Summer’s here!

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And so the end of another school year is here- and I am so pleased! I’m very tired and the prospect of six weeks at home with D is a welcome one. I have so many plans! But then, me and plans don’t always go well together… I kind of get sidetracked. In theory, though, I’d like to do the following:

-FINALLY PROPERLY LEARN TO SEW. I know, I know, I’ve threatened to do this every year for, like, the last four years. But I need new pyjama bottoms and I’m armed with a TON of dressmaking books and Tilly’s book and I’m good to go. I’ve even pre-washed the fabric.

-Work on the garden. Yeah, like this one surprised you. But I’m going to start thinking about next year, drawing plans and researching stuff to go in there. I’m definitely going to paraphrase William Morris- there’ll be nothing in my garden next year that I don’t consider useful or beautiful. And I’ll be waging war on SLUGS. Gits.

-Take D on more days out. Last week, I took him on the bus without the buggy for the first time- we went to Waterstones and he was so well behaved and we had such a good time. I’d like to do more things like that, pottering in town, meeting friends and so on. He’s starting nursery in September, so I’d like to give him lots of experiences before then. Oh- and we’re starting potty training. Which I am so looking forward to.

-Sleep. Seriously, I’ve been carrying a cold and a huge mouth ulcer recently. Probably not helped by my raging addiction to RuPaul’s Drag Race, which means I stay up watching episodes til late. Napping shall be the name of the game over the next few weeks.

First though, if the car is working (it’s been sputtering and being difficult lately), we’re off to visit family in Wales and Yorkshire. Let’s hope it’s a great summer!

Why learning to make my own clothes is a feminist pursuit…

The other day, I was talking to somebody about my continuing (and often disappointing) quest to make my own clothes, whether through knitting or sewing. I was describing how I was making progress and asking my friend for her own advice when someone piped up. “But Steph, aren’t you a feminist? Why are you making your own clothes? It’s a bit… old fashioned housewife-y.” And, lo, a blogpost was born.

Image: Library of Congress

Image: Library of Congress

It was one of those moments where I wish I’d been quick and witty with an answer but alas, I wasn’t. However, the comment stayed with me for the rest of the day: was my attempt to make my own clothes a genuine feminist pursuit? There are undoubtedly some feminists who would say that I was a terrible feminist and that I’m subjugating myself to do traditional ‘women’s work’, that our predecessors managed to free us from.

But from my point of view, I believe making some of my clothes is a good thing:

  • It frees me from what society ‘thinks’ I should wear and a shape it ‘thinks’ I should be. I am therefore liberating myself from a narrow arena when it comes to buying clothes.
  • I know where my clothes have come from; I haven’t participated in the exploitation of workers in poorer parts of the world. In this vein, I am starting to seriously research where my raw materials- yarn and fabric- come from and how they are made. As well as being ethical, it’s also an environmental issue.
  • I am not forced to do this, I choose to do this. Previous generations of women had no choice but to make clothes for their families in a bid to save money. I’m lucky that I’m not in the position where I HAVE to make stuff, but I CHOOSE to make stuff. (This is clearly a “check-my-privilege” moment.) I understand that not everybody has this luxury.
  • In a funny way, I feel connected to my female ancestors: a lot of my family came from the wool mills and cotton factories of the north and these would have been prized skills. I feel like I’m learning what they did.

So, to the person who asked whether it was feminist to make my own clothes, I say yes- and that it’s fine if others think that it’s not. My feminist credentials are not affected by my ability with a knitting needle.

Life Update

Tomorrow it’s back to work- boo! Saying that, the last two weeks have been massively busy- and skint. So at least work will be a distraction from looking at craft blogs and wanting to buy ALL THE THINGS.

I have managed to make a couple of things on the sewing machine, although they’ve not been perfect by any stretch of the imagination. First off, this cute pair of shorts in gingham (which ended up being too small- I think my seam allowances are off):

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I did the 18 months size pattern, but they came out very small. I’ve donated this pair to a friend with a small baby- my enthusiastic sewing hasn’t stopped someone else’s child looking cool. I’m actually really proud of these, because they look good and I worked hard on them. I’ve decided to take all mistakes with a pinch of ‘well, it’s a learning curve.’ The next pair I made (to a 2 year old fitting pattern) DO fit, but are a bit snug for D around the waist. My learning curve? I bloody hate working with elastic. It’s drawstrings all the way from now on!

Speaking of D, WE HAVE A WALKER! Just shy of 18 months old and D decided it was time to walk. This means he’s beaten both of his parents’ records: Benn was 18 months old and I was 19 months old when we started to walk. He’s covered in bruises and has the balance of a Weeble, but he’s definitely enjoying hurtling around and giving his extended family a heart attack. My parents were down for a few days and bought him a pair of snazzy shoes- there’s just no stopping him now…

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I’ve started week 2 of Couch to 5K and haven’t yet succumbed to exercise-related death, which is a good thing. I’m yet to feel all the positive stuff that running’s supposed to bring though. At the moment, it’s kind of a mix of boredom with ‘how many times can I pass this person running in the opposite direction to me without having to give a very sheepish, very British grin?’ I definitely need to get some new running gear when I get paid though- my old Adidas hoodie gives me the type of sleeve that was fashionable with poor women in 1820.

But really, will I ever be as stylish as my ultimate idol?

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest