MMMay: Carolyn, of Handmade by Carolyn


Me, wearing Nettie bodysuit and tee, Vogue skirt and self-drafted tights

Hello! I’m Carolyn, long-term maker of clothes for myself and enthusiastic participant of Me-Made May since 2010, so I was thrilled when Gillian asked me to write something about taking part in what is hands-down my favourite wardrobe challenge in the interwebs, by far… Thank you so much Gillian!

Me-Made May was, to my knowledge, the very first internet community challenge for those of us who make our own clothes, and it has been an enormously enjoyable one for many reasons, my favourite being the community of it. It’s simply been a really great way to “meet” other people who also enjoy making clothes for themselves. When I first discovered it, I was quietly making my own clothes in an introverted and socially isolated sort of a way; hardly anyone else I knew in my real life did it that much and I felt like it was my weird and secret little thing… So, it was beyond thrilling to discover that there were actually a LOT of other people in the world who were busily making clothes for themselves too, and wearing them out and about, happily and proudly!… I was like, “My people!!!!”

For the first few years, we Me-Made May-ers just had the Flickr group, which was relatively small and self-contained and so possibly easier for Zoe to maintain in the early days! Everyone would link to their blogs, so we all discovered lots of worldwide “friends” that way. It was all so awesome and amazing, we were from all over the world, and separated by so many factors other than distance too; climate, lifestyles, dressing customs, but we all had that joy in sewing or knitting to unite us. The group was always incredibly supportive and interactive. You could think of us as like a virtual mini-conference group!

1st mmm

This was my very first me-made May picture from back in 2010… I’m wearing a Burda menswear shirt and a Vogue skirt, the fabric woven by my Mum.  I still have and wear both these pieces!

I loved Zoe’s ethos for the group, the emphasis on fun and the open-ended directive to “make your own challenge”, which could be one item a day, or two, or everything; or one day a week, or two, and so on. It could just giving yourself that little push needed towards actually wearing a few of the garments that you make. So often you make something, only to immediately put it in the dark recesses of the wardrobe, never to see the light of day again for any of a number of reasons, you feel it’s “too good” to wear and you don’t want to ruin it, or that you might be a little self-conscious about wearing your homemade clothes, thinking they’re not good enough. Me-Made May is a good time for you to get out those things and WEAR them! A few times I’ve hauled something out and fallen in love with it all over again, welcoming it back into regular rotation; although also I’ve had to give some things an irrevocable “nope!” once or twice… Either way, it’s always a productive exercise in assessing your closet and how well it’s working for you. I’ve always taken something away from the experience, every time.


Another early picture, with my constant companion at the time… wearing a Pattern Magic top and Burda shorts.  I still have and wear both these pieces too #predictable

I also like the fact that there are no prizes or goals or any particular recognition for taking part either, which kinda takes a lot of pressure off. You take part if you feel like it, as much or as little as you like, and there are no expectations. You don’t even need to take photos of yourself, although I for one love seeing everyone proudly wearing their creations and it really is more fun when people do! I think it was Zoe who one year coined it “making more of an effort month” or something like that, and well, you are sharing photos of yourself every day so there is definitely that aspect to it too. Much has been made over the years about the various difficulties of taking one’s photo and how much everyone gets sick of it by the end of the month! Which reminds me of another one of my favourite things about me-made May in the earlier years: the Friday photo challenge… Does anyone remember that? We would all nominate and then vote for a theme for each Friday, and you were supposed to incorporate that theme into your Friday picture. Some of the themes we had have been Water, a colour, Workplace, Stripes, Dots, Where I Live, Food, Animals, Transport, My Sewing Space… I can’t even remember now, but the interpretation was completely up to you and made the photo-taking all so much more fun!


A Friday photo challenge picture… wearing a Burda dress, hand knit Jo Sharp cardi and self-drafted tights.  The theme here was “your hometown”  and that’s Perth in Western Australia for me  🙂

I love that everyone in the world can take part in Me-Made May, and not worry that “oh, it’s winter here and I can’t join in someone’s summer challenge,” since it’s May for all of us! and no one is left out. I think it was a stroke of genius to choose May, in particular, yes?! Really the most perfect month, since it is a time of crossover of seasons for southern and northern hemispheres and there’s just those few brief and precious days in which we’ll have the most similar weather the world over that we could possibly hope for! And obviously a chance for all of us explore the whole range of our wardrobes: winter-y things leading into summer-y things for the northern hemisphereies, and the opposite for us southern hemisphereies. So you really get to see a diversity of people’s wardrobes, and how people wear them for real, as well as have fun with your own! High five to Zoe for that one!!


I’d started wearing 100% me-made by this time.. yes including my boots! Easily the things I’m the most proud of making… ever!  Also wearing a Paprika patterns Jasper top, Closet Case patterns Nettie dress and self-drafted tights

For me this May? I will be wearing all me-made clothing and nearly all me-made shoes… I know we’re supposed to up the ante each year and challenge ourselves a little further and further along each time. However, for the past few years I’ve worn all me-made clothing AND shoes too, and I just cannot up the ante any further! Maybe I’ve been doing this too long. But that’s ok. The whole thing about Me-Made May is to have fun and to just do you.  I’m already looking forward to meeting new, and old friends, and just seeing what everyone is making and wearing… It should be great fun!

Wishing everyone a very happy Me-Made May!