So I’ve decided to do my MMM round-up today instead of Sunday. I’m just a rebel who won’t play by the rules (the made-up rules I imposed on myself).
Oh okay, the real reason is that I just sewed a fancy new dress to wear to a wedding tomorrow, and I think it deserves a post of its own.
So here’s the last 5 days. They aren’t particularly inspiring so I’ve made a handy collage instead of individual pics.
From top to bottom, left to right we have:
Day 13: Moss skirt, unblogged Maudella shirt, baggy Gap sweatshirt, awful photo. I have cropped my face for your own protection.
Day 15: McCalls dress, cardigan from COS.
Day 16: McCalls skirt, unblogged kimono sleeve top, thrifted red cardigan.
I’m getting slightly better at taking my own photo in the mirror, mainly because the alternative involves getting up early enough for my boyfriend to take a picture before he leaves for work. And extra sleep normally wins out.
Here’s a baffling question that Me-Made-May has made me ponder:
I love wearing colour. I really like pinning pictures of other people wearing colour. I gravitate to colourful fabrics in fabric shops.
So WHY ON EARTH do I sew so many black, navy, white, grey, and beige clothes? Is there a deep psychological issue here I need to address? Answers on the back of a postcard, please.
Another week of Me-Made-May! I’m finding this much easier than last year. If only the weather would behave itself.
Day 6 – Bank holiday! Oh yeah! I’d just finished this skirt when this picture was taken, and I totally love it. Will blog about it later this week. Rest of my outfit is shop-bought.
Day 7 - Still sunny enough to wear sandals! Hooray! Me-made jeans and a very old, pre-blog shirt made from the first Built By Wendy book. It has an extremely wonky, self-drafted Peter Pan collar and doesn’t see much wear.
Day 8 – Went to work and ballet class. There was a teacher substitution and it turned into a ridiculously hard aerobics session. That’s why I’m propping myself up on the railing. Me-made jeans again, my double-collar shirt, and a jumper from Uniqlo. These jeans are extremely comfortable.
Day 9 - Off to see Star Trek: Into Darkness and eat a big cheeseburger at Byron. Wearing my brown jeans, my white shirt, and brogues from Clarks. Jacket is from Whistles, I got it on Ebay and it’s amazing for this weird spring weather.
Day 10 - You’ve already seen this. MMM has made me re-evaluate this dress. I really love it now! That’s what I like about this challenge. Still in intense muscle pain from ballet class. I am bravely soldiering on.
Day 11 - I met C-3P0 on a trip to John Lewis. He wasn’t very chatty. I am wearing my Beignet skirt, an unblogged kimono sleeve top, and a jacket from the Whistles sale. Plus me-knitted-cowl. I reshaped the side seams in this skirt so I wear it a bit more, but it’s not my favourite. I don’t like the shape of the pattern as drafted, it’s like a weird cross between an A-line and a pencil which doesn’t really suit me.
Day 12 - Eating quesadillas at home and frantically sewing a dress to wear to a wedding next weekend, then going out for a lovely pizza with friends. Wearing my brown jeans again, my Burda stripey top (you can just see it), and more shop-bought stuff.
This was a great week! I’m really pleased with how much more stuff I’ve made than this time last year.
p.s. In unrelated news, I am getting married exactly two months from today! Eek!
This week’s Friday theme on the Me-Made-May Flickr group was ‘Your Sewing/Knitting/Creating’ Space.
So I got my boyfriend to take some quick photos of me in our spare room, which doubles up as my sewing area (as well as a bike storage shed/workshop).
And readers, I’m ashamed. Ashamed at the state of my sewing space.
Okay so this was before work, so I didn’t have time to tidy up. But I can’t even pretend this is an exceptional circumstance – no, it pretty much always looks like this.
Here’s a breakdown.
Those scrumpled up pieces of tissue paper in front of my sewing machine? They’re vintage pattern pieces for the next project I’m working on. I hurriedly shoved them there while attempting to clear up a bit the other night.
