Sun Hat 1

Sartorial Bike-Friendly Sun Shade

Rain. Nothing but rain. One lovely day – Bike to Work Day, thank goodness. But it’s been nothing but rain all month. So making a sun hat might seem like a crazy weekend project!

We've had so much rain, the gardeners can't mow the lawns, so they are beginning to look like meadows!

We’ve had so much rain, the gardeners can’t mow the lawns, so they are beginning to look like meadows!

I’m headed to New Orleans soon, and the weather forecast says upper 80s and sunshine. I’m not really sure I know how to pack for hot weather, but I did decide that maybe it’s time for a new sunhat. A quick Google search came up with the perfect pattern from Worthy Goods, on Etsy. Sold! Click, download, print, and I was good to go. What better excuse to order fabric from Spoonflower, right?! It’s reversible, so blue chambray on one side, vintage postage stamp print on the other. Adorable. I even added a reflective ribbon tab at the back, because, reflective.

Our weekend plans changed last minute, so I didn’t have as much time to throw this hat together as I’d planned, so the fact that it turned out too small somehow means that I can fix it – but not any time soon. After the trip. Hopefully I can make it work. But look at how fun it is!!!

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Thinking of sunny days, and reading reports that suggest the summer will be hotter than normal (so what else is new?), I started thinking about bike helmets and sun protection. I wear sun screen year around, and am pretty religious about it. Although I’m no longer training for centuries and out for hours on my bike, even running errands means I sometimes sweat off sunscreen. A brim is an easy physical barrier when out and about, on and off the bike. But what are the bike options?

Not much, it turns out. There are two – Da Brim, a fabric ring that attaches to one’s bike helmet, and the super cute yet highly in-demand and not inexpensive straw hat helmet by Bandbox, currently being sold by Bike Pretty (well, she’s taking pre-orders for a few more weeks). Bandbox actually has several really great sun protection styles that I wouldn’t mind trying – check out The Panama, The Palm Beach, and The Charleston.

Da Brim, a fabric brim that attaches to a bike helmet (other colors are available!) - Image from Da Brim website

Da Brim, a fabric brim that attaches to a bike helmet (other colors are available!) – Image from Da Brim website

Straw bike helmet currently being sold by Bike Pretty - summer itself! Image from the Bike Pretty website

Straw bike helmet currently being sold by Bike Pretty – summer itself! Image from the Bike Pretty website

Now you are probably wondering if I’m considering making my own visor thingy, and making it awesome and reflective. Tempting…. But I’m not sure how they would attach to a Nutcase helmet. By the time I get it figured out, this summer would be over. We do have some small biking vacations planned and in mind, so the “need” for a brimmed bike helmet does tempt me…

I would probably order one of the Da Brim brims and see how I like it before I invest the time into making my own. If I thought it worked, didn’t make me feel hugely dorky, and is something I could craft for Summer 2017, when The Mechanic and I are considering another European bike tour, well, maybe….

This brim doesn't offer much in the way of sun protection, but I still like it.

This brim doesn’t offer much in the way of sun protection, but I still like it.

What do you think? Would you considering wearing a sun hat bike helmet? What’s your best sun protection while biking?


NMWA Bike Event

Riding for Change on Bike to Work Day

Happy Bike to Work Day!

I hope you all got a chance to get out and ride somewhere! Here in the DC Metro area, the weather is somehow miraculously absolutely perfect. After weeks of rain and gloom, we have blue skies and warm temperatures. Ballston SkyAfter spending the morning greeting people on their bikes to one of the Arlington Bike to Work Day pit stops, I took advantage of the fact that I not only had the day off, that I was awake, dressed, and desperate to get a bike ride in during the lovely weather. So off I went – a short loop on local trails where I enjoyed the large green trees, clear blue skies, and the occasional wild rabbit on the side of the road. One tiny baby bunny was so focused on its breakfast that it barely blinked when I pulled over to take it’s picture. I was tempted to scoop it up and bring it home, but I know better.

Baby bunny don't care...

