Australian writer of books for younger readers, young adults, verse novels and poetry.

Me Made May

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Over May, sewists all over the world, (often) post their makes on Insta, vlogs, blogs and other social media platforms and (usually) pledge something about their making practice, even if that is simply to wear one handmade or refashioned item a day. It was a challenge started by a sewist in 2010 – you can read about it here. I very rarely go a day without wearing something handmade – even if it is only a pair of hand-knitted socks. I don’t know how I went from being a sometime-sewer to someone whose wardrobe is nearly all handmade.

My years are now marked by favourite patterns – the summer of 2018/2019 was the Helen’s Closet York pinafore and in February we got Winter, our rescue dog. The summer of 2020 was all about the Cielo top by Closet Core Patterns. My daughter and I managed a week’s sewing retreat at Phillip Island just as COVID19 was hitting the news. Only six or so weeks later we were in Melbourne’s first lockdown. During the months spent in relative isolation I made Cleo pinafores by Tilly and the Buttons, Flint trousers by Megan Nielsen and Hinterland dresses by Sew Liberated.  I also made the Wrap Jacket by Assembly Line. 2021 was the year of the Erin skirt by Sew Over It.

When my daughter left for Glasgow last August, I thought my sewing activity would slow down. It was something we had done together in the ‘studio’ room of the bungalow in the new house. The day she left, I went down there and, between bouts of sobbing, re-arranged the space to reflect solo ownership of the room – and moved my office into what had been her bedroom. But if  you have accumulated a fabric stash – and I have – what are you to do but use it? The summer of 2022 everything was gathered and I made a Mysiotis by Deer and Doe and numerous Orchards dresses by Vivian Shao Chen, using the sleeves from the Myosotis, and the Estella skirt by Papercut Patterns.

I think this may turn out to be the winter of the Pietra trousers by Closet Core Patterns. I finished sewing them last week and they feature in my first #memademay insta post @cattytakesphotos.  They are super comfortable and, once I figured out the pocket instruction – quite an easy make.

Pietra Pants, Nora Top and Winter, the pup.

The memademay challenge is not about making more clothes, competing or even posting photos. It’s about wearing your handmade clothes, honouring them, or, potentially, finding new ways of wearing them. However my pledge deals with wearing my handmades in a slanted kind of way.

So, my #memademay pledge is to:

1. tidy up all my patterns. I acquired a small filing cabinet which I managed to fit into the studio and I’ve made a start on filing my most-used patterns under the pattern designer name. But I also have bits of patterns scattered around in a complete mess. This will ensure that I don’t actually replicate any kind of pattern I already own.

2. get my making journal up-to-date. I started keeping a record of all my me-mades and the intention is to add notes about adjustments etc. and paste in photos. It’s a great intention, but it would be more useful if it became reality! This will also, I’m sure, show me different ways to style my hand-mades. I’ve already dug out this Nora top which I haven’t worn a lot, despite loving the fabric. The height of the front worried me when I wore it with most of my clothes, but it’s perfect for the high-waisted Pietra trousers.

3. finish the small pile of wips. (This isn’t really in the memademay challenge scope, but I want to do it!)

I have a woollen pair of  Pietras and an LB pullover on my bench and when they are completed, I want to turn my focus to shirts and nothing but shirts until I have found my ideal shirt pattern/s. Then I’m going to make the Heather blazer….

Which could be the big project I take to Bendigo when my friend and I go up to the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show in July. Or, if I have sorted the shirts out May and June and complete the Heather blazer before late July, I might embark on a proper coat!

In reading news, I’m deep in the comfort of rereading E F Benson’s Lucia and Mapp series. Lucia is the splendidly odious queen bee of Riseholme. I’ve returned to Lucia because life feels a little heavy at the moment. The activities of Riseholme are delightfully frivolous in contrast.


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