If you take the time to think about what you're wearing each morning and where it came from, chances are that you might have considered sewing your own clothes or upcycling and repurposing older garments into something new. If either of these are the case, you might be interested in hearing about the Dressmaker of the Year competition, launched by Sew magazine and Make It Today Dressmaker.
The recently launched competition was founded to encourage crafters to share their love of sewing and making with other craft enthusiasts in the stitching community, by entering a photo of a handmade garment into one of four categories. The four categories include Customising, Vintage, Ready-to-Wear and Children's wear – so whatever you enjoy making, there's something for every taste.
With the rise of the Make do and Mend mantra in a time of economic uncertainty - along with an increased awareness of fast fashion and some of the more negative aspects of the manufacturing industry – more of us are looking for ways we can get more for our money, and more from our clothes. If you walk onto the high street of any town in the UK, chances are they will offer a number of charity shops – making second-hand clothing not only accessible to locals, but available in greater quantities than it was a decade ago.
The popularity of boot-sales and sites such as Freecycle, Gumtree, eBay and Facebook sales also indicate that a lot of us are willing to get use from a piece that for somebody else, has been outgrown or had its day - the fantastic thing about this is the recycling of fabric and clothing. An increase in social media activity and blogging has allowed for a greater sharing of ideas and expertise, meaning that if you have an old men's shirt or an oversized woolly jumper going spare, somebody out there has managed to transform it into a whole new garment that is completely unrecognisable – and is willing to show you how they did it!
This sharing of ideas and the popularity of shows such as The Great British Showing Bee, which has a customising challenge and proven to be hugely popular, has shown the great British public just how easy it is to make a piece their own. Winner of Sewing Bee series 3, Matt Chapple, is a well-known lover of anything customised and personalised – and you just have to look around you to see embroidery, patches and appliqué breathing life into denim jackets and tees! The Dressmaker of the Year competition encourages stitchers to use fabric and trims – new or old – to make something beautiful in its own right.
You might have transformed a blanket into a show-stopping poncho or transformed a plain T-shirt with a contrast pockets and trim. Perhaps you've taken a silk scarf and turned it into a bespoke top? Or, maybe you've even used your embroidery skills to add extra interest to an existing item, suddenly making it a statement piece – it's amazing what you can do with a needle and thread! Even if you are a keen recycler and customiser, you might want to enter your creation into any one of the four categories if it fits the bill – with Vintage (using a vintage pattern, or just an inspired design!), Ready-to-Wear (with an off-the-rack look) or Children's wear to choose from too.
To enter, all you have to do is submit a photo of your chosen garment against a plain background. The competition will be judged by Sewing Bee star Stuart Hillard, the ladies from online sewing community The Foldline, editor of Sew magazine Jennifer Ward, and editor of Make It Today Dressmaker, Sarah Crosland. There are lots of fantastic prizes up for grabs too, from sponsors such as Brother, Adjustoform, Fiskars, Simplicity, Spoonflower, Linton Tweed and lots more. For more details, pop over to www.makeittoday.co.uk/dressmakeroftheyear