The End of Me-Made-May — Lessons Learned

I didn’t manage to post my last picture for Me-Made-May yesterday so here it is:

Me-Made-May, Day 31

Top: Me-made Renfrew shirt, combination of Views A and B

Bottoms: Me-made shorts, McCalls 6328, View F (with a hem rather than cuffs)

This was pretty much the only fully me-made outfit I wore this month, although I own several other me-made shirts. The thing that distinguishes this particular outfit from some of my others is that the materials are all completely comfortable, and the look is close enough to RTW that I feel like I look “appropriate” whatever I’m doing. Yesterday, Youngest had a new friend over for a playdate and that’s not the time I want to be busting out my wildest skull skirts.

I found this Me-Made-May experience to be very challenging. Partly because my body size and the weather both started changing halfway through the month, and partly because I’m going through a shift in my style. I also tried to do 5 outfits with at least one me-made element per week, no exact repeats, and didn’t quite achieve my goal because I had some weeks with only 3 or 4 me-mades. I didn’t have any repeat outfits, though! What I’ve learned so far:

1) I get really, really grumpy if I don’t shop. I don’t need to buy a lot, but I don’t like an entire wardrobe of me-mades either. Some people enjoy that, but I don’t sew fast enough and I prefer having a mix of clothing options.

2) Last year, I started feeling like full skirts were too childish and I began working on straight skirts, tulip skirts and slight A-line skirts. After all this time, I have only an A-line skirt pattern as a TNT and I can honestly say that full skirts are far easier to fit and more flattering on my body. I have no idea why I thought they were too young, except that I may be getting long in the tooth for some of the shorter lengths. At this time, I plan to shift back to sewing fuller designs.

3) My most successful makes (in terms of wearability and how much I like them) have been shorts. I don’t like wide-leg pants, but I do like my shorts with a lot of leg room and that seems to make them both easier to fit and more flattering. I think I want to experiment a bit with pants shapes, to see if I can find a compromise between wide legs and the more fashionable narrow legs which don’t suit me.

4) I still have a “subcultural” style, but I find myself moving away from the typical goth motifs. Although my favorite neutral is still black and I don’t think I’ll ever get over a good skull print, I’m starting to get bored with the same old homegrown Hot Topic look. Along with more comfortable fabrics, fuller skirts and wider pants, I’d like to experiment with a modern take on period clothing. Petticoats, vests, peasant tops…that sort of thing.

5) I need to pack away seasonal clothes. I live in an area which has, at best, two and a half seasons — summer, fall/winter, and a truncated spring. Because of that, I’ve always kept my clothes out and accessible in all weathers. Unfortunately, that means I get heartily sick of looking at them and end up getting rid of perfectly good clothes that happen to be temporarily too small/too large and out of season. I also need to pay attention to materials when I’m making clothes and buying fabric, because it looks silly to wear heavy twill skirts in the middle of summer.

6) Things I should stop buying:

a. slinky knits for dresses (do I wear knit dresses? no)

b. silky material for any reason (HATE sewing silkies and don’t like wearing them all that much either)

c. blue denim material (prefer to buy blue jeans and make denim/twill pants in other colors and patterns)

d. large t-shirts to use for material (real jersey fabric is cheaper and more versatile)

Things I should start buying:

a. rayon blends or challis (after embracing spray starch, I’m starting to really appreciate the flow of challis)

b. patterns for loose garments that still have structured lines (I have enough basic patterns, I need to do more styling)

c. lengths of heavy twill in three yards or more (if I can’t make pants out of them, it’s pointless)

7) Thanks to the way my body fluctuates, I really need to err on the side of looser when I am buying and making clothing. I am getting better about picking out potentially flattering designs and matching them with appropriate fabrics, but having a stable of patterns that fit within ten pounds up or down would really help (I’m not going to say five pounds because I fluctuate that much in 48 hours. Trufax).

8) DO SOMETHING WITH THAT HAIR, HONEYCHILE. I mean that with love, but holy carp. I really don’t do enough to make sure I have a “proper” hairstyle. Growing out the layers and blowdrying it would help enormously. I have Helena Bonham Carter hair — all unruly, and I look like I should be a Tim Burton villain. Oy.

Anyhow, here’s a shout-out to Zoe over at “So, Zo…” for starting and organizing the Me-Made experience! Go and check her out if you haven’t already; she’s awesome. What about you all, my chickadees? Have you learned anything about yourself, your style, and/or your sewing from Me-Made-May?

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Posted on June 1, 2012, in Me-Made-May '12, sewing. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Oh boy I need to re-evaluate my style too and I haven’t even participated in MMM, or any other MM for that matter. I need to wear more skirts and I hear you on the fuller designs – there are some lovely shapes out there. Oh dear yep, more feminine. Gasp. Oh and styling? Yes ma’am. I need it too so I hear you.

