How do you measure a year?
In the last 12 months I’ve spent over 1,000 hours designing, draping, cutting, sewing, pressing and fitting garments to become my dream wardrobe.
I’ve used almost 200 metres of fabric, broken 12 needles and threaded up my sewing machines more times than I could possibly count in order to create over 60 garments.
My wardrobe is now made up of 16 pairs of knickers, 5 bras, 3 corsets, 11 tops, 6 jumpers, 2 jackets, 2 coats, 1 gilet, 4 skirts, 10 pairs of trousers, 3 pairs of leggings, 2 playsuits and 1 jumpsuit.
I drew the line at socks, gloves, scarves and hats, because they are mostly knitted not sewn, and I don’t knit. Oh and I’ve also kept my waterproofs and wetsuit, but other than that, every other item of clothing I had previously bought from shops has been given away.
I’m over the moon.
I can’t quite believe I was able to find the time and energy to make this many garments. I guess deep down I just knew how important this project was to me, because it was about so much more than just clothes. It was about reclaiming my body. If I hadn’t really needed to do that, I would never have been able to make this commitment.
Almost five years ago, in a very beautiful land a long way from home my body was taken from me. The house where I was living was broken into by a gang of robbers, who stripped me at gun point and sexually assaulted me. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. As I lay there face down, naked on the floor with the end of a gun pressed into my back, my mind completely disconnected from my physical form.
Last year I decided I needed to do something to help me process what had happened. I needed to face the fear I had of being forced to give up my body. So I set myself this challenge, to give away all of my clothes. It may sound crazy but it made sense to me that if I could reclaim my body being stripped bare, I would be able to redress myself with a new set of healing armour.
This creative mission has made me feel strong and alive. My mind and soul have reconnected with the way my body feels, moves and expresses itself. I’ve allowed my brain to bask in creativity, logic, skill and beauty which makes my head finally feel like it has had some justice for the confused pain it had to drown in, desperately trying to process the trauma of what happened.
Don’t get me wrong. This year hasn’t fixed everything, I still get shaken up by what happened but the difference is, it no longer holds the same power over me. In a funny sort of way I feel like I have restarted my life, as me. Rather than as someone trying to escape me, which is what I’ve been doing for the last half a decade. Wearing clothes I have made is the most honest way I have of being in the world and I imagine I’ll never go back to buying from shops. In that sense, this project is far from over. I still have a list as long as my arm of things I want to make, including a 3 piece suit, dungarees, a bikini and pyjamas to name a few. But for now I need to step back and take a deep breath.
I have always believed that creativity is a cosmic force which we channel as humans. It is infinite and all we need to do is commit ourselves to delivering it. This project was just about connecting with the cosmic in an effort to shine as much light into the darkness as possible.
Follow Lydia’s journey on instagram @mademywardrobe and www.mademywardrobe.com/