I'm nuts about you all!

Thankful for Social Media

Many people I know, including friends younger than me (Millennials!) but not including my mother, don’t understand social media. They don’t want to be on Facebook, see no use for Twitter, and are marginally interested in Instagram. They claim that they have nothing to Tweet, nor care for the prattling of people they know, let alone people they don’t know. Blogging is too much work.

I, however, am thankful for social media. It has expanded my world more than I could have ever expected back in 2007 when I joined Facebook. I’ve reconnected with friends from my hometown, from my days of local theater, stayed connected with friends as we move around the world, stayed on top of current events, and met many people who are smart, interesting, interested in similar things, creative, talented, worldly, engaged, involved and inspiring. My interactions with them have expanded my horizons, inspired me to push my limits, and offered me opportunities to engage. I firmly believe that I bike differently and sew better because of my internet relationships.

So this Thanksgiving, while I am thankful for my family, friends, husband, health, prosperity, awesome job and work family, and safe, stable environment, I want to express my thankfulness for everyone whom I touch, frequently and infrequently, through social media. Thank you for your involvement in my life. Thank you for helping me grow.

I'm nuts about you all!

I’m nuts about you all!

My half of the purge pile...

The Prospect of Moving

Last week, The Mechanic and I almost moved. Well, to be more specific, we almost signed on a new lease that would have required us to move within two weeks. Two weeks – with an out-of-town Thanksgiving weekend in between. No problem <panic panic panic>, we got this…

And then we didn’t.

We love our location, walking distance to to Metro stations, a ton of restaurants, and a mall that leaves something to be desired yet still provides the basics. We also love the green space that is at least 50% of our apartment complex – even just seeing giant older trees and huge lawns available to all the residents makes me feel relaxed. However, we’d really like more space. Specifically, we’d really like space for our bicycle fleet, 8-strong at the moment.

I know not everyone loves them, but I adore seeing wild rabbits all around our apartment.

I know not everyone loves them, but I adore seeing wild rabbits all around our apartment.

So we’ve been discussing options. I really don’t want to leave, but The Mechanic wants more space – I do too, but right here, in the same spot. So when our apartment complex management sent out an email saying that 2- and 3-bedroom townhouses were available, we jumped. The Mechanic looked first, and determined that the 3-bedroom (with basement!) was too big for us, but the 2-bedroom townhouse was a good option. So I looked at it the next day. We debated all the pros and cons: Pro- a patio!!! Not only would we have ground floor space to enjoy aforementioned green space, we could get the bikes in and out more easily than hauling them up the stairs, as we currently do. Having a townhouse feels more grown up than an apartment, especially to two adults with a home-ownership phobia. Cons – It’s more space but less space, simultaneously. The rooms are smaller, and there are fewer closets. Who designs living spaces without closets?!

We decided that we would sign a new lease anyway, even though it meant we’d have almost no time to pack, as we’d need to move in right away (empty townhouse). So Saturday we went by the office to see if we could measure before we signed. Good thing we did – the neighbor’s dog barked THE ENTIRE TIME we were in the townhouse, maybe 30 minutes. Oh hell no. We told the management people why we decided against signing the lease, although we didn’t get much feedback about that. I wonder what conversations they had after we left.

So, excitement, future stress, then nothing. I felt deflated, and a bit relieved. This does mean a more relaxed December. But since we had already started the pre-move purge process, we went ahead and finished, then spent the rest of Saturday dropping stuff off at Goodwill, then going to Target, Home Depot, JoAnn Fabrics, Sears, and the pet store. Good to knock out some errands while working off moving adrenaline, I guess.

My half of the purge pile...

My half of the purge pile…

But since my mind was already full of ways we could refine our decor, I can’t really stop. I really want to hit IKEA and see what we can find. However, we haven’t decided if we will stay or not, so I guess I can’t plan anything until I know where we’ll be. At least, however, we will be able to decorate for Christmas and enjoy a “normal” (yet busy) holiday season, without the added stress of moving, packing and unpacking. I can’t imagine.

Donner Shoes

Mutiny in My Bike World

There are all kinds of mutinous thoughts going on in my head this fall. Am I getting restless? Lived in one place too long? Is climate change warming up my thought process?! First, I decided to investigate replacing my current and beloved commuter bike with a step-through frame, and now I am considering getting rid of <gasp!> my road bike.

I’m going to give you a few minutes to let that sink in.

