“We have a lot of creative people with unique fashion sense, so we thought it would be nice to build a handmade wardrobe community in this city,” says Alesha Frederickson, co -organizer for Me-Made March.
Alongside Melanie Wesley, Frederickson is presenting a challenge to dress and accessorize yourself with items that you have crafted, up-cycled, or have been handmade by an artisan. The pair partook in an online challenge by the same name last year.
“I think at its core, this challenge is about embracing your inner maker. Learning to look past the (sometimes) imperfect seams of a handmade garment and being proud to wear those garments which are uniquely yours,” says Wesley.
They decided to launch the challenge in a real way in Winnipeg, and give people the necessary tools to participate.
Workshops teaching how to make the aforementioned leggings and underwear as well as tank/sac dresses, scarves, cowls, collars, and other neck accessories will run every Saturday at Tara Davis Studio Boutique in the Exchange District.
“I think some of the workshops are going to be an eye-opening experience for people, and show them it really is possible to make your clothing. We all have to start somewhere,” says Frederickson.
Wesley says that the pattern for her sac dress workshop is only two pieces and is so simple that anyone can do it. Frederickson agrees and encourages new enthusiasts and the sew-curious to come out and give it a try.
The challenge seeks to combat “Fast Fashion,” the common consumption habits to buy cheap, poorly made, trendy clothing from retailers like Forever 21. Participant Jennifer Lee Smith, who is taking the tights and sac dress workshop, says that she loves getting dressed but struggles with finding ethical clothing.
“It is hard to find clothes that make me feel pretty and fashion forward and that are affordable. [I want to know they] come from a good place, that no one has suffered to make [them], and that [they won’t] end up in a landfill in a few months.”
Smith says the only way she feels she can control this is to make her own clothing, and it is a huge part of the reason she decided to participate.
Frederickson agrees, saying many people participate in “Fast Fashion” because the days of owning quality pieces are over. Making your own clothing can be an affordable antidote to the exploitative labour and environmental practices of mass-produced garments but can be quite time-consuming – Me-Made March has an answer to that.
Finding the time to create can be difficult, and Wesley suggests that a good alternate option is buying from other people making things from hand like Tony Chestnut, Andee Penner at Sew Dandee, and Lennard Taylor.
“Winnipeg is loaded with tons of talented designers and makers; it’s so important we support them,” says Wesley.
Aside from the ethical reasons to make your own clothes, simple delight and enjoyment is forefront.
“There is a certain kind of joy when you put something on that you made, and you get a compliment. It is different from someone telling you they like what you shopped for; it is a sense of pride in creating things with your own hands and mind and getting practical use from it,” says Frederickson.
Wesley, Pinchin, and Smith all say that the community formed around crafting is a huge motivator and benefit of making your own things.
“I believe that making offers many solutions for economic and social injustice – at home and globally. Making has unlimited potential; it’s at the very heart of all of us. It connects me to my family and friends and someone I’ve never met across the globe,” says Wesley.
If anyone is interested in signing up for workshops or learning more, they can visit the Facebook event page for Me-Made March. Workshops are $50 for one, or two for $85, and the schedule is posted online. There will be an open house on Friday, Mar. 1, where you can bring in things to up-cycle, learn to knit, sign up, or chat with the organizers.