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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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…..

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28 Comments

  1. didyoumakethat June 3, 2013

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

    Reply
  2. Jenni June 3, 2013

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

    Reply
  3. Eddie's Room June 3, 2013

    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

    Reply
  4. Sam June 3, 2013

    What a great refashion! This looks fantastic.

    Reply
  5. Rikke June 3, 2013

    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).

    Reply
  6. fearsome5 June 3, 2013

    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 !

    Reply
  7. Zoë June 3, 2013

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

    Reply
  8. Lori June 3, 2013

    Wonderful refashion.

    Reply
  9. Kate June 3, 2013

    Such a fabulous refashion!

    Reply
  10. flossiejamieson June 3, 2013

    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!

    Reply
  11. foamofdays June 3, 2013

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

    Reply
  12. foamofdays June 3, 2013

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

    Reply
  13. Emma Made June 3, 2013

    What an amazing transformation. Congratulations Karen!

    Reply
  14. LLADYBIRD June 3, 2013

    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 🙂

    Reply
  15. Marie June 3, 2013

    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)

    Reply
  16. ShanniLoves June 3, 2013

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

    Reply
  17. Kathryn June 4, 2013

    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.

    Reply
  18. Michelle June 4, 2013

    I love it! Inspired.

    Reply
  19. staceystitchandknit June 4, 2013

    Love it!

    Reply
  20. quirkycolours June 4, 2013

    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.

    Reply
  21. Tasha June 4, 2013

    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!)

    Reply
  22. EmSewCrazy June 4, 2013

    FABulous! What a gorgeous refashion!

    Reply
  23. Zoe June 4, 2013

    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

    Reply
  24. dixie June 5, 2013

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

    Reply
  25. Gema Ensenat June 8, 2013

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

    Reply
  26. Jill June 10, 2013

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

    Reply
  27. Elisalex June 15, 2013

    This is gorgeous on you! Love that elasticated sleeve detail and the feathers set the rich purple velvet off to a T 🙂

    Reply
  28. Tiffany July 18, 2013

    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

    Reply

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