Ahhhhh. May. One of my favorite months! Blooms and buds. Green exploding everywhere. More consistent (sorta) weather patterns. I can ditch the socks and get out the flip-flops again.
I really do love May. But there is one thing about May that generally (and surprisingly) gives me a bit of . . . consternation.
True confessions: It’s this whole #MeMadeMay thing. For several days now, I’ve been thinking about why, exactly, #MeMadeMay vexes me so.
Before I launch into my thoughts about the whole thing . . . let’s back up a little bit. Because not everyone will know what I’m talking about here. So. #MeMadeMay . . . is a social media “challenge” for people who make their own clothes - #MeMades - to wear them and share them on the various platforms (Instagram, especially, but also Facebook, blogs, etc.). It’s designed as a way for “makers” to share their “makes.”
And what, you ask, could be vexing me so about THAT? (I know, right?) Because, after all . . . I AM a “maker” with a closet full of “MeMades” . . . and I have been for most of my life.
In fact, as I’m scanning all the old family photos I’m pulling out of nooks and crannies everywhere (I swear this photo scanning and organizing project is going to take years and years; yet still I persist), I’ve been struck by, well . . . all the #MeMades! In nearly every photo, my sister and I are wearing dresses my mom made for us, or - as we got older - outfits I made for us.
(Matching sister-culottes made by my mom.)
Growing up, my family had . . . enough. But we didn’t have extra. I always had enough to eat. I was always warm enough. I had proper outerwear and toys to play with and solid shoes. I was able to take dance classes and swimming lessons. But, as a kid, I knew that we didn’t have extra for store-bought dresses or shiny shoes or sparkly tights or the "real" Barbie clothes they sold in toy departments. I didn’t whine for the stuff, although I did keep elaborate wish lists of things I wanted . . . y’know should Ed McMahon ever come knocking on our door because we’d won the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes (my biggest hope for a bright future at the time). I knew how to “wait for payday.”
But we had plenty of dresses! Because my mom made them for us.
(Fancy velvet dresses! My mom made all three.)
And I learned to sew myself when I was quite young. By the time I was in junior high school, I was making most of my own clothes. Back in those days, it wasn’t “cool” to make your own anything. (Or to like Home Ec. Or to strive to win all purple ribbons at the 4-H fair. Or to admit something was “homemade.”) No. . . back then, you needed to have store-bought clothes (and lots of them!), preferably purchased in town at one of the “exclusive” shops (Sweetbriar’s was the local dress shop preferred by the cool girls). But that wasn’t going to happen for me.
(Lookin' good in 7th grade! I made both my dress and my sister's jumper.) (We're with a tiny cousin.)
Anyway. Eventually . . . I got really good at sewing. I got good enough, in fact, that the other girls stopped making snotty comments about my “homemade” clothes. Not because they were impressed with or valued my sewing skills, but because they just couldn’t TELL anymore. (I’ll admit . . . some of my creations in the early days were very Not Good. Years of sewing taught me how to choose the right kinds of fabrics for the patterns I wanted to make, that pressing your seams open as you sew was actually beneficial, and how to perfect the “telltale” signs of a homemade look: zippers, buttonholes, topstitching; that kind of thing.)
Back then, no one celebrated #MeMades. No one showed off their own handiwork. You hid the fact (at least from the masses of high school Mean Girls) that you sewed and knit for yourself!
So . . . I truly love the concept of sharing - publicly and visibly and with some fanfare! - #MeMades. I mean, what a great thing. It makes me so happy to see so many people making their own clothes. I love that others have discovered the benefits of creating their own garments: you get what you want, you can stretch your clothing budget (theoretically), you can fit YOUR OWN body, you can take pride in your accomplishments.
I love the celebration of all things #MeMade. I appreciate the attention that all my favorite crafts are getting this month. I’m inspired by seeing what other “makers” create. I take advantage of the pattern and fabric sales that show up in May to further encourage the #MeMaking.
15-year-old me would have been over the moon about #MeMade May.
And yet . . . something about it all still . . . vexes me.
I think it’s the pressure and (and I’m just going to say it here . . . ) heavy-handedness that sometimes accompanies the challenge.
Because seeing all the #MeMadeMay posts popping up this month . . . can make the casual sewist or knitter feel like maybe they’re “not doing it right.” What if you haven’t amassed enough #MeMades to devote an entire month to wearing and posting a photo of a different #MeMade each day? Or what if your goal is to sew something now and then -- but you can't possibly consider filling your closet exclusively with #MeMades? What if hearing other makers constantly deride ready-to-wear clothes makes you question your own closet decisions? Well . . .
It can all feel like a bit like my high school experience . . . in reverse!
I think we always need to remember (and #MeMadeMay provides a perfect backdrop here) . . . that there is no one “right way” to do this "making" thing. (Or not do it.) Some of us enjoy making things that we can wear. Celebrate that! Some of us just don’t have the time, the skills, or the inclination to mess with it. Celebrate that! Some people get really into fashion and love having a closet-full-of-options. Some people don’t give a crap about that. Maybe your life goal is to never buy ready-to-wear again. Or maybe you only want to fill your closet with thrifted clothes. Or limit yourself to 33 items. Whatever works for you . . . works for you! It’s all good! Celebrate that!
(Bitchy high school Mean Girls? I made these overalls. And they are pretty awesome. So there!)
So, now that I've figure out what was bugging me . . . I’m ready to enjoy #MeMadeMay. To scroll through photos of really awesome things other “makers” have made -- to be inspired, to get fresh ideas, to celebrate what others have accomplished.
Be inspired. But never let the Mean Girls get you down. Y'know?
I'll be back on Wednesday. With (ahem) . . . a #MeMade. (And it's not my overalls.) I'm working a special election here tomorrow, and guessing I'll have plenty of time for knitting but no time for blogging. (It's a one-issue election. And it's not a controversial issue at all. We're expecting low turnout. . . ) See ya then.