I was already interested in longer bike rides when The Mechanic and I “got serious.” He helped me pick out Donner, my road bike, a matte black and white Cannondale Synapse, and bought his own (also a Cannondale) to ride area trails fast and loose with me. We did the CASA River Ride in Shepherdstown, WV, together, and discovered our favorite nearby getaway. Eventually I mastered SPD pedals and never fell (just admitting that means I’ve jinxed it and will the next time I’m out!). I trained for and completed the Seagull Century, putting in goodness knows how many miles on that bike. It’s fast and light, and I love the speed and agility of the road bike, compared to my commuter bike.

Bringing the bike home from REI, March 2012

Bringing home Donner from REI, March 2012

First ride to Herndon!

First ride to Herndon!

Donner Shoes

OMG, clipless pedals!

Our bikes resting after the CASA River Ride, my first half-century, in 2012

Our bikes resting after the CASA River Ride, my first half-century, in 2012

But since the Century, my interest has faded. Specifically, my willingness to forgo anything else on the weekends faded – training for the Century took up all my weekends, and I was getting more and more into sewing, The Mechanic and I were planning our wedding and bicycling around Europe, and frankly, riding the multi-use trails around here drives me nuts because they are so crowded with both oblivious pedestrians and focused roadies. And although there are plenty of less crowded places further away from the core, that requires loading up the bikes and driving somewhere, which goes back to the “taking up all the free weekend time.”

And I tried mountain biking for the first time - fun!

And I tried mountain biking for the first time – fun!

This year, The Mechanic and I signed up for the CASA River Ride again, then forced ourselves to train at least a few times. “What’s fifty miles?” we said – and it wasn’t bad.

Our road bikes on this year's CASA River Ride

Our road bikes on this year’s CASA River Ride

But since then…. it’s been sitting. The Mechanic has already decided to get rid of his. I feel like I’m betraying an old friend by even thinking about getting rid of Donner!

I’ve thought it out this way – I like bike touring. Traveling throughout the countryside by bike, like we did in Germany. I want to do more of that! If I get rid of Donner, my road bike, I could turn Fauntleroy, my current commuter bike, into a touring bike, and get a folding bike on which to commute. Or, I could get a step-through bike (which I really want, if I can find the right frame), turn the commuter bike into a touring bike, keep the mountain bike, and The Mechanic and I share custody of a folding bike. Or…. it seems like there are many combinations, but they all involve other bikes than the road bike.

This is the life... even in the rain...

This is the life… even in the rain…

I haven’t committed to anything yet, but whispers of mutiny are there. Can my bike world handle such dramatic upheaval?! We’ll see who is standing when Spring arrives in 2016.

Proof of good sewing projects - ones you want to take on trips

Too Many Hobbies and Long-Distance Friends

I think my life would be much simpler with only one (okay maybe two) hobbies! Biking, sewing, and blogging all compete with trying to get to the gym, trying to keep up on current events, trying to keep up my German language skills, occasionally reading books I’m interested in, and trying to keep up with friends. I really don’t know how parents do it.

OMG messy sewing table! Too many projects!

OMG messy sewing table! Too many projects!

All that to say, I haven’t been keeping up any of these things, including and especially my blog. So here is a whirlwind tour of the last week.


Because I don’t have enough to sew, I caved in to Instagram peer pressure and ordered the Colette Wren dress pattern. I opted for the paper pattern, but got the long sleeve download. Despite having the long sleeve option, I might wait to make this in the spring and use the short sleeve option. I’ve got too many other things to do right now than make this dress – but it will be my first indie pattern in ages, and I’m excited to make it.

Oooh exciting!

Oooh exciting!


The Mechanic and I are still hunting for a step-through frame bike option. We played around with the Raleigh and for a brief moment thought we could make it work, but then I biked around on it and realized it’s really that small. Le sigh. I just love this bike.

I feel like a giantess on this bike frame.

I feel like a giantess on this bike frame.


One of my absolute most best friends in the entire world got married this past spring and moved to Dallas to be with his husband. This past weekend was the first time I had a chance to visit them, and to see Dallas. First impressions after a 48 hour trip: it reminded me of Los Angeles; everything, and I mean everything, was decorated with pumpkins; cars cars cars; wealth wealth wealth. I was most intrigued by a gorgeous new bridge, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and it’s neighbor, the Dallas Continental Avenue Bridge that connects West Dallas and Trinity Groves to Dallas proper. Trinity Groves is a fun yet isolated development with a “restaurant concept incubator” and some retail. The new and wide pedestrian access bridge was full of families the day we walked across, and seems to be already redeveloping the neighborhood around Trinity Groves. I’ll be curious to see how that develops by my next visit.

