One of the things I worked on during Me-Made-May '12 was figuring out how to work my reversible bolero shrug into my handmade outfits. At the time, I'd just finished it and was hoping it would provide a me-made alternative to the ratty secondhand and thrifted cardigans I always rely on to provide much needed layers. I succeeded in working it into different outfits and it is now a fully integrated wardrobe item. So what do you do once you've made a successful new garment that you enjoy wearing? Make another from the same pattern in a different colour, of course!
So when some stinky synthetic red double knit appeared at work, I thought 'Aha!'. I wear lots of colours that work well with red and I felt that a red bolero shrug would be very useful addition. I used the same pattern as the first version (pictured above) and decided to make it double layered like the first as well. Unlike the first version, I actually had enough red double knit to cut both the layers from so I didn't need to worry about different colours peeking out like I sometimes do with the emerald/black version.
But how to make it more interesting than just a plain red shrug? A post I wrote for the Colette Patterns blog a few years ago discussed lace appliqués and their ability to lift a solid coloured garment. I dug around a found a pretty floral corsage-style lace appliqué. It was actually quite a bit bigger to begin with, but when the shrug was half-made, I positioned the appliqué on the shrug and kept trimming sections away from the appliqué until it reached a proportion and placement that looked good. I then hand-stitched it to the bolero before attaching the two halves and completing the construction of the garment.
But wait, where has the appliqué gone in the photo above? Well, it's double sided, isn't it?! Genius. When I'm wearing an outfit (an anchor-based outfit for example) that wouldn't suit the introduction of a lace element, I can turn the shrug inside out and wear the plain side.
Aside from colour and the lace detail, the other difference between this version and the emerald/black version is the altered the width of the sleeves. The first bolero shrug definitely feels a bit 'jacket-y' because of the sleeves. For this I wanted to achieve a more cardigan-like garment that would fit under a coat or jacket with ease. All in all, I'm really happy with this garment, but the fabric is a bit of a disappointment (aside from the smell which remains slightly even after washing!). As someone committed to using secondhand fabric only, beggars can't be choosers, and it turns out this synthetic double knit doesn't hold it's shape as well as the emerald or black double knits I used before have. The red garment is a bit baggy at the bottom at the back, and the collar area doesn't sit quite as cleanly as I would have like. Still, if the fabric can keep its sh*t together enough for a few months of wear, it will have been a success and a worthwhile sewing project in my view.