Thoughts on me-made and happiness

Personal style is a strange thing. Constantly evolving in some way or another, being influenced by everything and everyone around us, the changing seasons, changes in our lifestyle, new jobs, where we live.

And yet, it’s such an important thing on a personal level. It’s one of the ways we project to the world “this is who I am”. It reflects what we value, what we care about, what we like (or don’t like). It’s part of our public persona – the face we show to the world, and that people use to help them decide who we are, whether we’re like them or not, whether they want to get to know us better.

Debi dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Debi dress

It gets even stranger when you start thinking about the mass-produced, disposable “fashion” that’s prevalent everywhere today. Trends, passing rapidly through urban landscapes like freight trains, nowhere one week, visible everywhere the next, and then gone again a few weeks later. And when somethings not “on trend”? Yeah, pretty much impossible to find it anywhere. Add in the media pressure to be “on trend” and wearing what’s currently “in”, and you start to wonder – why are stores, designers, media, etc all trying to convince us that being clones of one another is not only a good thing, but something to aspire to? Have the same hair (GHD’ed to straightness, with ombre dye job, maybe?). Wear the same clothes. Do your make-up in a certain way. Same, same, sameness everywhere.

This is one of the key reasons I like to sew, and why I love reading about and seeing things that people have made. It gives us back a way to celebrate our own diversity, to show part of who we are as individuals – the shapes we like, the combinations, the colours, the prints. The things that call to our emotions and our senses.

Ladybirds La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Ladybird Ballet blouse

And because we are all different, those things are going to be different for each of us. And quite frankly, I think that’s freakin’ awesome! And seeing a parade of those differences, those individual likes and preferences and emotions and values represented in choices of style and fabric, print and colour? It makes me happy. It makes my heart sing and my mind click into creative mode.

Now, why have I been thinking about this? Back in May, I had a bit of a personal style crisis, which co-incided with Me-Made-May. I was at the stage of pregnancy where most of my normal (non-preggy) wardrobe didn’t fit, but I hadn’t yet made things that did, so I was dressing most days in hand-me-down maternity clothes from lovely friends. Which is all well and good (and quite frankly, a bit of a wardrobe life-saver!) but something was fundamentally missing from each day.

Mellow Yellow Papercut La Sylphide | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Mellow Yellow dress

My sense of personal style. My ability to choose things that I wanted to wear, that spoke to me and made me happy.

Instead, I was just wearing clothes. Functional, but not inspirational.

And it impacted on my mood. On my happiness.

Once I realised that, I kicked into overdrive, and rapidly stitched up several patterns that, while they may not be my normal non-pregnancy style in some cases, are things that I want to wear, made in fabrics and colours and patterns that call to me.

Cherry Ripe dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Cherry Ripe dress

I still don’t have enough me-made garments for this stage in my pregnancy to be able to wear them everyday, but it’s a start.

And those days when I do wear at least one me-made garment? Yep, turns out I’m just a bit happier those days, a bit more confident.

Strange how all that works, isn’t it?

Something that started out as a hobby (well, in my case, it started out as the only way to ever get tops with sleeves long enough!) has become that intrinsically linked to my sense of self. I think it was always that way – personal style, sense of self, ability to represent oneself through what we clothe and adorn ourselves with. But sewing has really made me realise how important that is.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on it all!

(In the meantime, guess I’d better go and sew some more, haha!)

Creepy Toys dress | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

Creepy Toys dress

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35 responses to “Thoughts on me-made and happiness

  1. Well said. I have had so many of the same thoughts! Not triggered by pregnancy for me, but perhaps triggered by some MAJOR life changes going on right now. Thanks for sharing.

    • That’s right, you’ve just moved to a completely different type of lifestyle, haven’t you? I can imagine that would have triggered a lot of changes indeed! Hope it’s all going well! 🙂

  2. This is a great post Kat, and pretty much sums up the thoughts that have been going around my own head right now, waiting to be formed into a blog post!

