket” Outfit

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Fabric: Vintage batiste windmill fabric from Urban Burp $55; Teal suiting from Fabric Outlet, $9
Pattern: Butterick 5088, $8, Simplicity 2000, $1
Year: c. early 1930s
Notions: Three buttons, two belt buckles, $3.00
Time to complete: 10 hours
First worn: September 2011
Wear again? The jacket will definitely get non-Gatsby use!

Total Cost: ~$66

Apologies for getting this week's theme up so darn late. Yesterday was the Gatsby picnic and by the time I had got home, cleaned our picnic supplies and watched True Blood, I was far too tired to sit down and post. And then this morning I met Debi bright and early to go fabric shopping in the Bay Area.

And so, without further ado, here's the 3rd annual installment of the project that started me sewing again in the first place — my Gatsby Summer Afternoon dress (see 2009, 2010). 

As you may recall, I had planned to use modern fabric to recreate an early 1930s dress that was deteriorating pretty rapidly in my closet. Well, I took the dress apart, made the pattern pieces, cut the silk chiffon and sewed almost the entire thing. And then I tried it on and felt that I looked like a sack of potatoes. The dress had turned out fine but it just didn't seem right. So I made the decision to scrap it and move onto a different pattern.

In my stash I had Butterick 5088 from the early 1930s and some amazing vintage windmill fabric that I bought at Urban Burp. Initially, I felt that this fabric was too casual. After the failure of my silk chiffon dress, I decided that windmills were fancy enough. 

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So I cut. And I sewed. And then I got to the crazy collar and realized that the pattern piece was missing. I fiddled around with the organdy I bought but the collar was just not doing it for me. Without the collar, the dress looked a bit meh. I wasn't happy so I put it aside and started yet another dress.

The third dress was to be a knit dress from another 1930s pattern. But then, after I made the bodice, I realized I didn't like the color on me and it sort of looked like a 1970s sweatsuit.

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OMG, that thing didn't even deserve the second sleeve! So, back to the drawing board.

That's when I decided just to wear the amazing 1930s knit two-piece (scroll to the bottom of the post) I bought at the Vintage Fashion Expo. Of course, that left me with a dilemma: I still needed to sew something for this week's challenge.

image from And that's when I asked my husband for advice — he said what I hadn't even thought of: "why don't you make a jacket?" Of course! I'll make a jacket for the two-piece sweaterknit. So that's what I did. From Simplicity 2000, to be exact.

Like some deranged sewing Goldilocks, I made three different versions. The first was too shiny and I didn't like the stitching on the collar. The second was better, but the linen made it wrinkle too much. 


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Finally, by the time I decided to make the third, I figured I could make the second dress (windmills) work. And so that's what I did.

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The picnic itself was delightful and I got to enjoy it with Christine and Debi. Shannon attended with her friends and was kind enough to invite us over for cocktails and to meet other folks. Loran was there too, but I didn't see her at the actual event. I also met Alexandra from EvaDress who was wearing an amazing dress that she made from a whole lot of ribbons.

Our mellow picnic setup that require very little effor to put out and take down:

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Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. That jacket is delicious! You really are a sewing Goldilocks- I really can’t believe the amount of sewing you get through in a week- it is amazing! :)

  2. You are perfect, can I please be you?

  3. Lovely!! I have to say your ‘boo-boos’ are just as inspirational as your YES! garments. I’m a relatively new sewer, I know I can figure out anything I want to make, but I just sit on my hands… for fear of having a complete *bust* of a garment.
    Well that’s not gonna fly anymore. The only way I’m gonna learn, is to fail spectacularly!! So ‘HURRAH’ to that 30s/70s sweatsuit in a color that you don’t like (actually the fabric looks pretty cool); it’s time to get off my hands. :^)

  4. The entire ensemble is positively darling.

  5. Mena, you look so lovely! I wish I could have been there. One of these days the stars will align, and I’ll finally make it to Bay Area Sewing Bloggers Meet Up. Glad you had fun though, and what a week of sewing for you!

  6. I love this outfit, perfect color for the jacket! I need to get sewing :)!

  7. Awesome outfit, you did a wonderful job. The jacket colour is beautiful and it goes so well with the dress.
    I really admire your tenacity in continuing the project despite making so many ‘test’ garments, I probably would have given up in frustration.

  8. This is hilarious, you are gorgeous, the outfit was perfect, and I’m so jealous I’m far away from the Bay and don’t have a Gatsby event to attend!

  9. Windmills are more than elegant!! I absolutely adore both the dress and jacket on you! I love the behind-the-scenes narration, as well. The sewing Goldilocks comparison made me laugh out loud!

  10. It’s so so lovely! That vintage fabric is just to die for. Someday I’ll make the drive up to SF for this event, I know it must be spectacular.

  11. I want that jacket and I want to go to Gatsby summer afternoon!

  12. You look lovely, yay for perseverance, I think I would have chucked it all in. That print is gorgeous and the umbrella.

