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’80s Vested Romper Refashion

A DIY Scalloped Hem & A Tumor Named Clyde
DIY Tube Top from Old Lady Top

What was it with the ’80s-Early ’90s and weird fake sewn-in layers?

'80s vested romper refashion before
Exhibit A: This fake vest

The fake vest on this very ’80s romper doesn’t even go around to the back. It’s just sewn in to the shoulder seams.

Why not just make a matching vest, ’80s? Grownups can handle layering. I promise.

Before we dive into this refashion, I want to take a moment to thank my friend Katie from PannerPete Vintage for gifting me this romper, along with a GIANT bag of other refashionables.

Going to thrift stores right now feels a little scary with the spike in cases we’ve been seeing here in SC. So, in giving me her old vintage inventory/rejects, she’s done me a huge solid that will help keep me safe & healthy this summer (as I won’t have to go thrifting for stuff to refashion as much)!

Now, let’s refashion a romper!

I inspected my new romper closely and discovered a couple of…ahem…issues.

Coffee stain on shoulder of romper
pit stains on romper
Ewww! Pit Stains!

Despite all my laundering wizardry, I just could NOT get those stains to budge!

When thrifting for potential refashionables, stains like these are usually a dealbreaker. However, I thought this romper had a lot of potential, so I decided to attempt to work around them.

Wish me luck!

First off, I unpicked the romper’s shoulder seams to remove that vest.

unpicking shoulder seam
I had many layers to get through!
removed vest from romper
Farewell fake vest!

The sleeves quickly followed.

seam ripping sleeves off
Get outta here!
removed sleeves

The sleeves were now gone, but keep in mind, those grody pit stains were still very much present on the body of the romper. :/

So, I did the only thing I could think of to remedy the situation, and sliced the armholes open a little to remove the stained parts.

expanding armhole with french curve and rotary cutter

To do this, I used my french curve & rotary cutter on my self-healing cutting mat. If you don’t have these things, you could just eyeball it using scissors while trying to keep to a curve.

This action will have repercussions, friends. My armholes are going to be pretty big, and since this piece fits me just fine, I won’t be able to take it in on the sides to make the armholes smaller.

I figured I could just wear a camisole under the finished piece, and that it would still look okay even with the larger armholes.

That shoulder stain tho…

But what to do about that pesky shoulder stain?!?

I had a few options here. I could just make the romper strapless or one-shouldered (thus removing the shoulder and stain altogether). I could add a collar fashioned from the original vest collar (and almost did).

OR I could add some cute little epaulette-ish things to the shoulders to cover the stain. <—What I did

To do this, I harvested the bottom corners from the original vest.

First, I measured each corner to make sure they were even, and marked them with tailor’s chalk.

Marking measured corner with tailor's chalk
Measuring triangle to width of shoulder seam

Then, I cut!

cutting bottom points from vest
See? That vest is actually coming in handy!

I laid one of the triangles on the shoulder seam, positioning it to cover the stain. I ended up having to trim them both down a little to get it juuuust right.

triangle hiding stain

I pinned them in place, and stitched them to the front side of the romper.

stitching triangle to shoulder
I think it looks cute already!

Now to put those shoulders back together!

I turned my romper inside-out and pinned my newly-triangled front piece to the back piece.

That added triangle piece made for a really thick seam!

pinned shoulder seams
Whoa! That’s a lot of fabric!

I sewed my shoulders down sllllowwwwwly and carrrrrrrefullllllly to avoid breaking a needle.

sewing shoulder seams on sewing machine
Be careful!

And now that stain is hidden away!

But I’m not done here yet!

Remember those adorable buttons from the front of the vest?

close up of flower buttons
Aren’t they sweet?

I added them to my epaulette-ish things (don’t worry, I put the other two in my button stash)!

hand stitching button to shoulder
Just a lil hand stitchin’!

I stitched the button through the entire shoulder to tack down the triangle and keep that stain from ever being seen again!

stitched flower button
So simple, but so cute!

Now that my shoulders were reassembled, I was ready to close up the raw edges on those armholes.

First, I pinned the raw edges under.

pinned armhole
Ugh! so big!

Then, I stitched them down.

stitching armhole
Close it up!

When that was done, I tacked the bottom of each armhole down a smidge.

taking in armhole
Any little bit helps!

Now for the legs!

I tried my romper on again, and used a safety pin to mark where I wanted to cut the legs to make to them shorter (adding a couple of inches for the hem).

shortening legs of romper
We’re nearly done here folks!