What you can’t really see is that I always sew on a desk covered with random pattern pieces, fabric scraps, used sewing needles, spools of thread, old cups of tea, and various other detritus.
The two worst bits are:
- The amazingly shoddy, £15 ironing board I bought from the discount store. The legs wobble, it has a hole burnt in the cover, it leaves marks on anything you try and iron, and it gives you static shocks to boot.
- The shelf of fabric on top which is where I crumple in all the pieces I can’t fit in my clear plastic boxes. (The boxes themselves are from IKEA and are great, and my boyfriend put up all these shelves for me when we moved in which has made life a lot easier.)
I see these gorgeous craft spaces on blogs, with neat rows of ribbons on reels, and fabric all stacked in colour-coded squares. Am I the only one with a less-than-beautiful sewing area? Is it even possible to sew without trailing thread throughout the house and creating an almighty mess?
p.s. I made this dress last year but have never worn it, I just didn’t like it when finished. It’s based on the Burdastyle kimono jersey t-shirt pattern I always use. Me-made-May seemed like the perfect opportunity to try and give it some love.
Have you seen the pictures from the ‘punk chaos’ themed Met Ball? They’re splashed all over fashion blogs at the moment.
The Met Ball is an annual event, this time in honour of the ‘Punk: Chaos to Couture’ exhibition in New York.
The theme of ‘punk chaos’ was tricky for the attendees. Rich people don’t want to look like Nancy Spungen, according to the New York Times (although who does want to look like Nancy Spungen nowadays? Apart from Italian punks hanging around in Camden).
Most people went for tried-and-tested punk shorthand, ie:
- Safety pins. So many safety pins.
- Mohawks/spiky hair.
- Ripped fishnets.
- John Lydon sneer.
It’s inevitable that nobody would really get it right. I don’t think punk was ever a red carpet thing. But punk definitely was a fashion thing. It all started in a clothes shop, didn’t it? Punk was the definition of style over substance.
There’s an amazing history of punk by Jon Savage called ‘England’s Dreaming’, which is one of my favourite books ever. It’s all about how fashion created and defined punk, from an arty, threatening, exclusive London clique, to the dumbed down mainstream of spiky mohawks and Sham 69 gigs.
Read the book and you’ll get a picture of punk as being all about DIY and dissatisfaction (as well as a nasty undercurrent of teenage stupidity, fascist chic, and random violence).
And if you’re interested in fashion and subculture, you should read this book. Jon Savage’s writing is highly evocative about clothes. Here are some choice quotes on sewing and style:
‘After two years of intermittent tailoring, Vivienne found her own style, suddenly turning her inexperience to her advantage. One day, she was tinkering with two simple squares of cloth, attempting to make a sleeved T-shirt. Then she thought, ‘Why bother with the sleeves?’, and made the simplest possible T-shirt instead, sewing the two squares roughly together, the seams highlighted as much as possible, with holes for the head and the arms. Beautifully androgynous, they fitted the torso like a glove. The heavy, pinkish, felt-like cloth made a suitable backdrop for printing slogans.’
Vivienne Westwood’s first attempts at tailoring
‘Take a cheap plastic bag,’ she says, ‘stick a lot of plastic flowers on it and things that nobody would be bothered to buy, then all of a sudden they become very very trendy and people want them. I had little lattice plastic bags and see-through Mary Quant shoes from the sixties: I used to buy up old stock. Anything different. Some of the things were vile but they were so vile they were cute. That was the whole thing: it was meant to be an extreme version of tack.’
Poly Styrene (of X Ray Spex) talking about her market stall on the King’s Road
‘The first person I saw who looked totally brilliant,’ says Simon Withers, who worked with Vivienne Westwood in the early 1980s, ‘was in late ’74 at a bus stop in Kentish Town. He was called Matt Scottley and he had blue two-pleat pegs, plastic sandals, and a blue mohair jumper, with a blonde wedge.’ This was what would later be called the ‘Soul boy’ look: at the time the term denoted not only a musical preference but also some sartorial extravagance’.