  13. That´s a glorious jacket – the color suits you so well! And paired with the windmill dress, it´s a perfect outfit! Love it. :-)

  14. Picture perfect – you look of the time.

  15. I am also amazed at how much you push yourself in your sewing! You practically made 5 different things for this! I think the most stressful multi-sewing I’ve done was the same pair of pants twice in one day.
    Anyways, your final outfit is so fresh and pretty! I love the shoes, where did you get them?

  16. MB@YarnUiPhoneAppv1.7

    Mena, that dress was a fabulous save. I don’t know how you pulled it off and the windmill fabric. How darling is that? It’s too bad you don’t have more. It’s just beyond cute and the colors are so 1930s.

  17. I love the fabric..the colour..the look – absolutely awesome! I feel very inspired :)

  18. Wow! This is beautiful and the color of that jacket is amazing!

  19. Clarissa Henderson

    Love this look! The jacket is fantastic:)

  20. Oh Mena,
    Your outfit is perfect! I have been reading about your Gatsby picnic sewing projects since Nested and this one is the best. I know you to a rather circuitous route to get there, but the final piece is just perfection!
    And I also love the more mellow picnic laid out too. Hurrah!

  21. This is great!!!! I was soooo bummed I couldn’t go. I just moved to the Bay area and our POD arrived on Friday with my machine and stuff. So there was no time since there was MAJOR unpacking to do. Still doing it as I type. Anyway, This is amazing. Sounds like a lot of fun. And your jacket is beautiful. What a great color!.
    As a matter of fact, when we took an ice cream break later Sunday afternoon we saw a couple coming out of Ici who just had to be from the Gatsby Fest. They looked great. With ice cream cones they were completely picturesque. It was brilliant!

  22. YAY! I had SO MUCH FUN at the Gatsby event! You look even more stunning in real life and it was so great to meet you and hang out!!! I absolutely loved your jacket and dress–such fabulous colours!!! YAY!! xoxoxoxo

  23. I was there! I think I was standing near you during the dance contest (I was wearing the lavender and polka dot 30’s dress). I went to find your picnic setup but my foot wouldn’t let me walk around as much as I liked : ( You looked great and we had a blast but you’re right…so much work. We’re already making plans for next year : )

  24. Love the dress and especially the jacket!!! The color is so stunning! You look splendid in the outfit and I’m sure Debi and you had lots of fun! Wished I could be there!

  25. The comment about the second sleeve made me laugh. I’m glad to see you document your disappointments as well as your triumphs. And what a triumph — beautiful!

  26. Oh, so gorgeous! You look just exactly like a 1930s lady, right down to the hair! If it was taken in black and white it would be difficult to prove that it wasn’t a vintage picture!
    I love all the inspiration you come up with, and the pictures are scrumptious.
    Thank you for sharing!

  27. The final outfit is so pretty! I just love how the jacket’s color makes the windmill print really pop. :) I have to admit, reading about all the versions of the dresses and jackets makes me feel better–we all have sewing “oops” from time to time (I’m battling a potential one right now… gah!!!). ;) Bravo on the finished outfit!

  28. jonathan belmares

    I’ve run the costume closet for the past 2 gatsby’s and i always enjoy reading your blog and the outfits you come up with for this event. I whish i had the skills you do it would make my job a lot easier. If you ever need to clear up some space please send it my way i can always use new items and yours are just perfect

  29. I loved the dress, then I saw the jacket and loved that even more! You look wonderful and well done on such beautiful, authentic looking pieces, and especially for being so tenacious when everything wasn’t going to plan!

  30. What a fabulous ensemble that jacket is perfect as is your dress. You look like you stepped right out of the movie.

  31. ‘Love everything, dress, hat , shoes and specially your blue jacket. It is sooooo sweet! I absolutely love it!

  32. i love this outfit! the jacket is SO cute, and the dress lovely, but together? just gorgeous! love it xx

  33. Thanks, Nina! I try to avoid weeks like this but thankfully, I got through it all without complete exhaustion. :)

  34. Thanks, Nina! I try to avoid weeks like this but thankfully, I got through it all without complete exhaustion. :)

  35. Oh god, I’m so so so far from perfect. But I try to clean up well. :)

  36. Thanks, PepperReed! The best part of mistakes is figuring out a way to save them. It’s so rewarding to — as Tim Gunn would say — make it work.

  37. Thanks, Amy! I’m sorry you couldn’t make it! We need to have a meetup real soon.

  38. Thanks, Ronnie! The good thing about the pressure to post a garment is week is working through the really blegh garments. :)

  39. Thanks, Katrina! You should see if there are events in your own area!

  40. Just reading this stressed me out! But that picnic blanket is worth all the sewing to get there. Such a lovely dress and jacket, and the styling to boot. How do you do it?!

  41. I love all your photos, dresses and jackets this week! Hooray!

  42. Both the dress and the jacket are absoloutely stunning – I adore the colours!

  43. love the outfit with the jacket on. it looks simply perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    the last three pictures looks like shots from a movie… actually. especially the last one. and where you’re posing in front of the door(with the turquoise jacket) you really look grrrrreat.