Gardening. So Much More Than Pretty Flowers.
You're My Blue Sky

The Merry Month of May

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.

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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.

Kym and diane last day of school 1968 kym 3rd grade di K

(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.

Diane yvonne kym 1968 or so

(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. 

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(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! 

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(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.

 

Comments

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Juliann

I agree that there is always more than one way to do things. As a long time sewist, I get itchy about MeMadeMay too. I haven’t seen as much of it this year, so far, but that might mean I am just not following the enthusiasts. Thanks for this very thoughtful post and I love, love, love those overalls.

Dee

I think Me-Made May can be anything you want it to be.

BTW --- those you-made overalls are simply AWESOME. I love that color.

Carolyn

This brings up so much more for me than I can possibly articulate, Kym. It’s all sorta stuck in my throat.
And I LOVE that photo! Not *just* the spectacular overalls—but that’s some spirit coming through.

Bonny

It is interesting that we've come full circle in terms of me-made and store bought. My grandmother sewed most of the clothing for my sister and I when we were younger and I was thrilled to have flowered bell bottoms and cool white vinyl jumpers. But it was quite clear that these were not cool when I was a teenager. I wouldn't have been cool anyway, but definitely not wearing hand-sewn clothing. My only regret is that I probably didn't appreciate my grandmother's efforts enough. The older I get, the more I realize that there is no right way to do knitting, sewing, making, MeMadeMay, or many, many other things. You are the boss of your making and you do it awesomely as demonstrated by your awesome overalls. They are fantastic!

Vicki

Hallelujah! And I said as much in an IG post yesterday... I'll be happy to have ONE thing finished this month (it's been MANY months since anything's been sewn/finished around here), but I'm not going to beat myself up over it if I don't, and I'm thrilled to have the pattern cut and the fabric ironed right now!! I do love the inspiration gained with all those MeMadeMay shares, but have no room for the "holier than thou," "do rights," or judgement.

kayT

Maybe I was just oblivious but my clothes were mostly all made by my mother and I don't recall any "mean girls" or remarks about "homemade". I do remember people saying nice things about how good a seamstress my mother was. I still remember the pink herringbone wool dress-coat with the pink taffeta lining and pockets! that my mother made for me. I wish I still had it!

Your overalls are wonderful.

Bridget

Yes to all of this!

P.S. The overalls look fantastic.

Vera

Great post Kym and the most FABULOUS Overalls EVER! How I love them. I look like a beached whale in overalls, but those look so good on you. High School was so full of mean people everywhere...glad not to be in that scene any more (and, of course, now I don't care anyway...but back then...oh wow!).

Carole

Those overalls! They are perfect for you and I am SO impressed with your mad skills. I'm also impressed with how well you articulated the problematic attitude towards the whole MeMade thing. I'm of the opinion YouDoYou, whether it's about clothing or lifestyle choices or really just about anything at all. (Except the vaccine. Everyone should get the damn vaccine.)

Patty

Oh you've so hit the nail on the head here! I am still surprised by the meanness that exists in our crafting community. Like Carole said - You Do You! (There have been a few shaming events in the last few years...mean girlzzzz.) (So I don't really read anything "boardish".) The overalls...are really over all the coolest thing I've seen in a long time! Nice job Kym! xo

Dawn

Yes, those overalls are fantastic and you look fantastic wearing them!

Marie

Love, love, love 'em!

Chris

The overalls fit perfectly and you look so happy wearing them, Kym! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels pressure to “make”, but I remind myself that spending time with my husband, working away from my home throughout this pandemic and home keeping take up most of my time. I “make” many meals and if reading or knitting a sweater or a pair of socks fits into my schedule...it’s a great day! I am on the second sock using Rock Out With Your (Pea) Cock Out, thanks to you!

Julia in KW

LOVE your overalls. Great seeing, Kym! (We also sewed an lot of our clothes when growing up…great way to stretch the clothing $$ in a family with 4 children and one income - and lots of activities. And I loved “most” of them😉).

kathy b

What a great post. I LOVE THOSe Green bibs! Thank you for your story and/or sharing

Chloe

Oh this looks like a great opportunity to honor my very clever grandmother who made many of our clothes with such skill and style that they never looked homemade. I remember our dove grey spring coats in particular. Shortly after that we started wearing uniforms which kept any mean-girl tendencies to a minimum. Your overalls are SPECTACULAR. The color choice, oh my. My particular theory is that if you make something trendy and flattering enough no one realizes that it is not from a store. They just envy you.

Sarah

So I have never made my own clothes (other than stuff I knit), and I grew up with a mother who worked full time and wasn't particularly crafty -- and yes, in a different generation when most mothers weren't making their kids' clothes. But in recent years, as making your own clothes has become trendy, I've gotten more interested in it. I know, though, that it's a big change from decades ago, and it's no longer cheaper to make your own than to buy ready-made clothes, and the ability to make your own garments is a bit of a privilege. So I have mixed feelings about the MeMadeMay thing, too. But I am still very inspired by people who have these sewing skills, and one day I want to learn to do it, too! And I LOVE your overalls!

Mary

I love your overalls! I chose Holly Hobby denim type fabric to make overalls in 8th grade home ec, 1975. I adored my overalls. You look amazing in yours. It's quite obvious that they suit you to a T!

Thanks for the thoughtful post on #MeMadeMay.

(I was away over the weekend and haven't caught up on my social media, still working on Sunday's paper, so haven't seen the awesomeness of some of my favorite makers...)

Mary

First - those overalls are AMAZING! How cool to have the skills to make something like that - and so many other things! Honestly, I find a lot of that "mean girls in reverse" thing about a lot of social media these days. The key is to finding the right mix of things to follow ... When I do it right, I find it inspiring and full of fun rabbit holes (and when I don't, it can be exactly the opposite).

Kat

ALL.OF.THIS! YES! (especially that bitchy mean girls part... because yeah, those overalls are AWESOME times 10!!)

I am thinking about MeMadeMay and these days, I almost always have on at least one article of clothing I have made. I am not so big on scrolling to see what the overachievers have accomplished. This month I am more focused on what holes do I have... what needs a refresh... what would be a nice addition. (and there is a stack of Hats for Winston I am working my way through!) I guess what I am saying is that I am turning the month inward to focus on what makes me feel good.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this! :)

Deb Kuppusamy

As a kid, my grandma and aunts made all of my clothes even slips. I sewed a lot in high school and even made all my maternity clothes. But I'd forgotten about the mean girls until this post. Well, I don't sew much anymore. But I can do anything with needle,hook,thread ,yarn or material. I'm thankful for the skills and the knowledge those women shared. And I'm seriously loving your overalls!!!

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