The emergence of soul boy fashion – there’s a good overview of the ‘The British soul boy’ here.
‘We found a fabric called Black Italian: it was polished black satin cotton which British Rail used for their waistcoats. That fabric became the basis for the designed based on those trousers. I wanted to put the fetish elements in. The sense of making a trouser become tighter even though it’s wide was good: it had that energy, that ability to contract itself. So we got the zips….the straps between the legs…buckles on the calves…Dye it black: make everything black, black, black’.
Malcolm McLaren on the invention of bondage trousers
There’s also some great bits about how the band Subway Sect dyed all their clothes grey in a bath, and how Holly Johnson (later of Frankie Goes to Hollywood) used to go out in Liverpool wearing tampons as earrings and a kettle for a handbag.
So if you want to know more about punk fashion, ignore The Met Ball and get this book instead.
So the first week of Me-Made-May 2013 has been and gone. Here’s a round-up of what I wore on days 1-4.
Man, I am bad at taking photos of myself in the mirror. How do other people manage one-handed phone selfies? It’s so hard! I was complaining about this to my boyfriend but he just laughed at me for using the word ‘selfie’, which is basically a fair comment.
I’m pleased that I’ve managed to wear 90% me-made clothes, except for knitwear (can’t give up my knitwear). There’s a few new things I haven’t blogged yet. One is a denim skirt from a 70s pattern, which I also wore today:
It doesn’t look so great with tights so it’s been languishing in a drawer until this week, but I think it’ll be a summer staple.
I added slash pockets from a Burda pattern,
ripped off from inspired by the Hollyburn from Sewaholic. Pockets are an essential in a denim skirt, don’t you think? I also added lots of jeans-style topstitching, and a lapped zipper using this tutorial.
Here’s a top tip – don’t try and hem a heavy denim skirt by turning it up twice and stitching. The hem will keep flipping up no matter how much you iron it. You’ll have to undo the whole stupid thing, then re-sew it using some yellow bias-binding you have lying around. At least that’s my experience.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the month! My sewing has been super-productive lately, the May challenge is really getting me inspired. I’ve got lots of new things to show you as soon as I’ve got some decent photos.
But here’s the thing – it all depends on your benchmarks. So my new strategy is to compare my handmade items against more ‘aspirational’ (ie. expensive) clothing brands.
Can I sew something cheaper than Primark? Hell no. Can I make it cheaper than J Crew? Definitely!
Spring is here! Tomorrow is payday! And there’s one more thing that’s making me happy – guess what starts on Wednesday? It’s:
I wouldn’t normally stretch to four exclamation marks, but I’m very excited about this year’s challenge. Huge thanks go out to Zoe for organising this again.
So far I’ve taken part in Self-Stitched September 11 (went on holiday halfway through and gave up) and Me-Made-May 12 (left my camera on the train so had many outfits undocumented). This year I’m going to see it through the end. Fingers crossed.
Here’s why I love the Me-Made-May concept:
- It forces me to think creatively about what I put on every day.
- Photographing my outfits is a great way to find out what I actually wear.
- It helps me figure out where the gaps in my me-made wardrobe are and plan to fill them.
- The community of people taking part is amazing. It’s inspiring to see what others around the world make and wear.
I have a lot more home-sewn stuff than last year, so I’m hoping to wear mainly me-made outfits, combined with RTW stuff that I really love. I’ve been thinking a lot about the issues in my last post - if you didn’t see the comments, Franca of Oranges and Apples made a great point about buying less clothing (and make sure you read her comprehensive post about untangling ethical fashion).
My major piece of sewing will be a dress for a wedding on 18th May. I have the fabric – gorgeous polka dot crepe I won in a giveaway from the lovely Rehanon – but still need to decide on a pattern.
If you’re taking part, I have a question – where are you going to document your progress? I’ve joined the Flickr group, which is always a great place to find everyone’s outfits. But I’ll also probably post some via Instagram (you can find my feed here), and do a weekly blog round-up. Let me know what you’re doing so I can follow you!
Good luck to everyone taking part! Ready….steady….