Me-made May has come to an end. I managed to wear something hand sewn every day with no cheating (of which I may or may not have been guilty last year).
I found taking the pictures more of a challenge this year. I’ve been trying to make my Instagram posts more colourful since seeing this infographic of the most used colours in my grid. In non-May months, I don’t take a picture every time I wear something I’ve made myself. This month, feeling under pressure to find different colourful backgrounds suitable for a photo was really difficult.
Another thing I noticed was that my posts got a lot less engagement than they did last year. I try not to worry too much about things like that, especially because I’m not a business, but I think it’s noteworthy. I wonder if it’s due to the changes in the Instagram algorithm since there has been little change to my content.
Some takeaways from the month:
- Neither of my Bettine dresses (raindrop, striped) featured. Even though this was one of the patterns than inspired me to start sewing, elasticated waists are just not for me.
- I would like to focus a little bit more on wardrobe planning rather than only making items spontaneously. However, this is a real challenge for me. What I enjoy is being inspired and then feeling highly motivated by a project. I find it harder to make the time for more planned out projects.
- I still don’t make enough plain things or dresses
I’m glad that I looked back on my last me-made May roundup (linked above). I felt like I hadn’t learnt much last May, but actually I’ve acted on many of the outcomes. I’ve started making my second pair of Cigarette Pants, I’ve started repurposing unloved sweaters from early in my knitting career and I’m going to donate some old makes as part of my house move.
I’ve never read anything by Marie Kondo (though perhaps I should, given how much stuff I have!) but I did listen to a podcast that talked about her philosophy that you should only keep items that bring you joy. I tried to take this approach when assessing whether to keep or donate my handmades.
I considered repurposing the raw materials from these items, but in the end I know I would rather spend my limited making time creating something new. Where garments are in good nick, I hope that they will bring happiness to new owners.
I’ve added quite a few garments to my handmade wardrobe since last May, though I’ve also got rid of a couple of items that I never wore. This is my pledge this year:
I, Monique of www.craftycrusader.wordpress.com @craftycrusader on social media, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’18. I endeavour to wear at least one item of handmade clothing for every day of May 2018. I will post daily pictures on my Instagram. One of my aims is to streamline my wardrobe before I move house in June, particularly to cull the RTW clothing I seldom wear. I would also like to identify gaps in my me-made wardrobe.
Something I continue to be terrible at is wardrobe planning. As a maker, I am very much inspired in the moment. I get an idea for something I want to make and it’s not long before I’m delving into research for that item. I was going to say that planning is the converse before realising that I actually love to plan for individual projects. It’s having an overview or overarching plan that is my downfall. To be honest, that is very much a reflection of my personality. I tend to get caught up in the nitty-gritty of things without really having much awareness of what it is all leading to.
In fact, this has been the main dilemma of my thirties so far- feeling rudderless.
Before I get too deep into self-analysis, I will simply say that I am looking forward to taking part in #mmm18 and I hope it will help me to think a little more strategically about my makes. I have two mini-breaks coming up in May, which makes it even more exciting!
I managed to finish sewing my second Avid Seamstress Day Dress at long last! This project has taken me around two years to complete. I was very close to finishing in late August, but this dress became yet another casualty of the secret project, my series of coat classes and my thumb injury. I prioritised finishing the coat instead, which turned out to be a wise decision given how cold January was. That decision meant this dress narrowly missed out on being the last item completed in my #2017makenine and now cannot be included in either make nine challenge.
In the end, it only took around an hour to finish the machine sewing on the neck facing. I was very relieved that the pieces all fit since I’d cut them such a long time ago. The facing looks so much better than my botched attempt at using bias binding on my first Day Dress (a combination of rookie error and overconfidence). I also hand-stitched the hem, which took a while but looks pretty good. I managed to complete the finishing in time to wear this dress on my 31st birthday.
Overall, I am very happy with how this dress turned out. The day dress pattern fits perfectly into my work wardrobe. More details about the changes I made, and my views on the pattern, can be found here. I really like this dress in the drapey rayon. It’s going to be great to wear in summer, though I’m not sure how well the fabric will wash. I have some gorgeous viscose ready to make into a third Day Dress, and I’m very excited by that project. I think I will cut a straight size 10 rather than the mashup size I attempted here, for unremembered reasons.
Pretty sure I popped a couple of stitches while I was messing around but I just can’t resist a cheeky crow pose
Notes for next iteration
- Lower the darts on the bodice by a couple of cm
- Use self fabric for pockets if possible
Pattern: Avid Seamstress Day Dress in a hybrid size 3/4 (corresponds to UK size 10/12)
Fabric: Around 2m of rayon purchased in Indonesia
I managed to think about my knitting plans for 2018 already and my sewing needs a similar level of thought. I’m going to take part in the Make Nine challenge again this year. I think nine garments is a manageable number, both in terms of time taken to make items and ensuring that I sew responsibly.
