Me-Made May is fantastic – but it doesn’t work for me

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Hi, my name is Ben. I have a passion for sewing and, controversially, a confession: Me Made May is in full swing again and this year, I have decided not to participate.

Let me start off by saying how much I support the idea of Me Made May. For some, it’s a wonderful occasion to celebrate our creations with the online sewing community. For some, it’s a challenge to incorporate makes we feel a little insecure about into our wardrobe. For others, it can be the motivation to tackle a big project within a month. Go and read the fantastic interview with the event’s creator Zoe here on the Sewcialists blog and her outline for the challenge over on her blog. Both stress how customisable the challenge is for everyone who would like to participate.

In my pledge for last year’s Me Made May, I aimed to wear an item of self-made clothing every day of the month and to share it with the community on my Instagram @sewciologist. I was overwhelmed with the support and loved every minute of it. It was also fantastic to see everyone’s creations and celebrate one another’s achievements.

But for this year, there are two things that stop me from taking part:

When I first started sewing, I vowed never to buy another ready-to-wear item if I could reasonably (learn to) make it. I was – and still am – passionate about a sustainable lifestyle. My pledge went well for a while, but I frequently found that it limited my creativity. I was often excited about making a fun new shirt when my wardrobe was in dire need of another pair of plain trousers. As a consequence, I postponed the shirt project but procrastinated on the trousers until I stopped sewing altogether.

I have since come to embrace my sewing solely as a creative outlet. I don’t enjoy planning my outfits – I wear what I’m in the mood for when I wake up. I don’t like to think about what items are in my wardrobe rotation – in fact I don’t like the idea of a rotation. I’d much rather pair items I have never worn together and follow an impulse than to wear the same outfits in regular intervals. I like to make things on a whim and rarely make the same pattern twice. I love to cut out a crazy piece when inspiration hits me and supplement the me-makes with garments I find in charity shops (or my boyfriend’s closet).

This change in attitude has boosted my creativity and eliminated all the pressure I had imposed on myself. If I am particularly excited about a garment I’ve made, I share it on social media. And that brings me to my second point:

As much as I enjoyed taking part in last year’s Me Made May, I was often fretting about my wardrobe choices. If I wasn’t chronicling my outfits on social media, so I thought, I would totally wear the same trousers again the next day. But could I get away with including the same garment in two subsequent pictures? What if the only me-made piece I want to wear one day is a scarf? Is that enough to stick to my pledge?

As much as I was aware – even then – of the no-pressure concept of Me Made May, I also felt that as the Me Made May movement has grown over the years, it has taken on a life of its own. Now I can’t help but observe that only a portion of participants are aware of Zoe’s guiding principles. Being an observer as well as a participant, I couldn’t help but be intimidated by all the impressive and ever-changing outfits I was seeing on my Instagram feed. I felt that by thinking too much about what other people would make of my outfits, I was relinquishing part of my ownership over my wardrobe.

These days, I have adopted a much more casual approach when it comes to social media. I only post when I particularly love a make and when I want to share it with the world (and the lighting is right, too) and I have found it incredibly helpful to learn when to stay away as well.

So, to preserve my newly liberated relationship with sewing and with social media, I have decided that signing up to Me Made May this year just isn’t a good fit for me. Instead, I am sitting in the first row cheering for all the lovely makers and their fantastic garments!


26 thoughts on “Me-Made May is fantastic – but it doesn’t work for me

  1. I enjoyed this perspective on Me Made May. I am participating but like you have found the pressure to ‘display’ an outfit can often override what I really want to wear, which whilst this year is why I’m participating I am aware that it skews a true reflection of my day to day style.
    Your article made me reflect too on the follow me type approach in the lovely sewing community, I so often get swept up in the latest craze for a pattern or fabric however the whole point of sewing for myself is to be an individual! This year Me Made May has bought into focus how I would like to sew in the year ahead and in many ways getting back to why I taught myself to sew in the first place!
    So thank you for a thought provoking approach.

  2. I enjoyed your post as well – I think in any situation whereby the goal is to post pictures of ourselves in our outfits DAILY is a little bizarre to be completely honest. But full disclosure… I’m 63 years old and grew up in a time/mileau when pridefulness, bragging and grandstanding was considered the hallmark of a “dumbass”. In seriousness, I think it does foster a skewed self image fraught with the perils of narcissism, hyper self consciousness (mostly bad) and materialism whereby WE are the object to be sold. This is the second year I have participated in MMMay but not in a public/official way. Last year I just participated in my own life – no pictures or anything like that 🙂 I did find it helpful – to understand better what it is I do LIKE to wear therefore identify what would make the most sense for me to sew for myself. My aim is to make all my clothes but that’s because I simply don’t need so many clothes that I could sustain a habit of buying AND making clothes. I don’t have enough space, places/opportunities to wear it all and that level of consumption would just offend my sensibilities. So yay for MMMay! But I would caution anyone who has a susceptibility to any of these perils to be circumspect when it comes to this compulsive daily cataloging of their makes. It’s always good to keep in mind that no one really gives a damn about what you’re wearing except YOU 🙂

  3. I’m glad you are doing what works for you…but also recognize that the pressure you felt was self-imposed. I mean, lots of people do it. I hear this a lot my 5th year in re: MMM…Not having “enough” handmades to participate (if you have two handmade things then your pledge can include those 2 handmade things!!), etc. And the nature of social media itself makes it worse IMO.