    I need to be less mumsy, not so much frumpy (I think) rather less jeans and T mumsy. I have some skirts, need more, but have some so need to wear them. I have winter appropriate footwear so need to get out of the trainers and ballet flats and wear other clod covers too. I also need to stop sewing for others much more and get onto stuff for me that suits me. Hmmm.

    It has been very interesting seeing MMM through blog windows. Thanks to you for participating :o)

    PS don’t lose the skulls. Ever. I think they are cool.

    PPS I like that your hair changes colour. Don’t stop doing that either.

    • I found that I was much more of a “jeans and T” person when my kids were young. There’s an inevitable loss of style that goes along with accepting that poo and spit are going to be a part of your day. It took me a few years of elastic-waist skirts to get out of that rut, but then I fell into the opposite extreme of avoiding elastic and full skirts at all costs. I wanted my sewing to reflect my increasing skill set, without stopping to consider that fuller skirts in cotton blends still fit best into my life.

      I don’t think I could ever lose the skulls completely. I love them so. And your daughters will be happy to know that my hair is back to bright pink (photo to come soon)!

  2. Ha ha I could have written that post!!! Except after Leipzig I’m more likely going back to the black… 😀

    At least your hair isn’t currently orange and purple…. :/

    • It is never a bad thing to go back to black…it’s basic, it matches everything, and it’s easy to accessorize. Yay!

      My hair is currently pink and purple. I dyed it violet over the weekend and it went bluish-gray (YUK) so I dumped hot pink over it. Now I’ve got variegated hair, but it works so Imma call it good!

  3. You know, you are on to something. I don’t need all me mades, I can keep sewing my fun stuff and suppliment boughts. I get cranky too if I don’t get new things. Speaking of such- have you seen the new Liberty Dr Martens….squeal!

    • Oh man, I LOVE those Liberty Docs…but not at over $200 a pop. I just don’t love any pair of shoes that much because I immediately think of all the fabric I could have bought with that extra hundred dollars!

  4. When I look at you, I don’t think “Goth” – I think “athletic blonde”. But I like your sense of Goth style and it does suit you, providing a nice contrast… 🙂

    • Oh, the blonde only comes out when the bright dye starts to fade (and I do turn much more athletic and less goth when that happens). It’s almost like my hair influences my personality, instead of the other way around….

  5. I wrote a long philosophical post about goth identity and “growing up” and it got lost. Sufice it to say, I left my goth-ness behind for a good chunk of my early 30s and have been coming back to it over the last 5 years. It just feels more me. Adding the rockabilly influence makes it feel more grown up to me. If you feel more “you” in full skirts, wear them! As for knit dresses, if you already have the fabric, give it a shot. I was heistant until I finally made McCall 5974. It looks great on everyone who has reviewed it on patternreview.com, is an easy sew and comfortable to wear. I wore it until it was so fade you couldn’t see the polka dots. However, I still haven’t made a replacement.

    • I always had goth leanings, but didn’t go fully goth until my 30s. In high school I was a hippie, in college I was invisible (well, I was busy studying) then I had an office job where I wore all black suits. It wasn’t until my kids were born and I was a stay-at-home mom full time that I felt free to explore my style — and I’m lucky enough to be married to a guy who thinks it’s cool when I come home from the hairdresser with a shocking purple bob. I do have days, though, when I feel I need to tone it down a bit because I’m dealing with people who don’t know me well.

      I love the rockabilly look, but I can’t get my hair to behave that way (outside of a ponytail)! I’m strictly a no-hairdo kind of gal. It’s a little embarrassing.

      Thanks for the knit dress tips! I guess my hesitation is that knit dresses for me require slips or smoothing undergarments, so I’m not enthusiastic about putting the work into something that might be worn twice a year if that. I’m much more likely to wear separates…

  6. What have I learned?

    – You look hawt with pink hair, but it fades super fast.

    – You are super talented with that sewing machine and I bow to your skillz.

    – That I would never participate in something like this, lest I kill myself and my entire family from the stress and pressure of it.

    Good job for finishing it and for all the new looks. Self-realization is pretty rad as well! 😉

    • Oh, all the bright colors fade super fast. Even when I had a completely bleached bob and only washed my hair every other day (because it was so dry), my hair color would leach out within a couple of weeks. I suppose it’s just as well since very few people want permanently purple hair.

      Thanks for the compliments! I think I’m over the whole Me-Made experience for the year, but I can see myself doing it again later — I think I would save up all the outfit posts and just do like a weekly recap, though.

  7. Wow, I am so impressed–a project like this would have made me go ballistic. Added to the fact that I’m pretty terrible at sewing anything “real” (Pillowcases and costumes don’t count. The first are too easy, and the latter don’t have to hold up or have perfect seams.)

    • I only got better at sewing because I was willing to be terrible for a while. I’d encourage you to continue with your terrible sewing…eventually, you improve!

      I think the daily outfit photos were the hardest part. Some days I just did NOT want to take a picture, dammit…

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