Finished Object: 40’s Sun Jacket

From Simplicity 4044.  If you like K.Hepburn pants, this is a love of a pattern.  I’m beside myself about this jacket.   I laid the pattern aside after extensive alterations.

I’m wearing an old pair of black linen trousers from the same pattern.   In the heat of the day, re-staking my tomatoes and hoeing, I’m comfortable.

I’ve worn this several times since I made it.  When I wear this out in public I notice many more double-takes than usual.  My husband (a native) finds the idea of long sleeves in the summer more than a little nutty.  I’ll win him over yet.

Crepe back hemp-silk satin available here  and here.  I bought it to line husband’s frock coat, but it is too heavy for lining.  I love the texture of this fabric, it reminds me of parchment.   Hemp breathes well and absorbs a great deal of moisture before feeling wet.  Silk is an excellent conductor of heat, feeling cool in the summer and warm in cool weather.

This simple garment reflects my needs: sun protection.  I never thought about covering up to protect my skin before I moved here.   I hear skin cancer called “Australia’s National Cancer” and see older people covered in angry melanomas or sporting pink, permanently scorched skin.  My whole body tenses up if I walk outside uncovered on a bright day, I squint and wince.

I’m working on finding stylish ways to live comfortably in my environment.


  1. I completely understand wanted to be covered from the sun, but I'm not sure how I'd handle having to be covered in the heat. Luckly, I'm in the mid-Atlantic region, so it's not so beastly hot. God love you for trying to live on the sun! :) The jacket is super cute, though — I LOVE the detail on the front of the shoulders. And white is such a cooling color. Looks especially lovely with your awesome wide-brimmed hat. If I thought I could pull it off, I'd make one of those hats, too.

  2. I love hemp silk! I have one purchased-from-a-small-designer hemp-silk skirt and it feels SO nice (sadly it's a pure costume piece, so I don't get to wear it much).I don't blame you for trying to cover up in the Australian sun. My brother is gearing up for his second Aussie summer, we'll see how he handles it… he didn't do so well the first one (and I would've sworn he couldn't sunburn if he tried)

  3. I have never sewn with hemp silk but now I am intrigued. Your jacket is so pretty and the overall look is elegant and *smart*. Keep your gorgeous skin as it is now!(I thought I already posted this so if it happens to come up twice, oops)

  4. Oh I hear you alright – the sun in Auckland is every bit as fierce as the sun where you are only it's not quite as hot – we share the same ozone hole! I try to wear long sleeves in summer too – I'm enjoying seeing your summer wardrobe come together. I don't really like summer sewing – looser lighter clothing isn't my forte.

  5. I don't mind the heat or humidity, I'm a Texas girl. The sun is another issue altogether and I'm happier in my light jackets and big hats than in past summers without. I thought big hats for summer would look rather ludicrous (I didn't know if I could "pull them off") but they seem to work ok. This one is from Vintage Pattern Lending Library, their 1925 cloche hat. I keep putting off making the other hat in the pattern, but since I get so much wear from this one, I know I need another few.

  6. So, you're a Texan-turned-Aussie girl. How long have you been 'down under'? I'm really rather curious to know what your accent sounds like! :)

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