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Re-Introducing My Reflective Bike Fashion

In the five years since I started my blog, I have become obsessed with reflective fashion – not just making it but buying it when I can. Naturally I prefer to make my own but I love seeing what other designers are making (Current fave Chance of Rain). Because my reflective sewing projects are intended to be fashionable in the office AND make me more visible on my bike, I’ve refined what and how – just throwing reflective spots here and there aren’t necessarily the best. So I thought I’d share some of my lessons learned.

Where to Be Reflective

One of the most important things I’ve learned is where reflective trim should go to be most visible to drivers. Shoulders, wrists, elbows, ankles, lower back, side seams of pants and skirts – all the best places. Collars and anything on the front, while there’s nothing wrong with that, tend to be less visible. I’ve made tons of lovely things that are covered up by long coats and scarves in the winter, so I really need to work on making outerwear!

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Patterns

I buy patterns from anywhere; I haven’t yet gotten around to drafting any of my own. I love the big companies, Simplicity, McCalls, Vogue, Butterick, New Look, and wait until they go on sale then buy in bulk. I have also bought patterns from some of the independent companies, and downloaded a few as well, but I don’t use too much of them. The designs tend to be a bit too vintage and sweet for me (I don’t do peter pan collars, for example), and honestly, downloading, printing, taping together and the trying to figure out which size lines to follow, well, it’s more work that I really care to do. I’m thrilled that these companies exist, and love the Colette sewing planner, but I personally want to sew things a bit more on trend.

When I choose patterns, I look for seam details that will easily allow for adding reflective details: back yokes, cuffs, side seams and extra seams, any sort of sleeve interest… Check out this McCalls pattern as an example:

McCalls 7357 - plenty of seams in the sleeves and a back yoke that could be reflective fabric. Or where piping or bias could sneak in.

McCalls 7357 – plenty of seams in the sleeves and a back yoke that could be reflective fabric. Or where piping or bias could sneak in.

Personally, I always struggle with finding patterns that are “corporate” enough for work; most of my sewing projects so far are a bit more “business casual” or “Friday casual.” I have done some things that don’t have any reflective trim at all, like the Simplicity 8166 blouse I finally started.

Reflective Fabric

This is the biggest challenge – where to source reflective fabric? It’s hard to find and usually expensive when I do find it. Mood Fabrics currently has some lovely reflective fabrics (check out the sequined fabric! I can’t tell if it’s “my” reflective or just reflective because of the sequins, but I may need to find out…), and Rockywoods is still selling the water repellent reflective camo nylon fabric I bought last year. I had purchased some silver reflective fabric from Britex Fabrics, in San Francisco, but they don’t carry it anymore, and Dritz Notions stopped making their reflective piping a while ago but Seattle Fabrics sells it. Wherever I find it, I buy it. However…. some of this fabric, as lovely and reflective as it is, has a few drawbacks – it’s heavy, it’s hard to sew, it doesn’t press, and most importantly, it doesn’t breathe! This is a problem for biking in the summer! So I place it with care, knowing that I’ll sweat like mad under wherever the fabric is, yokes, collars, etc. Natural fibers reflective fabric is no! Admittedly, lately I’ve made a few things that don’t easily suggest reflective pieces, so I’ve simply added a tab of reflective grosgrain ribbon – not terribly useful in terms of safety, but, well, I feel obligated…

Bikeability

The other challenge in sewing bike fashion is how bikeable garments are. Pencil skirts are a challenge, and the main reason why I wanted a step-through bike. I don’t mind hicking my skirt up further than is acceptable because I wear Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts or Bikie Girl Bloomers under skirts and dresses, but not being able to throw my leg over the top tube of my commuter bike is the challenge! Full skirts and circle skirts, on the other end of the spectrum, tend to be too much fabric for me, but half-circles, A-lines and similar skirt and dress styles are perfect. I also gravitate towards tops with longer backs; thankfully high-low tops and tunics are stylish these days! Jackets, blouses and other tops need to allow for extended arms, and I always lengthen sleeves anyway, so long sleeves don’t end up halfway up my elbows.

All Together Now

So as you might guess, there are many calculations that go into my reflective bike fashion sewing! Can I bike in the garment? Does the pattern offer easy places to add something reflective? What goes with my limited stash of reflective fabrics and notions? Will the fabric be weather-appropriate? Given all these things, it’s a wonder I get as much sewing done as I do!

