Things I learned from Me Made May 2017

I think the biggest thing I learned was that I don’t have enough handmade clothes to sustain me for an entire month – not even as a minimalist/ capsule wardrobe. The second thing was that I am all about the knitwear when it comes to handmade clothes and finally, if I was only allowed to wear handmade clothes from now on I would end up walking around with a bare bottom!

Lets just look at these in a bit more detail;

Not enough clothes

Yes I know it was only a few months ago that I was complaining about having too many clothes but when it comes to handmade I really don’t have that many. Even though I have made garments on and off for the last 20 years these have mostly been “occasion” garments like ball gowns or wedding outfits. Tempting as it may be to rock up to the allotment in my vintage vogue pattern cocktail dress and wellies it is not very practical. Added to this is the distressing fact that most of these actually no longer fit me, partly because I have put on weight since gadding about at balls but also because since having children the shape of my body has altered so even the ones that in theory should fit don’t, at least not without needing alterations. As I am not yet a confident enough seamstress to make alterations happily these garments are banished to a suitcase under the bed.

All about the knitwear

Lets be honest, my first love is knitting and sewing will always come second to this which does have its advantages, one being that given its stretchy nature knitwear is more forgiving of fluctuations to body size and shape over time, it is also something practical – living in the UK particularly in the North West where it appears to rain or be grey and overcast for 80% of the year having nice warm woollens is a must. However, it does have its disadvantages too the first of these is that on those few and far between days when the sun does shine I run the risk of melting. Yes I could knit with cotton or linen for more lightweight summer garments but I have done that before and ended up with a jumper that resembles a dish cloth and hurt my wrists to knit. An alternative would be to stick to wool but just knit with a lace weight rather than a 4 ply or DK as is my preference which is something worth investigating (especially after spending several days immersed in one of my mum’s books on vintage style knitwear). A final point to make is that out of all the jumpers I have only 2 are 100% wool, on top of this 1 is an alpaca/silk blend but the rest are wool/ acrylic blends or just 100% acrylic depending on how long ago I made them. This is not an ideal situation, I want my wardrobe to feature more natural fibres and as such I need to make sure that when I do add anything to my knitwear collection this is at the forefront of my planning decisions.

Walking around with a bare bottom

I’m making a joke about it but this is actually quite a serious point. I have a few tunic length garments which with tights could function as a dress at a push but I do not have any skirts or trousers made by my own fair hands.

Back when I was a student I had lots of pairs of handmade trousers mostly based on a vintage sewing pattern I picked up in a charity shop and given that I didn’t own a sewing machine at the time they were all hand stitched too. I absolutely loved them and wore them to death. Unfortunately I was at least 3 stone (42lbs/ 19kg) lighter in those days and even then my legs were never slender. The women in my family have what we affectionately call “sturdy walking legs” but we also have small waists in comparison. In reality this means that when it comes to fitted trousers a standard size is not going to work, to fit my hips it is going to need grading down at least 1 size for the waist and it will probably still need alterations making to the width of the leg to make room for my larger than average thighs and calves.

A further complication is that despite a significant amount of fabric in my stash very little of it is suitable for making trousers with and what I do have I don’t want to ruin by making it in to a garment that doesn’t fit properly. The solution to this would be to make a sustained effort to reduce my weight (but as I am already thinking about getting myself a biscuit when I have finished typing this I’m not holding out a lot of hope on that front) or to make a toile and go from there. I have come to the conclusion that a toile is to sewing what swatching is to knitting – a dirty word for something that most people try to avoid because it is not as exciting as cracking on with the real thing but as with swatching I am beginning to think that taking to time to make a toile would really be the sensible thing to do and worth it in the long run.

Conclusion

The over riding thing that Me Made May 2017 taught me though was that when I wear clothes made by my own fair hands it makes me happy in a way that no ready to wear garment ever could.

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Slow Crafting Podcast – Episode 10 : Where I get giddy about fleece and fibre.

