I LOVE reading all the Me-Made-May pledges that come rolling into my inbox at this time of year. Finding out how people plan to make their lives a bit more difficult for themselves is helping alleviate my panic about my own pledge! Repeat Me-Made-Mayer Tasha from Stale Bread into French Toast (pictured above), who spends half her life (rather excitingly, IMO) travelling round the US, kindly wrote this lovely guest post about her thought process leading up to the challenge....
'This year, I decided to step up my pledge for Me-Made-May, endeavoring to wear only garments I’ve made, altered, or repaired, for the month (excepting only my raincoat). This undertaking turned out to have some unexpected consequences right away, and got me thinking about how challenges like MMM push me to advance my wardrobe and my style, and to present my best self to the world.
As May drew closer and I started to consider my summer clothes and what I could and couldn’t wear under these new rules, a few unexpected me-made wardrobe gaps came to my attention, including the fact that I lacked any kind of me-made top I’d want to sleep in. At first, I admit I was a little annoyed. I didn’t really feel like reorganizing my list of things to sew and putting a new pajama top next in line, and sewing one didn’t seem that exciting or necessary. After all, the old RTW tank top I was sleeping in was totally fine, even if was kind of ratty, faded, pretty much all recovery worn out of the fabric, and starting to develop a little hole or two … actually, once I considered, it was nothing like what I’d really like to wear or the image of myself I’d like the world (or even my husband) to see. In fact, lately I’d started throwing on something else over it if anyone other than Bryan was likely to see me wearing it.
So, I would make a new sleep top for sure, but what should it be like? I had a little time before we would be home and I could sew, so I let ideas roll around in my head as they appeared, and considered options on and off for several days as I was falling asleep. What would my ideal summer sleep top be like? I would have limited time to make it once we got home, so I needed to match a fabric and pattern from my mental inventory of what was already in my stash with my ideas of what the top should be like.
After a while I settled on using one of my all-time favorite cami/tank patterns (copied from a RTW top), with some slightly slubby organic cotton knit I got at Bolt Fabrics in Portland a couple of years ago, and had made one top from already. This would be my first time using this pattern with a knit, but I figured I could leave out any closure in the back and worry less about seam finishes, take it in a little if necessary, and it would be extra comfy for sleep. The cups of this design with their little pleats, and the scalloped edges (which the original top had, so that option usually occurs to me when I think about this pattern), combined with the fabric, would give me the look I wanted: feminine and a little romantic, while still fit for public viewing. We’re usually on the road for part of May, and lucky enough to have friends and family to stay with, so pajamas which I don’t mind wearing into someone else’s kitchen to make tea in the morning are a definite plus.
The actual experience of making this top turned out to be better than I first thought too. Of course there’s the tactile experience of sewing anything, which I love. But this top also gave me a chance to try out a couple of experiments with one of my favorite patterns, and the wheels in my head started turning with ideas about design, shaping, fit and fabric. (In case you’re curious, I ended up pinching out about ½” at the top underarm seam on each side, and leaving the rest as it was). A single layer of knit fabric made for easy finishing with just a row of slightly scalloped decorative stitching, and the pleats kept it from being too revealing in front.
So now I have a lovely new sleep top, and a new respect for how challenges like Me-Made-May (and wearing a handmade wardrobe in general) give me a helpful push in the direction I’d really like to go in anyway. The biggest difference between the new top and the old one is that I really thought about this one at every stage. Taking the time to consider exactly what I want, rather than just picking up what’s in front of me, and to ponder and develop my individual style, definitely takes more effort. But that effort is more than paid back in the results. By using my brain to come up with a concept for a garment, figure out what materials to use, how to sew them, and carry those ideas through into the real world, I get personal growth and satisfaction, a little expansion of my skills and abilities—not to mention a garment I’m proud to wear into the world as a representation of who I am and what I’d like to say. So far I’m pretty pleased with the results of my challenge to myself this year, and looking forward to what else I’ll find out this May!'