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
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!