Thankful for Ozark Adventures

The Mechanic and I spent Thanksgiving in the Ozarks, in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, to be precise. This was my third trip to NW Arkansas, the first time being right before Christmas five years ago. This time, we met up with The Mechanic’s siblings, the very same ones we’d just been to Disney World with, to spend the holiday with their father, who lives just north of the Arkansas border, in Missouri. We all congregated in a lake house on the edge of Beaver Lake.

On this trip, I was thankful for:

Thanksgiving lunch at local favorite, Myrtie May’s Cafe.

Kayaking on Beaver Lake

Meeting the Eureka Springs Working Bunnies

The beautiful rocky landscape of NW Arkansas

A return trip to Hammontree’s for grilled cheese and gourmet veggie dogs

 

And of course, spending time with The Mechanic’s family.

It’s hard to believe we are already into December, and everyone’s thoughts have turned to the holidays. Nevertheless, I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving, full of family and good food, in every and all variation of both.

 

MeMade, Disney, and Quinn

Last week was the long-planned, long-awaited family trip to Disney World. I’d love to report that it was an absolute blast, but sadly, we got bad news at almost the very beginning of the trip, and ended up coming home early.

Our bunny girl, Quinn the Angora, died overnight the first night that we were gone, and our newly-hired pet sitter found her. We got the call right after breakfast our first morning, and then spent the rest of the day on the phone with the sitter, the vet, and our bunny friend who swooped in to help out. Being in The Happiest Place on Earth while mourning the loss of one of our sweet babies made it hard to get into the Disney Magic.

The sudden, unexpected death of Quinn the Angora is sadly not uncommon in rabbits. They have very fragile systems. The vet said her intestines ruptured and she probably died withing 8-12 hours. Even if we had been home, the outcome would have been the same.

After deciding to cut our trip short so we could go home and see Gaston the Lionhead and Sullivan the Angora, Quinn’s brother, we rallied and enjoyed the rest of the time we were at DIsney World. We went on the Flight of the Banshee ride in the new Pandora world in Animal Kingdom, and all I can say is that it was worth the 2 hours standing in line. Btw, no one does standing in line like Disney does! I didn’t get to my favorite Magic Kingdom rides, but enjoyed many others. And being with my in laws was fun too. Everything was decorated for Christmas, which was a bit weird because it was so much hotter than we expected it to be (not that we were complaining, mind you!).

I had to cut one of my Disney themed outfits out, but managed to wear three things made with Disney in mind. Day One was my Liberty of London dinosaur shirt – after my January trip, I rediscovered my love of dinosaurs and ordered this fabric from London directly. Day Two was my Belle and the prince peplum tee made out of fabric that exactly matches a mosaic in the Be Our Guest castle, where we had breakfast (and where we stayed to deal with the death of Quinn). Day Three was my Finding Dory skirt in Epcot, where they have a whole Living with the Sea area, complete with Dory, Nemo, Merlin, and other Finding Nemo characters. I got several compliments on the Belle shirt and the Dory skirt, even from cast members! I also saw a ton of super cute Disney themed outfits on other guests, so I’m glad I wore my pieces and I didn’t feel weird about it at all.

We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which was amazing. We’d planned our trip to include time to spend in the resort, but then didn’t get to. Beyond the spectacular lobby and the view of roaming animals out our balcony, another highlight for me was the custom (I assume) animal lace curtains.

I’ve mostly been home sitting on the floor of the living room, anxiously watching Sullivan and Gaston, to make sure they are okay. It’s hard to tell how much they miss their sister. I have noticed that they aren’t snuggling like they used to, and I hope they soon remember how much they liked each other. The Mechanic and I have agreed that it won’t be too long before we start looking for a third bunny. We like the dynamics of three, and think the boys need another friend. I guess it’s now full speed ahead into the holidays and a new year, isn’t it?!

