A Me Made May and #memademay21

At the end of last summer I bought a RTW skirt in the sales but unfortunately it was too small. I was very disappointed as I really liked the style – a button though skirt with a deep frill at the hem. The mid calf length RTW skirt was made in a linen like fabric with a peach and khaki green palm print on a cream background. As I liked it so much I decided I would try and emulate it by making one. However finding similar fabric was a challenge but I came across a palm print viscose fabric in blues and greens with a touch of yellow in a local store which I bought as an alternative.

I set about looking for a similar pattern and thought I could adapt style 111 in Burda World of Fashion March 2007 (the same edition containing the pattern I used for my denim dress). The skirt pattern was maxi length but I felt I could raise the frill to match the overall length of the RTW one. I actually took measurements from the RTW skirt and cut out the skirt part and frill to correspond. The Burda pattern has a grown on raised waist which is faced but I felt the viscose fabric was quite soft so to add more structure I added a waistband.

The skirt was fairly simple to make with darts on the front and back pieces. I wanted more of a subtle frill than the one on the original pattern and using the ruffler attachment on my sewing machine I did a shallow pleat spaced out every 6 stitches. After attaching the frill to the skirt part the front edges including those of the frill are then folded back to make facings which are stitched down to create the button and buttonhole bands. I had a bit of difficulty finding buttons. I thought I’d found the perfect bluey green ones on the local market but there were only three left in the tube! As I wanted to get the skirt completed to wear and photograph on the last day of #memademay I used some ivory ones I already had in the stash.

After wearing the skirt and seeing it photographed I decided on two things. One that the ivory buttons needed to be replaced as soon as possible with ones that would stand out against the cream background and two that I would shorten the skirt. Although I am generally wearing longer dresses and skirts these days compared to what I have been used to in the past, I felt this skirt just needed to be shortened a tad. So after the remedial work I have ended up with the following garment and am much happier with it.

#memademay21

I just thought I’d put down some thoughts about the #memademay21 challenge.

I joined Instagram at the beginning of 2020 mainly to enter a competition by posting a photograph of a finished garment. I have written about the competition here. A few months after joining instagram I saw a lot of posts about the #memademay challenge and enjoyed looking at people putting together outfits from their homemade wardrobes. I wasn’t sure if I had enough homemade garments to participate in the challenge this year but eventually thought I would join in even if it only meant posting sporadically. Having taken part I’m not sure how I feel about it. I really wanted to see the wide variety of different people posting their makes but the same things kept coming up on my feed and as other people have pointed out it sometimes felt like adverts for particular patterns being promoted. To get a true sense of the range of people participating I had to make sure I searched for the #memademay21 hashtag regularly and scroll through the photos there. In the end I posted about seven day’s worth. I did wear memades on other days too but cajoling family members into taking photographs of me was a bit tiring. I think the weather also dampened enthusiasm as it was so cold and wet throughout May apart from the last weekend.

Below are the outfits I did photograph which basically encompass most of the memades in my wardbrobe. Left to right: black trousers (Burda pattern 6985 ), leopard skirt (Patrones Magazine 408), windowpane check trousers (My Image Magazine 15), denim dress (Burda World of Fashion 3/2007), mustard dress (Vogue 9371), black jersey jumpsuit (My Image Magazine 20) and frilled skirt (Burda World of Fashion 3/2007). I think there were a few tops and one pair of trousers I didn’t get round to wearing.

I know social media can be a bit demoralising at times and I did have days where I began to feel I am thirty years too late for instagram. Many of the memades also seem to be indie patterns and I am not really an indie pattern person. It’s not that I don’t like some of the patterns because I do but I am reluctant to pay £15 plus for a pattern usually a PDF. I tend to rely more on my back catalogue of Burda magazines and generally see what I can cobble together out of those. So to some extent I feel a bit disconnected from that indie pattern community. Although having said that by following #memademay21 I have seen some very nice garments and have made a mental note of some of the patterns that caught my eye. Here is a list of some I like:

Named Reeta Dress

Helen’s Closet Gilbert top

SewHouse7 Free Range Slacks

Closet Core Elodie Wrap Dress

Annaallenclothing Pomona Pants

However, ever the economist I am still wondering how I can replicate these using my current stash of patterns especially as I would be spending a lot of money on PDF patterns which involve all that sticking together.

I was sometimes a bit overwhelmed by the amount of memades some people were showing. I know these may have been made over the course of several years but it made my memades seem a bit feeble. I most enjoyed seeing how some people such as The Steely Seamstress used a limited collection of garments but really experimented with how to put these together to create several new outfits. I have been having conversations with myself about how many clothes I really need in my wardrobe. I prevaricate on this issue. On one hand with the raised awareness of environmental issues I feel I shouldn’t be making superflous garments and possibly ones that are not really me and will never get worn. On the other hand I still feel dressmaking is an art form and a creative outlet like painting and so if you feel like making something because you fancy the challenge, like a particular fabric or want to try out techniques then how does it differ to a painter producing many paintings some which would be successful and others not?

The other thing I realised was that most of my memades are summery and I definitely need to make a few more layering items. So it gave me an opportunity to assess the gaps in my wardrobe. I do need more trousers and by more I probably mean a couple of pairs for summer/autumn. Also I know I keep saying I am going to make my own t-shirts but I always gravitate to RTW ones and succumbed by ending up purchasing a few new ones this week. Outerwear is also any area I need to look at for autumn and winter but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Also knit tops would be useful and these could be handknitted (although I am not the fastest knitter in the world) or sewn as I am more comfortable using the overlocker now. I have realised I have to curb my purchasing fabric on a whim habit. I’ve been doing this a lot over the last few years and then you have the dilemma of what you want to use the fabric for plus tastes and fashions change so you often realise you don’t want it any longer anyway. I have sorted my stash out and intend selling or donating the fabric I no longer want. In future I am going to only buy fabric to fit a particular purpose when I have decided what I want to make.

So the positive of participating in #memademay2021 is that it has definitely made me reflect on my current wardrobe, analyse what works and what doesn’t and also how I want to shape it going forward with new memade garments.