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Friends from Germany arrived this week, friends we visited last summer during our honeymoon, and with whom I’ve been friends since 2004. It’s so lovely to have the opportunities to visit in person as often as we have been able to over the years; Skype only does so much. We spent part of Veteran’s Day at the Arlington National Cemetery on a perfect Fall day. National CemeteryThey brought some absolutely delightful gifts from Germany, completely spoiling us! My faves are the book with sewing patterns for “statement skirts,” Biff the Sorgenfresser and Christmas books.

It is nice to get away from hobbies and spend time with friends – and in doing so, discover that you are finding new ways to build on existing hobbies. It’s a vicious circle!

Proof of good sewing projects - ones you want to take on trips

Proof of good sewing projects – ones you want to take on trips…

Turning white is only the first stage - at least they never turned blue!

Thinking About Winter: Bar Mitts

And suddenly, it is November! Is anyone else horrified by how close the holidays and end of the year now seem?!

Thinking ahead to the holidays, the time change, darker evening bike rides home, and cooling temperatures means that I’m also thinking about cold. And snow. And I’m *really* not happy about that. If this coming winter is anything like last winter, I need a better cold hands strategy. Apparently I have Raynaud’s Disease (or Syndrome or Condition), which means that, in response to cold or stress, smaller blood vessels shrink more dramatically, causing loss of blood flow to fingers, toes, lips, ears, etc. Last winter, my hands would get so cold even on my short, 3-mile bike ride, that some of my fingers would turn white, then hurt a lot as they warmed up. I wasn’t sure if that was normal or not, so I finally texted a photo to my mom and aunt; my aunt replied, “That’s Raynaud’s – welcome to the club.”

Turning white is only the first stage - at least they never turned blue!

Turning white is only the first stage – at least they never turned blue!

I asked on Facebook for suggestions from others who might have similar experiences, and several suggested bar mitts. I was a little afraid of this. The Mechanic has encouraged them for a while now, but I find them pretty unattractive, so yes, I have been avoiding them. However, this year, I might need to suck it up and buy some.

Bar mitts are pretty much what the name suggestions – mitts that go over bars. Any kind of handle bars – scooters, motorcycles, snowmobiles, all styles of bicycles, baby jogging strollers…. Made of durable black neoprene, the design varies only based on the shape of the handlebars. As far as I can tell, the only company out there that makes them is called Bar Mitts. Right on the homepage, it says the bar mitts are good for anyone suffering Raynaud’s.

The neoprene is obviously a good choice for being in the elements. Basil, the Dutch bicycle accessories company, makes faux sheepskin ones, which I quite like. I don’t know how well these would hold up in the rain – would the fabric get soggy, and not dry out in the cold?

I am tempted to order them from Dutch Bike Bits anyway, but if they are hard to swap out, I don’t know that it would be worth using them some time, but replacing them with the neoprene option when it’s really needed.

I briefly considered making my own. The Mechanic made some for his scooter a few winters back, when he was riding a scooter out to Fairfax County (a not really bike-friendly commute). He used some old materials from his military days, but found that when they got wet, they didn’t dry out for days. I’m pretty sure I would be miserable, in that case. Igloo Bar Mitts 1 Igloo Bar Mitts 2I’ll probably wait until after Christmas to order Bar Mitts, but I think they will be on my winter biking prep list, no matter what I think of the look. I guess keeping my fingers healthier is worth it <grits teeth>. After all, I did eventually succumb to the warmth of down coats, over my preferred wool coats.

Have you experienced anything like this whilst biking in the cold? What was your solution? What has been your best cold weather solution?

Snakeskin skirt

MeMade Reflective Bike Fashion Challenge

I decided that it’s time for another MeMade Reflective Bike Fashion Challenge – how many days in a row can I wear to work something that I have made? I did this once before, last year (September 2014), and since it’s been over a year, it’s time to do this again! So many more reflective bike fashions to showcase!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my sewing goal is to make clothing that A) I can wear to work; B) that have something reflective somewhere, so I am more visible when I am biking to work; C) must be bike-friendly. The reflective materials have gotten more exotic and varied, so I’ve been able to do some great stuff this year, a trend I’m not sure will be sustainable. Nevertheless, I’ve made fourteen new pieces since this time last year, which means almost a full three weeks of just new stuff alone! However, some of the things are not necessarily work-appropriate, like the Kwik Sew 3513 knit foldover waist skirt I made for summer weekend biking.