Double Disney

In a few short days (!!!), The Mechanic and I are headed to Disney World, where we’ll meet his siblings and their families on a trip planned since February. I’ve been planning my outfits for almost as long, I think. You know me, I can’t pass up a thematic trip (see: Bermuda) so I’ve made a few Disney-themed pieces, and then creating other Disney-themed outfits from things I already have.

 

My Beauty and the Beast peplum tee shirt

Happily ever after…

But when friends invited me to join them on their Halloween weekend at Disney World, I hesitated – I was already going, and besides, I don’t have any Halloween Disney themed things. In the end, I decided to go, mostly because I haven’t seen these friends in far too long. So I madly stitched up a no-pattern skirt with a Halloween print cotton that I bought last year, intended to be my annual Halloween costume (contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually like to make costumes for myself. I’d rather spend my time sewing things I’ll get a lot of wear out of). I didn’t make it reflective but I did order some Haunted Mansion-themed glow-in-the-dark things from Etsy vendors. The Haunted Mansion is one of my favorite rides, and what better for Halloween?!

Halloween skirt worn with The Haunted Mansion “Tightrope Girl” print tee shirt

We had a blast and the weather was absolutely perfect. Of course it was also exhausting – our first day we walked almost 30,000 steps!

Although the Magic Kingdom won’t be decorated for Halloween when The Mechanic and I return, I’m glad I had the chance to see the decorations a bit on my short weekend.

The theme for this weekend was obviously Halloween, so black and gray everything. The next trip will be an exuberant celebration of Disney (at least, for me it will be, so I’ve got different things planned, from the obvious Beauty and the Beast tee shirt on the day we have breakfast in the Beast’s castle at the Be Our Guest Restaurant, to the more subtle red pants and black top to give homage to Mickey Mouse himself, as he nears his 90th birthday. My Liberty of London dinosaur shirt will be a classy nod to the dinosaur part of Animal Kingdom, and my Finding Dory skirt for a day when we are in Epcot. It’s going to be fun and from what I saw over Halloween weekend, I will fit right in! Not quite #disneybounding, but fun anyway.

Am I the only one who plans (and sews) thematic travel wardrobes? Anyone else?

Yes, yes, you will!

 

Reflective Thoughts for Fall

And….. it’s Fall! The temperatures have dropped, with a frost advisory overnight last night and chilly temps for the bike ride to work – overnight lows in the upper 30s! Besides digging out the warm bike gloves and the ear pads for my Nutcase helment, I’m happy to bring out my fabulous Dashing Tweeds reflective coat.

I love this coat so much – reflective tweed, OMG, which I bought in London in 2017 AND I think I did a really good job making this McCalls 7667 coat. It fits so well! I finished in this past February, wore it to New York, then haven’t had much chance to wear it again, let alone bike in it. So it’s very exciting to me.

On a slightly warmer day last week, I wore the dusty rose reflective duster I made from Simplicity 8055. I still can’t believe how perfectly the twill matched the red reflective fabric! It’s flat lined, so it has a bit of weight, but it’s not a *warm* jacket, nor is it meant to be. Perfect for over a long sleeved top when the weather peaks in the 60s. And how cool are the reflective “bubbles” on the cuffs?!?

I’ve also worn the reflective brocade Simplicity 8418 bomber jacket I mentioned last week. Lined with flannel-backed satin, it’s warm, even though it’s short. I don’t have any good recent pictures of it reflecting, so here’s two views from when I finished in March.

I need to focus more on reflective outerwear. I think that more should be done to encourage driver awareness, rather than focusing solely on what people walking and riding bikes wear, but I still want to make sure I am visible while I am out in the short, dark winter days. Since I refuse to just through a hi viz safety vest over my regular outfit, I focus instead on what “normal” looking clothes and accessories I can wear that are reflective and lighter colored. I’ve learned a few things along the way, so here are some tips and easy products to help.

Think about where you are going to most be seen while you are walking and biking.  Focus on your back, where you can’t see who is behind you – back, waist, hips, arms, shoulders, feet. Yes, 360* visibility is important, but you can *see* the cars in the front, whereas you can’t from behind you. So make that more visible.