As you set about on your reflective sewing projects, I hope that these tips and ideas help. And if you find any new sources for reflective fabric, please be sure to share! Happy sewing!

 

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Introducing Bletchley!

Re-Introducing All (Four!) of My Bikes

As part of my five year anniversary month, I am going to re-introduce you to the key parts of my life – bicycles, sewing and travel. Today’s blog post will focus on the bicycles, since that’s really what got this all started.

Six years ago, I moved into my first Arlington, VA, apartment, and finally had space to keep a bicycle (in my living room), and found myself a block away from the Custis Trail, a multi-use trail that connects the eastern and western ends of Arlington. With a low budget bike, a birthday gift from my parents, I gradually explored my new neighborhood, and was amazed to discover how much easier it was to go further, faster. For years I’d been walking to a subway station or Metro station – gosh, a bike cut that walking time in half! I biked to the closest Metro station to catch my bus to Tyson’s Corner, where I was working at the time, but soon, that mile wasn’t far enough, so I biked to the next station after that, which meant not only did I get more miles in, I didn’t have to switch buses. Freedom! Adventure! Discovery! Happiness!

April 2011 - my first new bicycle!

April 2011 – Lacey, my first new bicycle!

Later that year, I met The Mechanic. We bonded over bicycles; his first (bike) love is mountain biking. Our second date was a bike maintenance date – he brought tools and showed me how to change tires and adjust brakes and so on. Long story short, we are now married with eight bicycles between us!

Over the years, I’ve experienced all kinds of biking – I did the Seagull Century on my road bike; we went bike camping along the C&O Canal; The Mechanic introduced me to mountain biking; we got folding bikes; we have done a few half centuries and other biking events; and we did a bike tour through Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

I have biked in snow, rain and sweltering heat, for my bike commute to work and on vacations and out of necessity. I don’t like to bike when it’s icy and when it’s snowed (mostly because the bike lanes are never cleared and I don’t trust drivers), when the temperatures are below 20*F, and although I don’t love to bike in the rain, my Cleverhood makes it manageable. I wouldn’t call myself a fair weather cyclist, because I do bike in all kinds of weather, but I definitely prefer the nicer days!

I recently acquired my fourth bike, so it seems like a good time to re-introduce you to my fleet.

Fauntleroy

Fauntleroy, or Little Lord Fauntleroy, to use his full name, is my current and beloved commuter bike. The Mechanic created him out of a bike he had built for himself and since the addition of my fabulous Danish bike basket and Swedish skirt guards, imported from our trip to Copenhagen in December 2012, I haven’t wanted to change a thing about it. So much so that although Fauntleroy desperately needs a new paint job, I can’t decide what color, so the paint gets more and more beat up. Guess I should go with the same color, haha! It’s a heavy bike, but has a super wide range of gears so I can easily climb the big hill coming home from work, and pick up some speed on the trails when I have a long stretch of no lights, stop signs or others on the trail. Seriously, I love everything about this bike.

January 2013, when we added the European accessories - hasn't changed since!

January 2013, when we added the European accessories – hasn’t changed since!

Sopwith

Sopwith is my mountain bike. The Mechanic built it up and I picked a vaguely Sopwith Camel color scheme; at the time, The Mechanic’s mountain bike was red, so he renamed it The Red Baron. The Mechanic added a nice touch for the head badge, and I started adding stars every time I go mountain biking. As you might guess, we haven’t done much of it. sopwith-1

Amsel

In the spring of 2016, almost a year ago, The Mechanic and I sold our road bikes and purchased folding bikes instead. We lost interest in road biking (although it was fun at the time!) and wanted bikes that we could travel with. As it turns out, our Tern and our Dahon are not as travel-friendly as Bromptons – bigger, heavier, less maneuverable…. But still brilliant for taking on the Metro and easier to toss in a rental car for day or weekend trips. I named mine Amsel, German for black bird, and The Mechanic named his Schwartzvogel, also German for black bird.  They take up little space, which means we are unlikely to get rid of them soon, even if we don’t use them as much.amsel

And Introducing Bletchley!

