Ever walk into your closet to get dressed in the morning and proudly gaze at all of your beautiful me-made garments only to reach for the same tried-and-true outfit you’ve worn twice in the past ten days? You are not alone! Though mindfulness and living with intention are admirable and worthy goals, we live in a world where the culture seems to be shouting at us that “more is more”. These conflicting messages don’t need to stand in the way of curating a more intentional wardrobe full of me-made garments that make you feel both comfortable and confident at the same time!
A good first step is to ask yourself why you are looking to create a more intentional me-made wardrobe? Is it for budgetary reasons? To declutter your closet? To feel less overwhelmed when you get dressed each morning? Or to make sure you actually wear your me-mades? There are no wrong answers, but it is helpful to know your personal motivation in order to stay focused on that goal. As you set out on this journey to creating a more intentional me-made wardrobe here are a few of our favorite tips!
1. Honesty is the Best Policy.
Be truthful with yourself about what you actually wear on a daily basis and how your current wardrobe fits your lifestyle. Do you have an unofficial “uniform” like button-up shirts and structured woven pants or flowy maxi dresses layered with cardigans? If so, consider that when looking at the contents of your closet and how you would like to simplify it or what you plan to add to it.
It’s wonderful to step outside the makes that are constantly in rotation, but it might be unrealistic for 50% of your wardrobe to be garments you will only wear 10% of the time. If you are on the fence about whether or not to keep/make a particular garment, consider when and where you might actually wear it and how often.
2. Find the Common Thread(s).
When you realize which garments in your existing me-made wardrobe you reach for again and again, ask yourself what it is about them that constantly draws you back. Is it the color? The fit? The fabric?
Color is obviously among the easiest of these to replicate—watch for other fabrics in a similar shade or color family to incorporating into your wardrobe in other ways. If the cut of a particular dress/top is especially perfect for you, make a note to see what else that pattern designer may have that would also fit you well or other patterns in the same silhouette that may become new favorites when you are planning your next make.
Sew Smart! If you are consistently gravitating towards garments in a certain fabric type or fiber content, see what other colors or print might be available in the same or a similar fabric. Don't be afraid to ask for suggestions!
3. Build Around What You Already Have.
While going through your current wardrobe, think about which pieces compliment each other and what can easily be mixed and matched. Are you missing anything? Is there a garment you never wear because it doesn't go with anything? Or, is there a garment you can add that can make others more wearable?
When you are thinking about adding something new, ask yourself how many existing items in your wardrobe you will be able to pair with the new garment you are considering.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Branch Out.
This does not mean that if your unofficial uniform consists of button-up shirts you should vow not to make any more and switch over to hoodies! That being said, if you notice that you already have four button-up shirts in various pink ditzy floral poplins in your wardrobe, perhaps you should consider adding a bit of variety with a solid pink or a ditzy floral in another color for your next make.
5. Hack Away!
Consider deconstructing a garment that’s rarely worn or no longer fits by transforming it into something that WILL get more use. Repurpose and recuse!
On the other end of the same spectrum, take a look at ways a beloved pattern could be hacked into other garments that would likely be worn as often! That perfect short-sleeved knee-length woven dress can probably have long sleeves and length added to make it a winter-worthy flannel frock, or chopped at the waist to become a well-worn blouse!
Sew Smart! While it’s always exciting to give an old me-made new life, if you find yourself continuously vowing you’ll mend/alter/hem/hack that garment gathering dust on a shelf, and never seem to get around to it, perhaps it’s time to consider letting it go and allowing it to become someone else’s treasure.
6. Quality all the Way.
Whenever possible, purchase quality fabrics, quality thread, quality notions, quality buttons and quality tools to construct your garments. Though budgetary concerns are obviously necessary to consider, do what you can when you can.
If you can make three blouses in premium quality fabrics for the same price as five constructed from inferior substrates, always choose quality over quantity. You will find that your dollar will take you much further despite the smaller number of garments in this case. Your clothes will last longer and look better down the line.
7. Fast Fashion Falls Apart (at the seams).
Creating a me-made wardrobe with intention takes time. Though it may be tempting to churn out make after make, there is an old saying that truly resonates here, “You can have it fast, cheap, or good. Pick two.” When you grant yourself the luxury of taking your time and your garments are made with thought and care, you will find that you make fewer errors and end up with clothes that are particularly well-crafted.
In order to guarantee that you are constructing makes with the longest life possible, do yourself a favor and don’t cut corners or skip steps, be sure to finish seams in the most durable way possible, and always care for your garments as recommended.
8. Set Some Boundaries.
This will look quite different for each sewist, but may include things such as cleaning out your closet quarterly, setting a budget for the amount of fabric or new patterns you purchase for a period of time, aiming for the “one in, one out” school of thought, committing to completing a “UFO” in your queue before sewing something new, or keeping a constantly updated inventory of the fabrics, patterns, and garments you have on-hand to avoid duplicates. Most likely it will be a combination of a few of these that will work with your goals and lifestyle.
9. Sew for You, Not for “Them”.
Sharing on the ‘gram is fun and a wonderful way to feel like a part of the sewing community, but doesn’t naturally align with building a wardrobe with intention if you are just churning out piece after piece in order to have something new to share on your grid. Don’t feel obligated to participate in every challenge, be the first to sew up each new pattern released, or contribute the most challenging “Make 9” list. You are risking both burnout and a cluttered closet!
Instead, find other ways you can be a part of the online sewing community by connecting with others, asking questions, and applauding the accomplishments of your fellow sewists. You could also share about your own me-made wardrobe journey, and inspire others to join in and do the same!
10. 100% Me-Made?
Do not feel guilty if your wardrobe is not 100% me-made! Or if that isn't even your goal! We all have garments that don't bring us joy to create. For some of us that is bras and underwear, others jeans or coats, or maybe swimwear, and that is OKAY!
Or maybe you just don't have time right now? And that is OKAY too! Buy what you need, and maybe your goal will be to sew your own later when you need them again. Use the same ideas and principles for your me-mades that you would store bought garments. Do I need this? How often will I wear it? Is it made to last? etc.
Once you have refined your inventory of me-made pieces, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that some of those garments you skipped over or cast aside in the past will find new life when paired with other garments you hadn’t previously thought to style together. Sometimes paring down can mean pairing up!
We SEW Want To Know! What does “an intentional me-made wardrobe” mean to you?