    So I think it’s totally a personality thing. I don’t choose my outfits because I’ll be sharing them…I wear what I wear because that’s what I want to wear! LOL!!! I have totally worn a garment on subsequent days…I don’t aim for ‘beautiful, staged’ photographs…I don’t sew new things “for” MMM, I don’t worry about wearing what’s “popular” or “trending”…I have to get dressed everyday (well, almost everyday) and then I take a pic and post it.

    The best part for me is that I always have some sort of revelation about a garment or outfit combination. This year, as my pledge included wearing “full handmade outfits” twice per week, I’ve learned that that isn’t actually important to me. I realized how EXCITING it is that my handmades and my RTW purchases really meld together. I am very often mixing the two and really, that’s a GOOD thing for me! It means I’m making and buying things that actually work for me, for my body, for my lifestyle.

    I also love that I find new-to-me patterns or patterns styled in way that makes me take notice, when I’d previously overlooked it.

    Most importantly…there’s room for all of us no matter how we “use” sewing in our lives!!

  4. Two sure ways to make yourself miserable is to compare yourself to others, or to worry about what other people think. I get a chuckle myself out of some of the MMM photos – like who has time to do a full-on fashion shoot every day? I take some rather sucky selfies and get on with life. I do like to see men sewing, both because I admire the quality in menswear and skill needed to make things well. So I look forward to seeing your projects, whether in May or not.

  5. Yes there are a lot of versions of this challenge. I too enjoy watching what others have made. I have a me made item for each day of some sort but photographing them takes too much time. I prefer to think of it as a month to consider if I’m on track. Do I need something? Is there something missing? It’s a way to analyze what I have in my closet!

  6. I totally get where you are coming from. Last year I decided to sign up for MMM and didn’t have much me-made clothes and that pretty much paralyzed me. Didn’t participate after I signed up. This year I wanted to sign up, but the moment I thought of signing up, I felt I needed to sew more to be able to participate and argh! paralyzing feeling came right back. So I went back and read Zoe’s guidelines – I understood that it’s really what I make of it, I can do as much as or little I want and it was clear that all the pressure I had was me-made. [same old pressure to keep up with the Jones which was amped up by social media]. I also understood myself better. I didn’t want to added pressure because I signed for something, I have to do justice to it. So I didn’t sign up. And so no pressure!

    Currently I have one me made dress! just one dress that I completed, kept and still fits…

    I wore it once a week for last 3 weeks, no photo, just shared it with a couple of friends when they commented on the beautiful dress that I made it. I don’t know if I’ll wear it again next week, but if its washed, why not? but won’t break a sweat if I can’t wear it. But what it taught me is that I can make a hundred versions of the same pattern and I’d still love them all. Maybe I’ll make it a wee bit looser. 😉 Lol.

    I love to work upto KS_sews’s attitude (and her wardrobe and her sewing skills too)…

  7. Thanks for speaking up Ben! I love the original philosophy of MMM, but the idea of putting on an Insta-outfit-parade makes me want to curl up in a ball and lurk under a rock until 1 June. That’s not what it’s about, and no one should feel they have to do that.

  8. I love your post! I can relate to what you say!

    I didn’t originally fully understand MMM.
    Now that I do, for me it tends to end up meaning- which kid OR me is wearing something I made! LOL! Since I still have quite a few at home I focus on the 4 teens. Yesterday I chided my 14 year old son- “HEY! You aren’t wearing anything I made for you!” Earlier in the month my 17 year old had everything me made on! I upcycle a ton with hand me downs- so I consider those me made too! ;o)
    I do see me mades every day on someone in our house.

    Taking pictures- bleh! I signed up for Instagram this May. But soon realized I don’t have a cell phone or “other” device. Only a PC. Oh well.(I’m 61, I hate phones period! I’m busy!)

    Sometimes I just want to make something really exciting to wear. Right now I’m super motivated to create my new found style after an eternity of floundering.
    and then my teen son shows me all his pants are too short- and my mission is 8 new pair cargo pants. Motivation killer- but once completed- pure pride! He’s looking good! ;o)

    Oh well- MMM is what happens!

  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I’m a Me Made May observer, too, despite the fact that I’m sitting here wearing me-mades, which is something I do pretty much every day of the year. I do love to see what everyone’s wearing, but I don’t necessarily feel the need to join in. As you say, it often creates pressure where none should exist and that can take away some of the fun of it. These sorts of challenges are a fabulous way to bring the sewing community together but it’s important for people to hear that it’s OK to sit it out, too.

  10. I signed up for MMM for the first time this year but it does feel like I’m in the minority when I’ve opted not to post a pic of what I’m wearing everyday. For me it’s about figuring out what I wear most not showing the world the same outfits over and over again. I think it’s nice to have some remind people that it’s not all about the photos all the time.