Baby bunny don’t care…

On my way home, I took a selfie – Bikingand then Tweeted it to the US Department of Transportation. I don’t actually know anyone there. The purpose of this Tweet was in response to reading an email from Transportation 4 America, which asked people to Tweet photos of themselves biking today, urging US DOT to count people, not cars, in their new proposal for evaluating traffic congestion. Absolutely I want them to #MakeMeCount – I am traffic, and I want safe streets to get around, regardless of what mode of transportation I use (which is mostly walking and biking). At the same time, the Department of Transportation blog, Fast Lane, supports bike lanes and connections to help people safely and easily get to where they are going on continuous bikeways. Here here!

Safety is the current buzz word in biking and in transportation, it seems. While our Metrorail system takes steps to avoid a complete meltdown, and thousands of commuters will need to find alternatives to their daily Metro ride, biking could be a good option for many. But safety and comfort are top of the list of reasons why they won’t try it. If people don’t feel safe and comfortable biking, because their routes don’t connect, because they are on roads that are not remotely bike-friendly, because their work sites don’t have showers, because they don’t have safe places to leave their bikes once they get there – they simply won’t do it.

Safety and comfort were key points all of the presenters made at the National Museum of Women in the Arts “Women on Wheels: Can a Bicycle Be an Agent of Change?” Fresh Talk last weekend. Author Sue Macy, author of Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a few flat tires along the way), talked about the challenges women faced in the late 1800s, as they discovered the freedom of bicycles. Lyne Sniege, director of the arts and culture program at the Middle East Institute, echoed many of the same challenges that women in the Middle East face when it comes to bicycling – but their challenges are so much more complex. Not just cultural challenges, but physical challenges of living in areas where *everything* is built for cars. Then the other panels brought the topic to our area: Renee Moore, founder of Bicycling and the City; Lia Seremetis, founder of DC Bike Party; Nelle Pierson, deputy director of WABA and the founder of WABA’s Women & Bicycles; and Najeema Davis Washington, co-founder of Black Women Bike. All of them talked about the need to have safe, comfortable spaces, both physically and emotionally, that will encourage and support women while they become comfortable (or learn to) riding bikes.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, so I don’t feel that I really need to go on and on about bicycling, safety and comfort. I feel like today is a good day to sit back and look at some of the things that are going on to make us feel safer on our bikes. We have government officials supporting community designs that support bicycling, we have advocacy groups working with local governments to create safer spaces for us (Yes to protected bike lanes on N. Quincy Street!); and we have national advocacy groups working for us at the federal government level. It’s not us versus them anymore (well, depending on which street you are on…) – it’s a movement that is gaining some traction.

You know me, I’m a reluctant advocate, but seeing some steps in the right direction is empowering. I hope that you, like me, will find some time to speak up for bicycling. Even if you don’t bike yourself, I bet you know someone who does. And really, would you want to put anyone in a dangerous situation? Because that’s what happens to many when they hop on their bike.


Like this bag anyway

Accessorizing the New Bike

The Mechanic thinks its weird that my bicycles all have personalities. I can’t help it, a name and a theme always cry out for a personality. Maybe I worked in theater too long – “What’s my motivation?!” And now with a new bike and a new name, I need to start finding it a new personality.Amsel

First of all, Amsel is matte black, which I really love for some reason, so the name was inspired by the color, the brand, Tern, and the fact that the bike it replaced was a matte black bike with a German name. Die Amsel is German for “black bird.” The “Die” makes it a feminine word (it’s a German language thing), I think I want to make this bike Goth (as Goth music and the subculture, not The Goths, as in the Visigoths, an ancient Germanic peoples. Although that would work too), Amsel might end up as a Goth girl.

Now, an important part of a bike’s personality is the accessories. They really make or break the persona. So Amsel will need some new things. First up, new valve caps. Originally I was thinking black skull valve caps, then found cute cherry ones, but those are too rockabilly. There’s always Paul Frank skull and crossbones ones and I kinda like these sugar skull ones too. The pink girly skulls were fun for my Pirate Girl-themed 40th birthday party, but not for a Goth girl folding bike. Then I found these awesome black rhinestone valve caps. Pricey but worth it! Sooo worth it. On the list.

