Brocade Bomber for Biking

I told you I am obsessed with outerwear right now and here’s more proof! My brocade bomber jacket is done!

I bought this brocade in New York City last year in a store that was going out of business. I am thrilled at how well it coordinates with the bronze reflective fabric from Mood.

I was originally thinking I would make a moto jacket but decided on Simplicity 8418 instead – the simpler lines allow the fabric to shine, plus this pattern includes the lining. And it has pockets! The same flannel backed lining I used on my reflective tweed coat matches perfectly with this as well. (I’m newly converted to how great this lining fabric is.)

I’m pretty happy with how easily this came together. However, I need to automatically add at least an inch to every sleeve I make. The sleeves aren’t horribly short but I would have preferred them longer. Helps keep my wrists warmer while biking.

Speaking of biking, check out how cool the reflective trim looks:

Oh yeah!

I’m excited to have a dressy casual jacket that I can wear a multitude of ways.

Obsessed With Outerwear

I’ve been a bit obsessed with designing reflective outerwear this year. I have realized, over the last year, that many of my reflective makes spend a lot of time under coats and jackets, which sort of defeats the purpose of reflective fashion. So, I decided I need reflective outerwear.

My first attempt turned out beautifully- my reflective tweed coat makes me so happy!!! Made with reflective tweed purchased last year in London from Dashing Tweeds (the burgundy) and wool from, its lined with flannel backed satin from Vogue Fabrics, and interlined with ripstop nylon. The ripstop is intended for added warmth and to prevent the wind from going straight through the wool as I Bike. I have to say, it holds the body warmth pretty well – maybe too well! Oh, and it looks spectacular on!

Flush with the success of that coat, I started my brocade bomber jacket. I picked Simplicity 8418 because it has a lining, and for added warmth, I am using the same flannel-backed satin I used on my tweed coat. The brocade I purchased a year or so ago from a fabric store in New York that was going out of business. At the time I didn’t know what to do with it, but my bronze reflective fabric from Mood Fabrics coordinates so perfectly that I knew they had to go together. A brocade bomber jacket seems decadent but also, a fun alternative to a work blazer. I hope. So I got started on that this weekend.

Once I complete the bomber, I have two other jackets to make. One will be a light duster, from Simplicity 8055, with the front and back yokes out of reflective fabric. It’s not lined so I plan to flat line the yokes and sleeves; I hate unlined sleeves. My initial plan was to use the black reflective fabric I just purchased from Mood, but a coordinating dark fabric just made the whole thing too dark. Instead, i think I will use the red reflective fabric and find a denim, twill or chambray to match. Red will be a fun color, and a bit more visible than black.

That should be a fairly simple project, but my last (currently) planned coat looks quite a bit more complicated. The Closet Case Kelly Anorak is pretty much exactly what I want – big pockets, tall collar and drawstring waist. And it has a lining option, yay! I will make the outside from the reflective digital camo fabric I have from Rockywoods Fabrics, and then add a fun lining. Maybe I will splurge on a fun print from Spoonflower, to make it more interesting. But my idea is to do this in late summer, for the fall, so I have a while to decide.

Those jackets should be a cool assortment to add an extra layer over my blouses and tops – a dinosaur blouse out of luscious Liberty of London Tana Lawn, two different ruffle sleeve versions of Simplicity 8454, and a basic white blouse, version C of Vogue 9299, with the adorable cameo buttons I found in New York. Whew, that’s quite a list! I’d better get started – reflective fashion doesn’t sew itself!

Sorry, still no internet at home! I’ll link all these sources when I am not on my phone with sluggish cellular.

Blogging Without Internet

Our internet has been out for about three weeks now. Comcast finally figured out that they need to replace an outside cable so while it will eventually get fixed, it’s taking longer than we like. Blogging is, of course, not impossible without our home WiFi and my desktop computer, but I don’t enjoy blogging from my phone.

But so much stuff is going on and I really want to share my latest reflective sewing project with you! I finished my Dashing Tweeds coat hours before I left for New York City last Friday morning, hooray!!!!

I love this coat so much! It looks great, feels great, is really warm (thanks to Sew Pretty in Pink for suggesting ripstop as the interlining!), and wow, I made it!!! I never thought I could make wool coats and here I am.