  • Add reflective trim to cuffs, waists, ankles
  • Wear reflective belts – I’ve replaced the belt on my winter coat with one from Vespertine NYC. You can also order reflective grosgrain ribbon to sew or iron onto a webbing belt.
  • Consider painting shoes with reflective paint. Albedo 100 makes a spray paint in two versions – a non-permanent one for textiles, and a permanent one for wood and metal and so on. I tried the textile one on a pair of sneakers many years ago, and am considering doing the side walls of my winter boots.
  • Add reflective trim to gloves – the iron-on Dritz trim should work for this.
  • If you knit, consider reflective yarn for hats and gloves and socks. Red Heart seems to be the go-to brand for this – not the best quality but totally fun!
  • I am currently obsessed with Finnish company Moiko on Instagram – boy do I want their reflective floral heart mittens!!!!
  • Add a fun reflective button from Reflective Society – I know, I said focus on the back, and this is something to wear on the front, but I love her buttons so much! Check out the reflective lace pockets on the jeans, though – hm, total idea….
  • Also in the reflective accessory line, check out Firefly Reflectors. I love my reflective tassels and the adorable soft reflectors, but also check out their stickers and pins. So. Much. Fun. I hadn’t seen their new soft tassels yet – I think one of those will find its way to me this winter… (OMG, this one has *eyes*!!! I need this.)

So there are a handful of ideas to get you started. It’s much easier to be fashionable and visible than you might think, especially if you aren’t a seamstress like me. There’s always a shop on Etsy or elsewhere on the Internet to help you find the perfect reflective pieces, so you are stylish and seen. Warm, well, I can’t help you much there….

A bunch of my reflective accessories reflecting – even shoe laces!

 

 

Overcoming Anxieties and Returning to Biking

Okay, let’s try this again. It’s been at least *seven* months since I have regularly bike commuted to work, thanks to two major surgeries in that time period. I briefly started biking in the middle of that time period, right before the second, unexpected emergency surgery. After that, I tried really hard to not to ANYTHING to disrupt the healing process again (nope, not telling you what it was, sorry). And in that entire time period, as much as I missed biking, I began to get anxious about it.

Throughout the time I was off my bike, I had more time to read the news about pedestrian and cyclists injuries and fatalities here in the DC area. I also had plenty of time on buses and in Lyfts to observe drivers making a range of really dangerous decisions every single day. At the same time, electric scooters sprang from nowhere in our area, leading to litany of unsafe and reckless rider allegations. Nevermind the fact that the one fatality so far was a young man hit by a driver of a BMW – it’s those reckless kids on scooters that are the menace!

Somehow, being away from the bike lanes seemed to amplify all the dangers that come from not being in a car. It’s no wonder that people who don’t bike <ever – often- in a city> tell me that they are scared to try it. If I, a regular bike commuter for 8 years, can get anxious about returning to it after 7 months, of course someone who has never done it will be scared.

I am happy to report, however, that I biked three times this week and not only survived, I remembered how great it is! Somehow, in my head, the distances had seemed soooo much longer and seemed to take so much more effort. But my short 4 miles each way went smoother, quicker, and even safer than I’d built up in my head. I did start off slowly – Tuesday I biked to work then took the bus home. Wednesday I had a work event super early and i wouldn’t have biked anyway, but then my bike was waiting for me at the office so I could bike home. Instead, The Mechanic and I met up for bike date night – something else we haven’t done in ages. Friday I biked to AND from work for the first time since March. It all felt great!

I am sure our bikes enjoyed being out on the town together again!

Thursday, the remnants of Hurricane Michael swept through town, a rainy day I opted not to bike. But the following day, Friday, was surprisingly delicious cool, fall like temperatures, hooray! I was finally able to wear the reflective brocade bomber jacket I made ages ago but never got to wear on the bike. I paired it with a charcoal and yellow sweater vest I got last winter from Ann Taylor, and was impressed at how the colors looked together and on me. All of last fall and winter’s clothing was designed around my blonde hair, so I am sorting out what looks better on me-the-redhead. This was definitely a winning look!