As much as I love the front basket on Fauntleroy, I don’t want to add one to Amsel. That means I have space for a proper handlebar bag! So I pulled out bike bags I already own, including the Natril Gear bag I took on our honeymoon two years ago, the Electra Bicycles bag I got an an event last year, and my well-worn (read: beat up) GiveLoveCycle bag from years ago, and did fittings.

None of these bags really fit the Goth girl theme, but although I do like the Natril Gear bag anyway, and its surprisingly roomy. The GiveLoveCycle bag has a strap that can be used to loop through the rack but I don’t remember how exactly… You know what this means? Shopping!!! There are so many handlebar bag options, yet few that have a shoulder strap option or fit my taste. But there are some contenders.

The first place I looked was Po Campo. The now-classic handlebar bag is now something I can justify purchasing! I love the “Kinga” color but the classic black would make the most sense. The crossbody strap is a must, as is the reflective detail, of course. And I’ve always liked Detours bags, like the Rainier Handlebar Duffle. Other fun options include this innovative long bag from Etsy shop SNAKESninja; the Goodordering Handlebar bag;  and the Esperanza Workshop Kate bag (don’t forget, use code TINLIZZIE to get 10% off your purchases here!). How to decide?!

My wallet is pretty big (bottom right) so the bags need to be big enough for this plus more.

My wallet is pretty big (bottom right) so the bags need to be big enough for this plus more.

Funny how bike bags are not black leather and lace, or more like Bike Pretty’s bag. Guess I’ll have to keep looking! And isn’t that half the fun?!

Culottes 9

Culottes Again! And Folding Bikes!

Almost a year after I made reflective culottes, I made another pair! Culottes 9

This time, I made this Vogue 9091 pattern out of navy blue tropical suiting and used some of my aurora borealis reflective ribbon from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics for a tux stripe. I love how comfortable they are, and how surprisingly well they fit, considering I stayed with the only alteration I made last time, dropping the crotch depth. However, the construction process did not go as smoothly as I had last time. And I really hate the way the hem looks. It looks like high school theater. Culottes 1I am also considering shortening them – I like the midi length, but maybe it’s too long? I’ll have to ask the women at work and get their thoughts.

The fabric pressed the front inverted pleat nicely, so we’ll see how long that lasts. Based on experience with the previous pair, I stitched the pleats down more, to make them easier to press. I still don’t understand the instructions on stitching the inside pleat, but whatever.

Edge stitched the front pleats - totally visible but I think it will keep the pleat better.

Edge stitched the front pleats – totally visible but I think it will keep the pleat better.

I can’t get a good photo of how the reflective ribbon looks like aurora borealis colors when it’s not reflecting – it glows purple and green, it’s really cool! You’ll have to trust me… But it reflects really well, yay!

You may have noticed that I’m riding a different bike in these photos. Good eye! The Mechanic and I now have both a Tern folding bike, and a Dahon folding bike! I’m SO EXCITED! And they both look nearly identical; what are the chances that Craigslist would work out so well?!?Culottes 3After riding the Tern (named Amsel; persona possibly Goth but I haven’t decided yet) around a bit Sunday, I’m even more excited to take these bikes on trips. They are so much lighter than our standard commuter bikes, and I love the easy step-through.

The Dahon is too new to even have a name, let alone a personality.

The Dahon is too new to even have a name, let alone a personality.

Between warmer, sunny weather, a successful-ish (just don’t look inside…) sewing project, and new bikes, it was a pretty great weekend. Too bad they can’t all be as bike-y and sew-y!

Dahon to the left of me, Tern to the right, here I am....

Dahon to the left of me, Tern to the right, here I am….

Meet Amsel - I am so excited about this bike!