I got several compliments on it while I was in New York, so if New Yorkers like it, it’s got to be good, right?

I got a lot of compliments on my Boden bunny dress too. 😃

I went to New York for several costume related reasons, including seeing Downton Abbey: The Exhibition. Once I organize all the photos, I will share those. And yes, I did go to the fabric stores but I didn’t buy as much as I’d hoped. More on that later as well.

Cross your fingers that our internet is up and running soon! Then I’ll be back to blogging in detail.

And Now For Something New

When I moved to New York City at the end of 1999, one of my dreams/goals was to take hat making classes at FIT and become a milliner. I’ve always loved hats – my mom says it’s because she made me wear sun bonnets as a baby. I used to collect vintage hats but over the years, have reduced that collection to one, and even it’s life with me isn’t assured. I seem to spend most of my time wearing a bike helmet, but I do have an assortment of summer straw hats and even made a fabric sun hat a few years ago.

When I saw a hat making class listed in the Smithsonian Associates catalog, well, I couldn’t resist. So last Saturday, I joined close to thirty other women for a 2-hour hat making class in the Ripley Center on the National Mall. Knowing something about hat making from my theater days, and garment construction in general, I wasn’t sure how we’d learn to make hats in two hours, but all came clear when we were instructed to pick out a base to get started. After eyeballing a range of straw and felt hats, I opted for a black felt floppy brimmed hat, knowing that it would have more options than the straw ones. Then I chose some fuchsia pheasant feathers for the decoration.

The milliner showed us one by one how to steam and block our hats and helped us with the decorations. I wanted something a bit early 1920s with an asymmetrical brim, and spent alot of time free form cutting the brim (eek!). I would have felt more comfortable with a dressmakers curve to get it even but did the best I could with the offered dull scissors. I decided to drape the feathers (cut in half) around the brim, and although I like the look, that wasn’t exactly what I was going for. Well, there’s only so much you can do with a few hours and a floppy hat brim, but overall, I think I am fairly pleased with the outcome.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The milliner teaching the class was a local man, who told us his personal story of how he got into hat making and said that since small, locally-owned stores were too expensive to run, he was reinventing himself and teaching classes. I think this is a wonderful idea and would love to help him set up more classes and really start with some hat basics and history. Maybe make it a 3-hour class with the first 30 minutes breaking down the history of hats, the different parts of hats, and techniques like blocking and steaming. I think a class making fascinators would be good – after all, there are two royal weddings coming up this year. Who says I can’t wear a fancy fascinator while watching it on TV?!?As I stare at my list of sewing projects for the spring, all I can think right now is about taking more hat making classes and wanting to reread all my hat making books. I want to learn more about steaming felt hats and creating different shapes. I think it’s time to bring back hats. It is one way to combat helmet hair, after wall. What do you think? Who’s with me? Break out your hats and start wearing them!

Hey, Minnie Ears are sort of like a fascinator, right?!


Disney World Weekend

I was recently fortunate enough to get to go to Disney World – for work! Seriously! Okay, work didn’t pay for me to go to the parks, but it did send me to the Boardwalk Inn resort for a leadership program I helped create for my association. I’m the co-chair of the Association for Commuter Transportation‘s professional development committee and we helped create a 3-day leadership retreat for early career TDM professionals.

This is my industry in a nutshell. We help make better commutes for everyone.

I went early to meet some colleagues and run through the parks. We had a marathon day that started in Animal Kingdom (the new Pandora world is *amazing*!) at 8:30am, afternoon at Epcot, then ended after the Magic Kingdom closed at midnight! Whew! It was so much fun, as Disney World always is. I love that place.

I stayed initially at the All Star Music Resort, one of the budget-priced resorts. It was fun, but nothing like the Boardwalk Inn where I stayed for the work part of the trip! My room was waaaaay too big but I loved the iron with a front light. Seriously, I think I need one now. Also, I discovered that apparently I have a thing for bird print purple shirts…

I’m always happy when I have mostly #memade clothing on trips!

