The ‘Nostalgia’ Shorts

For this challenge I really wanted to do the Art Challenge, and had the most awesome garment planned.  I got it mostly done, it just needed one very specific set of notions and a couple hours of really simple, straightforward finishing.  And then one of my students needed exactly the same set of notions for a wedding dress she is making, and there wasn’t another set to be had in Wellington, and no time to order any.  So I gave her my notions, and scrambled around for another Sew Weekly project as a replacement.  Maybe you’ll see the art one for my ‘Celebrations’ challenge, otherwise it will be on my blog.

I had a rummage through my UFO pile and hit on these shorts.  I’d started the shorts on my trip home to Hawaii in August.  They were the product of desperation and necessity – I’d forgotten to pack enough shorts, it was really hot, and I was running out of clothes.  The fabric is something I bought for $1 a metre almost 20 years ago and left in Hawaii because I really don’t love the colour, and Simplicity 1230 was the only shorts pattern still in my stash under my parent’s house.

Simplicity 1230

Before I got any further than cutting the shorts out, I stopped by the only op-shop on the island and picked up a couple of pairs of shorts for $1 each, so I didn’t need to finish these, and didn’t want to, because I’d rather have been sewing for Mum.  So the cut-out shorts and pattern came home with me and languished in my UFO pile.  This was partly because I’ve been super busy, but also because mint green and shorts are something I wore constantly as a child (hence the fabric), but stopped wearing as an adult.

I’ve gotten back into shorts slightly this year, with my ‘Summer Berries’ shorts for the button challenge and the ‘Mad, Bad and Dangerously Green’ shorts for the green challenge, but I still have mixed feelings about shorts except in tropical climates, and mint green is still a no-no.

But hey, I had the shorts cut out, and the childhood challenge was all about nostalgia, so maybe it’s time to re-think mint.

The shorts were a breeze to sew up, and the fabric was delicious to work with – a very heavy rayon with a slight slub.  I was thanking my lucky stars I’d made such a smart purchase as a child!  Unfortunately the rayon had faded slightly on the creases in the intervening years, so I didn’t bother to finish them as nicely as I usually would.

I wearing them with a vintage aloha shirt (another very smart purchase I made before I was 15) and some canvas beach shoes and bright red lipstick.  The shirt seemed to fit well with the theme.  I’m not brave enough to really bare my midriff like the playshorts in the pattern image yet!

For the photoshoot Mr D and I headed down to the waterfront by Wellington airport – it’s got some great sculptures that I wanted to capture (though of course all those photos turned out rubbish), and the water and docks echoed my first childhood inspiration image (which is actually at Disneyland).  We even managed to see some ducks, but Mr D could’t get them in the photo, though I look cute cooing at them.  I like ducks.

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 1.5 metres of heavy rayon with a slight slub ($1.50 – 18 years ago!)

Pattern: Simplicity 1230

Year: mid 1940s

Notions: One zip (20 cents) and thread

And the insides? Just zig-zagging

Hours to complete: 2 in Wellington, .5 in Hawaii

First worn?: Sunday 9 Dec for the photoshoot

Wear again?: If it gets warm enough – but they will definitely be in my suitcase next trip home!

Make again?: Yes.  I really like this pattern

Total cost: $1.70


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. What a great pair of shorts! I love the vintage pattern with the high waist and pleats. They really flatter your figure. It’s great that you had a good reason to finish them too. My favorite photos are the ones on the pier. The colors of your outfit and the background are really pleasing to look at.

  2. Just gorgeous and mint green is right on trend, love the Aloha shirt too. What a kind tutor you are – saving the day!

    • Thank you! I did think that this could have been for the ‘On Trend’ challenge too, but I like what I did for that.

      Being a teacher is sometimes like being a parent – you have to put them first ;-) Also, it was a wedding dress, and the weddings got to happen just right, whereas a Challenge can be adapted!

  3. They’re fab minty shorts, vintage fabric, vintage shorts!! great job Leimomi your photos are brilliant too.

  4. Love that pattern! How well it all came together!

  5. I love what you do and great effort on the photos. Fab!

  6. Had to go read the duck story : ) The shorts are very cute, good re-creation of something worn in childhood. I think the minty green is OK, made even better with the shirt and red lipstick!