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…..