Hot! The ‘Ice Cream Banana’ blouse

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Your soundtrack:  Gin Wigmore’s ‘Too Late for Lovers‘, because Gin is awesome, and her yellow uniform in this video is awesomely awful.  Also, Dennis Pavao’s ‘Ka’ahumanu‘, a wonderful old-school song in honour of the Hawai’ian queen who abolished the kapu (taboo) system by eating bananas with her son, the king.  Before this women were not allowed to eat with men, and bananas were forbidden to women.

Fabric: 1.1m of palest yellow circle patterned cotton voile ($7)

Pattern: Academy 4785 with alterations to the neckline (Academy was a NZ pattern company active from the ’40s-60s)

Year: 1952

Notions: Thread, bias binding for interior finishes (thrifted, 10 cents), 7 small, square buttons (inherited from Nana)

And the insides?  Pinked seams (I wanted to keep them very light), rolled hems for the facing, bias-bound, turned and hand-sewn bottom and sleeve hems.

Hours: 3 hours

First worn?: Sunday 5 August to teach Baha’i children’s classes, then again on Tue for lectures & a photoshoot.

Wear again?: Yep.1950’s cut-on sleeve blouses are my version of T-shirts.  This goes with jeans, shorts, all my pencil skirts, and even my Pachyderm skirt (yes! finally a blouse to match it!)

Make again?: I’ll probably only use this pattern again for a striped version.  It just isn’t quite as nice as Butterick 6223, even if the bias-cut back and two-piece construction with no shoulder seams is pretty cool.

Total cost: $7.10

Academy 4785

This blouse has nothing to do with ice cream.  It’s all about bananas.

You’re probably familiar with Cavendish bananas from the supermarket, and perhaps one or two other novelty varieties, but did you know that there are actually hundreds of different varieties of bananas?  The Hawaiian’s alone had at least 44 different varieties of bananas before European contact.  Sadly, almost half of these varieties have gone extinct in the last few centuries, and only 23 varieties of Hawaiian bananas remain, and 19 of these are very endangered.

Ice cream bananas flowers and un-developed bananas

My parents are organic Permaculture farm in Hawaii, and grow 17 different banana varieties, including 6 of the Hawaiian banana types.  My blouse reminds me of one particular variety of banana: the ice cream banana.  Ice cream bananas are so called because their very soft flesh looks like vanilla ice cream.  Rather than having bright green skins that turn bright yellow, they have blue-silver skins that turn frosted yellow when ripe.

The fabric for this blouse instantly reminded me of the creamy yellow interior of ice cream bananas, with circles of the slightly brighter frosted skins, and more circles of the slightly pink colour you get inside other banana varieties, like cuban reds.  Sadly, I don’t have any photos of ripe ice cream bananas, but I’ve thrown in a few other photos of bananas on the family farm.

Ice Cream Banana yellow voile & square buttons

A grove of apple bananas

This was the first fabric that I bought specifically for a Sew Weekly challenge (I don’t count the tea gown lace, as I had 3/4 of the fabric for that project in-stash).  I just didn’t have any yellow in my stash to do the yellow challenge!  It’s not that I don’t like yellow.  In fact, I love yellow.  I’m obsessed with it.  Proof here, and here, and here, and, well, here.  In fact, I am so obsessed with it there is none left in my stash – or at least none that could be turned into something in a week (I’m not going to attempt a fully corded corset or a hand-sewn 17th century bodice in a week).  So it was off to the fabric store for me.

It was actually really hard to find a yellow fabric or fabric with yellow in it.  Yellow is clearly not the ‘in’ colour in NZ fabric stores this season.  I wasn’t certain about this fabric at first, but now I quite love it.

Yellow spots and yellow hem bindings


In addition to reminding me of ice-cream bananas, the blouse reminds me of the Flintstones, especially when I pair it with my rather rock-like baroque pearls.  It’s 50’s prim meets prehistoric, and that amuses me to no end.

Hehe. Flintstones. And yummy yellow tart

Little Dreamstress with cuban red bananas – clearly I’d rather be sewing than posing!

For photos I took the first one in the kitchen of a friends house, because I thought the blouse went great with her yellow kitchen blinds with monkeys on them!  Then we went to the Lady Norwood Begonia house in the Botanical Gardens – the only place warm enough to do ‘outside’ photos in the weather we are having.


I love the Begonia House.  It’s almost subtropical even in winter, and you can put your hands in the lily pond and fish come and nibble your fingers.  It made me no end of happy.

The bias-cut back of the blouse

Also, it’s full of tropical flowers that grow at home, which makes me feel at home.  It even has coffee beans.  But no banana trees :-(

Blouse and coffee beans – and no shoulder seams or sleeve seams!


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.


Comments are closed.

  1. I adore this blouse! I love the pale yellow color and the little buttons. Feeling very envious of your new blouse.

  2. Glad you included the close up shot of the fabric, you can really appreciate the design of the fabric. Beautiful photos, love the one of you when you where little.

  3. Such a cute blouse..Looks great on you.

  4. I love the blouse – so versatile! I also love the photos. We live in Maui.

  5. Wow, I have learnt so much about bananas and believe me, as a former GDR citizen who was completely banana-deprived for the first 11 years of my life I am really into bananas. :)
    I can’t believe you had so much trouble finding yellow fabric! I really like the one you found and the blouse it really pretty. I like all those little details.
    I really need to get more active in pinterest and even if it’s only for following your stuff there! I love that yellow fashion site of yours and I am quite sure you have a lot of other interesting pics compiled…

    • Wow. I can’t imagine not having bananas until you were 11. But then, it’s pretty crazy that you can get bananas anywhere these days. The naughty secret of this blouse is that I don’t actually like bananas (except for cooking with them) – I guess I o’d as a child!

      Glad you enjoyed the pinterest page. The yellow one is just for fun. Whenever I’m sad I just go look at it and it instantly cheers me up! My other pages are more reference and research (sorted by garment type or period, for example) though I do have whole pages of paisley and tartan. :-D

  6. What a great post about your connection to bananas! It’s so true that we are only familiar with maybe three or four different kinds in our US markets. But mostly it’s just that one main one. I used to live in Mexico where we had more of a variety. I loved the cooked plantains. They were almost a daily breakfast choice. It was wonderful how you tied in the distinctive features of the ice cream banana with your new yellow top. It’s very cute.

    • Thank you :-) I think the distinctive banana colour is really what drew me to this fabric. I really want to go to Mexico one day and see their bananas – I’m sure it’s a completely different set to Hawaii. By the cooked plantains, do you mean the ones that are really starchy, and not at all sweet? They don’t grow those in Hawaii at all. We do have cooking bananas though – we would put those in a dutch oven in the fire, and they were like puddings in their own skin. Delicious!