I made this! How 3 women got me to commit to a month of sustainable sewing

There’s a thing in sewing land called “Me Made May”.  It is a Good Thing – people who make their own clothes pledge to wear them throughout May, basically.  It was created by Zoe Edwards (read on for more on Zoe) 9 years ago and its getting bigger every year.

I’ll be wearing my absolute favourites, like my Merchant and Mills Strides trousers:

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And having a go at wearing a big bonkers headband, outside in public, or something.  Probably.

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I must confess, when I decided to join in with Me Made May this year (its 9th) I thought this:

“Eek!  I haven’t got enough things.  I need to sew more things!”  There was scuttling off to fabric shops and online browsing.

Then I stopped and remembered that I’m trying to clothe myself in an eco-friendly and sustainable manner.  And y’know, try to look nice.  Me Made May is about loving what we have, not wanting more.

So I’m combining the concepts of Fashion Revolution with Me Made May, with some help from some very influential members of the sewing community.

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I am feeling the love for three wonderful sewing women who have helped me decide on what to pledge for Me Made May.

1. Zoe Edwards

The creator of Me Made May, for her commitment to sustainability and for making it easier for us to make in a more mindful way.

You don’t have to wear me-mades every day to join in, although I will.  However, I can’t pass it off as a challenge seeing as I’ve been wearing me-mades every day for about a year already.  So here is where my second wonderful woman – Elisalex de Castro Peake comes in.

2. Elisalex de Castro Peake

Elisalex is an indie sewing pattern designer for cult brand By Hand London and this is what Vogue (Vogue!) has to say about her: “Elisalex is a designer – and blogger – that created a brand thought for women that care about environmental issues”

Elisalex said something on Instagram that I love so much it is now my pledge – I pledge to do each of the following throughout May:

Create less demand for new fabrics by using up what’s already out there and get refashioning! Charity shops are a treasure trove of fabulous fabrics just waiting for a new lease of life.

Get on board the mending trend and show off tears, stains and moth holes with embroidery, visible mending and patches.

And finally, don’t forget about that free fabric shop you have in your own home – your stash! Get involved with initiatives like #makeyourstash and don’t buy more of what you don’t need (for now 😬).

She also gave great advice for our choice of fabric shops, but I’ve decided not to buy fabric in May.   This is because buying ethically isn’t a challenge for me, but using up what I already have is.

I’m especially excited about embroidery, as I’ve been dying to try it, but I’m always at the sewing machine.  Elisalex has been making embroidery cool and I’ll be going to her tutorials for some help on fancying-up one or two of my blander makes.  Could my bum go from this…

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My boring bum (in my Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers)

…to this?

Elisalex’s delightful floral bum

3. Emily Hundt

My third sewing crush today is Emily Hundt, because she created Makers for Fashion Revolution.

Emily is the founder of an indie sewing pattern company In The Folds, and the creator of Makers for Fashion Revolution, or #makersforfashrev in social media land.  She gives us makers ways we can help bring about positive change.  Yay that.

Here’s what she says:

WHAT CAN WE DO AS MAKERS TO INFLUENCE CHANGE?

  • Slow down! Do you really need all those clothes? Take your time to make one beautiful garment instead of five hurried makes. Spend extra time by working on beautiful finishes or decorative techniques. Use your making time to upskill rather than fill your wardrobe with more and more
  • Make for others when you have enough in your wardrobe
  • Use sustainable materials to create products
  • Teach others your skills. Encourage others to make their own clothes
  • Work out ways to reduce waste (this could be in relation to your studio / office space, the packaging you use to wrap or post your products, etc.
  • Recycle whenever possible
  • Consider using second hand whenever you can (I use second hand fabric for the majority of what I sew
  • Make plans. Don’t buy things impulsively. Take the time to think about it and work out if you actually need it.
  • Sew from your stash
  • Go to clothing and fabric swaps
  • Ask your suppliers and manufacturers about their labour practices
  • If you have your business, consider manufacturing locally
  • Be disruptive and embrace change.

Wonderful advice, thank you Emily 🙂

My pledge

My pledge therefore, is to spend a month appreciating and embellishing my handmade clothes, and sewing new things from charity shop finds.

  1. Wear everything!  I’m going to get everything out and give it a day in the sun (figuratively speaking only, this is the UK).  Even those dodgy early garments with all the wonky.
  2. Embroider everything!   I will see what I can do to posh up those sad bland tops and trousers I have been neglecting.  With embroidery!!  There may be comical results.
  3. Duvet cover everything!  I probably will sew, because sewing!  I’ll prioritise fabric I’ve got from charity shops – either fabric or clothing I can use as fabric.  Because this is a challenge for me, to look at secondhand clothing (or duvets!) as a fabric resource.  I can’t promise not to sew fabric from my stash though, as there is some beautiful cloth…
  4. Selfless something!  I will sew for the people I love in May.  My husband is patiently waiting for the shirt I promised him for Christmas, 3 months ago.  Time to get shirty.

Wish me luck!

Rhonda xx

 

Link-a-doodle-dos

Zoe Edwards and Me Made May

Elisalex de Castro Peak YouTube video

By Hand London website

Emily Hundt’s Makers for Fashion Revolution

 

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