As much as I love Fauntleroy, his only drawback is the top tube – not as convenient for skirts and dresses. I have been on the fence about getting a step-through bike, but the vintage Raleigh bikes really catch my attention. Alas, they tend to be pretty small for my 5’10” frame, so finding one I could potentially fit has been a challenge (honestly, finding a modern made step-through bike big enough for me was a challenge as well). But recently The Mechanic found one on Craigslist, so a quick test ride and a few hundred dollars later, I had a “new” Raleigh! Internet research and Sheldon Brown’s resources determined that this new bike is a 1973 model of the Raleigh Sport. It’s in pretty good space, most likely owned by only one person in the last 44 years.

Introducing Bletchley!

Introducing Bletchley!

I absolutely love the details on these old Raleighs – the fork crown detail, the front fender, the logo and “R” on everything and the straight angled top tube design (as opposed to those with curved designs).

I decided to name the bicycle Bletchley, after Bletchley Park. Recently, I read a book about the thousands of women who worked at Bletchey during WWII and made invaluable contributions to winning the war. They rode bicycles probably quite similar, while working intense, secretive jobs and living in rented rooms and shoddily built dorms. This simple, classic, dignified bike will be my personal homage to those women who made a difference, and to all women who have and continue to do so. riding-bletchleyThe bike needs some updating and modifying – internally geared up, taller handle bar stem, new brakes, plus of course new accessories, so although I’ve ridden it a bit, it will be a while before it’s ready to be my commute bike. Initially I thought I’d replace Fauntleroy with a new step-through bike, but I find myself still unable to dismantle my perfect bike. So we’ll see what ends up happening to my fleet!

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Over the last six years, I’ve learned what I like and don’t like about bicycles, explored types of riding, and befriended the bicycle community. During that time, I’ve developed my own style and discovered my personal preference for slow, casual, explorative biking, with a bit of vintage style and whimsy thrown in. My bikes have to have personalities, with accessories to match, because as with many things in my life, a certain style is key, so how my bikes look is just as important as how it rides. I know it’s not that way for most people, but I’ve never been like most people – I definitely have my own style. And a preference for British names for my bikes, apparently! When I first asked for a bike for my birthday, I had no idea where the road would take me, and look at me now: owner of four bicycles and a closet full of #memade reflective bicycle-appropriate clothing. Never saw that coming.

So here is to the first six years of my bike style, my currently fleet of bikes, and here’s to whatever the future of my bike life brings!

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Looking backwards while looking forwards!

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smithsonian-penny-farthing

Blog-iversary and Re-Introduction

February marks my five year anniversary of this blog, yay! It’s pretty amazing how my life has changed in five years – I had just started my current job, met my now-husband, and was just getting into biking and sewing. And because so much has changed, I thought it would be nice and possibly useful to do a re-introduction of who I am and what I do.  Here’s a quick summary:

  • My name is Elizabeth but I really dislike being called Liz or Lizzie. The blog name is inspired by the “Tin Lizzie”Ford Model T cars; I love vintage cars. I grew up in Sacramento, CA, started off wanting to be a costume designer, ended up touring with Disney on Ice for three years, then moved to New York City to work as a dresser or Broadway. After doing that for a while, I went to grad school and finished a Masters degree in Modern European History. I ended up in the D.C. Area after a stint working as an editor for a human rights nonprofit before finally stumbling into my current job. I promote transit benefits and sustainable transportation in Arlington County (VA). So I’ve been all over the place, figuratively and literally! 

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  • I married The Mechanic in June 2014. We met in September 2011, when I was fairly new to biking. Our second date was a bike mechanics class – he taught me how to change a tire, remove the chain, and so on. It was a marathon date that lasted all day! We couldn’t stop talking. Because of his love of taking things apart and fixing them, and his vast range of bicycle (and motorcycle and car) knowledge, he stays anonymous on the blog and other social media outlets as “The Mechanic.” He’s a civil engineer by training, and although his professional focus is water resources management, he’s personally interested in transportation and urban design and how cities can make it easier for it’s residents to walk and bike as much as possible.
We biked to our civil ceremony in Arlington, VA