  3. It feels as if you’ve just articulated something I’ve felt for a very very long time but haven’t been able to explain! I hope you manage to transition your wardrobe for the next few months so that you’re you more of the time!

    • Thanks!

      It’s getting there, slowly. I just wish there were more maternity-friendly indie pattern options out there, or at least vaguely interesting maternity-friendly patterns! Vintage ones are so often shapeless…. Ah well, I’ll just make a bunch of bomber jackets and blazers instead, haha! 😉

  4. Lovely post, Kat ~ thank you! Without being able to verbalise it, I’ve been doing the same thing over the last year, figuring out what really makes me feel comfortable and creative, getting it made up… for a summer wardrobe. And not worrying if it’s 3 or 5 or 7 of the same pattern because – they’re all in different fabrics and totally different “looks.” Now planning things for Autumn/Winter, and am thrilled to have some NZ wools available in this country to help. Must report that the past month on The Monthly Stitch, with fashion from both seasons, has really given a boost to this process with lots of ideas, sources, etc. Cannot thank you enough for your part in that, and in the overall creativity that we are all part of, here in the blogging world of sewing.
    xx del

    • Thanks! 🙂

      I’m really glad you enjoyed Indie Pattern Month – we had so much fun organising and running it, and it was so awesome seeing everyone’s creations!

      I completely agree with you with not worrying about making the same pattern multiple times – it’s something I’m starting to do more and more, especially with basics like the Ensis tee, there’s so much you can do with fabric choice that they look unique anyway. 🙂

  5. I went through a similar thing when I lost a lot of weight due to illness, and too ill to sew new clothes. I resorted to op shops, which were awesome, but… I just didn’t feel like me in them. It was all a compromise, even though I usually looked nicely-dressed and well-turned out. I wasn’t dressed in what expressed my own self, and they weren’t the colours and style, and fit that were my first choices. I wasn’t able to just reach into the wardrobe and pull out something in a colour and style that would make me feel good for the day.
    My mum’s always encouraged me to wear clothes I feel good in, saying ‘It’s awful to not feel comfortable in what you’re wearing.’ She also taught me to sew, thus giving me the tools to be able to take that philosophy to a level I never could have while relying solely on clothes shops, new or op-shops.

    Time fixed my wardrobe issues. I eventually caught up with myself sewing-wise, and had enough clothes I felt like ‘me’ in. Made a huge difference.

    • Isn’t it amazing what a difference it makes, having a selection of things you feel like ‘you’ in?!? It does make me wonder a bit, what it might be doing to self-confidence for people who don’t have the ability to make/modify their own wardrobe to suit their personal taste…. Hmmmm…..

      Glad to hear you got your wardrobe sorted. It’s rather empowering being able to do that (even though it takes a while!) isn’t it?! 🙂

  6. complete agreement. i can’t add anything else!

    • That’s pretty much what I thought when I read your latest blog post, haha! Must be philosophy week around here or something…. 😉

  7. Style is so linked to who we are and yet we ignore it far too often. I hope you find an amazing way to blend your style and accommodate a growing belly and teach the little one how they can choose any style at all and that’s going to be awesome.

    • Thanks! 🙂

      I’m finding myself reaching for indie patterns a huge amount at the moment – styles that I can wear afterwards and still add a touch of ‘me’ to my current wardrobe (like jackets and cardigans and the like). Still quite different from my usual style (which tends to incorporate a lot of 1940’s and 1950’s style dresses) but still ‘me’. Just another style evolution I guess! 😉

  8. Oh what a lovely blog. I too like to show ( or hide) who I am with my clothes. I began sewing at 12 in home ec and have loved it ever since. It began to save money and now it is for joy. I adore fabric with a beautiful hand, the thrill of “this will be great on me” and when it is, just pure happiness. This is my year to try new styles and it is so much fun. Not always successful, but that’s ok. Karen

    • Isn’t it great being able to try and experiment with different styles? I love it! A constant journey of discovery of what’s ‘us’ in terms of our style. 🙂

  9. Great post, Kat! I was just talking today with my bestie about how sewing my own clothes has reignited my interest in clothing and has helped boost my happiness because I feel like I’m dressing like the “me” I believe I am. Four years ago, I was suffering badly from depression, and that definitely impacted on what I wore and how I saw myself. Thankfully those times are past and I’ve been sewing my clothes for the last year and a half, and I definitely feel much happier about how I look, how I present myself to the world.