Then, I gave them each a new hem!

hemming shorts
Tuck ‘n Pin!
stitching hem for shorts

Sash time!

I trimmed off the side ties from the original vest and stitched them together to make a sash in a flash!

stitching sash
Just a tiny whirrrr!

I was ready to romp in my new refashion!

'80s Vested Romper Refashion after
Romp…or just stand there…what’s the difference?

When Mr. Refashionista saw me in my romper, he said I looked like I was about to go watch a tennis game “but on a grass court”.

'80s Vested Romper Refashion after closeup
Yes, it’s as cool and comfy as it looks!

While the armholes were larger than I would have liked, I think they still work with the overall look of this piece. Plus, they’re built-in air conditioning!

'80s Vested Romper Refashion after side view
I’d have to wear a cami under it anyways, so…

I’m actually happy the original piece had that shoulder stain, as those subtle shoulder details are my favorite part of this piece!

'80s Vested Romper Refashion after shoulder details

All in all I’m quite pleased with this refashion and think it’ll get a lot of wear this summer!

'80s Vested Romper Refashion after selfie
What am I doing with my face????


'80s Vested Romper Refashion before and after
A DIY Scalloped Hem & A Tumor Named Clyde
DIY Tube Top from Old Lady Top

41 thoughts on “’80s Vested Romper Refashion”

  1. This turned out so cute! You are so creative. I always think I should pick up something and try to refashion it, but I just don’t have the eye for it like you do. The first think I thought of when I saw the before on this refashion, was a romper with a halter top made from that vest thingy. I love your blog!

  2. I have followed you forever. I missed your posts so much when you had stopped posting for a bit. Love your refashions, fun & silly outlook on life and mostly your constant positive attitude.
    I have seen you have a Pfaff sewing machine, could you please give me more info on your machine, model number & etc. I have a simple older machine but would like to upgrade to something that helps you do the magic you do.
    I feel like you ate my “penpal” with you being the only “penpal” who writes & I am the “penpal” who reads. Till we “talk” again. N

  3. Super cute! I love all your stuff… I’ve been wondering though…when you do a refashion on something bigger ( say the moo-moo you did) what do you do with all your left over fabric? Don’t know why this popped up in my head and you may have already addressed what you do but I just started seeing your stuff yesterday…

  4. Yes, the grass lawn. This is breezy, a little preppy, and very upscale. Cannot believe how you can take something dumpy and dated and create a fresh, fashionable garment. This was a real metamorphosis. Like a good mystery, I never quite know where you’re going until you put it all together in the final scene. So fun to follow your blog!

  5. Cute! And everything is rompers these days so you’re on trend. Before the sash came off, I was thinking that vest would have made for a hilarious bikini top with little vest lapels. It would give Mr. Refashionista a laugh if you wore it in the backyard at least.

  6. It’s cool and comfy looking, but I would have taken it up at the shoulders since you had to open them anyway to add the decorations. And the epaulets could have been more up front so that they show, because they are so cute.

    Thanks for giving me an idea of what to do with thrift-store stains. Usually I pass on a piece and when I really like it that is annoying. Now, more to think about. So far my thrift stores are mostly open, thank heavens. The lure of the grocery store is gone by now as we are in our 11th week of covid.

  7. Super cute, I like that your friend gave clothes, so we can keep following your refashioned. This was very nice.

  8. You are just so creative — consider yourself an adopted granddaughter! And this romper turned out so cute on you. The proportion of the shoulder detail is just right for your petite frame. Larger “epaulets” (sp?) would probably be fine on someone taller/bigger. But these suit you “spot” on (groan…I know; I just couldn’t resist!). BTW, re your self-healing cutting mat. I’ve been looking for one but am just overwhelmed by all the choices, as well as people’s conflicting reviews. Any suggestions for a good one/good size! Glad to hear you’ve been gifted with more goodies!

  9. Very cute but I also agree with some of the other comments about the top. Love the tiny little trim at the shoulders but would have liked to seen it about twice as big’ also take a little off the shoulders to pull it up in the arm holes. Top just a tiny bit too big for you. Cute idea, just not quite finished.

  10. Love it but I maybe would have used bottom of shorts that you cut off to trim the arm holes and maybe ruffling them a bit to help pull it in , but still love how it turned out

  11. The epaulets are cute! Could you also have taken in the shoulder seams, perhaps scooping the neck a little? That would help with the underarm gappage. I love your blog!


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