I’m looking forward to my regular, consistent bike commutes again, now that I’ve taken the first steps back. Who cares that it’s just in time for cold, dark weather, haha?! It’s worth it. It makes me happy.

My Hunt for Perfection

I think that everyone hunts for perfection – whatever their perfect is, and however they strive for it. Thankfully, we all have our own definition of perfect, so we aren’t all hunting for the same thing. The world would be a very boring place if we were all the same, my mother says all the time!

My hunt for perfection is rather laser-focused on clothing, shoes and jewelry. Pretty self-centered, I admit. But what I’m hunting for is the perfect personal uniform, the wardrobe that I can go to, blindy grab something, and look exactly the way I want to look and feel perfectly comfortable. It’s part of the reason why I sew – I don’t find perfection on the clothing racks in the stores in the mall. What I want is different, so I make it myself. See my Instagram account for #reflectivefashion, #bikefashion, #Bikestyle….

Sadly, I’m not there yet. And my concept of perfect changes all the time – I am currently obsessed with the perfect pants shape, but what I like now is not what I liked a year or two ago. But I did just finish another pair of the Burda 6770 drapy pants in navy blue linen, and I think they are currently pretty close to perfect. (These Danskos are pretty perfect too – I just got them recently and I think I’ve worn them almost every day since.)

Here’s the wearable muslin in red chambray. I added 2″ to the length on the navy pair.

To prove to you that I can find perfection, though, I want to give you the best example: Fauntleroy, my bicycle. There is nothing on this bike that needs to change. I love everything about it. I love the look of it, the accessories, and the way I feel when I’m riding it. In fact, it’s so perfect, that the only thing I think I could possibly change is the paint job and even then, I really want to repaint it in exactly the same color. And it really needs to be repainted – perfection does need to be maintained, after all! But I’ve been dragging my feet over the color. In my world, not being able to decide means I don’t love something enough, so keep the status quo. I think that means Fauntleroy needs to stay the same light shade of blue. Of course, The Mechanic painted Fauntleroy this color ages ago with spray paint he picked out from Home Depot, so I don’t know if a real proper powder coating place will be able to match it. Fingers crossed that I’ll find something same-ish. It is somewhat ironic that I’m constantly hunting for THE perfect ____XXX_____ that I can wear and love forever, considering the fact that I also sew because I get bored with what I have and want to make newer and flashier and more perfect things! ??? But Fauntleroy is proof that someday, I’ll find exactly what I’m hunting for.

Am I the only one like this?!?

 

The Entire Month of September in One Blog Post

September was a really busy month, and the one hobby that fell by the wayside was blogging. So here is everything I did in September, all in one blog post. I’ll try to keep it brief!

1. Bermuda

The Mechanic and I went back to Bermuda, to Grotto Bay, the resort we stayed at three years ago. A desire to stay somewhere we wouldn’t be tempted to run around and do too many things, as well as a great package deal through Orbitz convinced us that this was the best place to relax.  For four days we snorkeled, stared at the water, and drank Dark n’ Stormys and Rum Swizzles.

Grotto Bay

Because I love a travel wardrobe theme, I packed blue and fish themed clothes. I didn’t make everything I took, but 3/4 of it.

2. Haute Couture Embroidery

I took an embroidery class from Smithsonian Associates! Actually, it was half lecture, half sewing – first we explored haute couture embroidery, the origins of haute couture, and discussed embroidery houses and how they worked with designers. Then we had time to create our own “haute couture” buttons. I didn’t like my work so I started taking it out, and didn’t finish my buttons. And I haven’t touched it since – we were allowed to take our supplies home. Eventually I’ll redo them! It made me want to try learning embroidery again. I did some, ages ago, as well as beadwork, so maybe it’s time again…

3. History Happy Hour

Following the learning and doing event theme, a friend and I attended History Happy Hour at The Williard InterContinential Hotel. The hotel’s famous bartender told stories about famous and infamous historic hotel guests while a special guest talked to us about diplomacy and the role the hotel played. During all this, we made historic cocktails. It was a fun evening and we just might do it again!

4. Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is educational, right? Another friend and I went to the Crystal City Oktoberfest, where we were able to sample several different beers, many from the area. We learned which ones we liked and which ones we didn’t like – that’s educational! Unfortunately, I’m not sure I remember which were my favorites…. My friend has an authentic, bought in Bavaria, dirndl, but mine is an inexpensive option from Amazon. It is pretty boring, so now that I have a sewing machine with fancy embroidery stitches, I decided to decorate it.

 

5. Sewing

Amongst all these events, I managed to complete three sewing projects!

I made the McCalls 7726 paperbag waist pants again, this time in the tapered leg version in gray. I’m working on perfecting pants fit, and I think these turned out pretty well – not perfect, but better. Also, reflective belt loops and the back of the sash, yay!

Then I made the Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes. I decided to make them out of navy blue corduroy, something a bit heavier, so I can wear them through the colder months. I’m not 100% in love with them – should I have made them longer? Why do the pockets hang funny? Is the back crotch seam fit okay? But I wore them right away and they are pretty lovely to wear. I can’t wait to bike in them! Not much reflectivity on these, so I added a small patch on the back left waist.

And finally, I made something for my trip to Disney World later this fall – Pamela’s Patterns Pretty Peplum Top is muslined out of this Beauty and the Beast print jersey I found on FabricDepot.com. I’m hunting for an easy peplum top pattern, so this was a good excuse to test out the fit. I took in the waist quite a bit from the size Small, but left the sleeves and shoulders because they fit so well. Also had to raise the waist a bit. I think it’s really cute so I don’t think I’ll be able to wait until our trip to wear this! (Excuse the awful photo…..)

And you may have noticed that my haircut is a bit different now – symmetrical! It was time for a bit of a change.

Whew, no wonder I feel exhausted by this month! I think I need a trip back to the beach to rest.

 

 

Socializing and Sewing

The Mechanic and I live a pretty quiet social life. Between him the introvert and me boardline introvert, most evenings and many weekends, we tend to stay home quietly and do our own things. But we love our friends and have been lucky enough to have seen many of them this month. I say “lucky” because with everyone busy busy busy, it’s hard to get schedules to coincide. So we’ve caught up with traveling friends, friends with a new baby, and friends who live *just* far enough away to not be able to see them often. And since they are friends who hadn’t seen our new place yet, it was nice to be able to show it off. And introduce them to the bunnies.

L to R: Sullivan, Quinn and Gaston in the front

But somehow I’ve managed to get a lot of sewing done as well as socialize. I started the month off with two projects that actually ended up kinda cute together, although that was not the intention:

Yes, the skirt has pockets!

The gecko tee shirt is the Sunny Top by Friday Pattern Company. It was super easy to make, although I did a different neckline finish that I sort of regret. It also fits really well – above the waist. Next time I make it I need to lengthen it *a lot* and, er, widen the hip curve to actually fit my hips. I ordered this Gecko Trails knit from Stonemountain and Daughter with birthday money in the spring, and it’s so cute and soft. I just need to always tuck it in…

Geckos! And stripes.

The skirt is Finding Dory cotton from Fabric.com. Between an imminent vacation in Bermuda and a trip to Disney World later this fall, I thought it would be a funny subtle theme skirt. I really love it – but… I made up the pattern and somehow made the waistband too small. Whoops. Well, I have gained too much weight this year so this is good incentive to lose it, I guess.

Finding Nemo is one of my favorite movies, so this is fun!

