Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Refashioners 2013 - Karen of Did You Make That

When someone sends you an oversized, purple velvet shirt in the post, what do you do? Faint? Laugh? Wring your hands?



Miss P had invited me to take part in her second Refashionistas challenge. I like being challenged, so I was in there like a shot. All we'd had to do was give Portia a hint about our preferences and I'd mentioned the colour purple. Well, I was taken at my word. Hung out to dry might be another way of putting it!
This wasn't luxury velvet, it was thick cotton velvet. I'm amazed anyone ever thought this was a good idea as a shirt - you'd pass out from the heat, wearing that thing. It felt more like upholstery velvet. What, oh what, to do?
I took Ella for a walk. By the time I arrived back home, I knew my plan. I ordered the V8812 pattern and then ... sat on my behind for two months. This experience has taught me that I'm a deadline fiend, a fact that makes me feel really uncomfortable. I like to think I'm organised, but clearly not!
It helped that I knew exactly what I was going to do, so once work began it went fairly smoothly. I've
had an ambition for a while to work with velvet, but I've always been put off by the horror stories. Velvet's nap can become damaged during pressing and even from the pressure of a sewing machine foot. So, basically, any normal part of the sewing process is a risk to your fabric! Gulp.Fortunately, I was working with the 'working man's club' type of velvet rather than the 'American Bar at The Savoy' type of velvet.  My fabric friend was going to stand up to abuse. Even so, I joyfully used my velvet pressing board.  My sister had found this rare item for me at a car boot sale.
What can I tell you about construction? Because the velvet was thick I had to trim away any excess in the darts. I varied from the pattern instructions by inserting a full lining in polka dot satin - yum. I absolutely did not ignore the pattern instructions for shoulder pads. This bolero needs shoulder pads!
There was one fairly significant variation I made. The sleeves. They were really not doing it for me. Boxy and too long. I trimmed 1.5 inches from the length and - I still don't know where this inspiration came from - I decided to add an elasticated gathering down the centre of the sleeves. I think this gives the sleeves a feminine touch sorely needed. I also think this would only work with certain fabrics.
Finally, I carried the refashioning theme through to make a brooch out of some vintage hat feathers I found at Camden Passage market. The feathers cost £1-£2 each and I liked how the emerald green worked against the purple, so set to with a button and some lace. What do you think? Yay or nay? I'm sure this isn't to everyone's taste!
I hope I turned a monstrosity into a fairly sophisticated make. I learned some lessons about velvet, I used my imagination and I enjoyed the liberating high of slicing into a garment with shears. Hack, hack, hack! Surprisingly, this ickle bolero used up most of the fabric from a voluminous shirt, probably because of the wide shoulders.
A word should be said about the photos. I paired the bolero with the Simplicity 4934 dress I made last summer with Beth of Sunny Gal Studios. That's one great dress, I'm not gonna lie! As I prepared for the shoot, Ella chewed her way through two tubes of body lotion, a hotel sewing kit, the contents of my bedroom bin and a sewing magazine. This little dog needed a distraction, so she came out with me when I went to take the photos. She calmed down almost immediately. Turns out my dog's a super model...

Karen - from Did You Make That

Karen's not kidding! This shirt was SERIOUSLY "hugly" in it's former state. I did feel a fleeting pang of guilt as I packed it up to send off to Karen. (Soon replaced by a mischevious cackle which by the sounds of it Karen heard when she opened her parcel. I'm kidding Karen, I'm kidding!) It's saving graces in my view were the colour, quantity and weight/sturdiness of the fabric. It absolutely did not work as a shirt. But I just knew there was potential there; and WHAT potential Karen has uncovered! From dodgy 80's shirt to a sophisticated and elegant bolero fit for a day at the races. Pass the Pimms Karen.....



28 comments :

  1. Thanks for featuring me, Miss P - what an honour! It was loads of fun!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! congrats to Karen on seeing something so pretty in that shirt!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amazing how you managed to get something so pretty out of that shirt Karen - love it <3
    Your dog is so cute too.
    The bar is set - looking forward to seeing what the next refashionistas come up with :-)

    Lol, why did you mention Pimms Portia - now I want (no need) some ;-)

    xx Eddie

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a great refashion! This looks fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Loving it. And the brooch, and the doggie...lovely all in all (and it is always great to get inspired to new gadgets; must have vintage velvet pressing board).

    ReplyDelete
  6. i love it! Karen rocked it for sure! love the polka dotty insides and purple is my color so I couldn't think of a single change I'd make. incredible refashionista, that first shirt was hideous !

    ReplyDelete
  7. Amazing refashion! I would have struggled with that shirt, good thinking!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Such a fabulous refashion!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Seriously impressive! And I love how well the purple goes with those mustardy colour shoes. Making me think more about cutting up charity shop purchases completely rather than just altering them. Excited to see what comes next!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Definitely Yay to the whole outfit! So cool! I would never thought that shirt had any potential..

    ReplyDelete
  11. Definitely yay for the whole outfit! Gorgeous bolero! I would never have thought that that shirt had any potential!

    ReplyDelete
  12. What an amazing transformation. Congratulations Karen!

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is wonderful! I definitely would not have thought to make a bolero - the velvet would have just made throw up my hands in defeat, ha! But it is so so perfect for that original monstrosity. And it looks lovely with your purple dress, and yes, Miss Ella :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh my goodness, the bolero is fantastic Karen! And it matches your Simplicity dress perfectly! You've literally performed a miracle with that shirt...I think I would have freaked out if I received that in the post ;o)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow what a great refashion!! Great job and love the brooch as well.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am so in awe of these re-fashioning skills - what imagination and skill! It looks gorgeous and I love how Karen has paired it with the purple dress and yellow shoes.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Karen, you've done wonders! I think the sleeves actually make it. My mum went through a huge purple phase in the 1970s and even dyed her (home-made) wedding dress purple.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh Karen, that is just fantabulous! The before and after are mind-blowing. I absolutely LOVE your genius elastic idea, that really makes the bolero, I think! Such a perfect combination with your dress. Inspired! (p.s. I'm coveting your shoes!)

    ReplyDelete
  19. FABulous! What a gorgeous refashion!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Holy shit! You've got a velvet pressing board?! I thought those were a thing of legends! Your refashion is totally inspired and the outcome is unrecognisable and beautiful. The gathered sleeves are such a nice detail and really make the most of the velvet's sheen and texture. Genius work Karen

    Zoe xxx

    ReplyDelete
  21. this is totally adorable and i never would have thought to do that. that's why i love the refashioners! great job Karen!

    ReplyDelete
  22. That is gorgeous, just beautiful. In fact, I'd go as far as 'magical'! AND whimsical. And inspiring. Just. Love. It.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Yep, I love this. The elastic on the sleeves is pure genius.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is gorgeous on you! Love that elasticated sleeve detail and the feathers set the rich purple velvet off to a T :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. I hate the original shirt, but I love the classic yet unexpected feel of the bolero. I am always a fan of outerwear done in velvet, very posh.

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/CurvyTiffy

    ReplyDelete

Drop me a line...