We biked to our civil ceremony in Arlington, VA

  • I haven’t owned a car since I moved to New York in 1999. (Technically I’ve never *owned* a car, having driven one of my parents’ cars up until then.) I have gotten around quite easily on public transportation, on foot, by bike and by a wide range of rental vehicles. Moving to Arlington, VA, showed me how easy it was to get around by bike, and I drank the Kool-Aid, as it were, and now try to encourage others to try it as well. (Seriously, this is part of my job.) Between The Mechanic and I, we now own EIGHT bicycles – we each have a folding bike, a mountain bike and two commuter bikes. Thank goodness we recently moved into an apartment that has a bike storage room that allows us to keep them safe, protected and out of the elements.
The Mechanic's blue Workscycles bike with my new vintage Raleigh

The Mechanic’s blue Workcycles bike with my new vintage Raleigh

  • Biking revived my interest in sewing. I don’t want to ride my bike to work and then change clothes, so I started exploring ways to sew clothing that I could wear in the office, but were also bike-friendly. Basically this means “are also reflective” because just about everything I make myself has reflective fabric or trim somewhere on it.
  • I love to travel. The Mechanic and I love to travel. Sometimes we travel domestically (just got back from Disney World!) but we really love to travel internationally. We are planning on another European bike tour later this year, huzzah!

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  • We recently adopted Gaston, an extremely fuzzy 3lb lionhead rabbit, from the local shelter. Poor baby, in his almost three years of life, he had been in the shelter twice. I told him that although we couldn’t guarantee his forever home, we’d be his forever parents, wherever that takes us. He’s a naughty, smart, cautious boy with chronic runny eyes, and I couldn’t love him more. Isn’t it amazing how wonderful it is to have a pet? gaston

So that’s a summary of me and my loves. I plan to expand on these over the rest of the month, to bring you up to speed on my bikes (new bike this weekend!!!), my sewing and our travel. You can follow Gaston’s antics on my Instagram or Twitter feeds, as I tend to share photos of him there.  Instagram is where I post mostly sewing pics while Twitter is bike and work related, so pick yer poison.

I look forward to sharing more in the future, and hope to get to know you more as well! smithsonian-penny-farthing

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Disney World, and What I Wore

Last week, I introduced The Mechanic to Disney World. He’d never been to Disney World nor to Disneyland, and I love both, so I happily planned out five days of experiences and restaurant reservations that I thought would appeal to him as well as show of all the magic that Disney World has to offer. I love the magic, the emphasis on imagination, creativity, attention to detail, and messages of togetherness and inclusiveness that is on display every step of the way. And now that he’s been, he sees how Disney caters to family members of all ages, not just princess-obsessed 5 year old girls – fast rides, slow rides, museum-style exhibits, ADA-friendly rides, various price-points, and so on.

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Me being who I am, of course, carefully picked my outfits so that not only was I wearing something I made four out of five days, I coordinated said outfits to where we were going each day. Yep, I’m weird like that.

Day 1 – Animal Kingdom

It was too cold our first day to get a photo of me in my new Charley Harper Sanderlings tee shirt, so I had to pose with Prince Eric in our Little Mermaid themed room at the Art of Animation resort. prince-eric-sanderlingsOne of my favorite things at the Animal Kingdom is all the exhibits about animals, including a bird enclosure with all kinds of exotic birds. Here we met Larry, the Great Argus Pheasant.

Larry

Larry

Animal Kingdom = animals of all kinds = bird-themed outfit.

Day 2 – Magic Kingdom

This was the one day I didn’t wear anything I made, but I love these red jeans and the tee shirt I’ve had for a while. mickeyRecognize the inspiration?

Day 3 – Epcot, Day 1

For Epcot, I was inspired by the park’s iconic giant spherical ride, Spaceship Earth. My moon phase Dressy Talk Patterns shirt coordinated perfectly! My star purse was the perfect accessory as well.epcot-day-1Day 4 – Epcot, Day 2

We split our fourth day between the Animal Kingdom in the morning and Epcot again in the afternoon. This time I wore my recently completed denim skirt with a Liberty of London/Uniqlo tee shirt, for a slight homage to France, one of the many countries represented in Epcot’s World Showcase. What is more French that denim and stripes?! And trying on a beret made me feel oh so Parisienne!

Bon jour from Epcot!

Bon jour from Epcot!