  11. What a brilliant post, Ben. I’ve never participated in Me Made May, either – and I totally wear the same pair of jeans to work for several days in a row 🤣
    I completely understand all your reasons… and limiting social media is not a bad thing. I’m like you, my sewing ‘queue’ changes from one minute to the next depending on what fabric or pattern I’ve just been distracted by! 🤣
    There’s still MASSIVE gaps in my wardrobe, and even with as much stuff as I have actually made, I don’t think I could pull together 31 outfits where most of them are suitable for work 🤷🏻‍♀️ (Which clearly indicates I need to start sewing more ‘real life’ stuff 🤣)
    Really enjoyed reading your post 👍🏻

  12. So interesting to read your take on sewing motivation because it reflects my approach too! I do not like making basics, and prefer sewing stuff that excites me when the idea strikes, and I have no interest in wardrobe planning or capsule wardrobes… would rather just wear something that strikes my fancy that day. I know everyone has a different approach, but it is nice to hear someone else who has a similar one to mine!

  13. Great post. I’ve tried the capsule – it feels so limiting and while some enjoy that, like you i prefer to rise and ‘shine’!! I am participating in Me Made May for the first time and above all it has forced me to style my makes. I’m lazy and if the garment takes a bit of effort i’ll opt for jeans and a t shirt. I am really enjoying the fact it highlights that if i’m to wear a skirt (winter downunder), then i will indeed need to procure stockings!

  14. This speaks to me SO MUCH. I think there are so many interesting and no doubt fulfilling approaches to MMMay; nonetheless that doesn’t mean everyone is going to find the spirit of the challenge worthwhile personally. I agree that the instagram sewing world can skew really heavily towards “practical” sewing, at least in the interest in having full me-made wardrobes and focusing on versions of sustainability. For me that can feel really stiffling, as those largely aren’t the reasons I sew. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Great post on Me Made May, I’m taking part for first time this year and really enjoying it so far but can definitely relate to some of the points you make! Really enjoyed reading about your perspective on this ☺️

  16. I’ve had the same feeling for the middle of this May and haven’t posted pics as everything felt like a repeat. To be fair, I’ve just had a baby and can’t fit into most of my me-mades at the moment! But you don’t need to post pics to participate, so I’m still “doing” MMM… just in my own way.

  17. A great post, and good to hear something from your blog!

    I think a lot of people make a lot of different types of pledge for mmmay, last year my pledge was much the same as this years ‘non-pledge’… to not make unnecessarily, use stash fabric before buying new, pinpoint wardrobe gaps… but it’s not easy to interpret a lot of that on instagram, as such, I think it’s easy to feel like you’re doing it wrong!

    Pair that with what seems, constantly, to be the wrong environment for photo taking (too light, too dark, too busy, no time/ tripod/ photographer!) and I can totally see why one would opt out! … for me, I’ll take a pic when I can and I couldn’t care less when I can’t!

    I’ve been hard at it for long enough now that I’m lucky to have mostly me mades… I feel like I can slow down a bit now and focus on some precision for a change!

    I’ll look forward to seeing your next makes, keep on enjoying it 👍🙏👏

  18. I completely know what you mean about not sewing plain “basics” , for me it gets boring. I almost always use patterned fabrics for my makes, and try to make stand out items. If i want a basic top or trousers I’ll buy them. I use my sewing time for more fun items of clothing. Think MMM is fab though and admire people who’ve stopped buying rtw but its just not for me.

  19. Such a great post! I was the same last year, but this year I was inspired by the 10×10 Capsule challenge by Style Bee and so I decided to capsule my me-made-May with a mix of hand-made and RTW. I feel that a bit of restrictions actually fuels my creativity. I posted when I could and was absolutely fine with that. (I am re-evaluating my relationship with Instagram and it feels really good). But in the end, it’s whatever works for you and what makes you happy. And cheering from the sides is very much appreciated too!

  20. TBH, I don’t do daily photos, & I don’t really enjoy seeing daily photos from other people. It’s honestly really not that interesting to me! I never followed style blogs before I got into sewing, & I don’t really get much out of sewing blogs that are kind of just style blogs with self-sewn clothes.

    I set my own goals for the month…& mostly failed, but that’s okay. It taught me that I really need to make more pajamas, because they’re my favorite thing to wear & I don’t have a ton for warm weather. I’ve kept a tally of everything I’ve worn this month, to get a sense of what I’m reaching for, & I’ve worn the same cat print jersey pajamas ten times.

  21. I have all kinds of barriers to participation, too–though I almost feel like a voyeur, since I enjoy everyone else’s posts, but don’t participate. One problem is that I decided forty years ago that–between work, family obligations, and the fact that I also knit and quilt–I wouldn’t even TRY to make everything in my wardrobe. May is also usually travel month for me, so I spend a couple weeks of it in icky synthetic travel clothes that I can was in the hotel sink–and I certainly didn’t make those, and wouldn’t admit it if I did. And I am horrible at taking selfies.

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