What inspired you to create Me-Made-May?
“Me-Made-May as we know it today evolved from a personal, solo challenge that I set myself in 2010 whilst I was living in Barcelona, Spain. I’d been really getting into garment sewing, trying out all sorts of new fabrics and techniques, and thinking a lot about what made handmade garments different from RTW [ready-to-wear]. I wanted to see if I could really rely on the clothes that I’d been making myself, so I decided to wear only me-made things (excluding bras, socks, tights and shoes) for the duration of March that year. It was a really illuminating experience, and I wanted to try it again in a slightly warmer month, so I announced my plan via my blog and asked if anyone wanted to join me (specifying the specifics of their own challenge.) I was surprised that around 80 people decided to do so! And the rest, as they say… In 2016 we had at least 800 people ‘officially’ taking part.”
What do you hope others take away by participating in Me-Made-May?
“My main hopes for participants are that they learn about, gain confidence in, and improve their relationship with their handmade wardrobes. No one has infinite time, and taking part in MMM can help you learn about what you actually wear, day to day, so you can spend future sewing/garment-creating time more wisely. Plus, hopefully wearing your handmade items more often than you usually do will help you realize that they most likely function just as well as your RTW clothing. And quite possibly fit you and represent your sense of style better than RTW anyhow. On top of those aims though, I really hope that the people taking part enjoy themselves and feel renewed pride in their achievements.”
If you could live in one of your me-made garments, which one would it be and why?
“I already have a handful of me-made garments that I more or less do live in! My favorite of those is probably my 1960s Breton top. It’s so comfortable and easy to wear: it doesn’t need ironing, and can be layered with a vest underneath and cardigan on top for colder days. I think it gives a nod to the Beats and has something of a French vibe to it, and I never regret having chosen to wear it whenever I do (which is A LOT).”
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in creating a me-made wardrobe but doesn’t know where to start?
“I would recommend a two-pronged attack:
1) Obviously you need to get some sewing skillz! Classes, both online and in-the-flesh are great, but you’re going to need to practice, practice, practice. Try not to get impatient: you’re going to need to make HEAPS of mistakes before you start to make truly wearable stuff. Mistakes don’t mean you’ve failed: they are the only way you can really learn.
2) Figure out what you wear and what styles you are drawn to. There’s no point in making lots of garments that you don’t ever reach for when you get dressed in the morning, and it can be really easy to get caught up in the new-sewing-pattern rapture when one gets released. Try spending a couple of weeks writing down what you wore each day, or take selfies if you prefer, so you can see what types of garments, styles and colours you ACTUALLY choose to wear regularly. Sign up to Pinterest if you haven’t already, and start collecting pins of garment and style inspiration that speaks to you; it’s really interesting when you start to see looks and trends emerge. There are sooooo many amazing sewing pattern companies out there now that you’re bound to find some designs that are close to things that you’ve seen pictures of and love.”
What has been the most rewarding part of starting Me-Made-May?
“Occasionally, I’ll receive a message or comment from a MMM participant thanking me for creating the challenge because they’ve taken away something pretty major from it. For example, some have noted that they found their self-esteem and/or body confidence grew from choosing their outfits more thoughtfully, and seeing pictures of themselves (if they chose to document their challenge with photos, like many do.) Society and popular culture teaches girls and women to be extremely harsh self-critics, and encourages us to find our own flaws and faults. So anything that can push back against that and have a positive impact on women’s confidence and sense of self has got to be celebrated, and I’m THRILLED that, for a number of people, Me-Made-May has played a part.”