Clothes carry memories, the good and the bad, and many of us end up hiding these time capsules away in our wardrobes for years.

Throwing away your parent's favourite shirt, your wedding dress, or the outfit you wore on your first date with your partner can feel like too big a step, but in most cases, those special pieces hang in the wardrobe forgotten. 

For Karen O'Mahony, however, they're the perfect material for her sentimental, unique, and sustainable custom designs. 

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From the Same Cloth is the newest series from RTÉ Player's Docland, and follows designer, dressmaker and creator of Rag Order, O'Mahony as she takes treasured items of clothing and transforms them into emotional and sustainable connections with their former owner, for memories that live on.

Filmed just before the outbreak of Covid-19 and then during lockdown, the show captures people at a vulnerable time for all of us. "The time frame with each project was quite to the wire," O'Mahony tells RTÉ LifeStyle, "generally, I would take a bit longer with each piece that I'm making!"

As the head and hands behind Rag Order – a thriving online alteration and custom design shop – O'Mahony is used to emotional commissions. 

"I just recently did a kimono for someone who lost their father and it was all his clothes. So it was just a really important thing for me to be making it for them. She said to me that it helped her so much because his anniversary came up there recently and she has the kimono that I had made for her, she wore it on the day."

Losing a loved one inevitably brings up the question of what to do with their belongings. Very often people either pass everything along or preserve as much of it as they can. Reworking something they owned is the kind of happy medium that can make grief that little bit less devastating. 

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"It's not like a relic," O'Mahony says. "You are almost flipping on its head so that you feel excited [about it] and it's something that's really comforting and lovely, something that you feel you have with you."

O'Mahony knows this first hand, having transformed one of her dad's beloved linen shirts into a piece she can wear after he passed away eight years ago.

"He always took great pride in what he wore. He was meticulous", she says. "There's a photograph of dad standing there, really relaxed on his balcony in Spain and he's wearing this beautiful, crisp Armani shirt. It's an image which is burnt into my memory.

"I got that shirt when he passed away. I kept it in my wardrobe for ages with the mind to do something about it. This is way before I was doing anything like this, and then last year I decided to. I think it takes some time sometimes to process stuff and make a decision to change something like that."

"Now I feel very much so that he's a part of me and he's with me and everything I do and to have a tangible thing that he used to wear and that he shows himself and that he took pride in wearing that I am now wearing. And I've turned it into something that is more my taste. That's another level of having them with you."

Of course, there's the fear of cutting into something so special, but O'Mahony says that's where the consultation process comes in – and a lot of empathy and intuition. 

"You get an idea of what the person wants, how reluctant they are to hand things over, because if they're really reluctant, then maybe they're not ready. So there is a certain amount of worry about cutting into fabric, but generally I get a really good feeling from the people that are handing things over to me that they trust me."

Rag Order initially boomed with the swell of interest in sustainable fashion that marked much of last year, and O'Mahony says that even in a pandemic people are still "on the ball" when it comes to being environmentally aware. 

"I think the people that are going to be on the ball, I don't think they've fallen backwards. I think that they're continuing on the path of sustainability.

"I think that people who shop on fast fashion websites probably are going to do that a bit more because that's what they know and that is what makes them feel good. And right now, people are doing what makes them feel good because it's such a crappy situation that we're all in. So I would imagine fast fashion has taken a bit of a jump again."

Watch From the Same Cloth on RTÉ Player now.