I started this week, but unfortunately, the mornings have been too dark, so the photos are taken inside. This means they are not great, thanks to our lousy apartment lighting, and neither The Mechanic nor I are fully awake. Please don’t just the sleepy looks on my face….

Day 1 – McCalls 6361 Skirt

MeMade Challenge Day 1 - McCalls 6361 Skirt

MeMade Challenge Day 1 – McCalls 6361 Skirt

This skirt is only one of two garments without any reflective trim. Shocking but true. I just couldn’t see it, so I didn’t add it. It’s not the best biking skirt either, honestly, but whatever. I paired this skirt with my favorite floral-print denim shirt from Ann Taylor Loft, and a very old Loft blazer. The suede booties are from Land’s End. I think I need to up my tights game, however. Don’t love these cream-colored cable knit ones with this look. Wooden necklace purchased in Prague in 2006.

Day 2 – McCalls 7160 Dress

MeMade Challenge Day 2 - McCalls 7160 Color Block Dress

MeMade Challenge Day 2 – McCalls 7160 Color Block Dress

I really love this McCalls 7160 dress. I think I need an assortment of belts, however, because it feels a bit unfinished. I really wanted to wear my Boden soldier print shirt under this, but it wasn’t ironed, oops, so I added one of my Land’s End striped turtlenecks. Again, not in love with the tights, but I am in love with those Dansko heels! Check out the way the trim is reflecting! A friend made me the necklace, lucky me. I got a complement on this dress from a stranger on the street the day I wore this – I consider that a successful garment.

Day 3 – Vogue 9026 Sweatshirt

MeMade Challenge Day 3 - Vogue 9026

MeMade Challenge Day 3 – Vogue 9026

A warm rainy day. I often wear my faux leather skirt, purchased on a whim last year at Macy’s, when it rains, because I know the water will roll right off the skirt and not hurt it. I didn’t realize it was going to be quite so warm, or I might not have worn this top, however! I had to bike to a client event and was a sweaty mess by the time I got there! Oh well. This gray velour sweatshirt with all the lovely reflective bias trim is one of my favorites as well. I don’t always love what I make, but this one I do. Pattern is Vogue 9026, and the fabrics were purchased from Britex, in San Francisco. Boots from I don’t remember where, but they were cheap and leak badly, so I need to replace them. And I don’t leave the house without my Cleverhood when it rains!

The rest of the days depend on the wishy-washy Fall weather and what I’m doing for work, of course. Friday I have to be at an event wearing a work-branded shirt, and since I haven’t yet made pants that would coordinate, well, that’s going to be an off-day. Stay tuned for the next update, though! Several more options lined up!


I made a skirt for a friend tonight (the one who made my bunny necklace, pictured above). This Kwik Sew 3513 knit skirt (same as mentioned earlier) whips up really easily, and the faux snakeskin-print knit she picked out was actually really lovely to sew – nicely squishy. The fabric is soft and fuzzy on the back, which means she’ll need to wear it with a slip, or it will crawl right up her legs when she walks. (I’m assuming that in the coming months, she’ll want to wear tights with this, as it gets colder.) I can’t wait to give it to her and pray that it fits properly. I made this pattern for me, and like it, but I’m not good at sewing for other bodies. Snakeskin skirt


Invisible zipper

A Very Wordy Bike Skirt

Words, words, words.

I love words, preferably in the written form, but also in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (the movie with Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, love!).

So when I saw this word-print denim, I knew I had to have it. Wordy FabricSurprisingly lightweight, with some stretch, it was perfect to test out the KwikSew skirt pattern before I make it for a friend, K3877. The simple A-line shape meant the print wouldn’t be disturbed or distorted in any way, plus it was so easy to whip up in a day.

Kwik Sew K3877

Kwik Sew K3877

I’m making the shorter version for my friend’s skirt, but I decided I wanted the longer length. And then I added an inch, although I could have added two inches to get it past my knee cap.

