I just love doing upcycled projects.

Creating something new and exciting from an old, tired garment is so much fun and it uses up scraps and stash you have lying around. Unless it is for a client there seems to be less pressure for perfection as if it goes completely wrong you haven’t wasted a wadge of fabric you’ve just bought and there is always something to be learned from any sewing you do.

This project used a jacket from Sahara that was made from a lovely fabric but was unflattering due to its rather shapeless design.

The fabric was lovely deep colour that seemed to have so many shades in it I thought I’d try and bring them out through judicious use of the colours I could see within the weave. I dragged out a selection of material from my stash and the one that really made the jacket fabric zing was amazing crushed velvet in a two tone blue/pink.

The idea was to create something very feminine and romantic so I set to cutting the pattern for a ruched collar and sleeves and shaped the side seams a bit to lose the boxy style.

I removed and closed the pockets and cut away a sloping edge to the front; always a bit daunting as it looks a bit odd if you have to sew it back on if you change your mind!

A good way to know how much to cut is to pin the excess out of the way and look in the mirror first. Get a good shape and bring on the scissors!

I chose a wide variety of laces and motifs which I painted with two tone fabric paints to compliment the velvet. In addition to this I picked a range of fabrics that toned well with the whole aesthetic. Once I was happy with the choices I set to cutting the collar and cuffs along with creating a whole heap of fabric flowers.

I thought the best way to bring out the colours of the brocade would be to knit a unique ruffle for the hem out of two yarns that together would coordinate with the jacket and trims as a whole. I enlisted the help of a knitwear specialist to create this for me and to knit a lace up at the back to give a bit of added shape.

Assembling everything together took a bit of time as the collar and cuffs were prototyped first in calico to make sure I was happy with them. I only had a limited amount of the velvet to play with so had to be sure before cutting.

Machine stitching was used for the basic construction alterations and added elements of the design but the motifs, flowers and other bits were hand sewn. This part of the process is really important as it is very easy to overdo it in terms of harmony and balance in the design.

I pinned the flowers and lace motifs to the jacket first and slept on it before making a few tweaks here and there.

I find I always make adjustments to the balance if I leave it alone for a while. If I can’t afford the luxury of time then a good tip is to look at the thing in a mirror, that way any glaring holes or oversewing shows up really quickly.

The detail was enhanced with hand sewn beads and motifs in carefully chosen places.

To finish it off I closed it with a piece of wide organza ribbon as opposed to buttons as I thought it went better with the romance of it all.