May Bike Month the Tin Lizzie Way

May is National Bike Month, and I’m thinking of ways to celebrate the Tin Lizzie way – fashion and accessories, all things reflective, and bike travel! bike_month_web_FB2Here’s a round-up of current interests and faves:


I’ve signed up for Me Made May 2016, a challenge for people who sew, knit, crochet, upcycle/recycle and refashion clothing for themselves. Although each participant can set their own goals, most apparently aim to wear something they’ve made every day in May. That’s a lot of handmade clothing! My goal is to wear as much of my own clothing as possible, and to make a list of what I wish I could wear, and then at the end of the month, I’ll see what gaps I have and figure out what to make next. mmmay16final

In the meantime, there are some other bike-y fashions and accessories to admire. Personal favorite Cleverhood has come up with a new Indigogo campaign for Cleverlite, a simpler version of the original ‘hood, in lighter weight fabrics, and made in Fall River, MA. I’ve already pledged – the lightweight cape will be perfect when The Mechanic and I go to Disney World in 2017.

Cleverlite - image from Indigogo webpage

Cleverlite – image from Indigogo webpage

Another fun new bike fashion product is Esperanza Workshop. Started by a friend of a former colleague, Esperanza’s bike bags are hand made in Oakland, CA, out of waxed linen, which are scraps from another local company – how cool is that?! Talk about sustainable fashion. Jen, the founder, tells her origin story on her blog (hint: no cool designs for women…) – I really like that she’s taken her bike bags to international destinations, because that sort of versatility is what I look for in the perfect bag. Plus, the texture of the waxed linen is really cool. Personally, I like the Kate Envelope clutch, because it’s funky yet neutral, and large enough to be really useful. **Jen is generously offering a 10% off discount through the month of May using the discount code TINLIZZIE. Nice!** 

Esperanza Workshops Kate Envelope Bag (Photo by Amanda Barnes Photography for Esperanza Workshop)

Esperanza Workshops Kate Envelope Bag (Photo by Amanda Barnes Photography for Esperanza Workshop)

Reflective Things

Herschel Supply Co. has come up with more lust-worthy reflective bags. They are part of the new “Packable” collection, so lightweight as well (I see a theme…). I like the tote bag – simple, vertical, black, reflective… what’s not to love?!

Herschel Supply Co Reflective Tote, image from website

Herschel Supply Co Reflective Tote, image from website

Speaking of reflective bags, ICNY Sport has some great reflective bags as well. Most of this NYC line is geared towards guys, with baseball caps and oversized tee shirts, but I really like what they are doing. So their packable reflective backpack caught my eye on Instagram – it’s not 100% reflective, but the price, $25, is better. Although their cool collab tote bag with fellow Brooklyn company D’Emploi is sold out, so if you want this backpack, buy it quick!


The Mechanic scored a fabulous Craigslist find last week – a sleek, simple Tern folding bike! We’ve been talking about replacing our road bikes with folding bikes for ages, and finally it’s happening! My road bike is gone <sniff> and in its place is a matte black Tern, named Amsel, which is German for “black bird.” Seemed appropriate! The Mechanic had to take apart the internal gear hub, to discover it was not only rusty but full of water, so we haven’t played around with it much. Doesn’t matter – I am now busy plotting trips to take folding bikes on! Once we get a second folding, we’ll be able to take them to Northwest Arkansas when we visit The Mechanic’s father this summer; I really want to bike on the Razorback Greenway, a “heritage” trail that connects much of northwest Arkansas. I don’t know the area, so riding bikes through this part of the country really appeals to me. And if we go to Berlin for Christmas, well, we won’t need to rent bikes, we’ll have our own! Closer to home, now we can take folding bikes on Amtrak to Philadelphia and then bike to Bartram’s Garden, America’s oldest botanical garden and 45-acre National Historic Landmark.

Meet Amsel - I am so excited about this bike!

Meet Amsel – I am so excited about this bike!

In other bicycle travel news, it’s a big deal that U. S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently toured Copenhagen by bicycle, along with three US mayors. Although Secretary Foxx and the mayors were possibly the only people out on bikes wearing helmets, it’s exciting that they were able to experience what The Mechanic and I, and so many others, love about biking in Copenhagen. I hope that all four are able to convince others that this is something we should strive towards for our nation as well.

