DIY colour block vest

I have recently been designing mini collections, photographs of which are going to appear in some e-books I am releasing later in 2012. One of the collections has the working title 'Korean collection,' as my boyfriend - who works in a museum - observed that the pieces looked like traditional Korean costume.

The fabrics are vibrant pink, green and blue and both the colours and shapes in the collection do resemble those found in Korean clothing. Here are some images I found on the internet. This first one is from a blog all about fashion in Seoul.

These two are from a wholesale website and a personal photo stream, respectively.

Here is my mini collection, which I created without ever having seen a piece of Korean clothing!

I styled the shrug (on the left) with a white shirt and black skirt and the kaftan (in the middle) with white shoes. I decided that the blue skirt needed a splash of white and green in the outfit, so planned to make a very simple colour block top.

I bought a simple, plain white vest.

I found the horizontal centre of the garment using a tape measure.

I marked the centre of the vest with tailor's chalk. The chalk is represented by the red triangle in these diagrams.

I moved my tape measure down the vest, finding the centre at multiple points and making a little mark with the chalk.

I was planning to paint a thick stripe of green up the centre of the vest, so I decided how wide I wanted the stripe to be. I wanted to position the stripe centrally on the vest and make it an even width all the way down. I used the central chalk marks I had made to measure out the width of the stripe at various points down the vest. I didn't join up the outer marks with chalk lines, but if I had the vest would have looked something like the diagram on the far right, below. In retrospect, this is probably a good idea.

I found a piece of old vinyl flooring in the street (a lucky find) and cut it so that I could push it up inside my vest. I didn't want the paint I was going to apply to soak all the way through the vest to the back.

I prepared my colour by adding a touch of white to a vivid green. I didn't want the colour to dry too dark, so I hoped adding white would ensure it dried a bright, artificial looking green.

Mmmmmmmmmm. A sexy shot of fabric paint.

I began at the top, filling in the area between my chalk marks.

Then I realised I would probably have a better chance of creating an even stripe if I marked vertical lines all the way down the vest. You can see that they are still not perfectly even!

I painted the full stripe then lay the vest, with vinyl still inside, on the radiator to dry. You can see here that after the paint dried, I touched up some areas that looked a little thin with fresh paint.

I used the vest to style the bright blue tulip skirt in a shoot. I haven't yet received these pictures from my brilliant but very busy photographer, Leyla, so instead here is me in the back yard wearing the vest. I am actually very happy with the result, even though I don't look it.

Here I am again, squinting over the wall, trying to see what my new neighbours are up to.

There are many possibilities for the DIY colour block vest. It could be made in any colour that fabric paint is available in, which includes gold, silver and bronze. It could be made with a skinnier stripe or a thicker one. It could be made with a simple black stripe creating a striking, monochrome top.


  1. The first encounter I had with traditional Korean costume was in the film Untold Scandal! I also read an interesting article in Craft Arts International on photographer Seihon Cho and his exhibition 'The Sounds of Wind, Hanbok, the Clothing of Korea'. It features old and new costumes against sometimes stunning scenery.


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