Friday, April 26, 2019

An object lesson in the healing powers of obstinacy and a hostile disposition.

I had thought that my inclination for blogging had perhaps died completely as, after writing my most recent post in NOVEMBER LAST YEAR, I haven't felt in any way compelled to pick it back up. But evidently it hasn't completely left me, because here I am.

The thing that prompted me to log into my neglected blogger account is that it is now almost the end of April and next month is the 10th annual Me Made May, the 'wearing your handmade wardrobe' challenge hosted by Zoe of So Zo... Wearing my handmade wardrdobe isn't in itself a challenge for me, because I wear my handmade clothing most of the time anyway, so for the last few years, I have played along without making a formal pledge or really thinking about it much. I think Me Made May is awesome, though - I took part for the first time in 2012, when I hadn't been sewing for very long. I didn't have enough clothes to get me through the month, so I pledged to wear two handmade garments each week and to sew two more during the month. Without a doubt, Me Made May 2012 changed my relationship with my handmade wardrobe for the better and I've never looked back - if you follow me on instagram (and, you should; I am excellent) you can see that wearing my handmade clothes has become a big part of my life. It's brilliant.

I've been reflecting on that recently, because I've been in a bit of a funk when it comes to sewing. Honestly I am a bit fed up with - not the act of sewing itself, but a lot of things about the online sewing community that I used to delight in. As with so many other creative fields, the growth of the influencer industry has had an impact on sewing blogging and instagram and twitter - I know I am going to come across very much 'old man shouts at sky' here, but - fuck it - I am tired of being sold to ALL THE FUCKING TIME, and influencer culture and the instagram algorithm and end-stage capitalism have all worked together to mean that a lot of instagram sewing is now just being advertised to by the same people selling me the same old shit.

It's tiresome. I like to shop with small businesses and do my best not to feed into the giant tax-avoiding coporations but I am also heartily sick of commerce imitating community - businesses are not your friends, no matter how friendly the faces of those businesses might seem. I don't begrudge anyone making a living and using a free platform like instagram for advertising makes business sense, of course - but I really dislike this being spun as friendship and community. It isn't. That friendship and community is still to be found, of course, but it seems like you have to get past a lot of #sponcon and #ad and 'I was lucky enough to be selected to pattern test' to get to it and honestly I am disillusioned. I might catch some grief for this - there is a certain section of this 'community' that will dismiss as a meanie anyone who says anything remotely negative, but, fuck it. I'm tired of it and if you don't like that: the little x at the corner of the screen is a great remedy.


It isn't just sewing - as I have talked about here before, I have a very hard time coping with everything Brexit-related, in particular how it feels to be an Irish-identifying Northern Irish person living in an England that seems hell-bent on destrying any chance the North of Ireland has for peace and prosperity. That's a daily struggle that has affected my motivation to do literally anything apart from sit in my pyjamas and play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Mind you, I have been really getting a lot out of my time spent in Hyrule so that is something at least.

The trouble with being in a bit of a funk about sewing is that sewing is very good for my mental health, and not wanting to make time to do something that makes me feel good is... not great! So, I thought Me Made May 2019 would be a good time for me to address my bad sewing attitude. Here is my pledge:

I, Roisin Muldoon, sign up as a participant in Me-Made-May 2019. I endeavour to wear one handmade garment each day during May 2019. I will make time to sew during May and share my sewing in a way that brings me joy.

I will share my photos on my excellent instagram, as I usually do, but I might not take a photo every day - the start of May is pretty busy for me at work and our new offices don't have any good selfie locations (such a blogger problem) and for the second half of the month, I am going to be on holiday. Nic and I are going to be in Toronto for two weeks at the end of May and I am SUPER excited about this - it might seem like a random holiday destination but I have always wanted to go to Canada and Toronto seems cool. We will be staying in the Queen West area and are starting to plan the fun things we will do, including a trip to Niagara Falls because I MEAN OBVIOUSLY. So that will be super fun.