Bike Month Action Items:

Sign up for the National Bike Challenge, if you haven’t yet! This challenge not only gives you points for every day you ride, it lasts four months, so there is plenty of time to rack up total points. Put together a team or just personally compete with someone else on the leader board. It’s a fun way to get more people biking.

If you are in the DC area, attend the National Museum of Women in the Arts event, Fresh Talk: Women on Wheels, on Sunday, May 15th. Asking if the bicycle can be an agent of change (um, yes), speakers will share their thoughts, plus there will be a “Sunday Supper” meal afterwards. I’ll be there – let me know if you will be as well so we can meet up!

Other bicycle events in May include National Bike to School Day, May 4th, and Bike to Work Day DC, May 20.

And if you find any cool bike fashions to share, there’s no better time! Let’s celebrate all things bike-y (and reflective!) this month!


Shopping, Sewing and Sustainability

The Mechanic and I try to live a sustainable life – we are vegetarian (except during international travel, when we want to try local specialties), do our best to avoid foods made with palm oil, we walk, bike or use public transportation on a daily basis, and rent cars when we are going out of town. We use as little water as possible, turning off the water during showers and while brushing teeth, and The Mechanic mostly washes dishes by hand to reduce water usage. We have CFLs or LED lights, reuse our plastic zip top baggies, use environmentally-friendly cleaning products as much as possible, take reusable bags when we go shopping, and turn off the lights in rooms we aren’t using. There is always room for improvement – I’ve recently been exploring environmentally-friendly toiletries and beauty supplies, and buying bulk food items like nuts. But for me, shopping is The Weakest Link.Plastic Baggies

Eileen Fisher, fashion designer and industry activist, said last year that fashion is the second most polluting industry after the oil industry. She knows better than I do, but there is no arguing with the fact that the fashion industry is not an ideal industry. From ethical treatment of workers to textile manufacture to shipping garments and shoes thousands of miles to billions of garments being thrown away, there are problems all the way through. Fast fashion, clothing that is turned out quickly after it appears on runways, has become the norm, as people of all ages flock to inexpensive trends as soon as they come out. Fashion Revolution Week, April 18-24 this year, brings attention to the nameless workers who crank out those fast fashion pieces, a movement inspired by and in honor of the over 1,100 workers who died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  In response, some clothing companies pledged greater transparency with their supply chain, resulting in the Fashion Transparency Index, ranking clothing companies by results. But even beyond the idea of who makes the clothes the world consumes are issues involving the fabrics themselves – polyester is made from petroleum; creating cotton fabric uses an unbelievable amount of water; there’s the fertilizer used in growing those crops; and apparently the average American citizen THROWS AWAY 70lbs of clothing a year. The statistics are depressing.

Who made my clothes? I did!

Who made my clothes? I did!

So with an industry dirty from beginning to end, how do you incorporate sustainability into what you put on every day?


I love these pieces but maybe for the same price I should have just ordered three yards of Liberty of London fabric…

I could smugly answer, “Well, I make my own clothes,” but that is not only an incorrect answer, it doesn’t solve the problem. I don’t make ALL my own clothes. I don’t know where the fabrics I purchase are made, or by whom. I’ve never even looked to see where my patterns are printed! Because I have limited local fabric shopping options, I tend to order most of fabrics, which means transportation emissions from the warehouse where the fabrics are kept; don’t even think about how the fabrics were transported to that warehouse. And I still buy fast fashion – I love my Liberty of London for Uniqlo purchases! So what is a sewist and fashion addict to do?!

For starters, I try really hard to not buy clothing any more “just because.” I actually find that I would rather make most things anyway, and that I’d rather *wear* the things I make. It’s more fun to make cute reflective garments than basic tee shirts, but I may need to start doing that as well. I love Spoonflower because of their eco-friendly system: digital printing of fabric leads to less waste of fabric, ink and electricity; they don’t need to store potentially unpurchased fabrics that could end up thrown away; many of their fabrics are made in the USA or organic or both; they support small designers by giving them a platform; and the Sprout Patterns printed on fabric reduces even more waste! If I could buy all my fabrics from Spoonflower, I would.

One giant piece of fabric with the pattern pieces printed right on it!