Day Five – Hollywood Studios

On our last day, we had brunch with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald Duck and Pluto, in a charachter brunch at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Resort. I picked it because the menu had a tofu scramble, and it was really hard to find decent vegetarian options, despite all the restaurants (that’s a whole other story!). So we suffered through awkward photo moments in pursuit of a delicious brunch. with-chef-mickeyBut this outfit was inspired by the Toy Story Mania ride we did as our last event before we left. This is another Dressy Talk Patterns top, completed shortly before the trip. The fun shoe print reminds me of the toys from Toy Story, even though the pattern is subtle unless you are really close to it. toy-story-shoesI don’t always make my outfits quite so thematic but it’s really easy to do at Disney World. It’s fun to me – maybe that’s why I like theatrical costuming and Disney so much!

We had a wonderful time but reality rears it’s very ugly head and we must now focus on our everyday lives. No more vacations planned for the near future, but never fear, we have plans for the fall. And I’m sure as we get closer, I’ll be strategizing my wardrobe for that trip too!

Of course we had to visit Gaston's Tavern!

Of course we had to visit Gaston’s Tavern!

Yeah, should have moved him inside for this

Perils of an Outside Bike

Pampered, protected Fauntleroy, my trusty and beloved commuting bicycle, has become an Outside Bike. I’m sure there’s some bicycle social hierarchy involved with this, as I am sure being an Outside Bike is a step down from being an Indoor Bike. I feel guilty about Fauntleroy’s demotion but whisper to you, Dear Readers, how nice it is not having a bicycle as the centerpiece of our apartment. Of course, that honor has been assigned to Gaston, our teeny 3lb lionhead rabbit. This pampered spoiled beloved bunny now even has his own IKEA bed, as is popular with rabbits of all sorts.

I can't explain it but even His Fluffiness, who doesn't play with any of his toys, loves this bed

I can’t explain it but even His Fluffiness, who doesn’t play with any of his toys, loves this bed

See? I’ve already started off a post about my bike with info about my rabbit. Poor Fauntleroy.

No, not Fauntleroy's Outside Life, just a quick stop at Whole Foods (thanks Rev Cycles for the rack!)

No, not Fauntleroy’s Outside Life, just a quick stop at Whole Foods (thanks Rev Cycles for the rack!)

The weather here in the DC region has been completely bipolar so far this month – freezing temps earlier with an early touch of snow to fairly warm over Inauguration Weekend. But Fauntleroy has mostly weathered it, well, outside.

Yeah, should have moved him inside for this

Yeah, should have moved him inside for this

So I’ve learned even more things.

  • Bike light batteries do not hold up for long when living in really cold temperatures. I’m not in the habit of taking my lights off my bike because in my apartment, there’s no need, nor is there at my office. And although lights are technically easy to remove, they are just hard enough to be a pain. When I remember. And this is the time of the year when I do actually need functional bike lights!
  • A wet top tube gets my clothes wet. I have a seat cover for the days when I didn’t realize it would rain and get out to find puddles in my saddle, but that doesn’t stop my legs and pants or skirt from getting wet when the top tube is dripping wet. Another argument for a step-through frame.
  • Rust happens faster than I realized.
After only a few days outside. Whoops.

After only a few days outside. Whoops.

I really can’t blame the loss of my bike gloves on the fact that my bike lives outside most of the time now, or in the storage room, but I kind of can. Previously I would just through gloves and things in my front basket then carry all of it up the stairs into the apartment. Now I have to strip everything off and carrying it through the hallways to our apartment. Admittedly – one I lost at the movie theater and one at the gym. But I’ve lost still two different bike gloves, and I’m still blaming it on Fauntleroy’s Outside Life.

Anyone seen a pair of gloves like this, but opposite?

Anyone seen a pair of gloves like this, but opposite?

While out and about recently I passed a brand new apartment building that had a street access bike room. What?!? Although the glass walls would make me nervous about people seeing my bike, being able to roll right in a secured room with staples, right off the sidewalk, would be amazing! Can you imagine? Then Fauntleroy’s problems would ALL be solved – a cozy, secure, inside space that’s easy to access. bike-storage-roomHe’s not a completely neglected bicycle, however. The Mechanic and I are on vacation this week, and Fauntleroy is safely tucked away in our building’s bike storage room. Awkward and not as convenient, but warm and dry. I do still love him, after all.

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Isn't this pin from Colette amazing?! One of my best Christmas presents!