Being vegetarian in a place like Disney is a bit of a challenge, so I was excited to find this tasty option at Animal Kingdom, complete with tofu and portobella mushrooms. Yum! But then went out of the box in Epcot to get “Pop’t Art” and sparkling *blue* wine. And despite my usual no-dessert life, I couldn’t resist another cupcake from the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM in Disney Springs.

One of my favorite parts of Disney World is how connected it is and how easy it is to get around without a car. However, my colleagues and I felt like we needed to test out the new Minnie Vans – a Lyft partnership that provides an on demand ride in a reflective (!!!) red and white polka dotted mini van. I’m not sure exactly how it works, since I couldn’t find it in my Lyft app, but one of my friends, an annual pass holder, got a special invitation and credit so we tagged along with him. As TDMers, we like seeing the buses and transit screens showing bus arrival times and the monorail and so on, but like this extra option. Speaking of reflective, of course I took reflective clothing with me to wear! I wore a reflective blouse each of the three days of the retreat. And my new fossil tee shirt. I’m pretty happy with my newest shirt, too. I am already thinking about the next one I’ll make with that pattern. It was fun to have a taste of Disney World, but I really enjoyed the opportunity to network with our association’s leadership and meet the participants in our inaugural leadership program. That’s all the air travel I’ll be doing for the next several months – other than a quickie weekend in New York in February, I’m grounded until the summer. But that’s okay. The Mechanic and I have some trips tentatively booked for the fall – including a trip with his family to – guess where?!? – Disney World!!! I can’t wait.

Practicing Skills, Practicing Patience

I’m going to Orlando soon for a meeting for my industry association and meeting some colleagues a day early to have some fun at Disney World. I promised myself that I would not make or buy anything for this trip – yet there I was, on the Martin Luther King Day holiday, madly trying to finish up a shirt. Promises, promises.

Vogue’s V8772 shirt pattern has universal praise amongst the sewists on Instagram, so I had to see what the fuss was about. I added it to my #2018MakeNine list for later this year, perfect with the lavender Charley Harper scissortail bird print quilt cotton and black reflective fabric for collar and cuffs. I want to finish winter-worthy reflective outerwear instead. But then… trying to decide what to pack for this business trip, I decided that this simple shirt would be easy to whip up over the long weekend, and give me something else #memade for the conference. I love wearing clothing I’ve made when I travel. First I had to practice my skills – reading skills. It seemed like a simple shirt but looks are deceiving – and somehow my brain was not plugged in while I was working on it! I carefully chalked traced all the markings – check. Lengthened the sleeves and body 1/2″ each, and dropped the armhole about an inch – check. Body darts – check. Cuffs – fail. I totally spaced the proper way to do the slash opening, which I only realized when I was congratulating myself on how nicely the birds matched up on the cuff. Gah. I read the correct instructions and did the wrong thing.

It only looks wrong to those who sew, I realize. Don’t look at my wrists when I wear this!

Then I did it again! I read the directions wrong on the front packet and hem, and made the error worse by trimming it, which meant I had to come up with a new way to hem the shirt. Seriously, where was my brain?! The directions pretty much said left and I dyslexically went right. Somehow, my brain is not connecting everything properly. I’ve noticed this before with other thing and hope it’s not a bad sign for my old age!

Such a complicated foot for making buttonholes!

Then, I got to practice my patience when my fancy computerized sewing machine got fussy about the buttonholes. I love this new machine because it does buttonholes automatically, yet having to do 12 of them somehow taxed my brain and my patience. Little did I know (until I took out the buttonhole the fourth time) that the sensor wheel has to be on fabric as well, in order to function properly. Maybe I would have figured that out if my brain was working. So learning about my new machine along the way…Despite the drama, however, I think the shirt turned out pretty well. I had to wash it to get the chalk markings off, so no photos of me in it yet, but it does fit pretty well. And now that I’ve had so much practice with it, the next one will be easier. I’m considering the bow collar option, since I’ve seen so many pretty versions on Instagram. Maybe for Spring? Apparently, a sewist can’t have too many of these shirts!

I think this will look professional with dress pants, a sly nod to my daily commute choice as well as showing off my creative side.And of course, when I’m biking to and from work (once the weather is warmer and I don’t need a coat), the collar and cuffs will show off nicely. Now to get back to my winter coat before winter is over!