One giant piece of fabric with the pattern pieces printed right on it!

I have started researching companies that do engage in eco-friendly, ethical creations. H&M and Uniqlo aren’t doing too badly on the Fashion Transparency Index, and I do like H&M’s Conscious Exclusive collection, even though most of it is fancier than I’d ever need. I don’t know that I have the patience to simply not buy – I’m a bit like a magpie: Oh look, something shiny! But if I can focus on a list of places whose practices I agree with, at least my purchases are supporting what I believe in. I haven’t fully identified those companies yet; the ones I have found have very expensive clothing. On the other hand, the pieces I own that I’ve spent the most money on tend to be the pieces I love wearing. Hm… maybe that should be my new shopping strategy: only buy expensive things! Hahahaha….

In terms of sewing and sustainability, I will be testing out my first few download-and-tape-together pattern from indie pattern companies, and looking around for other places to order fabric. I need to find some patterns that can act as basics, so I don’t need to buy those but can quickly whip them up. I would love to be able to sew everything, but I simply don’t have time, and then I get impatient for something new, and then I go out an buy. Hm…. So really, what this all boils down to is being happy with what I have and not wanting anything new! But that seems boring to me – I need to make it work in more eco-friendly ways! And either way, I need to think about the carbon footprint of the USPS/UPS/FedEx way my orders get to me. Buy all the fabric all at once?

What are your favorite sustainable ways to shop and sew?


Just think pink!

When You Combine Pink and Reflective Digital Camo

Even with guests in town a few weekends ago, I managed to crank out a sewing project I’ve been planning for ages. I bought this Kwik Sew 4104 pattern last August, and nine months later, it’s done!

Kwik Sew 4104

Kwik Sew 4104

I knew when I saw this pattern that it would be the perfect garment for the reflective digital camo fabric I ordered from, and cut it out almost as soon as I could. Finding the rest of the fabric was a bigger challenge. I wanted something that could be work well with several pieces in my wardrobe, be fun but not an overwhelming print, and still coordinate with the dark gray reflective fabric. I kept returning to this pink/gray/gold Michael Miller Arrow Flight cotton print and finally just ordered it. It’s lined in pink. So much pink…. But it’s Spring, and a happy color combination, so I don’t care!

Just think pink!

Just think pink!

I made two muslins for this jacket. The pattern is sized XS-S-M-L-XL, so I cut out a M, and it was HUGE! I pinned alterations all over it before finally deciding to just try the next size down. Cutting out a size S, dropping the waist a 1/2″, and curving about an inch out of the center back resulted in a much better fit. Alas, I was so focused on the torso fit, and didn’t have enough muslin fabric (in fact an old sheet) to put sleeves into the size S muslin, and didn’t realize how short the 3/4 sleeves really were – the elbow dart is about 2″ above my elbow! D’oh! Also, it’s snug across the back, which I would have realized if I’d added the sleeves to the muslin. Oh well. Reflective Jacket 5The jacket is fully lined, with side seam pockets, with the cuffs and bottom band faced in the same reflective fabric. The instructions directed to understitch the lining but I edgestitched it instead. Reflective fabric doesn’t press well, so I always topstitch to help reduce the pouf. Reflective Jacket 3The jacket doesn’t have a closure, which I suspect will be annoying, especially while biking. However, the bottom band is faced with the same reflective fabric, so if the hem flaps up while I’m biking, I will still be reflective. The reflective cuffs are good for signalling turns as well. Reflective Jacket 2 Reflective Jacket 9The reflective camo is obviously not 100% reflective, and so as a bias trim in seams, it’s not as reflective as the piping. However, as a large fabric detail, it’s pretty spectacular! I’ll have to order more and think of what else I can do with it.

Reflective Jacket 8Initially I thought this pink print would coordinate well with the various burgundy pants I own, but after trying on a few combinations, I’m less convinced. I will start off with gray and see how I feel. But I really love this jacket, or perhaps it’s a bit of Spring Fever and Cherry Blossom Fever that make me completely love this pink jacket. It will be an easy piece to fit into my work wardrobe. I am sure I’ll get a ton of wear out of this!

