Eat your heart out, Scarlett O'Hara! The above crappy photo shows an old 100% cotton IKEA duvet I’ve had forever. It’s been unused since we upgraded from a full-sized bed years ago. With spring in the air, I was feeling the need for a new dress. To the rescue? My unused Japanese “Stylish Dress Book”. Though the instructions were all in Japanese, the pattern for this dress seemed simple enough:
A few snips and some tearing and the duvet was into one giant piece of fabric. Like yards of fabric, all softened from so many washes back in the early 2000’s. (Headbands, kids shorts and dresses, and who knows what else will come along soon enough.) Some sloppy tracing on my part, a couple days of sewing, and voila!
Not the best picture, but I’m a lazy stylist! It’s a little big, I think I could have used a smaller-sized pattern, but not so bad for my very first dress for myself. Now if only that warm weather would return, I’d be able to wear my Stylish Duvet Dress. I might even tackle another dress from this book with the remains of my duvet.
Before I conceived the full scope of this project, I had the idea of not buying anything for one, two or three months. I gave up on that because it didn’t actually seem like a challenge. And now that I’m two months in, I’m glad I did. It wouldn’t have been a challenge. If I could go shopping for everything and anything tomorrow, I’m not sure I’d have learned much.
But looking down the long road of ten more months, I see the challenge only growing. Not just the challenge of making do, but of keeping my spirits up throughout the year. I’ve already talked about the difficulties of living in an urban environment, surrounded by ads and shops and stylish people. Now even the remnants of consumption irritate me. The streets of New York are always filled with trash: little paper receipts from the drug store, take-out coffee cups blown from trash cans. Stuff, and the inevitable waste that accompanies it, is all around!
I think I’m suffering a city schism. Me and the city? Not so good together right now. It’s a bit mixed up in my head, whether it’s the project that’s causing it or it’s the project that’s reminding me of ways I’d prefer to live. After all 2012, and the project, started while I was living in a quinzee in the Tetons. Talk about making do! Though after nine straight days in the same wool shirt, a second (clean!) one would have been nice. Being in the mountains with so little is a clear reminder of how little one really needs to survive. Not just survive though, to be very content.
If I fail to Make Do for the year, I don’t think it will be because I want to buy things and won’t be able to resist. No, it will be because I won’t like who the not-buying-me has become: irritable and judgy, misanthropic, one typewriter away from banging out a manifesto in my cabin in the woods. Can I happily remain in consumptive society without participating? I don’t know. (I do know participating fully didn’t bring me much happiness.) Perhaps this will be the journey of the next ten months.
All along I’ve said my kids are exempt from this project. But I realize now I’ve been resistant to buy anything for them too. The other day I panicked a little: I noticed my son Ollie seemed to be muffin-topping over his little briefs! Was he getting chubby? Closer investigation revealed simply that his underwear was getting really small. Yesterday my husband pointed out that Ollie’s long-sleeved shirt was really ¾ length, and his pants were a good two inches above his ankle.
And even Ollie brought a pair of jeans, whose patched knees had worn-through again, to me for repair. “Mommy, you need to fix these before I can wear them anymore. I left them by your sewing machine.”
Perhaps it was time for some new clothes. We went together, which turned out to be a great way to help me stay on target. Ollie didn’t want to meander through the Ladies’ Department even if I’d been tempted. We went straight to Kids and grabbed some new t-shirts and underwear and socks. His current shirts are size 3-4, so we got everything in size 6-7.
“These shirts will surely last me a long long time, Mommy!” he told me happily as we left. I hope so. I wonder if we can make it the rest of the year without going in another store for him? Maybe a little mini-challenge, just to make things interesting? Hmmmm…
In The Great Email Unsubscribe of January 2012, I overlooked GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow’s weekly lifestyle newsletter. It had been easy to ignore until today, when “GET - Ready for Spring” showed up. Sure I could have deleted it without reading, but I didn’t. And I safely skimmed it, knowing that “fashion investment pieces” are so rare for me that even if I weren’t making do this year, I wouldn’t be in danger of buying something. Except when I was asked to:
“Consider the jean…there are so many colors to choose from right now”
Believe me, Gwyn, I’ve been considering the jean these past few weeks. I have four pairs of pants in heavy rotation: two fine-wale black corduroys, two blue jeans. Both cords are about to wear through the seat – like must-wear-with-black-undies levels of wear. One pair of blue jeans split at the knee the other day.
I know I just need to do some mending, but lazy me is hoping to make it another month and then switch to spring clothes, like skirts and some warmer-weather pants in my summer clothes stash. Consider the mending! I tell myself. And consider the fact that those bright-colored jeans are mega-trendy, and in a few years I would never consider wearing them.