Pretty pleased with the placement of this bird in the collar. (The reflective material doesn’t breathe at all, so I wanted cotton against my neck.)

Cold Weather Biking and Sewing

Oh my goodness it has been cold!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Temperatures in the teens and “real feel” temps in the single digits and lower – I’m sure we’ve had this weather in the years since I moved to the East Coast, but I can’t remember when. I’ve lived in New York City and the Washington DC area since I moved from Sacramento, CA at the end of 1999, but I still haven’t acclimated to these cold temperatures.

Because of this, over the years, I’ve slowly added warmer and less fashionable clothing to my collection. I’m in awe of the women who can wear cute flats and no socks or skirts with tights and boots in these temperatures, but I can’t do it. I need thermal underwear and down coats. I can’t wear wool so I have to manage in synthetics and I love the Lands End Thermaskins – no, not paid by them to say that! But no matter what I do, I still can’t keep my fingers and toes warm.

So this year I broke down and bought a pair of sheepskin-lined boots. The Mechanic talked me out of getting boots with a synthetic fur, because real sheepskin would be warmer. After much research, I finally about a pair of Ugg Niels motorcycle boots. I think it’s the most money I’ve ever spent on a pair of shoes! But I have to say, my toes have been so warm!

Okay, confession – I haven’t been biking in this extreme cold. Seriously, I can’t. Props to those who do!

I have done a bit of sewing, though. I spontaneously made a new tee shirt with some Spoonflower fabric I ordered ages ago. I had intended it to be a Breton shirt, but thought this would work out better with the yellow striped knit as the sleeves, back and neckband. I love it and can’t wait to wear it – months from now, when it’s warm again!

Kwik Sew 4027 – the third time I’ve made this! I think it’s getting closer to perfect as I tweak it each time.

I also finally basted the muslin of the McCalls 7667 coat I’m dying to make. I made it out of a corduroy fabric I’d ordered then didn’t like once it arrived, which means I don’t like the muslin and won’t finish it as a wearable coat. I hate to share photos of it, but I actually am really happy about how it fits. A bit more length in the sleeves and it will be perfect. I can’t wait to cut this out of the real fabric! With reflective tweed collar, sleeves and back belt, I hope this will be my best winter coat. I decided to play along with Instagram’s #2018MakeNine challenge. I hope I make more than nine things this year though! I am sort of obsessed with outerwear right now, since reflective details seem to make more sense than on winter dresses and so on. So after I make the coat above, I plan to make a brocade bomber with reflective trim and then this Simplicity 8055 coat is calling to me – I think the front and back yoke is perfect for reflective fabric. I’m in love with the Nell Shirt by indie company A Verb for Keeping Warm, and everyone seems to swear by the Vogue 8772, so of course I need to try that as well. The McCalls pants remind me of my high school years in the late 80s but I somehow still want to make them. The McCalls 6742 dress has the perfect seaming for some fun reflective detail, as does the Deer and Doe Azara skirt. I should try to make all these things coordinate, if I was smart. The weather is supposed to be warming up a tad (thank goodness!) and I can’t wait to get back to biking. What are you looking forward to this year?

Ringing in 2018!

Happy New Year everyone!

Rang in 2018 with The Mechanic, my parents and my aunt who were visiting for the holidays

Who’s ready for a new year? <raises hand>

2017 was definitely not a bad year for me by any stretch but the last few months were just hectic enough that I am ready for a new start and some time to recover. To recap life since July:

  • We moved into a new apartment that we hated
  • We placed an offer on a townhouse and bought our first home
  • We took Gaston bunny speed dating and he picked a pair of English angora siblings, Sullivan and Quinn
  • We moved into our new home
  • We adjusted/continue to adjust to life with three rabbits, two of whom are larger and require more maintenance
  • We went to IKEA and Home Depot more times in the last two months than we have in the last two years
  • We hosted people for Thanksgiving
  • We hosted family for Christmas and took a 7-person strong trip to Natural Bridge, VA

Looking at it like that, it doesn’t seem like as big of a deal as it feels! Crazy, chaotic, stressful – and 100% good!

