This is me in the first shirt I ever made, back in around 2008 I reckon. It has a lot wrong with it - the dots don't match up, I cut the sleeves without placing them on the fold so they're half as wide as they should be (whoops!) and the collar is actually falling off. But I still wear it! It's one of the first pieces of clothing I retrieved to wear to work after I moved house on Monday.
I work at RNIB - the Royal National Institute of Blind People - a UK charity that supports people with sight loss with a huge range of services, from emotional support to campaigning for public environments that respect the needs of blind and partially sighted people. A large part of what we do involves communication, which can be challenging in this visual world when you can't see. We run a Talking Books library, a transcription service that will translate any printed material into audio or braille,and a host of services around supporting people to use accessible technology. I work on a project called Online Today, which helps people with sight loss use digital technology. All of these services mean that blind and partially sighted people are not excluded from everyday communication.
RNIB run a campaign every October called Wear Dots Raise Lots to highlight the impact of Braille and to raise money for their services. Braille is probably the most famous system of raised dots in the world. It was invented by Louis Braille in 1829 when he was just 20 years old.
Braille has shot into the 21st Century in style. Many of my colleagues use refreshable braille displays, which connect to smartphones via bluetooth and are used to both input and read text. Braille is an important communication tool as it gives users absolute accuracy over text they're writing and reading. Unlike audio, which can be open to interpretation, every single punctuation point and spelling error can be picked up using Braille.
For the 'Wear Dots Raise Lots' campaign, RNIB encourages people to hold dotty parties, or coordinate with colleagues and pick a 'wear dots' day for the office. When I heard about this my immediate thought was obviously "I'm going to sew myself a head-to-toe dotty outfit." Maybe a bit like this...
Then I thought, I bet my virtual sewing friends would feel very similarly to me - why just wear dots when you can take it to the next level and sew dots?
I'd like to challenge all sewists out there to make a dotty piece of clothing in October, share a picture of it on social media and donate a bit of money to support RNIB.
If 200 of us donated the price of 1 metre of your average polycotton, we could raise more than £500. If 200 of us donated the average price of a sewing pattern, we could raise more than £1000. I've made a JustGiving page to make donating easy. We sewists are a unique bunch. Determined, energetic, practical and forward thinking. Yes, we make our own garments with a needle and thread in the 3D world, but we have embraced the digital world too. We'll hold our dotty party online throughout October.
Pick your spotty fabric, get sewing, and share your creation on Twitter or Instagram before October 30th with the hashtag #sewdots.
Everyone using this hashtag will be entered automatically into a draw to win a brilliant prize including many different sewing goodies. I should really have finalised the details of this by now but I moved house on Monday and I haven't quite got organised. Rest assured, it will be a great prize and I'll announce it soon!
In the mean time, here is some dotty inspiration...
I think this Commes des Garcons polka dot cardigan could easily be made using the Driftless Cardigan pattern from Grainline Studios...
Polka dot dungarees are on my list of #sewdots potential makes. I love this dungaree type dress.
Polka dots are obviously not the only kind of dot out there. I fancy these oversized dots in Marimmekko's classic Kivet design.
Here they are in action.
Dolce & Gabbana brought an Andalucian flavour to their dots in their Spring 2015 collection. Swoon! I reckon this look could be created with a By Hand London Charlotte Skirt.
Chinti & Parker have explored the dot as hole, rather than solid shape, outlining their large dots as if they were windows (sky scraper comparison courtesy of Patternity) Does anyone else see a Linden Sweater? (Um - yes I am a total Grainline Studios fan girl!!)
I'll be posting more dotspiration from the fashion world as well as my dotty and spotty fabric finds from across the internet in the next few days.
I really appreciate your help on this sewists, and I look forward to seeing your dotty creations!