Archive | April 2019

Me Made May and Who Made My Clothes?

So every year for the last ten years there’s been a challenge called Me Made May in the sewing community, started by Zoe of the Sozowhatdoyouknow blog, where the aim is to pledge to wear your me made clothes as often as you can – from some people pledging that every item they wear should be handmade to others pledging to wear handmade three or four times a week, depending on circumstances and the size of their handmade wardrobe. A lot of people document what they wear on Instagram and it’s a good way of taking stock of ones wardrobe and working out what the gaps are and stuff.

However in recent years it’s become massively a bit of an Instagram tradition, & has become one of the main ways one connects with new friends on Instagram through appreciating each other’s sewing styles.

I’ve taken part the last 2 years and really enjoyed it however this year I’ve been agonising over whether to take part or not. On the one hand for reasons outlined below I really don’t want to, on the other hand it’s throwing away a massive chance to interact with sewing community to not do.

Now the reason I started sewing was because I put on weight really quickly due to some medication and was absolutely appalled by what was available in the shops at the time for larger women to wear. Shapeless tunics, overcutesy pastels and the ubiquitous 50’s style rockabilly look seemed to be the only things plus size people were supposed to want to wear.

I’d always been a bit of a glam rocker and a goth and nothing that fitted my particular aesthetic was available to me. Basic things that were the height of fashion for regular size people would not pop up in plus size until several months/years later than everyone else – a classic example is this Black velvet skater dress I made 4 years ago.

Autumn 2015 they were everywhere in the shops, but could you find one in plus size?could you heck! So I made my own.

So even though I enjoy the social aspects of Me Made May I’ve never had a time when I don’t wear what I make on a daily basis anyway.

However in recent years the situation for me in regards to high street clothing has improved dramatically. A lot of high street brands have extended their normal ranges up to a 20 or 22 – which puts me just back into their size range (Which makes me privileged cuz ladies who are size 24+ are still screwed) Brands like Asos and Simply Be do actual fashion conscious clothes for plus size people, & I’ve been very lucky with second hand shopping, on apps like eBay and Depop, but also in local charity shops finding pristine condition clothes by brands such as Colectiff and Seasalt that I’d not be able to afford first hand.

I am also fortunate because the town nearest my parents has a large branch of Laura Ashley and a Marks and Spencer both of which are legendary to me for having all the size 20/22 clothes left in the sale for insanely cheap prices. – last time I was up I picked up a £70 Laura Ashley dress for £15!

As a result my wardrobe is completely heaving right now with beautiful good quality expensive looking shop bought clothes that I didn’t pay very much for.

And I barely wear them. I much prefer wearing my handmade stuff instead!

Which leads me to the other online fashion blogging initiative going on this month

#whomademyclothes

Started by Fashion Revolution a campaigning group for greater sustainability and better working conditions in the fashion industry. The aim of the initiative is to question your behaviour as a consumer and try and do what you can to shop more ethically and minimise your impact on the environment.

So obviously making your own clothes, especially as I do where a lot of my fabric is deadstock (stuff that would otherwise be thrown away by big garment manufacturers) from the market stall on lewisham market, is a good way to not exploit people and the environment.

Also I would like to think that because I make it myself and also because as a plus size person making a good wardrobe has been more difficult I don’t throw away clothes or only wear things once or twice and I mend things and look after them and at the end of their life I pass them on to someone else or at the very least the recycling bank.

However I’ve got all these beautiful shop bought clothes I’m less enthusiastic about wearing. I could work on replacing them with stuff I’ve made myself, but there’s really nothing wrong with them. & even though it would give me a sense of satisfaction having a 100% me made wardrobe it certainly isn’t doing my bit for sustainability or the environment or honouring the amount of work that went into making those clothes in the first place just to discard them – even if I gave them all away ethically, what the planet needs is people consuming less it doesn’t much matter if you bought them or make them yourself.