The pattern instructions had detailed zipper instructions, but I put in an invisible zipper. I did follow the directions, more or less, for the stitch-in-the-ditch waistband and blind hem, but I did my blind hem on the machine, rather than by hand. I don’t often use that sort of hem finishing, but I like the way it disappears in this fabric and print. The skirt doesn’t have pockets and I didn’t feel like adding them. I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out, although I wish I had put in a full lining. Wearing it with tights meant the hem caught every time I walked. I guess I need a longer slip.

Invisible zipper

Invisible zipper (Man, I tried so hard to match the pattern, and still failed!)

Serged then blind hem

Serged then blind hem

For the reflective detail on this skirt, I decided to try something different. The word print inspired me to hunt down iron-on reflective letters for some poodle skirt-like placement on the left knee. I managed to find the word “Bike” premade from a company in Portland (of course) and promptly ordered from Amazon. I quite like the way it turned out. Wordy Bike Skirt 2 Wordy Bike Skirt 3The reflective letters are brighter and less subtle than I was envisioning, but heck, who cares if I’m promoting my transportation mode of choice when I’m out and about?!

This is the skirt that inspired my interest in a step-through frame, but it actually worked fine on my current bike. Of course, the day I wore it ended up being cold enough that I had to dust off a winter coat, which was then long enough that it covered up the hem of the skirt as it bunched up above the top tube and my knees. That’s okay, plenty of opportunities to show it off in the future!

Testing it out on the vintage Raleigh (can you tell how small the frame is in this photo?!)

Testing it out on the vintage Raleigh (can you tell how small the frame is in this photo?!)


I love the point in the chain guard design here

Fostering a Vintage Raleigh Bicycle

I decided I wanted to look into a step-through bike frame, to replace my current and beloved frame with a top tube. First, I felt guilty for betraying a trusted stead and faithful companion, about whom I’ve often said, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” (The Mechanic says I need to not personalize my bikes.) Then, I pondered whether or not a step-through frame fit my personality and style. To assist with that decision, I did some online research, and identified bicycles and brands that did not fit my personality and style, and some that did. Ultimately, I came back to the bike I had as a kid – I want exactly that bike!

I even have leg warmers now!

I even have leg warmers now!

The Mechanic said, “You’ve always loved those vintage Raleigh bikes because of the fork crown detail, so why don’t you look into those?” He did some research and felt pretty confident that he can upgrade a vintage 3-speed bike to gears closer to what I currently have, better suited for hilly Arlington, as well as whatever else might need to be done.Smart man, excellent mechanic.

A few minutes on Craigslist, and we came up with some contenders. One looked lovely but was olive green, and although I like olive green, it’s not my style, so I passed on that one. Two were listed as being silver, but one ad had neither pictures nor contact information, so there was no way to follow up. Therefore, Saturday we drove out to Leesburg to check out a silver early 70’s vintage women’s Raleigh. And I ended up buying it.

The beautiful little Raleigh

The beautiful little Raleigh

It’s a lovely, lovely bike, purchased from the original owner, who apparently rode it once after purchasing it in 1976, fell, and hasn’t touched it since then. The couple is downsizing to move into a retirement community, and the bike needed to go. It is in such good condition that the husband even handed us the original receipt (from Fort Hunt Bicycle Center in Alexandria, VA) and owner’s manual! What a find! I’m in love with the fork crown detail, the design of the front fender, the chain guard, the chain ring with it’s heron design, the rear fender with the huge red reflector, and the sleek silver color.

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However, it is waaaaaay too small for me. I knew it when the gentleman pulled it out of his truck. I knew it when I rode it around. But I thought The Mechanic could play with it and make it work. The Mechanic admitted that he didn’t measure it because he, like me, didn’t want to say no to the nice couple, with whom we chatted for a while. So, I am fostering this bike until I can find it a Forever Home. It is currently parked next to Fauntleroy, who initially threw it the evil eye, but knowing that it won’t replace him, he’s warmed up to the Raleigh. (In an attempt to not bond, I tried not to name it, but somehow it ended up as Quincy.)

They look like they should be closer in size than they really are, don't they?

They look like they should be closer in size than they really are, don’t they?

We might do a bit of clean up on the bike, replace the (original) break pads, and see if we can’t get the Sturmey Archer gear hub to shift more smoothly. But there isn’t much else to be done to it. We’ll put up a Craigslist ad of our own for this bike, and I’ll keep looking for this exact same thing – but in a larger size*. Because now that I’ve seen one, held it, hauled it up the stairs to our apartment, and ridden around on it, I really want one *just like this*!


