Me Made May was started in 2010 by Zoe from So Zo What Do You Know as a challenge to wear handmade clothes during the month of May.
Over the last few years it’s taken off, and there are masses of pictures on Instagram of people wearing outfits they’ve made. Just search for #memademay2021 and you’ll see what I mean!
It’s easy to believe that the purpose of Me Made May is to take photos of yourself and slap them on Instagram. But there’s more to it than this.
Me Made May is about encouraging people to think about the things they’ve made and their relationship with them, what kinds of things they like and to perhaps try making something that they haven’t before.
It’s a personal challenge. There are no fixed rules and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have 30 different handmade outfits, or even enough to wear for a week and then wash them!
It’s possible to take part in Me Made May even if you have only one outfit and if you think people living out their lives on Facebook and Instagram is weird and you don’t want to do that.
There’s going to be another post in a week or two about creating your own handmade wardrobe, but for the moment, I want to focus on why make our own clothes and why it is worth the effort.
Why Make Your Own Clothes?
You Can Choose
When you make your own clothes, you are not limited to what is in the shops. If there is a particular style you like, or a colour, or a type of fabric, you are not dependent on whatever the fashion people have decided that everybody will be wearing.
It means that you can find your own style and wear clothes that you feel comfortable in, instead of something that you don’t really like but it’s what everybody else is wearing and the only alternative was pyjamas.
Size/ Fabric/ Colour Ceases to be a Problem
You know when you are clothes shopping and you can’t find something in your size? Or if you like the style or not the colour, or if something’s supposed to be a winter outfit but you know you’ll freeze while you’re hanging around at the bus stop?
When you make your own clothes, these things are no longer a problem.
Once you’ve decided what you want to make and you’ve chosen a pattern (or made your own pattern), you can make it in whatever colour or fabric you like in your size.
You Can Make Things That Fit You
Finding clothes that fit well can be difficult. Shop bought clothes are made with a particular body shape in mind. But it doesn’t take a genius to see that we are all different! If you have skinny shoulders, are shorter in the back, or if you are one size in your top half and a different size in your bottom half, shop bought clothes can be a nightmare.
When you make your own clothes, you can adjust them to fit you. It’s possible to combine sizes, shorten or lengthen pattern pieces and adjust darts so that nothing is too baggy or too tight.
You Can Mix and Match
If you like the sleeves of one top and the neckline of another, or you like the bodice of a dress but you prefer the skirt from a different pattern, you can take those different elements and combine them to make something that is entirely unique.
You Value What You’ve Made
Making things takes time and effort. When you’ve spent time and money choosing a pattern, buying fabric, checking measurements, cutting out, sewing up, adjusting and making it just how you want it, it puts it in a whole different league to fast fashion.
After all that effort, you’re not going to throw it away after wearing it twice. Even if you decide you don’t like it, zips, buttons and fabric can all be repurposed.
Knowing the work that goes into making something means that end result is valued far more. We want to wear them and we want them to last.
This leads to us actually needing and wanting less.
Although it’s nice to have a choice, we don’t need masses of clothes. It might be fun to make lots of things for Me Made May, but I don’t think that’s really the point.
If you have enough to things to wear between washings and it’s all things you like and that you know suit you, then you’re much less likely to fling open your wardrobe in the morning, look at the masses of clothes in there and declare that you have nothing to wear!
A few things that you love, that are well made and will last is much better than a wardrobe full of impulse buys that you don’t really like.
Showing That There is an Alternative to Fast Fashion
Fast fashion is a real problem. Things are bought cheaply, worn a couple of times then thrown away. But the main reason why these clothes are so cheap is because they are made by some of the poorest people in the poorest places in the world, including children. Often poor quality materials are used, and the people making them just need to make as many as they can, so things are not made to last.
The environmental impact of fast fashion is also awful. The chemicals used in dyeing and treating fabric often ends up in rivers and streams that people are using for drinking, washing and fishing.
Most of the clothes that are thrown away are not recycled and go to landfill. To ease our guilt, we might take the clothes we no longer want to a charity shop, but an awful lot of those end up being dumped as well. Natural fibres will eventually break down, but synthetics, like polyester, do not.
Me Made May gives us a chance to show that there is another option.
So if you don’t have masses of handmade clothes, it doesn’t matter because that’s not the point. It’s also fine if you don’t want to spend the whole of May sewing stuff and posing in front of a mirror with your phone.
Me Made May allows us to think about what we wear and why and the environmental impact of the textile industry. It gives us a chance to consider why we do what we do and what we value. It’s not about having enough handmade outfits to go a whole month without wearing the same thing twice, or about being “better” than other people. It’s considering the impact we make and the legacy we leave in our own small way.
So wear that one dress. Wear that crocheted bobble hat with the holes in and the matching hand knitted socks. And smile, because it’s making a difference, however small.