So I’m not sure about Me Made May this year. Cuz actually for my personal wardrobe development what needs a good airing is the ready to wear not the handmade. But I doubt anyone would be very impressed if I hijacked the #memademay hashtag to do that, & I’m a millenial damnit, it goes completely against the grain to not join in on social media challenges.

So I’ve decided next month I am going to try and wear things in my wardrobe whether me-made or shop bought that don’t get an outing as often. Obviously if at the end of the process they are uncomfortable or impractical or I just really don’t like them I’m not gonna beat myself up about giving them away. If the stuff I wear is something I’ve sewn it’ll get a Me Made May hashtag, if it’s shopbought it’ll get a Who Made My Clothes? one.

& I probably won’t get as many new friends as I would if I just did Me Made May, but I’ll actually be doing something productive for the environment. & taking selfies and dressing up in pretty outfits is always fun!

The Vampires Auntie Christmas Dress

So I’ve been stalking the Vampires Wife on social media for nearly a year now and dreaming of Liberty Tana Lawn or floral velvet maxi dresses. But making one was a massive time commitment when we were in the middle of selling our flat, & I would need to do a mock up version and these things are fabric hogs and finding very long lengths of fabric to practice with at the stall on Lewisham Market can be tricky and although I have a couple of lovely suitable patterns there was nothing in jersey. So I never got round to it.

Until literally the week before Christmas when I saw a post on McCalls Instagram (which I have stolen to replicate below) and was blown away….

Now Vogue V9264 is a pattern I’d completely overlooked. Largely because of the utterly frumpy granny style style line drawings of the dress on the pattern front…

And the even worse cheap looking crushed velvet Kardashian style number that was the main demo version I’d seen at that point on the internet.

Neither of which were prepossessing looks that got me interested in that pattern.

But within ten minutes of seeing the post on Instagram (above) I had ordered the pattern and was planning a version of it for my next make.

Luckily I had the right yardage of a perfect velvet jersey knocking around in my stash as well. I bought it from Maggies Fabric in lewisham market about a year ago and I’d sat on it having no idea what it wanted to be.

& two days later the pattern arrived and a project was born. To give myself extra pressure I intended it to be ready for my friends Christmas vinyl dj set four days later.

But I needn’t have worried it is one of the simplest patterns I’ve played with in a long time and at a straight size 22 it is pretty much spot on fit wise.

I even had time to hang it overnight to let the weight of the hem settle before hemming it.

So here are photos. Literally I loved this dress so much it got worn 3 times in 8 days (and washed in between – which was somewhat a miracle cuz at the time we had a rather crappy washing machine set up)

I debated properly ripping off Vampires Wife by adding a ruffle round the bottom, but overall I’m glad I didn’t.

I love this dress! I am planning two more versions of the pattern in different lengths and fabrics and I keep trying to find opportunities to wear it – which is quite difficult actually, even though I tend to be the queen of spectacularly overdressed for the occasion, it’s a bit extra for my everyday wardrobe needs.

On an interesting side note, I was browsing Depop a few days ago and came across this baby from Topshop….

Apologies to anyone if this is their photo, but I think it’s the original Topshop catalogue shot.

Now all the fabric from Maggies on Lewisham Market is deadstock and samples largely from high street stores, but occasionally from high end designers, but I usually have very little clue what the high street brands actually do with it – if they even use it at all. So in this case it was rather nice to see Topshop’s version. I actually quite like it. I suspect it would have been too short for me to have bought it though, & I just squeeze into a Topshop 18 (their sizes run larger than average) so I’m not sure I’d have found one to fit anyway.

I haven’t been very prolific with the sewing since Christmas. I’ve made a top for someone else, a dress I’m not too keen on, & I’m currently working on quite a big project fairy goth dress for a festival I’m going to in summer so I haven’t got all that much to show. We’ve been having to do quite a lot of adulting though, our flat sale fell through, Jons uncle has died and Jons dad is ill, so I haven’t had very much time to dedicate to sewing. Hopefully things will speed up a bit over the next few weeks.