    • Thanks Be a! 🙂 It really is amazing what impact what we wear has on how we’re feeling, isn’t it? It seems like it shouldn’t be that big an impact, but it really is….! I’m glad sewing has helped you, too. 🙂

  10. This just makes me smile. A small, but empowering thing. And creative on top of it. 🙂

  11. I couldn’t agree more! I used to love searching stores for things that felt like “me” but now I know that I can just make something more awesome that fits me 1000 times better. I still troll the shops for inspiration, and have plenty of rtw garments, but 9 times out of 10 I reach for the handmade because I just feel like me when I put it on. Maybe it’s all the blood, sweat, and tears in the stitches…

    • I used to do the same, spend heaps of time hunting for “me” garments! So nice to just be able to invent them ourselves now, isn’t it? 😉

  12. It doesn’t happen very often any more, but sometimes I find myself wearing a completely RTW outfit, and it feels odd. I only have a handful of garments that I haven’t made so at least they do somewhat represent my style, but I’m so used to wearing garments that started off in my hands as fabric. And I can’t say “Thanks, I made it!” when someone says they like my outfit!!

    • Oh, I know, right? Every so often I end up wearing fully RTW, and it’s just…. weird. Always feels a bit as though I made a mistake while getting dressed that morning, and overlooked something important… :-p

  13. I was thinking about “my style” the other day, specifically how I would describe it to someone else…ummm…I’m still not sure, can sewing be a style? How about my whole stash? Now I just need to find my sewjo and then it’ll become my style 😉

    I think you might like this, it’s short and kind of related, just sums up how I feel about that constant pressure to only see what’s “popular”: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/05/the-problem-with-hit-radio.html

  14. I love your thoughts and they ring true for me, i am still happy with ready to wear if it’s a piece I love but love the choice of patterns and fabric when I make my own. I have 2 preschoolers and struggle with the selection of kids clothes (especially boys) so love that I can make their clothes to reflect their personalities, interests and are not the same as everyone else’s.

    • Oh yes, isn’t kids clothing frustrating? So extremely gender-based and limited in choice. I have many plans to make things for my little guy now that he’s not growing out of things every couple of months!

  15. wow, can i ever relate! thanks for sharing. it’s always good to hear someone else echo thoughts that i’ve been having – it means i’m not crazy 🙂

    • By the sounds of these comments, it looks like a lot of us are thinking the same way. So no, you’re not crazy. 😉

  16. I think in the last couple of years I have finally found my own style that I am comfortable with. It is what i sew but also a smattering of RTW items – either tried and true favourites and some newbies that I couldn’t be bothered sewing. I remeber when i was pregnant facing simialr issues to yourself and then wore the same clothes over and over as they fitted, not cause i loved them and then i got rid of them as soon as i could fit other clothes and i had begun to despise them.

  17. Lovely post. And I feel ya. It’s what I was alluding to when I posted about sewing with a plan so that I’d have a wardrobe that makes my heart sing when I get dressed every day, not just occasionally. Of course, I haven’t done much sewing, planned or otherwise, but I still dream of that day when all my clothes make me smile.

  18. Beautiful post! I agree with you completely!

  19. Hi Kat, thanks so much for commenting on my blog. I read yours on feedly on my ipad so I’m rarely able to easily comment – so it seems that I stalk instead! I adore the amount of me-made you manage to work into your wardrobe. Such an inspiration. A good half of my clothes fall into the ‘have to’ wear these and the other are just so much more fun and feel so much more me!

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