- Stripy Lark
- Ultimate shirt in Liberty fabric
- Third day dress in viscose
- Wearable toile- copy of the perfect pencil skirt I have
- Threadcount 1617- I think I will start out with a toile using a viscose remnant I have.
- I also have my eye on some beautiful viscose with a monstera (my favourite leaf) print for a second version. I won a £20 voucher from Sew Over It’s #SOIshowoff competition, which would buy 1.5m
- Teal anorak
- Dotty Linden
Specific things I’d like to do
Repair pink Macaron Take up mushroom Cleo Finish second day dress
I’m very excited about these projects, especially the ideas I’ve carried over from last year. I still have a lot on my plate, so I find it difficult to find a lot of sewing time. This just motivates me to make the most of the time I do have and create useful and long-lasting garments. I’m looking forward to Me Made May already and one or two more items would be very handy.
I’m also going to start being totally transparent about the costs for each of my projects. While I’m happy to spend money on my passions (why else do I work hard?) I have got into a bad habit of spending thoughtlessly. I know that I spent well over £600 on craft stuff last year. That’s a lot. While I don’t make things with the explicit intention of saving money, it would be good to track how much I do spend.
Being into making clothing definitely makes me notice textiles wherever I am. In London, I often use the proximity of the tube as an excuse to stare at strangers and try to work out how their clothes are made. When shopping, I check labels for the fibre content of the fabric and turn garments inside-out to see how they are finished. It’s an obsession.
I found myself doing the same thing on a recent trip to India. I looked at my taxi driver’s kurta and wondered whether it was handmade. I videoed men making alterations in the back of market stalls.
Since labour is so cheap in India, tailoring is much more commonplace. I had hoped to bring some fabric home and noticed some lovely silk in the shop where some friends were having dresses made.
Mukesh, the owner, quoted me the price (the equivalent of around £4/m if I remember correctly) but then said that it would only cost 200 rupees (around £2.50) for him to make something up for me. In the end, I asked him to make me a reversible wrap skirt.
In a single night, he made three Indian style outfits, two pairs of trousers and a top as well as my skirt. Plus he may have had other commissions to work on. The skirt alone would have been a huge source of stress for me, so it was nice to have someone else take that on.
My skirt is such a fun souvenir of the trip, even though I’m pretty scared of destroying it.
A taxi driver in Mumbai mentioned that Zara has a big factory there. Having an experience of the low cost of labour only adds to my growing sense of unease about the fashion industry. It’s hard to have another big thing to worry about, over which I have little control. Even if I made all my clothes, I have no idea of the conditions under which the fabric is made. Growing, spinning and weaving my own cotton seems like a bit of a stretch.
What I do feel I can do is renew my pledge to try and avoid the lure of fast fashion. I want to be mindful with my purchases and try to buy investment pieces where possible. I will continue to purchase second-hand when I can. I will also try not to have a ‘fast’ attitude to the things I make. I only want to create items that I know will be worn a lot, and try to waste as few raw materials as I can.
I can’t believe that I’m finally getting to type these words- I have finished making my Sew Over It 1960s coat. Overall, I’m pretty happy with it. Though I’m not that happy with the pictures, this one excites me quite a lot.
This is what the back looks like.
Something I found notable about this project is that I never felt relaxed during any part of the making process. It felt as if disaster could strike at any minute. I suppose that’s the danger of investing such an enormous amount of time and money into something.
All in all, the hand-sewing required after the final class took a full day. There’s a little bit of pulling on the bottom hem that didn’t press out, but I haven’t fixed it because I’m considering taking some length out of the coat.
The next challenge was to select the buttons that would adorn the coat. I took her on a trip to Liberty to try out some different options. Black was the obvious choice, but I wanted to see if anything else tickled my fancy.
In the end, I picked the beautiful black glass buttons in the finished pictures. Nothing wrong with the obvious choice if it’s the right one! I decided to take the coat on a second trip to Soho to have the buttonholes professionally done. Marking out the holes was another source of anxiety. A small mistake could mean that the coat would never hang nicely.
I think my coat enjoyed the second trip into town. I’d rung up DM Buttons the day before to be told that the following day was their last before the holiday, so to go as early as possible. We got to see the Christmas decorations in the early morning light.
Before finding our way down a dark and scary alley to the lovely studio.
It was so cool seeing all the specialist equipment he has to finish garments. And the finished buttonholes look fabulous. I went for bar tacks for any buttonhole aficionados out there.
Getting the buttons to line up took FOREVER.
I have to say that the chances of me making another coat like this are slim. It’s an incredibly labour intensive process, and I’m not entirely convinced that what I can do at home is better than what I can buy. But I am happy with my fabric choices.
My biggest regret is not making the pockets bigger. This is a perennial problem I have with SOI patterns, so be warned if you like a capacious pocket.
Pattern: Sew Over It 1960s coat (size 12 with some fitting adjustments)
Fabric: 3m of wool and lining from Goldbrick Fabrics (I had 1m of wool left over)