Saturday, 1 June 2013

Me-Made-May Last two weeks & thoughts on thrifting v sewing

Hello everyone :)  It's fun to be back blogging after a week away on a family seaside holiday. I don't take any technology with me except my radio and mobile phone as I like to have a change from my normal life, so I hope to have a lot of blog reading to look forward to and a few things to catch up on here.

Firstly, Week 4 of Me-Made-May:
Day 22
Still cold but determination to get a picture
under the clematis meant gritting my teeth
Day 23
Remembered just before bed, excuse
knackered look!

Day 24
More knackered - getting ready
to go away is tiring
Day 25
Another late one. Stylish socks
tell you all  you need to know
about outside temperatures
Got dressed on autopilot this week, was wading my way through all the stuff I had to do before I could take a break!

Week 5 was my holiday week. I wore my denim skirt four times (by choice!) but failed to get any photos, however I think we all know what it looks like by now ;) It survived an active holiday including a wetting with seawater while climbing in a boat (not my finest, or most modest, moment. May need to make some shorts!), and a trip through the washing machine. I am happy.

Me-Made-May Conculsions

What I wanted to do:

- appreciate and contribute to the wonderful handmade on-line community.
I commented on many inspiring garments (and still have a week's worth to look at!), had a few conversations with new-to-me folks and added some new blogs to my reading list! (Soon, I will do nothing other than sew or read about sewing...)

- to find out my most urgently needed garments and make them myself instead of buying if possible.
A work in progress. I did make a denim skirt and buy a slip from a charity shop that needs altering (well practically remaking - it's a UK size 22 and quite long!). One of the things I realised during May is that the growth of my me-made wardrobe is going to be slow.

- to have fun mixing and matching.
I can't really call this a success. The weather was so unseasonably cold that I couldn't bear to wear thin cotton, and the fun summer feeling I was hoping to evoke was replaced by warm jumpers, scarves and sore throats! Still, I feel much more confident about wearing the me-mades I could out and about. Quite proud, actually!

As the month went on it became clear to me I had another, secret, goal. I wanted to see if handmade clothes were the main way I wanted to clothe myself in the future. Over the last few years I have largely chosen thrifted clothes (from charity shops), as I feel they been though the production cycle already so are the most environmentally friendly option. Most of my sewing has been alterations, gifts and simple clothing items like pyjamas, rather than the main deal like (gulp) jackets and jeans. I have had lots of conflicting thoughts this month. These are just my reflections and aren't intended to be comprehensive or conclusive (if only I could reach 'conclusive'!):

Charity shops/ thrifting

Pluses: keeps stuff out of landfill, raises money for charity.
Minuses: can't fulfill every requirement (I don't want to wear secondhand nightwear, swimwear or underwear, and woollens are like gold dust). The clothes are often poor quality High Street cast-offs on their last legs.

Making my own

Pluses: I can make what I want, within the limits of my skills (which I can develop). If I choose the right fabric, I can help support organic cotton farmers and weavers and others in the supply chain who need work. I also gain a creative outlet and pride in my creations.
Minuses: due to time restraints I am unlikely to make anything very quickly and I will need to plan ahead much (much) more.


One thing I like to do is use second-hand material in my sewing, often taken from garments that would be much too big for me - the best of both worlds.

Another thing I can actually recommend is keeping things simple. I find clothes that cross the seasons get the most use and a limited colour palette helps too, as does the realisation I can only wear one outfit at a time! "One on, one in the wash" works well as long as I can keep on top of the laundry (this sadly does not always happen). If you would like to read more about keeping it simple, I have found this website full of practical suggestions.

I know I am just one of many thinking about this stuff, I don't pretend it's new or original. Neither do I pretend to be perfect - I bought new wool cardigans this year to prevent freezing, for example! (Sadly I cannot knit.) Nonetheless I am thinking about these issues again. Did Me-Made-May cause you to reflect on your wardrobe? Any tips, or anything else I should be thinking about?

Happy sewing, 'til next time!


  1. Isn't it marvelous to take a breather from most of the technological trappings of our modern world every now and then? I try to do this at least once a year, and always feel revitalized by it.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Me-Made-May with us. I love that you enjoy using second hand material in your sewing projects. I highly suspect that if I was a sewer, I'd do the same thing, too.

    Wishing you a sunny, beautiful June, dear Philipp!
    ♥ Jessica

  2. I so appreciate your reflections on thrifting vs. sewing. I think there are advantages to both, especially when compared to buying everything new. I also really like your focus on simplicity and building up your wardrobe gradually. Your new denim skirt looks like the perfect piece to build on. Congratulations on finishing Me-Made-May!

  3. Congratulations on completing your first MMM!
    I liked reading your reflections and think you have settled on very sustainable and sensible ideas and your denim skirt is a terrific basic to build on, and will go with just about everything you add to your wardrobe form here on. The op shops here are similarly stocked, with old polyester officewear that was bought from Target six years ago and worn daily ever since. Really "nice" clothes are just about non-existent.

  4. Hi Philippa, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and near-conclusions (!) on these issues, I really enjoyed reading this post. I agree, second hand stuff is probably better than making ourselves in terms of environmental impact, but not as creatively satisfying and as you noted thrifting is so limited and frustrating at times. Personally, I think a combination of making and thrifting our clothing is the best for the environment and our well being! As Morgan from Crab and Bee said above, at the end of the day both making your own and thrifting are undoubtedly better than buying new mass produced, anyhow. By putting the planning and thought into what you want to make (and how best to utilise your precious sewing time), you're much more likely to come up with a garment that will see you through many, many wears, like your wonderful work-horse denim skirt! What a trooper that garment clearly is!

    Thanks so much for taking part in this challenge, I really hope you'll be interested in participating again next year. All the best
    Zoe xxx