It’s been just over a week since the start of my Me Made May challenge to wear an item of clothing I have made myself everyday for the whole of May. So far I have been really enjoying wearing clothes I have made myself, although I haven’t had to change my normal outfits too much.
I’ve read a few blog posts from people taking part in the challenge and many people seem to have “learnt lessons” or gained insights from the process. I have to say that I haven’t learnt much about myself or my wardrobe from taking part but I have learnt a little more about social media. Here are some of my insights!
A Colourful Dress in a Sunny Location is Way more Likeable than Staple Items
The most liked outfits so far were taken when I was on holiday in the South of France. For example my own version of the Lisette Passport Dress photographed while on holiday in the picturesque town of Roussillon
Compare this to the number of likes my self-drafted white t-shirt attracted, there is no contest. White t-shirts are officially boring.
Nobody Likes Rain
My least liked picture so far has been this one of me wearing my waterproof pants. They may have been an intriguing and challenging sew but they do not make compelling instagram eye candy.
An Arty Shot Will Always Get Likes on IG
My most liked picture so far has been this one. Is it the liberty print fabric, is it the moody lighting, or the fact I am not smiling at the camera? I think this shot is more “classic” instagram than some of the others I have taken which may have helped.
Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags
I began by just using the official hashtag, #mmmay15, but in the last couple of days I have noticed a lot of people using #memademay15. I’ve started using both although the purist in me wants to stick only to the official one.
Follow me on instagram or check out the hashtag to see all the outfits for the rest of the month. I can promise you that I will be wearing some of the more unusual items I have made in the next few weeks, it’s not just going to be 19 days of office appropriate attire.
I just took the plunge and signed up for Me Made May 2015. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for the last few years but I always seem to forget to sign up till it’s too late. Because it’s my first year I’ve decided to take it easy on myself and include altered and refashioned clothing in the pledge. I have also decided that accessories count so I may just spend the whole month in a wooly hat if it gets too tough.
For those who don’t know, Me Made May or #mmmay15 is a challenge designed to get anyone who makes or designs their own clothes to wear them every day for the whole month of May. You write your own pledge so you can make it as easy or as difficult as you like. Here is my pledge for reference:
I, Kristina from www.artfashiontech.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear at least one item of clothing I made myself or one item I have altered/refashioned for each day for the duration of May 2015
I have been hoping that my Ginger Jeans would be finished before the 1st May but unfortunately that hasn’t happened so my additional challenge to myself is to finish them before the 31st. If you want to take part yourself this is where you can find all the details. I will be posting a picture of my outfit everyday to instagram using the hashtag. Wish me luck!
Since the start of the year I have been running round telling quite a lot of people that this is my “Year of Practicality”. No more frivolous dresses or esoteric art-fashion projects (or at least some of those but not at the expense of everything else) – this is the year I make real world practical wardrobe items. This is the year I use up fabric rather than wastefully buy more, this is the year I try and practice what I preach and make my wardrobe more sustainable (at least in a small way). So without further ado I give you my first hyper practical sew: water and windproof cycling pants. The idea for these beauties started way back in August when we were invited to a friends wedding in Seattle, where we spent some time exploring the area including many fabric and craft stores. By far the most exciting of these stores was Seattle Fabrics which was suggested by Brian (hi Brian!). This store sold technical fabrics and had everything you might need to make outdoor wear, sleeping bags, tents, and sales for boats. It was totally fascinating and exactly the kind of specialist shop you just don’t find in the UK. I felt compelled to buy something from all the goodies available in the shop and came away with the pattern and all the supplies to make a pair of waterproof pants/trousers for cycling and camping. I thought since the winter was fast approaching this would be a great thing to make. But life got in the way and I only got up the courage to give them a go now. The pattern is made by The Green Pepper Inc and is printed on newsprint with a lovely 70s retro feel to the design. The instructions are very easy to follow and the pattern would have made up very quickly if I hadn’t had so much trouble topstitching around the zips where the bulky piping, zip and several layers of fabric met. In the end I had to take a break and do it over several days. The fabric is water proof and breathable, with reflective pre-made piping for nighttime wear. In the colours I tried to capture some of the classic Norwegian cross-country ski wear of my youth, going with red and dark blue. A quick word on the pattern: I would buy a little extra fabric if you are even slightly taller than average height. The pattern instructions ask for 2 1/2 yards of 45″ fabric and this was barely enough to cut the standard length of trouser. Of course, springtime decided to arrive in Scotland as soon as I finished these and I haven’t had a chance to test them against the elements. When we took these photos I asked my Beloved if I should take my helmet off for the shots because I was worried I might look a little dorky, but he gently pointed out that cycling back and forth having your photo taken wearing waterproof pants on the hottest day of the year isn’t exactly the coolest thing to do – so safety first!