Happy sewing project face!

Happy sewing project face!


Colorful plane

A Bit of Transportation History

The Mechanic and I spent some time with out-of-town guests this past weekend touring museums. The Renwick Gallery exhibit Wonder was really amazing and I can’t wait to go back! Definitely make sure you go before May 8, when they start to take it down.

We also toured the National Museum of American History and the Air and Space Museum. It was fun to find quirky bits of transportation history, not always where you expect it.

Sure, in the “America On the Move” transportation hall, you expect to find transportation history. I hadn’t noticed the really unusual women’s bicycle there before – an 1889 women’s Overman Victoria safety bicycle. I was disappointed that we didn’t see the Wheelwoman with her bicycle.

Check out the unusual curved front fork

Check out the unusual curved front fork!

Also, I love these images from the 1950s – an ad for Greyhound stating “No traffic nerves for us!” as a couple travels inexpensively and without having to drive; and a novel entitled Hot Rod. I love the tag line above the title – “Speed… Danger… DEATH!” Oh my. Greyhound Ad Hot Rod NovelIn the National Air and Space Museum, we encountered a bit of World War I history that made us all scratch our heads. Apparently, towards the end of WWI, the German war machine was running low on supplies, and was encouraging women and girls to donate their hair – which would be used to replace rubber driver belts. Yikes! I can’t imagine that worked well. Of course, we all know how that war ended.

And to round out some transportation history, I discovered that WMATA created a platform shoe SmarTrip card in honor of it’s 40th anniversary! Haha – a trip down transportation AND fashion history lane, all in your pocket for your everyday commute. I wish I had one. Platform Shoe Metro Card

Reflective Shoes 3

My DIY Reflective Shoes Experiement

Wednesday, April 6, was National Walking Day, an event promoted by the American Heart Association, and a day that my office promoted to our communities. It was also a good day to wear my new sneakers* – my DIY reflective sneakers!

Reflective Shoes 3I ordered a small (2.3oz net weight) can of Albedo 100 Reflective Spray, after the company liked one of my (many) reflective posts on Instagram. A Swedish product, made in the USA, “designed with nordic conditions in mind” – the possibilities seemed endless with reflective spray paint!!! Oh the things I was planning in my head.

But first I wanted to test it out on something I didn’t really care about, just in case. I hunted around for a pair of fun yet cheap sneakers that I’d want to actually wear – as I’m not a fan of sports shoes, I wasn’t interested in an investment. I found a cute pair at Payless Shoe Source that fit the bill, but of course, not only did they not have my size in the store, they were not available anywhere anymore! Gah! Then I found this really great Addidas pair on clearance in Macy’s – see, the Ballston Mall does have some good finds! (Sidenote: the Ballston Common Mall is generally known around town as a miserable, sad excuse for a mall, and we are all eager for Ballston Quarter, coming in the far future.)

The iridescent stripes on the side closed the deal on these shoes!

The iridescent stripes on the side closed the deal on these shoes!

I took them outside to spray them. The directions on the can Said to shake vigorously for “at least 1 minute” and to repeat during the application. As it is a clear product, it was hard to see what I’d sprayed, except for the white rubber part on the right shoe where I started. I was surprised when I ran out of spray paint shortly after starting the left shoe! I don’t know if I over-sprayed the left shoe, or if this small can is just not enough for two shoes.

Spraying the shoes - see the gray spray on the white rubber? oops. Got carried away there.

Spraying the shoes – see the gray spray on the white rubber? oops. Got carried away there.

So here are the results:

Can you tell how the first shoe I sprayed, the right shoe, is nicely covered, but the left shoe is not? Bummer! Especially since I prefer the majority of my reflectivity to be on my left side, aka, the car side. I feel a bit lopsided, too, but I guess no one can really tell. Also, since this spray paint is intended for fabrics, it clearly doesn’t work well on the rubber, as it is scratching and peeling off. The product apparently washes away, and I tried to wear them in the rain recently, but I can’t tell that it washed off. I guess if I sprayed a jacket and then washed it, I would notice. However, given how little I purchased and covered one shoe with, I can’t imagine trying to re-reflective something all the time.

