I’m no stranger to sewing and the idea of making my own clothes. In my high school I studied fashion and textiles for a year and during this time we became familiar with both hand stitching and sewing machines. When my cousin had her first baby, I attempted to sew a dress for when she grew up a little. I got about halfway through the dress before the weekend I had dedicated to sewing it ended and then it was soon forgotten about. It became yet another thing I started but never finished.
It was last summer amidst the big lockdown trends of finding new hobbies that I ended up getting a lot of sewing videos on my recommended page on YouTube. Whilst lots of people took up baking, I took up watching people sew all kinds of things. Eventually stumbling across the trend of me-made wardrobes.
The concept is simple. A wardrobe consisting of clothes you make yourself. There are two main channels I watch around me-made wardrobes. Rosery Apparel and The Essentials Club – both provide tutorials for how to make different clothing of all kinds. Both are well experienced in making clothes and have made many pieces – evident in this video from from The Essentials Club. After some time and one attempt at using a pattern to sew a dress, I decided to follow a YouTube video. For me this way would just work better. I’ve learned that I am much more of a visual person and prefer things worded in a different way to most patterns. Also knowing me, I was inevitably going to go off script and wing it. So, it was time to turn to YouTube and I eventually landed on this video on how to make a gathered t-shirt dress by The Essentials Club.
So begins the actual story of the infamous dress from last summer that remains unfinished. From the original video I took some basic knowledge about measurements. I also watched a Rosery Apparel video on how to make dungarees which I also used as an inspiration. I had a picture in my head of my dream DIY dress, it was good kind of complicated, perhaps even a complicated simple idea if that is even possible. It wasn’t out of my sewing capabilities or comfort zone but enough of a challenge for me. With fabric and lining bought it was time to get to work.
I wish I had the ability to properly translate my thought process and steps into words that would make sense for anyone other than myself. I’ll save you all of the struggle to understand my own version of Ikea instructions full of ‘this thingy’ and ‘the other thingy’. However, I will attempt to paint a picture of what my end goal would be. I wanted a straight front and back neckline, kind of like that of dungarees. I wanted a mid-length – just above the knee – length full skirt. It had to have some flow and poof to it. Also, pockets. Womens clothing either doesn’t have very large pockets, no pockets, or perhaps the worst fashion crime – fake pockets. The dress was to button up the front, I wanted brown or tortoiseshell buttons. It would match the muted olive tones of green fabric I bought. Lastly the sleeves. I wanted them to tie up on top of my shoulder. Think about how dungarees have straps attached to the back that you bring over your shoulders and secure in place. I wanted that but with the ability to tie a pretty bow.
I managed to sew everything together, turn it right way and ready to hem. This was when motivation reached a screeching halt and it sat hem pinned ready to sew until now. I dusted off the sewing machine and got to work, now the hem is done. Far from perfect and a little disappointing at some points but it’s done. Something I was almost believing wouldn’t happen. Now if I can just find the motivation to sew the buttons on and make the buttonholes it will be ready to wear. So, my challenge at the start of my placement and end of my first blog remains incomplete. The infamous dress is still unfinished but maybe just maybe by this summer the buttons will be sewn and I’ll be wearing it.
We might not all be able to have a me-made wardrobe – or even finish projects we start – but we certainly can make small changes to combat the problems of fast fashion.
Here are some more challenges I’m setting myself and I encourage you to make your own:
- Sell my old clothes second-hand – donate them if possible
- Research more into where I buy clothes from – look for full transparency
- Keep options such as ‘thrift flipping’ open as 95% of discarded clothing can be recycled or upcycled
- Think about my purchases for longer before I make them to ensure I will get good usage out of them
- Lastly, once again try to finish this dress.