(UPDATE – I tested these out in the rain and they were very waterproof! Here is some photographic evidence)
I’m always scared of sharing a picture like this. I’m terrified someone will say:
“What are you doing?! That’s not the correct way to wet block a piece of knitting! You’re not using the right equipment – are you sure those are rust proof pins? They certainly aren’t specialist pins designed for blocking. If you don’t do it right the edges will be uneven and you will get little rust marks on your wool.
“And is that a yoga mat? Why don’t you have a proper foam base on which to pin your fabric? One with a wire at the top to hold the piece flat. Also why is it on the floor? It’s a trip hazard and someone could hurt themselves on all those pins.
“And while I’m at it why do you have such badly finished black painted flooring? Don’t you know that it looks terrible in photos. This blog isn’t aspirational at all. Your interior design sense is terrible, and your project does not match your furniture.
“Also isn’t writing a blog post about this very self-indulgent? No one cares what you think about knitting or anything else.”
This is exactly the type of inner monologue which runs through my mind when I make something like this and think about sharing the picture. I’m largely self taught as a sewer, knitter and designer and almost everything I learnt came from books or the internet, as well as a few helpful tips from friends and relatives and the odd evening course and workshop. So when I come to actually work on a technique a lot of the time what I am doing is actually made up.
But what am I so scared of? There are plenty of internet trolls out there but not many dedicated to knitting (or so I hope!). And if it is wrong who cares? Really who cares?! This scarf is for me, I’m not hurting anyone and if I move fast enough when I wear it no one will notice the mistakes anyway.
There are a lot of conversations being had right now around imposter syndrome, particularly in women, and I have been speaking with lots of friends about how perfection in any artistic endeavour is a fool’s errand. But why can’t I take this to heart? Why am I still thinking these things? Does anyone else recognise these feelings?
What I am slowly discovering is that machine knitting a scarf might be an 11 week project but having confidence in your ability is one that takes a lifetime.
Hey everyone, this week was the last beginner’s machine knitting class at Edinburgh Contemporary Craft. For the last three weeks I have been working on a costume drama inspired plum and grey scarf as my final project. The scarf has two plum panels featuring a series of tucks and folds to create the illusion of folded sleeves and drapery whilst the middle three panels are made using punch cards to add a feeling of pattern and detail.
The are a few mistakes in the pattern panels which are caused by the punch card sticking in the machine but I think these add to the slightly abstract feel.
In the last session I decided rather recklessly to add a false rib trim to both ends of the scarf. In the end I only had time to do one but luckily Katy (the course tutor) has kindly agreed to let us come along for a drop in session next week so I will finish it off then.
After that there will be some darning to do, and then I will need to press and block the scarf. Pictures of this to follow!
The class has definitely given me the bug for machine knitting and I am looking into buying a machine for myself or coming along to more drop in sessions in future. If you are interested in taking the class yourself booking has just opened for the next session, more details on the Edinburgh Contemporary Craft website.
I know lots of inspiring people and perhaps one of the most inspiring is my friend Alex; who is a conservator by day and a demon quilter by night. I was lucky enough to receive one of Alex’s beautiful quilts as a wedding gift and since then I have always wanted to try and make one myself. I never quite managed it until the start of this year when post “lace-wedding-cover-up” I decided to clear out my stash and basically use it or lose it.
I challenged my friend, and no stranger to this blog, Kate to join me in a weekend quilting challenge figuring that the when you try something new two people are better than one. I also thought for some reason that she had made a quilt before, this turned out to be completely wrong.
We set out some rules for the challenge: a strict start and end time so that we wouldn’t be tempted to keep working when we were tired; we planned out our meals so that we wouldn’t be working hungry; and finally we also made sure we had lots of great music to listen too. Oh and we also agreed on a hashtag which is essential to the success of any project.
Saturday was mostly spent cutting out the pieces, I was amazed at how long this took. I think I was basically cutting, measuring and ironing fabric for 5 hours. Then we worked on how we were going to lay out the pieces. Kate came prepared with sketches whilst I decided to just cut out what fabric I had and then see where the inspiration took me.
On Saturday evening we toyed with the idea of watching 90s romantic comedy How to Make an American Quilt but when we found out it was £7.99 on iTunes(!) the idea was quickly rejected. We did watch the trailer though and all I can say is that I am really glad that this cringe-inducing pastiche representation of women’s relationships bears no comparison to my life or the thrilling reality that was #quiltathon. At the end of the trailer I want to shout at Winona Ryder, “It’s ok you don’t need to marry either of them. Maybe you shouldn’t rush into marriage but instead set up an avant-guarde art collective/quilting co-op with your mum and her friends. You are more than who you sleep with, you too can find empowerment through craft!” but hey what do I know?
Anyway back to the quilting – it was only on day two that I began sewing and even with the whole day ahead of me I only managed to finish the central panel.
We have already planned our next edition of #quiltathon where we will hopefully finish our quilts. Alex I am in awe of you, I don’t know how you managed to make that quilt by hand – incredible!
