Well, I have another Me-Made-May under my belt. Even though this is my third time participating, I was a little apprehensive going into it, due to feelings of insufficiency and guilt. Luckily, Me-Made-May helped me work through those issues, and I ended the month with more clarity and inspiration than I had when I started.
First, let’s talk about the feelings of insufficiency. From June 2015-April 2016, I sewed ten garments for myself, and of those ten, five were failures. In that same timeframe, a couple of my older garments fell victim to laundry mishaps, and I misplaced another. As a result, I only had net two good new garments for this year’s Me-Made-May. It didn’t feel like enough and I was worried about boring the community with repeats from the previous year. However, while participating in Me-Made-May this year, I came to a realization. It’s okay that most of my clothes were repeats from the previous year. Yes, I’ve been wearing the same Wiksten tanks that I made in 2013 and 2014. I like them, and I’m going to keep wearing them until they wear out. The idea of wearing things until they wear out brings us to the next topic: my feelings of guilt around fast fashion.
People sew garments for a variety of reasons. I started doing it because I hated shopping for clothes for my postpartum body. I keep doing it because I enjoy the challenge of improving my sewing skills, feel more confident wearing clothes I made myself, and find deep satisfaction in finishing a project. However, other people sew garments for different reasons, such as combating fast fashion. Since I’ve joined the handmade wardrobe movement, I have read countless blog posts and articles about the evils of fast fashion. As a result, I’ve felt increasingly guilty about not having a 100% me-made wardrobe. I’ve also felt guilty about wanting to sew more and more clothes, because it felt like that desire to sew more was too close to the desire to buy more that fuels fast fashion and the runaway consumerism that the slow fashion movement is trying to fight against. When I had the realization that I like wearing my old garments year over year, I also realized that it was okay to want to sew more, since everything I sewed meant I consume less overall. Sewing my own clothes has made me a more mindful and cautious consumer. When I buy read-to-wear, I only buy what is really needed to look presentable at work and be comfortable during different seasons. Since I spend so much time and effort sewing my clothes, each piece is treasured. When it comes time to discard a handmade garment, I feel a sadness that I never felt with ready-to-wear items. Yes, I want to sew more, but what I sew will eventually wear out, and overall, I consume less.
This year, Me-Made-May inspired me to get past my garment sewing failures and keep sewing things that I enjoy without guilt. Of the three garments I made in May, yes, one was a failure, but it was a failure that I learned from that will help make me a better seamstress going forward. I’m not going to feel guilty that I “wasted” fabric, because the value was in the lesson learned, not the physical object. I am excited to sew clothes again, even though I know that there will still be failures from time to time. I will learn from those failures and be better for it.
Now that the philosophical musings are out of the way, let’s look at the stats. This May, I wore twenty-nine different me-made garments. Of those twenty-nine, the three most worn pieces were my Basic Black Julia Cardigan, Navy Julia Cardigan, and Basic Black Aberdeen Tunic. The three most frequently worn patterns were the Julia Cardigan, the Aberdeen Tunic and the Akita Blouse.
Based on what I learned during Me-Made-May this year, I plan to make more basic pieces in solid colors, especially black. I will also make the occasional unnecessary pattern just for the joy of it, or to learn new skills. For summer, I could use more skirts, and another dress or two. In a perfect world I would make some shorts or capris, but we’ll see about that. For winter, more cardigans are a must, and would get a lot of wear. I’d also like to make more long-sleeved shirts, as last year I relied a lot on store bought button down shirts and sweaters to keep me warm. Overall, I am determined to enjoy the next phase of my garment sewing journey and I won’t let setbacks discourage me. We all need clothes to wear and making my own is a worthwhile endeavor.