The other sewing project I just finished this weekend is a wearable muslin of Burda Style 6770. The Burda pattern is similar to other indie patterns out there but I was in JoAnn Fabrics with a friend, so I grabbed it instead. I made it out of red chambray I’ve had for ages, and added some of the red reflective piping I bought in Mood Fabrics earlier this summer to add a bit of visibility to each leg. Instead of doing the entire side seam, I just did a few inches on the calves.

Don’t know that I’ll actually wear my shirt tucked into these pants, but it shows the waist better.

The waistband has a top and bottom row of elastic and a center row for a drawstring, so I dug through my reflective bits and baubs and pulled out some cording. It was the perfect size for the teeny tiny buttonhole openings. Not really useful in the way of evening visibility but makes me happy, especially when I realized that you can see it reflecting *through* the fabric casing, haha! I really want to make these pants out of an amazing print I found on Spoonflower, called Dark Matter. I’m really obsessed with celestial prints these days, can’t explain it. And this print is all I can think about these days. It’s just really, really huge, and I don’t know how that will do for pants. I may ask the designer if he can reduce the scale a bit. Then I have to decide what fabric option to choose – woven or knit, drapey or not so drapey, dressy or casual, work or weekend…. Such dilemmas!

Recognizing that I will have limited sewing time in September and October, before a crazy month of travel in November, I am trying really hard to be super selective about what I sew this fall. I’m trying to balance what I need (pants and cardigans) with what I already have fabric and patterns for (pants and tops). Then I found this AMAZING rainbow reflective fabric from Mood and not only *have* to order some in both colorways, I already have an idea of what I want to make with it – and that doesn’t fit my plans at all! But it would be really really cool.

This Butterick 6496 pattern might see a lot of use in the next several months – so many ideas….

I’ve got so many sewing plans, but also – I really want to see my friends this fall! And do I *really* need that many more clothes?! Probably not. So I’ve enlisted some help with my planning. If he’s any good, I’ll hire him permanently.

Sully is a bit more ruthless than I am when it comes to making decisions.

Some Adventures in LalaLand

Hard to believe it’s been three weeks since I was in Los Angeles! Technically, I was in Eagle Rock, CA, but few know about Eagle Rock and everyone knows about LA, so… It’s sort of like telling people outside of the DC area that I live in the DC area, rather than specifying Arlington.

Anyway, Eagle Rock is an adorable neighborhood near Pasadena where friends of mine have lived for decades. Despite the wide lanes along Colorado Blvd., it has a small town, homey feel – other than a Trader Joe’s, most of the storefronts seem to be locally owned restaurants and shops. And I love the architecture and all the amazing flowers – so many homes have local “desert” yards.

My friends are vegan, which was a welcome travel change. Finding vegetarian-friendly restaurants is always a challenge, so I was pleasantly surprised at how vegetarian- and vegan-friendly LA is! From small shop My Vegan to the large and wonderful Sage Plant Based Bistro in Old Town Pasadena to Flore Vegan Cuisine and the vegan donuts at Colorado Donuts, I was able to eat whatever I wanted without analyzing the ingredients lists. Several times I found myself about to ask “Is there bacon in that?” because of course there isn’t bacon on something in a vegan place! Vegan bacon, that’s a different story. I’m still fantasizing about the jackfruit “tuna” melt at Sage and the tofu benedict at Flore. And the vegan donuts, yumm….

Other than eat, we also went to Harry Potter World and whale watching. It was fun to go to Harry Potter World but the fact that it was 90+ degrees made it hard to get into the snow covered buildings feel of Hogsmeade Village! Still, the ride was awesome and I wish we could have done it multiple times.

The other fabulous thing we did was go whale watching in Newport Beach. In my tradition, we didn’t see whales but saw something better – a whole pod of dolphins! They followed our boat, swam under it and in general did wonderful dolphin-y things. It was like being in a documentary, seeing the whales leaping around us by the dozens.

There was a professional photographer on board and we ordered her photos. Isn’t this amazing?!?!

It was wonderful to be back on the Pacific Ocean and of course I had to put my feet in the water. (I must always put my feet in any body of water I run across!)