2017 Sewing Planned Already

Somehow I’ve started 2017 with EIGHT sewing projects lined up! Patterns and fabric, just waiting for some time. And they mostly seem to be spring/summer projects – what happened to my winter sewing plans?! At the rate I get things done, though, I might as well get these things made, so I have them all ready for warmer weather.

Trying to use my Colette planner to stay organized and coordinated this year.

Trying to use my Colette planner to stay organized and coordinated this year.

On my list are:

  • A tee shirt out of Charley Harper Sanderlings bird print knit (for our trip to Disney World in 14 days!)
  • Two Dressy Talk woven tees – one in a basic blue-gray tencel twill, the other in a shoe-print cotton that I’ve had for decades
  • A gray pencil skirt using the Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt pattern, something work-appropriate, although not bicycle-appropriate. It probably won’t get anything reflective anywhere
  • A summer dress out of a dark teal tencel twill, from the same Simplicity pattern I made the Pegasus blouse out of, Simplicity 8216
  • The only thing winter-appropriate on my list is the “Victorian” blouse out of ivory tencel twill (can you guess what fabric I’m currently obsessed with?!?), out of the fabulous Simplicity 8166 pattern. This will be super work-appropriate, and also not get anything reflective…
  • The red chambray trousers that I cut out ages ago – I *must* get these done! Plus, I love the style
  • A dress for a friend, which was promised way too long ago

I’m debating on whether or not to make the shoe print Dressy Talk tee as well as the sanderlings tee for our Disney World trip – I really want to wear something #memade every day of that five-day trip. On the other hand, I could use the time to start the Victorian blouse, because we have a work event at the beginning of February to which I’d really love to wear the blouse. I know, I know – everyone should have such dilemmas!

I am going to spend the rest of January analyzing my winter work wardrobe. I want to see how much winter-appropriate pieces I’ve made that I can wear to work, and keep a list of what I wish I had. I really want to make that winter coat I’ve been dreaming about, so that will need to go on this summer’s project list if I want it done for next winter. I think jackets and coats are going to be my 2017 learn-to-make projects. (See how I’m avoiding pants?) I am quite pleased with these two tops, made during my holiday Sewing Staycation….

…. but really can’t figure out how to style these pants… I just don’t love them. As you can tell by my face.  blue-pantsEven though I need to complete all these projects before I can justify starting something else, I have things in mind, so I need to buckle down and get these done! Then onward and upward!

Isn't this pin from Colette amazing?! One of my best Christmas presents!

Isn’t this pin from Colette amazing?! One of my best Christmas presents!

 

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nye-wod

2016 Lessons Learned

The fact that 2016 was a challenging year can’t be denied but it wasn’t all that bad either – The Mechanic and I traveled a lot and we adopted Gaston! gastonI can’t say I’m glad the year is over, but I do like new beginnings, so I’m always happy to ring in a new year. I enjoy looking back over my year and looking ahead to the new one, and I love planning, so of course I love making new plans.

There is always something to be learned from our past, even our really recent past, and 2016 is no different. I definitely learned some lessons last year, which will help feed my plans for 2017. The lessons applicable to this blog are about biking and sewing, of course!

Biking

I biked to work just about every day this year, and our new apartment gave me an extra half-mile each way. But I feel that I’ve gotten a bit lazy…

  1. Biking to work 3 miles each way every day really isn’t a workout. Combine lack of weekend/recreational biking along with my inability to get to the gym much this year, and I’m definitely out of shape. So I need to add “biking on the weekends” to my 2017 plans.
  2. I still prefer bike touring in new places. I stopped biking on the weekends mainly because I’d exhausted the trails that are easily accessible. If I can see in my head every turn and stop, I’ve done it too much and find it boring and uninteresting. But between our weekend at the Fall Foliage Bike Festival and our New Years Eve (chilly and quick 12 miles) bike ride in Purcellville, I’m reminded that I prefer new places to bike. Adding “find new places to bike” to my 2017 list.nye-wod

Sewing

Including the three garments I made last week during my Sewing Staycation, I made a whopping 29 things in 2016! Not all of it was for me, and not all of it I like and wear often, so that brings me to some lessons learned:

  1. Take time to get the fit right. Part of the reason why I don’t wear some of the things I’ve made as much is because I don’t love the fit. It’s nice to have quick, easy projects, but if I’m not pleased with the end result, then it was sort of a waste of time. Last weeks’ Sewing Staycation aside, I don’t have much time to sew, and hate the time it takes to properly fit and alter patterns, and to make muslins, but… I know I need to do it.
  2. Focus more on “corporate” things. I spend more time going to work than anything else, so to be wearable, I need to give it the “corporate meeting” test – would I wear this garment to a meeting with Very Important People? If yes, keep sewing. If no, think again.
  3. Keep working on nicer fabrics and things that coordinate. I’ve got several things that I love but don’t really go with much. It’s not a huge deal to wear the same outfit over and over, but I would prefer things to be multi-functional.