I’m not as happy with this experiment as I’d hoped I be, but that’s partially user error, I think. I doubt I’ll try this again, but you never know. Maybe it would be fun on spectator shoes, where I wouldn’t try to cover the entire shoe.

Naturally, I love these shoes because I love anything reflective, and I really love the shoes anyway. I know I’ll wear them regardless! But then I found these gorgeous Nike cherry blossom shoes and now I really, really, really love these more… They could be reflective, right? Like the Capital Bikeshare #BikeinBloom!

Nike Cherry Blossom Shoes

Serious lust…


*Seriously, what is the appropriate current term for these shoes? I grew up calling them tennis shoes, and I refuse to call them “runners,” but what *are* they?!

I even found matching fossil buttons!

April Showers Bring Spring Sewing Plans

April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes, but also time to be inside and plot my sewing list for the next several months, yay! This month will be a bit crazy, however, with several weekends of out-of-town guests, and an industry summit in DC, which means out-of-town colleagues to catch up with, plus summit-ing. Nevertheless, I ignore reality and charge ahead with my overly-ambitious sewing plans!

Last month I finished my Vogue 7910 skirt (now apparently discontinued), in khaki twill with the camo reflective bias trim in the side panels. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, although the reflective trim isn’t as bright as I’d like. Also, I’d forgotten how wrinkly twill get, yikes. I wore it the very early morning I met some friends for a bike ride to see sunrise and cherry blossom blooms at the Tidal Basin, and am happy to say it’s a perfectly lovely biking skirt. I anticipate wearing this often in the warmer months ahead.

I tried to get my current project done in March, so I could move ahead with two tops in April, but that didn’t happen. I’m glad I made a muslin of the Kwik Sew 4104 (also apparently now discontinued) jacket I’ve got planned, because I don’t like the fit at all! It’s *huge* – and I cut out a size Medium! I’ve pin fit the muslin but now need to redo everything. Basically, I want to tailor the waist by taking in about 4″ all around, but I’m not sure how that’s going to turn out. I might cut a size Extra-Small in another muslin, I don’t know. I also need to drop the waist about an inch but that’s easy compared to how much needs to be taken in. Even though Spring showers bring May flowers, and I love almost anything floral, I’ve chosen a nautical theme for my Spring and Summer sewing line-up. I’m thinking wide-leg trousers, red and denim blue, lots of stripes, fish, and for something different, ammonites!

First up, an easy top with fish fabric from Spoonflower, in an easy Butterick pattern.

Then something more creative, also with Spoonflower fabric. I’m obsessed with the ammonite ditsy print that Spoonflower designer Coggon created! I think it will be perfect for a Breton-style top. I’m bravely going to try my first download-print out-tape together pattern (ulp), Christine Haynes Marianne dress, which I will then shorten into a top. (Seems like alot of work to tape something together to then cut it apart…)

I want to make more pants, because eventually I’ll find a pattern I like and learn how to adjust patterns for proper fit. I have the sailor pants pattern from Vogue, but I’ll put that off, and first make a nice pair of wide-legged trousers in faded red. I love wide-leg trousers, especially with a cuff. The Simplicity pattern I wanted also was discontinued, but luckily I found it on Etsy.

Then I am going to make two dresses from the same pattern, one for me and one for a friend. McCalls 6520 is *also* out of print, but again, thanks to Etsy, I was able to grab it. I’m going to do version A for me in lightweight pale denim, with the reflective floral blue fabric worked in somehow, and version C/D for my friend, but with 3/4 sleeves. She’s already picked out her fabric, but I haven’t even looked for mine yet. Deadline – a girls’ trip to New Orleans! I could be sewing late the night before we leave….

Out-of-print McCalls 6520 dreses

Out-of-print McCalls 6520 dresses

There are more things on my list but I think this will keep me plenty busy. I’ll be very impressed with myself if I can get this all done before Memorial Day weekend, but know it probably won’t happen. But if it keeps raining, maybe there will be more days and evenings at home sewing! And flowers in May…