Now I’m looking forward to a new year and a fresh start. I need to catch up on many things, like sewing (I only made 15 things in 2017! <sad face>), biking, reading, and being healthy. Oh, and blogging more – I’ve gotten really behind with this blog!

I’m not going to set any resolutions but here are a few of my plans for the near future:


  1. Finish the Dashing Tweed reflective tweed winter coat I’ve been planning since the summer
  2. Make a reflective brocade bomber jacket
  3. Learn how to use my new walking foot
  4. Use the patterns and fabrics I have stacked up
  5. Rethink how and where I use reflective fabrics in sewing projects
  6. Find a new source for reflective fabric!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


I’ve become a weekday warrior! Seriously, I hardly bike on the weekends at all anymore. I just bike back and forth to work. (#lazy ) I need to find some fun yet not crazy long bike ride event to get back into the swing of things. Then make some fun moisture-wicking bike clothing! Any suggestions for VA-MD events?



I went to a Smithsonian Associates lecture about archeology and it rekindled my love of learning. The first of a series of five, “Indiana Jones: The Eternal Explorer” looks at the politics of archeology through the popular culture character of Indiana Jones. I love Indiana Jones aka Harrison Ford, and I love archeology, and it has something to do with the research I did for my Master’s thesis, back in the day. I can’t wait for the next four lectures. It makes me want to read more and learn more so I’m going to set a goal to actually get some reading done this year. Focused, historical reading, not the news, not work-related, but something that fires another part of my brain. Also, I just miss history.


Isn’t this the top of everyone’s list every year? I let my health get away from me in 2017 and I’m ready to reclaim it! Time to get back to BodyPump and yoga and veggies and no desserts and cooking. The Mechanic and I are still doing Green Chef and love the meals, so we won’t give that up any time soon. It’s taught us a lot about cooking and food and vegetarian/vegan meal options. So now I can take those lessons and try to cook more ourselves. Toast and peanut butter really shouldn’t be my every day staple.



I don’t seem to have time for two blog posts a week anymore so once a week it is. Sorry about that! I’ll try to balance out more with sewing and biking, especially as I get back into biking more (caveat: current temps are much colder than I prefer to bike in so it might be a while…). I have some sustainable fashion ideas as well as some general mobility topics in mind, and of course, my favorite – All Things Reflective!!! I need to do some scheduling and organizing to stay on track, I think.


What fun and exciting things are you planning for 2018? What will be your focus or goal for the new year? Whatever it is, I wish you a year of happiness, strength and success!

Reflective Gift Ideas

‘Tis the season to think about holiday gifts *and* being more visible, as we approach the longest, darkest days of winter. As a fan of all things reflective, I thought I would share two businesses making some really great reflective accessories that are perfect for gift giving – and hey, who says you can’t give yourself?!

First up is Firefly Reflectors, a company started by two Swedish women living in New York. They specifically created their company to help people be stylish as well as visible. I ordered several of their adorable and fun soft reflectors from them a few years ago for gifts and for me. But now, they’ve expanded quite a bit and now have gorgeous tassels, stickers, clips and even accessories like charms and D-rings. It’s so fun to build a key chain with a D-ring, add an initial charm, and then pick a tassel color. The problem is, I can’t decide on just one color! And then, which bag would it go on? This calls for serious consideration before purchasing.

Leopard print, the perennial classic, even as a reflective tassel! (image from

A new discovery for me is Reflective Society, a small business in Portland run by the talented and creative Iris Vondell. Iris was inspired to start her collection of reflective accessories when she was hit by a car while on her bicycle. Recovered, inspired and determined, she turned her sewing and knitting hobbies into pins, earrings and necklaces made with 3-M fabrics and reflective yarn. A woman after my own heart! I love that she’s worked out how to stamp the images on the fabric. An early childhood educator by training and a lover of the out-of-doors, nature themes pop up frequently on her pieces; she even said a bunny is on her list (of course I asked!).

I couldn’t resist asking Iris a few questions about her art and she was gracious enough to tell me some details. She admitted that it took years of testing and prototyping and hunting for sources before she found things that work best. Iris also said that moving to Portland in 2014 really kicked off her line, as she found people who understand and appreciate what she is doing. Iris’s collection of button earrings, small and large buttons, bolo ties, pendants and earrings make perfect small gifts for anyone. I think her collection could do really well here in the DC area, so I need to figure out how to lure her to town some day. In the meantime, I ordered a few things from her, and promise to show them off when they arrive.

