Every year there is a challenge/movement in the blogosphere called Me Made May where people try to wear clothing they have made themselves for the whole month of May. Though I have never participated, this year I realized during the period of me made madness, that I actually could if I wanted to, and with ease! You see, somehow, my current wardrobe is actually nearly all made by me! It didn't happen over night, and I hadn't really even noticed the totality of it until this last May!
I recently saw on the net someone saying how making your own clothes is almost a rebellious act in this day and age of fast fashion and consumerist culture. I certainly don't think I am any less materialistic because I make my clothes instead of buying them, in fact I have ended up buying quite a lot of material in doing so! Besides, I still have to buy nylons, sweaters (I cant' knit...yet!), bra's (because that is a sewing project I dare not attempt!) and other things. It just occurred to me long ago that I could save a lot of money by making my own reproduction vintage dresses instead of buying them! All that labor cost would go away by doing it myself!
Though DIY certainly isn't the cheapest option all of the time, I still think for many projects you actually do see a savings! Even when you can find a nice pencil skirt out there in the world, you are going to have to pay at least $20 dollars for it even if it may be on sale. At $12 for fabric and another $3 for the zipper, a $15 skirt made at home still saves me $5 bucks! Plus a me made skirt will fit perfectly, be just as long as I want it, and be just the kind of fabric I like! I do shop around for fabrics, save up Joanns coupons, and bargain hunt online for deals on yardage, and doing so means I can hang a new full skirted 50's style dress in my closet for under $30 bucks, when a repro would cost four or more times that price!
But back to being a rebel; it's not that I hate the fashion industry outright. I studied for four years to become a fashion designer! (and discovered museum work in my last semester, deciding the world of fashion may not be for me...*sigh*) However, there is no denying that the industry is crazy, mostly awful, damaging to both people and climate, and under all the glamour just plain broken. Everyone has heard the term sweatshop thrown around, and it is a serious concern that our clothing is mass produced by persons unknown who we just have to "trust" are being treated fairly. At least when I sew something for myself in the basement, I have full control over the labor that goes into my clothes (and the only one who has to suffer through installing zippers is me!)
Just because I know my wardrobe wasn't made by people stuck in horrible conditions, that doesn't let me off the hook. Where does fabric come from? Whether cotton has been sewn into a dress in China, or by my own hands in my basement sewing room, it is still cotton from somewhere. Cotton is, in general, quite terrible for the environment. It takes a TON of perfectly potable water to process and dye cotton. The amount of wasted resources and pollution related to fabric manufacturing is absolutely staggering and horrible. Sewing my own clothes doesn't absolve me from still being part of the problem.
I didn't start making my own clothes because I wanted to be more green, or more socially conscious. I started making my own clothing because I couldn't find pieces I liked in my price range, or even at all. Still, it is kind of nice to know that there are at least some parts of the fashion industry that I am contributing to less. I could go further, buying only organic/sustainable fabrics, but like socially conscious clothing, such fabrics are harder to come by, more expensive, and there are less options. One day perhaps it will be easier to acquire such products, but until then I don't see myself changing my fabric shopping habits.
I don't blame anyone for shopping without thinking about this stuff while on a budget, sometimes all you can afford is Forever 21! All I can afford is Forever 21, thats why I turned to sewing! I don't like the holier than though attitude that can sometimes come with hyper conscious consuming, sure you may be able to afford the extra costs/time to find sustainable choices, but not everyone is in that position you know? I agree it would make a big difference if everyone would take a bit more care with their purchasing power, but it is not my place to judge, especially because I ended up a fast fashion "rebel" by sheer accident.
What about you guys? Have you ever participated in Me Made May? Do you think about where your clothing comes from? Let me know in the comments!