I love a creative challenge, especially when it can be done in a group. That’s one reason we’re so invested in doing sewalongs. There’s something so motivating about taking on a project with other people.
I also really enjoy challenges that constrain me in some way. As any designer will tell you, constraints and paramenters are an excellent creative tool, because they force you to make different types of decisions and look at your resources and ideas in new ways.
For my challenge, I chose to wear at least one handmade item every day for the month. I photographed and posted them every day on Instagram.
It was much easier than I thought, and even more rewarding. The most difficult part was posing for 31 selfies, which I must admit made me feel like a narcissistic 15-year-old.
Here are the top five things I took away from this challenge.
1) Quick and simple projects are vital to a handmade wardrobe.
Over the course of 31 days, I found myself mostly wearing the simplest, fastest, and most comfortable garments I’ve made.
Perhaps that’s not surprising, but it was fascinating to notice just how often I reached for my Mabels, Monetas, Zinnias, or other really easy to make and easy to wear garments, like the slip dress/camisole I recently drafted for myself.
Part of this is likely due to the fact that the weather was quite warm, which makes dressing quite a bit less complicated. But still. I wore my various Mabels seven times!
This has led me to recommit to making more quick and fun projects in between the more complicated ones. More knits, more simple clothing, more bags and accessories, more fun.
Goal: I plan to make more quick, simple, wearable projects.
2) I love neutrals. Like, a lot.
I already knew that I loved neutral colors, but looking back over the photos from the month, I really feel most like myself in classic neutrals like black, navy, white, cream, and camel.
Throw in the occasional dash of color, sure, but I really can’t think of anything lovelier than a white dress with bright red lipstick.
Goal: More neutrals! I want to make at least one Little White Dress and one Little Black Dress this summer.
3) Body attitudes change.
You get so used to believing that your body is a certain way that seeing yourself through the eyes of others and through photos for an entire month can be quite a jolt.
I’ve gone through drastic body changes in the past, and it took quite a long time to come to terms with what I looked like. In the last year, I’ve had a few more subtle body changes. Nothing drastic or all that noticeable, but it’s interesting to realize that they really are there when I look at photos.
Not only do bodies change, but what I consider to be flattering on my body changes. Right now, I love shorts, short skirts, drapey things that show off my shoulders, and body suits with full skirts. Many of these are things I hated wearing in the past.
So this exercise opened me up to the fact that bodies change, and that I shouldn’t get too set in my attitudes about what I can or can’t “pull off.”
Goal: Make at least one more full skirt and body suit this summer. Maybe a Nettie?
4) I don’t need much to love my wardrobe.
I really dont feel like I want a lot of clothing.
I found that a few simple pieces could be mixed and matched so easily that I easily came up with outfits for the month (with only 1 repeat, I believe).
I’d like to replace some pieces I have and don’t wear for various reasons (such as things that don’t fit or are worn out), but I am very comfortable with the amount of clothing I have.
Goal: Replace things instead of increasing my wardrobe size by getting rid of something whenever I make something new.
5) Casual comfort wins the day.
I like to think about things in terms of cost-per-wear. The cost includes not just the cost of materials, but the amount of time it takes me to make something.
The best values here were definitely the versatile, casual, and comfortable pieces. It’s nice to look pretty and put together even when I’m completely dressed for comfort (secret pajamas).
In contrast, there were beautiful things I’ve made that I didn’t even have a chance to wear once, because they are just too dressy. They were fun to make and they’re really fun to wear when I get the chance, but mostly they just sit in my closet.
Goal: Focus on cost-per-wear, and let fancy party or date dresses be an occasional indulgence.
Over all, I feel inspired and ready to do more sewing! I want to make some amazing basics in beautiful fabrics and pretty neutrals.
My only hope is that there’s a Self-Stitched September this year!