*The seat tube measures 19.5″

I even have leg warmers now!

Step Through Bike Frames: Girlie or Nah?

The unexpected happened the other day – I wondered if I would like a step-through bike frame. My stomach dropped and my palms started to sweat. What was I thinking?!

I love my bicycle, Fauntleroy. I wouldn’t change a thing about him. In fact, even though he desperately needs a new paint job, I can’t bring myself to decide on actually doing it, picking a color, where would I take him, and how long would we be parted?! From the Danish front basket to the rear rack that is slowly putting a hole in my pannier, there isn’t anything I want to add or subtract. Except…. I’m making another cute A-line skirt…. and although I always wear something modest under my skirts, hitching the narrower ones up enough to swing over the back of my bike is sometimes an annoyance. Except…. I do love riding Capital Bikeshare bikes and casually swinging my right foot in front of me as I pull up to a station to hop off and dock the bike. Except…. hm…..

Nope, wouldn't change a thing!

Nope, wouldn’t change a thing!

See, nice low frame, easy to step through

See, nice low frame, easy to step through

Here’s the problem. I think step-through frames are too girlie. They always are painted in pastel colors and decorated with wicker front baskets, and are often shown with women in skirts or dresses riding them. Well, I wear skirts and dresses often on my bike, but I’ve always appreciated that I’m still badass because I’m riding a men’s mountain bike that was converted by The Mechanic into my commuter bike. Skirt, yes – girlie bike, no. What’s badass about a curvy, swoopy bike frame? Nothing that I can see.

Classic girlie step-through bike, the Pashley Princess. I mean, it's called "the Princess"! At least it isn't pink.

Classic girlie step-through bike, the Pashley Princess. I mean, it’s called “the Princess”! At least it isn’t pink.

When I mentioned my secret thoughts to a colleague, she had the same reaction – a wrinkling of the nose while saying, “But they are all so girlie!” Her thought was, “Can I ride a step-through bike and still be a feminist?” (She’s a bike mechanic and sews, so she’s more badass than I am.)  A women’s bike frame, to us, just seem too cutesy, pink and ruffles, neither of which we are. We both strive to be strong, independent women, and although we both wear skirt and dresses often, I don’t think either of us would describe ourselves, or each other, as being girlie.


Part of the reason why I like riding bikes is because it makes me feel powerful. Okay, some days I ride home too slowly to be even remotely powerful, but some days I enjoy the feeling of powering myself through the streets, dodging pot holes and bad drivers, and enjoying the weather and street scenes as I breeze past, and I feel powerful. These dainty, curvy bikes in their sweet colors and perky baskets don’t scream “powerful” to me. Actually, they probably don’t scream at all. Too well-bred. Too pre-Title IX.

But my colleague and I talked it through, and agreed that it was important to be open-minded, so I did some research online. After looking at a range of styles, from the super-low Biria step-through “Easy Boarding” bikes (try going over any bump in the road on that!), to the fun, customizable Republic Plato Step-Thru, I stumbled across an old photo of me on my first grown-up bike.

Biria Easy Boarding Balloon 7

Biria Easy Boarding Balloon 7

The custom colors I chose on the Republic Plato Step-Thru

The custom colors I chose on the Republic Plato Step-Thru

In the old, fading, square photo of me, in my purple quilted vest and cool purple leg warmers, I realized that I still love that bike. It’s a shiny burgundy, it has fenders and a chain guard, easy handle bars, and look – a step-through frame! But not a curvy one – ah ha!

When Tin Lizzie first rode!

When Tin Lizzie first rode!

I started looking at frames more closely. There’s something about the straight tube that makes them seem a bit less girlie. I really like the Breezer bikes, but there are other brands that are similar.

Looking at the old photo, The Mechanic said, “Why don’t we look for those old Raleighs that you love so much?” He did some research to discover that they might not be quite that bad to modernize (I really don’t want a 3 speed bike. That’s what Capital Bikeshare is for), then poked around the internet a bit for reviews and blogs and the like. Made solidly enough to last until now, apparently they are pretty easy to get ahold of on eBay, Craigslist and the like. We’ve seen several for sale in the area already. The late 60s women’s Raleighs look pretty much like my first bike, with the concave chrome detail on the fork crown that I love so much (it’s just an interesting detail many bikes don’t have). If I can find one I like, in decent shape, for fairly cheap, it might turn into a winter project. It might. I still haven’t decided if it they are too girlie for me or not. I need to test ride one to decide. But it would make it easier to wear, and bike in, pencil skirts!