 

 

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Slow Crafting Podcast – Episode 9 : Upstaged by my co-host.

Slightly later than usual and with a very cheeky co-host this week. I talk about my finished Dottie Angel vest, Simplicity pattern 8153.

 

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Slow Crafting Podcast – Episode 8 Plans for Me Made May 2017

Here is the latest episode of the podcast where I talk about my sewing plans for this month and a couple of my recent hand spun yarns. The links referenced can be found over on the episode page for my YouTube channel.

 

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Slow Crafting Podcast – Episode 7

Here is the latest episode of the Slow Crafting Podcast where I talk about what has been keeping me busy over the last couple of weeks, upcoming plans and a little bit of visible mending/ repair work.

 

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Slow Crafting Podcast – Episode 6

A slightly shorter episode this time, apologies for the poor video quality this time I was recording late at night as a result of mummy duties rather than in a morning as I normally would.

 

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Experiments with a minimalist wardrobe.

I wrote a blog post a few months back about having too many clothes (you can find it here) and had always planned on down sizing my existing wardrobe but I wanted to talk to you all about the accidental experiment in a minimalist wardrobe that I ended up carrying out during the great house moving drama of 2017.

A little bit of background to set the scene, after 5 months of faffing about we were finally due to move house the last week in January, the day before we were due to move we were told that the house we were due to move in to wasn’t available yet (this is a short summery of a much longer and more complicated but incredibly dull story) however our sale needed to go ahead so we ended up moving back in to the house we had lived in over the summer with no real idea as to when we would be able to move in to our new house.

In the run up to the original moving date I had been very organised and packed up the vast majority of my clothes, a couple of days before the move the suitcases had made their way in to the removal van leaving me with 3 outfits to last me for the first few days in the new house. When we got the call to say the move wasn’t happening on the planned date we thought it would be delayed by a couple of days at most, sadly this was not the case those 3 outfits ended up being my entire wardrobe for a whole month!

My three outfits consisted of;

  • 2 oversized shop bought sweatshirts
  • 1 pair of jogging bottoms
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 long sleeve t-shirts
  • 1 vest
  • 1 maxi skirt
  • 1 hand knit colour work sweater

I did of course have something to sleep in and a few pairs of pants and socks but only 1 bra which did lead to a couple of days where I couldn’t leave the house as it needed washing and wasn’t dry in time to wear. Overall though my wardrobe was considerably limited (I am aware this is very much a first world problem and that there are many people out there who don’t have anywhere near this many clothes) and this forced me to realise a number of things.

  1. I am not happy living with a wardrobe that is as limited as this. So much so that I ended up making myself an additional 2 items of clothing during the month (a cardigan and a tunic).
  2. Over sized sweatshirts and jogging bottoms might be comfortable but they are not something that make me feel good about myself, as such they shouldn’t really have a place in my wardrobe (I am however wearing some as I type this!).
  3. The days I was happiest were the days I wore my hand knit sweater/ cardigan or tunic.
  4. I don’t need to wash my clothes after wearing them for just one day, on a day to day basis I don’t get that dirty so I can get at least 2 days out of a jumper/ pair of trousers before it actually needs washing.
  5. Wearing the same clothes 2 days running made me feel uncomfortable initially in case I saw the same people and they noticed I was wearing the same outfit and judged me for doing so. I learnt that for the most part nobody really noticed and cared even less which helped me not to be so sensitive, now I can wear the same outfit on regular rotation without worrying/ caring about what other people think.

The conclusions I drew from my experiment were that I need to find a balance between 3 outfits and the suitcase full of knickers extreme at the other end, hand made items make me happy and I need more of these in my wardrobe and less comfy but shapeless shop bought clothes, if I make clothes with a reduced colour pallet I can swap and change the individual items and get a wider range of outfit choices from a smaller number of clothes. Finally, if I ended up having to pick only 3 outfits to wear for a whole month in future I would make better choices.

If you had to pick just 3 outfits for a month what would you pick?

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