    Completed last Sewing Staycation project - complete with reflective ribbon tab on left hip, of course!

    Completed last Sewing Staycation project – complete with reflective ribbon tab on left hip, of course!

With these lessons in mind, I’ll have to work on some plans for 2017. I do so love planning! I’ve already got 8 sewing projects planned out – Spring things that hopefully will benefit from the above lessons learned. And The Mechanic and I are already talking about a mountain biking weekend – and planning a European bike tour for our big trip this year, yay!

Whether or not you make plans, resolutions or goals for the new year, I hope that you achieve all you want in 2017! Here’s to future success!

On the road to a successful 2017!

On the road to a successful 2017!

 

 

 

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My Holiday Sewing Staycation

Since The Mechanic and I neither traveled internationally or visited family for the holidays (I’d prefer to do both at the same time – family trips to Europe are awesome!), I opted for the next best thing – a sewing staycation!

I took off the week between Christmas and New Years, and have been madly sewing. It’s been lovely. I’ve gotten so much done and I still have one (hopefully easy) project left to go! I had grand plans – with nothing to do but sew, I figured I could schedule in workouts and yoga every day, and be in bed by 10pm, to reset my sleep schedule. I don’t suppose it will come as a surprise that my plans didn’t work out… I did yoga one day, and went for a lovely bike ride another day, and definitely have not gone to be at 10pm any night so far! But look at what I’ve done:

Pegasus Blouse

I’ve been dying to make a blouse out of this rayon for months, indecisive about which pattern to use. Finally I decided upon Version C from this Simplicity 8216 pattern, in part because I also want to make the Version A dress in the summer. simplicity-8216Turns out the new blue reflective fabric from Mood matches the colors in this print almost perfectly, so it was easy to make reflective cuffs. Not so useful in the winter when I’m buried under coats and gloves, but there will come a day… Too bad it’s a bit narrow across the back. But I love this blouse and can’t wait to wear it!

It actually looks pretty good with my red pants, too!

It actually looks pretty good with my red pants, too!

Denim “Edna” Skirt

The denim for this skirt was given to me by a friend, who found it in her mother’s stash of fabrics after she passed away. Therefore I named this the “Edna” skirt, in her honor. Friends on Facebook pointed out that it looks a bit Wonder Woman-esque, which would have been a good option too, but I like honoring the fabric.

Denim is hard to photograph indoors....

Denim is hard to photograph indoors….

I hadn’t planned on making a denim skirt, and I promised myself that I would NOT make anything for our upcoming trip to Disney World, but Version B of this McCalls 7475  pattern called to me…

McCalls 7475

McCalls 7475

I decided to make the entire back yoke out of that same blue reflective fabric. It looks cook but it too won’t be very useful until I’m no longer covered in coats. And actually, I might have to always tuck in my shirt to make it 100% useful. But it certainly reflects!

The point in that yoke gave me a lot of grief and the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got. So don’t look at it too closely! But the fabric sewed up beautifully and I’m quite pleased with how the pockets look. The whole thing looks pretty good but I probably shouldn’t have taken in the waist so much because I think it sits too high – that is, it sits right 100% on my waist and feels funny. But looks good!edna-skirt-pocketUnless it’s predicted to be cold in Orlando, this will definitely be going to Disney World with me.

Navy Corduroy Skirt

Technically this wasn’t part of my sewing staycation, because I made it before Christmas, but it’s a recent sewing project so I’m adding it to the list. It’s a straightforward Kwik Sew 3877, which I’ve made before. I made it out of navy corduroy, added a lining, and put some reflective piping down the side seams. Ironically, I didn’t take in the waist and it feels huge – I guess I can’t figure out where and how my waistbands should sit! I do need to shorten the lining in the front a tad, since it peeks out.

