Hi, my name is Ben. I have a passion for sewing and, controversially, a confession: Me Made May is in full swing again and this year, I have decided not to participate.
Let me start off by saying how much I support the idea of Me Made May. For some, it’s a wonderful occasion to celebrate our creations with the online sewing community. For some, it’s a challenge to incorporate makes we feel a little insecure about into our wardrobe. For others, it can be the motivation to tackle a big project within a month. Go and read the fantastic interview with the event’s creator Zoe here on the Sewcialists blog and her outline for the challenge over on her blog. Both stress how customisable the challenge is for everyone who would like to participate.
In my pledge for last year’s Me Made May, I aimed to wear an item of self-made clothing every day of the month and to share it with the community on my Instagram @sewciologist. I was overwhelmed with the support and loved every minute of it. It was also fantastic to see everyone’s creations and celebrate one another’s achievements.
But for this year, there are two things that stop me from taking part:
When I first started sewing, I vowed never to buy another ready-to-wear item if I could reasonably (learn to) make it. I was – and still am – passionate about a sustainable lifestyle. My pledge went well for a while, but I frequently found that it limited my creativity. I was often excited about making a fun new shirt when my wardrobe was in dire need of another pair of plain trousers. As a consequence, I postponed the shirt project but procrastinated on the trousers until I stopped sewing altogether.
I have since come to embrace my sewing solely as a creative outlet. I don’t enjoy planning my outfits – I wear what I’m in the mood for when I wake up. I don’t like to think about what items are in my wardrobe rotation – in fact I don’t like the idea of a rotation. I’d much rather pair items I have never worn together and follow an impulse than to wear the same outfits in regular intervals. I like to make things on a whim and rarely make the same pattern twice. I love to cut out a crazy piece when inspiration hits me and supplement the me-makes with garments I find in charity shops (or my boyfriend’s closet).
This change in attitude has boosted my creativity and eliminated all the pressure I had imposed on myself. If I am particularly excited about a garment I’ve made, I share it on social media. And that brings me to my second point:
As much as I enjoyed taking part in last year’s Me Made May, I was often fretting about my wardrobe choices. If I wasn’t chronicling my outfits on social media, so I thought, I would totally wear the same trousers again the next day. But could I get away with including the same garment in two subsequent pictures? What if the only me-made piece I want to wear one day is a scarf? Is that enough to stick to my pledge?
As much as I was aware – even then – of the no-pressure concept of Me Made May, I also felt that as the Me Made May movement has grown over the years, it has taken on a life of its own. Now I can’t help but observe that only a portion of participants are aware of Zoe’s guiding principles. Being an observer as well as a participant, I couldn’t help but be intimidated by all the impressive and ever-changing outfits I was seeing on my Instagram feed. I felt that by thinking too much about what other people would make of my outfits, I was relinquishing part of my ownership over my wardrobe.
These days, I have adopted a much more casual approach when it comes to social media. I only post when I particularly love a make and when I want to share it with the world (and the lighting is right, too) and I have found it incredibly helpful to learn when to stay away as well.
So, to preserve my newly liberated relationship with sewing and with social media, I have decided that signing up to Me Made May this year just isn’t a good fit for me. Instead, I am sitting in the first row cheering for all the lovely makers and their fantastic garments!