Hot! The ‘Fifty Shades of White’ jacket

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 1.3 metres of loosely woven twill-weave acrylic-wool blend inherited from Nana, 1 metre of white satin-weave acetate lining fabric from an op shop ($4 for 3 metres).

Pattern: Self drafted, based on a jacket I already own.

Year: 2012 does 1965

Notions: one large white button and a vintage dome (snap), both inherited from Nana

Hours: 1 hour to draft the pattern from the jacket, 3.5 hours to make, 5+ hours of searching for the darn fabric!

Make again?  Probably not for a while.  I love the jacket, but have the original (in purple), and now one in white, and I’m not really a ‘make one in every colour’ girl.

First worn: To teach Baha’i children’s classes on Sunday morning (virtue of the week: patience.  So very appropriate!) and then for shopping and a walk and photos Sunday afternoon.

Wear again? Yes!  That’s the benefit of patterning up and making a garment you already own: you know you love the shape and style and that it fits well into your wardrobe.

Total cost: $1 for the lining fabric

Last week I sewed to the music of home, this week it’s all about cold, snowy, white songs from my adopted country, like this song, which I love, love, love (heh), and this song.

First, the title.  I’ve never actually read the book.  I’m not likely to ever read the book.  Erotic fiction just isn’t my genre, and right now my ‘light’ reading is Pepys.  Also (confession here), my mind is so disgustingly pure that I heard mentions of ‘Fifty Shades’ for months, and assumed it was a sort of feel-good affirmative book for growing older and going grey along the lines of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (which I also haven’t read).

Turns out I was wrong.

So, haven’t read it, but I have heard the book is a little…uh…painful, and my sewing week was very painful.  Definitely one of those times when sewing was more pain than pleasure.

It should have been easy.  When the theme came up I knew exactly what I wanted to make.  White on white has been all over the catwalks for Summer and Autumn.  I love white.  I have at least twice as much white fabric as any other colour.  And I have a little jacket that I own and love that I’ve had patterned up for months, waiting to make a new version in a white wool blend.  So I pulled out my fabric, pulled out the pattern, got another piece of coordinating white wool for a white version of the dress I did for the accessorize challenge and put them all ready to make up when the week rolled round.

Come the week, fabric and pattern are no-where to be found.  I searched, and searched, and just couldn’t find them.  OK, time for a re-think.  Retro Americana is on-trend for the Northern Hemisphere summer.  I’ve got a great novelty print from Grandma.  I pull it out, find an adorable pattern to pair it with, size the pattern up from a 32″ bust to a 37″ bust, and then discover I forgot to check the fabric requirements, and I am desperately short.  Back to scratch.

By this point, I’m getting a little desperate.   I have one last brainstorm and a massive rummage in my newly re-organised sewing room, and this time, finally, hallelujah, it’s there.  So I had a mad dash to make the jacket in time for the challenge.

The mad dash was not helped by the horrible fabric.  Acrylic is such a revolting fabric to work with – it won’t press, won’t sculpt and just goes limp when you iron it.  There wasn’t enough wool in the blend to mitigate that.  This is why I try to only work with natural fibres.  Still, I managed a perfect bound buttonhole in acrylic, so I’m feeling quite pleased with myself!

I first paired the outer fabric with a gorgeous pastel floral lining twill lining, because I thought a white lining was a bit much.  Alas, the pastel floral showed through the white (stupid sucky acrylic), and I had to go through the painful process of unpicking it and replaced it with some white satin lining that I had, very providentially, found at an op-shop just that day.

Thanks to the loosing the fabric and days of sewing time I had to give up on making the dress as well, so I worn the jacket with jeans and black top, which is how I’ll actually wear it on a day to day basis..  If I were doing this for a runway show I’d pair the jacket with a maxi dress in heavy white silk jersey.  As I have no need for such a garment in my wardrobe, and, alas, no such fabric in my stash, my photoshoot is little less fashion-forward.

The photos were taken in downtown Wellington during a little Sunday shopping with Mr D, and then at a stop at the artificial beack at Oriental Bay to enjoy the late-afternoon winter sun.


Leimomi Oakes - The Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes learned to sew as a child in Hawaii, and hasn't spent a day without doing it in the-more-years-than-she-would-like-to-admit-to since. When she was 18 she was nicknamed 'The Dreamstress' and bought the domain name, and now she's stuck with it. After getting degrees in Art History, Costume Design and International Relations she worked in a number of fabulous museums before going freelance as a textile and fashion historian and historical seamstress. She lives in Wellington New Zealand with a lovely husband and a world-famous cat.


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  1. Ah, so pretty! I just love how your jacket turned out. Your journey from beginning to end, with all the ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and finally the satisfying end result, has got to be better than either of those two novels (I haven’t read them either) ….;)

  2. Such a pretty jacket.. Happy sewing.

  3. Great shape, and your idea to combine it with a dress in white silk jersey makes me think that this combination would make a great wedding outfit…

  4. Very pretty! I haven’t read the books either. It was one of those that made it big as an ebook and now they’re talking about making it into a movie. Crazy. But your jacket is just beautiful. Fabulous job.

  5. This is so pretty. Love the retro look. The collar is my favorite detail. But if this is what you can wear in winter then Newzealand doesn’t have cold winters. No scarf? A cropped jacket with elbow length sleeves??? Or did you take off your winter coat for these pictures? Btw I never even heard about the book. Haha. I was actually googling for “50 shades of white” because I thought that’s the actual title…it sounds like a book I wouldn’t read either.

    • Thank you!

      New Zealand isn’t nearly as cold as Germany in the winter, but in some ways it feels colder because most houses don’t have insulation or central heating, so it’s not much warmer in than out. It’s a damp cold too. I lived in NYC, and while the temperatures there were technically much colder, I never felt chilled to the bone the way I do in Welly.

      These photos were actually taken on a really warm day, but you can still see that my arms and hands were turning purple with cold (I could only leave my gloves off for a few pictures), and I was VERY enthusiastic about getting back into my coat and into the heated car when we were done taking photos.

      • I see. This must be similar to what I experienced in the Bay Area in my mother-in-law’s house (probably worse because I am sure NZ does get colder than the Bay Area)…I have never been as cold anywhere else as I have been in her house….which is ridiculouse considering that the Californian climate is so much milder than ours. It’s just that we are definitely prepared for the cold while my mother-in-law’s house felt really cold in the mornings after cold nights in May. One could really feel that the house pretty much has no insulation at all. I feel for you – being cold indoors and outdoors is horrible. :( Hang in there. Maybe your next project should be to make a really nice cosy jacket/sweater for yourself?

      • Yes. That’s it exactly! When it’s cold inside you just never really feel warm. I actually wear this jacket mainly as an indoors and under coats, so it is my nice cozy jacket. I’ve got a sweater/knit wool top on my to-do list for an upcoming challenge :-)

        Can I just say that I love that we have full conversations on my posts! It’s so cool that I get to know you beyond just what you sew.

  6. The jacket is really lovely. It will look beautiful with the white dress. Wish you had time to make that for this post-I would have loved to see it all together.

  7. Love this jacket. It suits you perfectly!

  8. You look darling, I’m totally in love with the cut, I can imagine you getting loads of wear from this. LOVE your photos too. Fifty Shades of crapola. Don’t go there, the writing is disturbingly terrible that in itself will turn your day all shades of grey.

  9. This is a great jacket.