What are your thoughts on bike frames?

Color Block 6

Trends in Reflective: Color Block Dress

I really love color block dresses. I love the concept of color blocking, because it’s a fun way to make basic garments more interesting, and because I love color, it’s the perfect way to combine my favorite color combinations. I’ve made color block stuff before, like this sweatshirt, and there are a few other patterns I’d still love to try.

I don’t remember which I saw first this summer – the McCalls 7160 dress pattern or the Boden Alice Ponte Dress (in Lupin Multi). As much as I love the Boden dress, the McCalls pattern offered an opportunity to make my own color blocked dress, and to coordinate the colors with things I’m making or already own. I added the pattern to my Fall 2015 Capsule Collection.

Boden Alice Ponte Dress in Lupin Multi

Boden Alice Ponte Dress in Lupin Multi (Image from Boden Website)

It took me a while to hunt down the fabric I wanted online, since it sold out at Fabric.com initially, but I eventually assembled navy, burgundy and heathered lavender knits. Then I decided to use the new camo print reflective fabric I recently purchased for the reflective bias in the skirt seam. It’s more flexible than the silver 3M reflective fabric, and less bright, so it won’t be so “in our face” obvious. Color Block 5 Color Block 6The front and back pieces of the skirt, before they get put together. The lavender and the navy look really great together, don’t they?

Last Friday I had some minor dental surgery, so while I waited for the feeling came back to my mouth, I cut out this dress and got it started. I had decided to lengthen the waist, since my waist is a bit longer than most patterns are designed for, so that took some extra time. And making the reflective bias wasn’t quick either. Notice in the above photo how the reflectivity isn’t uniform (pun not intended! Camo – uniform – get it?!)? Maybe if I’d made the bias wider, more of the fabric, and therefore the reflectivity, would show.

The dress went together pretty easily, and I was able to wear it to the Kennedy Center Saturday night. (In retrospect, going to the symphony after surgery wasn’t the best idea – thankfully the swelling in my face isn’t that noticeable, and there isn’t any bruising!) After lengthening the waist, I didn’t like the look, and how low it felt, so I shortened it up a bit in the waist seam. My initial thought, when I tried it on, was that it makes me look frumpy. It pulls on over the head, so the bodice is a bit loose, for some wiggle room. I prefer a slimmer fit with a full skirt. But after adding heels and some fancy jewelry and my fab new navy blue faux leather moto jacket from my Stitch Fix subscription, I feel less frumpy. And I love the swing of a full circle, don’t you?

As our weather begins to feel like fall, and forecasts show overnight lows in the 40s and 50s, I’ve been checking out shirts in my wardrobe that can go under this dress.Two different denim shirts and a variety of striped turtlenecks, plus my Boden soldiers print shirt from last year, mean I have plenty of options for this dress. Color Block 2 Color Block 8This is the first garment off my Fall Capsule Collection list that I can check off. I’ve made a few other pieces, including my Antique Blouse and a recently-finished, un-blogged-about skirt, but this is off the official list. I’m trying hard not to deviate from it.

Fall outfit in my office - the Antique Blouse (Butterick 5610) and the brick red corduroy skirt (McCalls 6361)

Fall outfit in my office -my Antique Blouse (Butterick 5610) and the brick red corduroy skirt (McCalls 6361), which I’m pretty pleased with, even if I didn’t understand the directions for the zipper…

I am deviating from my list one more time, however. I’m completely in love with this word-print lightweight stretch denim. I’ve got a quirky reflective detail idea up my sleeve with this one, but in case it doesn’t turn out, I don’t want to say anything.

A-line skirt, on the way!

A-line skirt, on the way!

And I am making skirts for two friends. I normally dislike sewing for other people, as something never seems to go quite right, but one is a fairly easy foldover waist knit skirt, and the other, well, she wanted the Star Wars fabric, and I couldn’t resist!

But I guess I can take a breather and get some important life stuff done first. Do you obsess over sewing projects, and neglect all else to work on them incessantly? If so, I’ll feel better. It’s hard to not sew when there is so much fun stuff to create!

"The Age of Elizabeth" at the Kennedy Center

“The Age of Elizabeth” at the Kennedy Center