These two different companies have enough different styles to fit the tastes of everyone, so you should be able to find some last-minute small gifts for anyone on your list. Remember, you don’t need to be a cyclist to benefit from reflective accessories – everyone walks!


Helmet Hair – The Struggle Is Real

I am a low-maintenance hair person. I really don’t want something that takes too long to mess with, requires a ton of products and equipment, but I still want something that looks good when I take my bike helmet off. I’ve had short hair in a range of lengths since I chopped off my waist-length hair in junior high, not because I want something easy, purely because I’m vain. I just look better with short hair. Consider, then, the irony of ending up with a hairstyle that requires 15 minutes to properly style, plus hairspray, and being 100% okay with it because I LOVE IT so much.

My hair stylist is a genius. (She also took this photo – still a genius)

I’ve switched up my routine for this hair style – I now curl it at work, so I can wear my helmet in the morning and not smush the hair. This is important, especially on days I have client meetings. I want to look good, and smushed curls are not the “good” I’m going for. I didn’t really quite appreciate how much this hairstyle has changed my attitude on wearing a bike helmet until recently, when I really loved how it turned out, and didn’t want to put my helmet on to bike home.

Curl mastery – before putting on my bike helmet at the end of the day.

I was only going home, so it shouldn’t have mattered, and yet, this particular day, I felt especially pained by having to smush my hair. I didn’t consider not biking home because of it, but I would definitely reconsider biking TO work, if I couldn’t do my hair once I get to work. So there I was, suddenly realizing that I was letting my hair dictate my commute mode.

I love my Nutcase helmet but I may love my hair more…. #vain

Okay, to be fair, it didn’t look terrible when I got home 25 minutes later.

Slightly flattened curls. Not bad, I guess.

So it was with great awareness and recent experience that I was interested to read a pair of BikeArlington’s recent blog posts about a study they recently conducted for Arlington County’s Master Transportation Plan Bicycle Element Survey. Arlington is polling people to see what they think about bike lanes. (You have to download the report, but don’t worry, you’ll get awesome emails from BikeArlington in exchange!) Of the 1206 people they spoke with, 89% reported wanting to bike more often. Yay! Fitness ranks high on the list of why people do bike, but biking taking more time also ranks pretty high for why they don’t do it more often. (People, think of it as spending less time in the gym! You’ll come out ahead, I promise.) There are a lot of really good details in this report, most of which has to do with existence (or lack thereof) of bike lanes, and I strongly encourage you to read it. Although this is Arlington, VA, specific, I’m sure the responses are not much different than you’d find elsewhere.

More like this, please!

What I found most interesting is the list of barriers that prevent people from walking and biking more. Of the women polled, concerns about appearance ranked high on the list of reasons why they do *not* bike to work. I hear this frequently as well, especially if a company does not have showers, a decent sized restroom, or a culture that supports biking and making looking a little less than 100%. I know I’m spoiled at my job, where many of us bike and finish our looks at work. We have to look just as professional as the executives we work with, so it is important to us as well.

Bunny bike style! Hated the way my helmet made my hair flip out, though.

I know that Arlington has less control over what individual companies or buildings do compared to the control they have over installing new bike lanes. And because so many respondents want more and better protected bike lanes, I hope that Arlington moves forward with plans to put in what the residents clearly want. But more importantly, I hope that planners and designers and company leaders and everyone realize that if we want to get more women on bikes, the helmet hair struggle is real. It’s not something that should be dismissed or belittled.

Ugh, I can see here how my bike helmet is smashing my hair here. #dislike

If I, who bikes pretty regularly and proudly, reconsider it because of my hair, think about what someone might think who has *never* tried biking to work. I know, from experience, how great it makes me feel, how much easier it is to be traveling on my own time frame and power, and how much more community spirit I feel from biking past the same houses and businesses every day. I am willing to have less than perfect hair (and a bit of sweat) for the benefits I receive from biking. So how do we get women to enjoy the same experience? I guess I’d say build more bike lanes.