In between playing endless Zelda and shaking my fists at the sky, there has been some sewing over the last few months! I made two more Pippi/Madeline pinafore dresses, as well as a couple of straight Pippi pinafores and having the ability to wear them layered up got me through the winter, which was nice.
I made this Madeleine/Pippi pinafore from some indigo denim that I bought from...Ray Stitch, I think? I wore it all the time throughout the winter and I think it looks especially cute with these red Swedish Hasbeens ankle boots.

I bought this light denim from Fabricate Roberttown - for some reason this pinafore never photographs well but it looks much cuter on. You can't see it very well in this photo but my ankle boots are from Bertie and they have flowers embroidered on them.

I bought Simply Sewing magazine in February because the cover gift was the Cressida skirt pattern by Jennifer Lauren Handmade, and I made one of those with denim from Fabricate Roberttown. I love the skirt - it's such a cute pattern and one I definitely want to make again, and the denim I bought is such beautiful quality.

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Cressdia skirt, worn with top from H&M and Orla Kiely x Clarks Bibi shoes
This was a really enjoyable skirt to make and I love wearing it, so I am on the lookout for fabric to make another one at some point. I have been enjoying bringing denim into my wardrobe over the last six months or so - I've been enjoying wearing separates, even if it has become a sort of uniform of denim skirt + stripy Seasalt top! I still think it's unlikely that I will graduate to jeans or trousers but then I never really saw myself wearing skirts as often as I have, so really who can say?

I have also made a few more traditionally 'me' dresses - last autumn I found some Liberty Carline lawn in yellow on eBay and when we had those few freakishly warm days in February, I made a By Hand London Flora dress with a circle skirt - basically the same as my wedding dress, but in yellow:
Olenska dress - By Hand London Flora dress in yellow Liberty Carline lawn, worn with Swedish Hasbeens peep-toe sandals

On a freezing weekend in January when Nic was in Dublin at a conference, I listened to the entirety of the Uncover: Escaping NXIVM podcast and made this Butterick 6556 dress with beautiful Michael Miller fabric:

Arthur dress - Butterick 6556 in Michael Miller 'Sunset' fabric, worn with Swedish Hasbeens heart sandals and Cambridge Satchel Company 'Poppy' bag. This fabric was a gift from Fabric Yard - I emailed Alice to ask whether it was a border print or printed in panels (it's a border print, FYI) and she offered to send it to me as a gift to thank me for my custom over the years. I was really touched by that gesture and I love the fabric and the dress.

I bought some of that awesome ice-cream printed Art Gallery poplin from The Cornish Haberdashery a while back and made an Emery dress from it - very Dolly Clackett 101, but the perfect canvas for such a lovely print:

Ice-cream Assassin dress - Christine Haynes Emery dress in Art Gallery poplin, worn with Swedish Hasbeens 'Merci' sandals
I have plans to make a McCall's 6891 shirt dress this weekend in some Liberty 'Juniper' lawn: this dress is going to be an almost direct copy of a beautiful dress Sharon wore in the series finale of Catastrophe:

I have even bought green buttons, although mine are more of a lime green than apple green. My dress won't come with Sharon's amazing hair or proximity to Rob Delaney, but I am excited about making it and wearing it to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival at the beginning of May, where Nic and I will be part of the studio audience for the live broadcast of Jazz 625: For One Night Only. Nic is also part of the broadcast in that he did an interview a while back which will be included on the night - this work overlaps with his research and it will be very exciting to see him on TV as obviously my ambition for him professionally is to become the Mary Beard of Jazz.

Which I think is very reasonable, you know?

So that about sums up the craic with me in the last few months - I can't promise I'll return to blogging more frequently but I don't think that matters. It's just nice to have this space here for when I feel like chatting shit in more detail than either twitter or instagram allows. So, until a future date - see you then!