Graphic Knit Top

My last sewing staycation project is a knit top intended to be “business” appropriate. (Not that these other things are not, but sometimes I feel I need something a bit more “corporate.”) It’s Vogue 8151, Version A. A “Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina” pattern, most of the instructions are about proper fit, so I’m looking forward to trying this out. I love the fabric, although it is nothing like my normal preferred prints. v8151

It's cut out and ready to go!

It’s cut out and ready to go!

I hope it goes smoothly. I could get stuck on the hems. I have a twin needle but the instructions walk the sewer through using wooly nylon thread, which I don’t have. But I have a new sewing assistant, so I’m sure he’ll be very helpful. What could go wrong?! sewing-assistantI’ll get to add these to my list of things that I made this year, which feels like a really big list! I can’t wait to review the year and share my favorites with you soon.

Happy New Year!

 

holly-tree

Happy Holidays, Dear Readers!

This year, Christmas and Hanukkah are at about the same time; Hanukkah starts at sundown on Christmas Eve. Regardless of what you celebrate and where you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful weekend with love and friends and family! holly-treeThe Mechanic and I will be celebrating with traditions and friends and of course Gaston, who is already spoiled with the arrival of a special hand-knit Christmas stocking from my mom. gastons-stockingIt coordinates with the stockings she made for The Mechanic and I (and Edgar!) last year.

Bicycle for The Mechanic, mini stocking for Edgar, Gaston's, bunnies for me, and Danish hearts in between

Bicycle for The Mechanic, mini stocking for Edgar, Gaston’s, bunnies for me, and Danish hearts in between

I took next week off for a sewing staycation, and can’t wait to have some dedicated time to sew. But first, let the holiday festivities begin!

Much love and happiness to all of you, dear Readers!

Santa is still riding his bike this year! Good for you Santa!

Santa is still riding his bike this year! Good for you Santa!

 

 

hains-point-neck-warmers_reflecting

On a Reflective Roll

I’ve finally had a chance to get some sewing done, and to play with lots of reflective materials, hurrah! Somewhere I got the idea to make reflective neck warmers and so many ideas snowballed from there.

Neck warmer in action - reflective fabric backed with polar fleece

Neck warmer in action – reflective fabric backed with polar fleece

And the neck warmer reflecting!

And the neck warmer reflecting!

I made myself this prototype, complete with elastic drawstring at the top, so I can cinch it up over my nose when it’s really cold, then made one for my Secret Santa coworker. Then, I offered to make some as raffle prizes for the local Hains Point 100 fundraiser for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association’s Women and Bicycles program.

Then…. I had another crazy idea…. A friend brought over some luscious fake fur, to make herself a stole for a fancy holiday party. It was sooooo soft….

You can't tell here but it flowed like water when I brushed my hand over it

You can’t tell here but it flowed like water when I brushed my hand over it

What about a neck warmer lined with fake fur? And to make it super-classy, what if it was reflective tweed?!? I quickly looked up the reflective tweeds at Dashing Tweeds. Every single reflective plaid, check and wave is absolutely stunning and alas, quite expensive. But never one to be deterred by price, I ordered a bunch of samples. They arrived quickly and are so lovely, I almost wanted to cry. dashing-tweed-1

I mean, just look at this!!!

I mean, just look at this!!!

Now I’m thinking beyond the neck warmer – yoke and/or cuffs on a jacket, perhaps?

I also got some swatches of tencel twill and silk/cotton blends from Fabric.com, and this ivory tencel twill goes so nicely with some of the reflective tweeds. It will eventually be a high-necked blouse, which gives me plenty of other ideas.twill-and-tweed I suddenly find myself designing something Downton Abbey Goes Reflective…. I did just get the Butterick Miss Fisher pattern!

I totally have a weakness for traditional riding jodhpurs. Can't explain it.

I totally have a weakness for traditional riding jodhpurs. Can’t explain it.

So while I contemplate reflective tweed and what else I could do with the fabric, I am settling for making a navy blue corduroy A-line skirt with a bit of reflective trim in the side seams. I hope to have it done for Christmas – it’s not the exciting sewing project I’d hoped to complete by then, but its on the list and needs to get done, so that’s okay.

Just a bit of reflective trim in progress

Just a bit of reflective trim in progress