For years, I’ve been wanting to improve my skills in another needlecraft area: sewing. Sure, since childhood I have been competent enough with a sewing machine and hand sewing to make the odd throw pillow or simple Halloween costume. For those skills, I can thank basic family and consumer science class lessons, plus relatives and friends who sewed. But I never felt confident taking something in, making a pattern adjustment, or installing a zipper correctly on the first try – that sort of thing. But recently, something changed, and I’ve found myself so motivated to tackle my one-time crafting white whale: sewing my own clothes.
Without going into long, boring detail, I’ve gotten some thyroid issues under control over the course of the last 2 years, which has led to losing 20 pounds and having the energy to exercise regularly. Unsurprisingly at the beginning of this year, I found myself without a lot of clothes that fit. (Hot tip: nothing makes this 30-something adult woman look more like a weirdo at the grocery store than saggy butt jeans that were a bit busted to begin with.) My body shifting coincided pretty nicely with becoming a more serious Knit & Crochet Designer. Without meaning to, I started thinking about fit and stitch math when my mind wandered. So as my body slowly changed, I kept coming back to how much of a difference it would make to wear properly fitting clothes on a regular basis.
Late this winter, I figured that now is as good a chance as any to buck up and learn how to sew, knit, crochet, and otherwise make or adjust most of my own clothes. If I need something I don’t have, I want to try to make it, improving my sewing skills one project at a time. (Don’t worry, I’m pacing myself, starting with easier things that I know I can handle, and trying to choose a more challenging pattern or fabric to work with every time I make something new.) With this attitude in mind, I took in a few existing wardrobe pieces slowly over the course of the spring. I donated some old staples and replaced them with thrifted or handed down items. However since we’re talking about most of my wardrobe, there are several gaps yet to fill as of this writing. Enter Me Made May.
What’s Me Made May?
Although I’ve mentioned it a few times in my weekly newsletter and on my podcast, Very Serious Crafts, I haven’t gotten around to blogging about Me Made May before now. What began as an online challenge for garment sewists in 2010 has grown over the last decade into a challenge for makers of all stripes to wear something handmade each day in the month of May. There are a lot of folks, myself now included, who like to also use Me Made May as encouragement to create a certain amount of garments to flesh out their handmade wardrobe.
So what are you making?
May involves lots of travel for my husband and I this year, so I’m trying to be reasonable about my making goals.
1.There’s a 1940s swimsuit set I’ve been dying to make, and I finally bought the pattern recently. I fully need a new beachwear option, for one thing. Plus, I’m specifically interested in beachwear that’s comfortable, but also a two-piece with some coverage (I couldn’t tell you why, but that’s what I’ve always wanted in a swimsuit). While not technically a swimsuit, the Boardwalk Duet pattern from Decades of Style looks exactly like what I’ve always wanted to wear on crazy hot summer days that may or may not also involve a beach. Plus, I plan to make this in a fabric that can get wet or dry without going full see-through or taking forever to dry.
2. In April I attended a vintage knitting retreat to learn more about vintage sweater construction and working with vintage knitting patterns. I wanted my first post-retreat project to be a sweater that allows me to practice my new skills. Therefore I’m in the midst of knitting my first vintage sweater, and I plan to finish it this month. I’m working from a free vintage pattern called the Fernlace Pullover, and the yarn I’m using is Despondent Dyes’ Vintage Vixen in Party Line Breakup.
3. I want to sew at least 1 or 2 tops this month as well. I’ve been making a lot of dresses and skirts to get back in the groove of sewing and to work on basic skills, so I’m finding myself in desperate need of tops that are suited to pairing with skirts, but also suited to my own body. This tops project is the one I have the least specific plans for, but I think that’s ok. With my luck, I’ll end up winging something that ends up being my favorite hand sewn garment yet. ;)
When I finish my Me-Made makes I’ll post about them here. Stay tuned for blog posts featuring the latest additions to my handmade wardrobe, those I’ve made over the last couple months, plus new ones for MMM.
Beyond Me Made May
Internet crafting challenges aside, my wardrobe is in need of several other items that didn’t quite make the MMM cut. Specifically, the garments I have on my to-make radar are everyday workhorse cardigans that FIT, darn-worthy socks, overalls, quick-to-make sun dresses, and some fun blouses.
Since this is clearly a new creative passion project, I plan on continuing to share the journey toward a more handmade/sustainable wardrobe, even after Me Made May. Inspired by everything I just rambled on about, I want to launch a new blog series, Handmade Wardrobe. In Handmade Wardrobe, I want to offer pattern recommendations for less experienced sewists, information on basic tweaks you can made to help a pattern fit your body, and more! Nothing crazy in-depth, but the sort of handmade wardrobe inspiration that is hopefully a little more accessible to folks who aren’t masters of sewing.
Last but not least, I want to end this long post with this. It may be a daydream at this point, but one day I’d specifically love to make my own jeans that really fit my wide hips, high waist and flat butt. A HUGE part of this handmade wardrobe project for me is learning to accept my body for what it is. Making my clothing meet my body where it is on its own just seems a bit healthier than trying to force my weight further down in an effort to wear pants in the same size family as my petite shoulders.
I’m decidedly not promising myself nor you that any of these last projects will see the light of day in a timely fashion. However, as long as I’m making baby steps toward a more handmade wardrobe and self-acceptance, I’ll consider that a victory.
Happy Me Made May 2019!