Hot! The ‘Just add red’ jacket

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 1.6 metres of dark blue plain-tabby weave denim, 1m of retro Pucci-esque lining twill, both inherited from Grandma.

Pattern: Eeek!  I don’t remember!  I didn’t note the pattern, and I couldn’t find it when I went to write this post!  It’s a 1950s vintage pattern that belonged to my Grandmother – almost certainly a McCalls or Butterick  UPDATE: It’s Butterick 7986, found while doing a clean-up of the sewing room.

Year: ca. 1955

Notions: 3 large blue buttons (5 cents each)

Hours: 7

Make again?  No.  It’s just too structured for a modern lifestyle, and the cut doesn’t suit me.

First worn: To look at flats with a friend (one of them had a cute little swing in the yard, so we used it for pictures), and then out to dinner with her.

Wear again? Yes, but only because I’m stubborn and refuse to admit that it doesn’t fit right, and the pattern is never going to and wouldn’t really suit me even if it did!

Total cost: 15 cents for buttons.

Butterick 7986 – you can see my Grandmother’s name in the upper corner.

This jacket leaves me really torn.  On the one hand, I love the construction: bound buttonholes, clever cuffs, everything beautifully finished in and out. And looking at it gives me warm, happy feelings.  It’s all made from Grandma’s fabric, using one of her patterns.  On a dressform it looks spectacular. On the other hand, the jacket just doesn’t fit me properly, and doesn’t really fit a modern lifestyle either.  And it’s not the best style or cut on me – it’s too cute, and wants a small waisted, full busted figure.

The problem is that the jacket is an ongoing UFO.  I cut it out years ago, before I was any good at altering patterns and adjusting fit.  Ever since I’ve been fighting with it and putting off finishing it because I know it will never fit right.  It pulls across the chest, and is a tiny bit short, and pulls.

So now it’s done.  Almost a decade late.  But I don’t know what I’m going to do with it.  I need to find a dear friend who does fit it, because I’m too attached to it to give it to just anybody!

I’m wearing it with my ‘Please Don’t Photograph Me’ skirt (man, that thing gets a lot of wear for a white skirt!), and red tights and the same hat I wore with my ‘Little Bit of Red‘ dress.  It’s a summer hat, but it was a relatively warm day for winter (though I still hurried back into my coat after the photoshoot) and it added a nice bit of contrast.

(Massive thanks to Mena for letting me finish the post after it somehow got submitted by accident and was published unfinished!)


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. Very cute! Who doesn’t love a nice cropped jacket? Great job.

  2. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Unpublish! Unpublish! Take it back! I didn’t finish this or click submit on it! Last night it was still saved as a draft! Why has it been published? :-(

  3. So cute.. I think it looks great on you.. Happy sewing.

  4. Sweet jacket and lovely pictures! Too bad you don’t like how it fits, because from how it looks in the pictures is very cute and has such an awesome retro look. I hope you find some more opportunitites to wear it. If not, maybe one of your friends on the sew weekly might love it?? I’m sure there is one of us who will gladly take it off your hands. ;)

  5. Wow, how great that you have patterns and fabric from your Grandmother. Sounds like Barbara has taken a shine to your jacket.

    • I’m really, really lucky in that respect. I have a lot in common with my Grandmother, but didn’t get to spend a lot of time with her as a child – it was just too far to travel. I’m her only grandchild who sews or had any interest in it, so I got all her patterns (from when she was a teenager in the early ’40s), her whole fabric stash (enough to last me a decade of sewing!), boxes of buttons and notions, a couple dresses and all of her hats – so I can make a pattern up and wear it with the hat she would have worn her version with. It makes me feel like I am getting a bit of the time I never got in person. :-)

      I also have all of Nana’s (NZ grandmother) fabric and notions, and stuff from a honorary Grandmother. You’d think I would never have to buy fabric ;-)

  6. Despite the pulling, I think it’s sweet on you. Would you give the pattern another go and make it fit better? It’s a lovely pattern. So nice to have such a tangeable link to your Nana. I treasure the few bits of fabric mine gave me

  7. This jacket is terribly cute (I love the dress on the pattern envelope as well!) but you’re right – it really doesn’t fit you well. :( I remember making a jacket from a 50s sewing pattern once and I had to alter soooo much but it turned out really pretty in the end. Btw it was also a sewing pattern that I inherited from my grandma. Same story here – I am her only sewing grandchild and she gave me all her fashion magazines. I love going through them and reading the little notes she scribbled in there (I remember a note on how she would want to have bigger coat pockets so her passport fit easily in there…she was a very practical person.) I hope you’ll find someone to adopt this cute jacket. I totally understand that you wouldn’t want to give it away to just anybody.