Hot! The “Make Do” Jacket

The Facts

Fabric: Cream wool from Jo-Ann’s fabric, $12 (with 50% off coupon); floral cotton scraps
Pattern: Traced from existing bolero
Year: c. 1940s
Notions: embroidery floss, seam binding
Time to complete: 7 hours
First worn: June 2012
Wear again? Yes

Total Cost: ~$12

For me, this week’s theme was more about mending and making do than embellishments. My dress is alteration work from a creation from 2010 and my jacket is a UFO that I just kept on abandoning. Still, I’m quite happy that I was able to pull these two garments together and make them work for this week’s challenge.

The dress is my The “Hot in the City” Dress — one of my absolute favorites from the first year of The Sew Weekly. As you can see from the 2010 photograph and my hasty iPhone shot from last night, the dress didn’t quite fit me anymore. It’s been hanging in my downstairs closet awaiting alterations. Last night (YES, LAST NIGHT AGAIN!), as I tried to decide what to do for the challenge, I saw this dress and knew that this plus the bolero was the answer.

In true lazy Mena fashion, I simply stitched the back and took about six inches off the thing. I could have added a zipper, but who am I kidding? It’s still a bit loose, but a far better fit. Now, the second part of the outfit (and the actual challenge) involved me embellishing the sad and neglected bolero.

The bolero was originally intended for the Pantone challenge from this year. I didn’t end up participating in that challenge, hence the UFO. The pattern was drafted using the rub-off method on an existing bolero I have from the 1940s. Everything about the construction of the bolero was perfect. And then, disaster struck. The iron-on embroidery transfer didn’t quite work and I ended up with a cream wool bolero with blurry hot pink transfer marks along the front.

So the week of that Pantone challenge, I decided to just freehand little embroidery stitches along the front. When that became tedious, I tossed the thing aside and gave up. For maybe 2 or 3 later challenges, I tried to figure out a way to integrate the bolero without any luck. And then, for this week, I realized that the key to fixing the thing was to cover it with fabric.

That’s when the extra long hem of my “Hot in the City” Dress came in. I shortened the dress and used the fabric as a trim along the embroidery mess. Hence, my embellishment. To make it even more true to the theme, I embroidered a border stitch along the outside of the fabric.

And that, my friends, is how you make something work the night before a challenge. That’s a much more positive way to spin my laziness.

And finally, apologies for not getting to the red, white and blue challenge from last week. I intended to participate but when my dresses (yes, I tried to make 2 different dresses) didn’t cooperate with me, I decided just to give myself a break and take the week off. My absence has nothing to do with me being sad or any drama in my life (thanks for the ladies –especially Judy!– who emailed me to ask). I’m actually quite happy and everything is really good.

Somewhat related, here’s another embellishment project I took on in the last couple weeks. I didn’t make the shirt but the squirrels are my work. Actually, they’re from Sublime Stitching’s Forest Friends collection.


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.


Comments are closed.

  1. Lovely! I really like how you made it work this week. The matching fabric embellishment on the cream colored bolero is a perfect complementary piece to match your now more stylish floral dress. Great to see your happy smiling self back this week. Cute little squirrels and acorns on the shirt too.

  2. It’s so cute mena! I love the embellishment on the jacket!

  3. Whoa, you look so adorable. That first image looks like a genuine vintage photo. I did a double take.

  4. Charming! It’s got sort of a reverse-Chanel thing going. Matching fabric on the outside of the jacket rather than the lining, and a very sweet, soft feminine aesthetic, rather than the harder, more sophisticated and androgynous garconne. It’s so non-subversive it is!

  5. Hi Mena, I just love a great bolera, it can really dress up an outfit to go out and it very flattering to the figure. You look great and I love the recycle aspect of the project.

  6. Oh Mena,
    This is just gorgeous! The bolero brings sophistication to the outfit. Very feminine.

  7. Welcome back Mena! The bolero looks perfect with your newly refitted dress. And the squirrels are very cute!

  8. Love your jacket – perfect!

  9. Lovely job on getting this challenge done. The rose printed fabric is so sweet. I am glad you took some time out – I imagined you were still fishing in that river – enjoying your summer! My “Embellish” garment has become seriously derailed by a lack of motivation and a recent obsession with instagram, alas.

  10. That is so sweet, you’d never realise looking at it that they weren’t made as a matching pair (dress and jacket) from the start. I suspect most people would also have no idea it’s self-made. The squirrels are fab too. Although embellishment week has been arduous, thank you so much for sticking it in the challenges to open our eyes to making our ‘normal’ makes that little bit more special! TY!

  11. I love your jacket.. I remember the dress and loved it in 2010.. But is even prettier.. Happy sewing.. [hugs..and thankyou too]

  12. It turned out beautifully! Love that fabulous bolero jacket :)

  13. Love the way you made it work.

  14. I love what you did with the bolero, it’s so pretty and so you. Gorgeous!

  15. Perhaps you just need an approaching deadline to spark your real genius! This is fab!!! And I think the higher hemline is much more flattering on you, too.
    The squirrels are just too cute to be true!

  16. You final improvisation was brilliant! Gives me hope for my guest closet full of seemingly hopeless garments.

  17. That is a fantastic idea, will have to keep in my files for future use