Kate has written her own post about #quiltathon, which you can read on her blog Getting Where?.
We are now on week eight of the beginners machine knitting course at Edinburgh Contemporary Crafts and the pace is picking up. Since my last post, I have slowly become more confident on the machines, getting better at casting on and off, and working with different weights and types of yarn.
In the last two weeks I have finally managed to get on to working with punch cards, which I have been looking forward to since signing up.
They are actually surprisingly easy to use, and give some beautiful results.
We have also started planning and now working on our final projects; I’m making a scarf in purple and silver grey, partly inspired by the costumes on the BBC programme Wolf Hall (ridiculous I know!). The richness of the colours and the way the sleeves of the garments move are what I’d like to capture in this piece.
There will also be at least one panel made with a punch card because I love the pattern effect so much. I am not sure if the final scarf will be a success but I am excited to try it and see the results. Here is a picture of my first panel on the machine, which uses tuck stitches to create a folding effect.
I’ve really enjoyed the course so far and it has definitely opened my eyes to new materials, techniques and ways of working.
I’m currently going through a process of using up all the fabric in my stash so on Sunday I decide to make another Nettie which has to be my favourite pattern of 2014. The fabric was a simple bamboo jersey I bought a while ago from Fabric Focus. I initially had wanted to use it to make a top but when the shop assistant came to measuring out it out he discovered a large hole in the middle. Luckily he was nice enough to give me the extra length of fabric with the hole in it at no charge.
There wasn’t enough to make a second garment on its own, so I decided to make one last Nettie reasoning that I could always turn it into a shirt if I didn’t like the effect of so much grey.
I used the high front neckline/mid level back version of the pattern and extended the length to take it over the knee to give it that glamorous understated feel that I think a longer length gives you. I also altered the back slightly so that there was a little more fabric to cover my bra straps which keep peeking out in earlier versions I have made.
I debuted the dress on Tuesday when I was privileged enough to be invited to my friend Kate’s citizenship ceremony. It was a really moving event, far more so than I expected. It made me realise how lucky we are and how many people would like to have access to the privileges that we enjoy in Scotland. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t keep pushing for change or trying to improve things, but it is important to remember the context in which we are living. So congratulations Kate, I feel honoured that you wanted to join us and be part of this country!
Incidentally Kate is the writer behind the fabulous Getting Where blog – she writes beautifully about travel and solo travel as well as general musings on life. I highly recommend checking it out.
This weekend I was on a quest to hunt out the best place to find vintage sewing supplies in Edinburgh. Whilst rummaging in Herman Brown I discovered a stash of pattern magazines from 1984 called “Make it Easy: Mix & Match Pattern Wardrobe & Sewing Guide” published by Marshall Cavendish. Here is one of the original ads, which pretty much covers the awesome concept!
I’ve always been totally fascinated by collections which claim you can make an entire wardrobe with just one set of patterns. Has anyone ever done this? Could you dress yourself from head to toe with just one of these magazines – I’m tempted to try one day.
The magazines come in their own cardboard sleeve with a full paper pattern and technique cards. I only bought one because I wasn’t sure how good they would be – but when I opened it up at home I wasn’t disappointed.
As far as I could tell all the patterns were uncut and selling at £2 a piece. They originally sold for £1.75 back in 1984 (£5.10 when you account for inflation). I found a few for sale on Amazon at £4.50.
One pattern – so many options!
There are also helpful articles on colour matching.
Full instructions on how to make each outfit – including a step by step photo guide.
There are also pattern variations showing you how to transition the pattern effortlessly from day wear to evening wear. I love the dress and the evening wear version of the jumpsuit with the frill neckline. I think the dress would make a great casual summer outfit in a patterned cotton, while the jumpsuit would be fantastic in a dark silk with a slim belt (worn with or without the gloves!).
The technique cards also look pretty useful, especially if you’re a beginner. Why google how to do something when you can use one of these cards?
Herman Brown looked like they had almost the full set so if you’re Edinburgh based and having an 80s sewing moment its worth investigating.
Have you ever used vintage patterns? Where are the best places to pick them up? I’m looking for as many hot tips as possible so please share the love!
This week on a whistle stop visit to Aberdeen for work I was excited to discover a small but in-depth exhibition about traditional fisherman’s knitwear or Ganseys at Aberdeen Maritime Museum. I didn’t have very long in the exhibition so I didn’t have time to look at all the exhibits properly but there were some beautiful pattern examples on show. Interesting fact for all you Channel Islanders out there – although their names sound similar there is difference between a Gansey and a Guernsey (or Jersey), the shape of the garment is the same but Guernseys are made traditionally from thicker wool – so now you know! I’ve included a photo of the information panel so you can get all of the details.
The exhibition is free and on until 28 February (and only a short walk from the train station) so if you’re in the area and interested in knitting or fashion history its definitely worth a visit.
An information panel which asks the important questions.