My friend and I originally bonded over our mutual love of hats and sunscreen so we naturally ended up hat shopping. A new Goorin Bros. hat found it’s way home with me….

I wore something #memade almost every day on that trip but didn’t get many photos. You can see my Liberty of London dinosaur shirt in the Hogwarts Castle photo, and my new linen vine dress in the hat photo. It’s very satisfying to know that I’m wearing clothes I’ve made myself. But it was more satisfying to spend time with friends.

Angels!

 

Sewing Bike Bloomers, Then and Now

I recently flew to Los Angeles and used my direct, 5+ hour flight to finish Bike and Bloomers: Victorian Women Inventors and Their Extraordinary Cycle Wear, by Kat Jungnickel. If you are at all interested in women bicycling, women’s fashion, fashion history, sewing, and/or equal rights for women, read this book NOW!

There is so much to unpack and process before Kat even gets into the details of the women’s cycle fashion patents that she and her team recreate that I think that will be an entirely different blog post. But let me try to summarize: Victorian women as well as Victorian men were excited by the independence and exhilaration that the new sport “bicycling” presented. However, centuries of assumptions that women were frail, unmechanical, non-sporty, homemakers, only good for having babies, and that their lower limbs should *never* be seen, presented a challenge for those early adopter women who wanted to bike in public. Kat used diaries and newsletters as well as information from the patents themselves to illustrate the nerve that was required for women to attempt to cycle in late 1880s and 1890s Britain. In her first chapter, she quotes a letter from Kitty J. Buckman in 1897 in which Kitty, a cycling fan, says that “… one wants nerves of iron.” (page 11).

ref=”https://tinlizzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5876&#8243; rel=”attachment wp-att-5876″> Consider the politics of pockets in men’s clothing but not women’s[/ca

I don’t doubt it – society then was much less used to norms being flaunted, unlike now when our choices are plentiful (although not always well-received). The choices faced by Victorian women when it came to cycling appear to have been: simply don’t; bike in corsets and long skirts; wear Rational Dress, the new and radical women’s fashion movement that rejected tight-laced corsets and layers of hoops and petticoats; or adapt or create something entirely new. Although some of the women Kat quotes in her book were comfortable in their Rational Dress, they recognized that not all women were.  So they invented and patented outfits that made them look like ordinary Victorian women while biking safely (no long full skirts to get caught anywhere!), even while they were amazing, barrier-breaking wonder women.

This is the part where I get excited – I am totally inspired to make some Victorian women cyclist-inspired clothes. My long-time goal with sewing is to make clothing that works on the bike and in the office, without having to change upon arrival, without wearing spandex, and without looking “sporty.” Thankfully I live and bike in a time when I have choices – I can bike to work in gym clothes, traditional bike “kit” including padded shorts, a dress, jeans, skirts or whatever I like. That’s not to say that I won’t be judged for whatever I wear, because of course I will be – judging women based on their appearance is an international pastime now as it was then. But society has come to accept women in pants, jeans, and sports – even if we still have a long way to go, we can thank the women in Kat’s book for breaking down barriers for us.

ttps://tinlizzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5865″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5865″> Check out this casual lady cyclist, gesturing with one hand as she tells her lady cyclist companion a story. I *love* this so much.

[/caption]But back to sewing. Although there are plenty of examples of “the ideal lady cyclist” in bloomers and blazer, what I really love are all the skirts designed to allow “bifurcation,” ie, two separate pant legs. Women invented ways to quickly and creatively convert their skirts into something bike-friendly, then just as quickly back into something that looked socially acceptable to bystanders. This is something I complete understand, although I realize that not everyone does. I don’t want to look like a “cyclist,” I want to look like a normal person who happens to get around by bike.

://tinlizzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5867″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5867″> This design made me immediately think of the Folkwear Big Sky pattern.

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[/caption]

/tinlizzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5868″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5868″> This Big Sky Riding Skirt pattern looks like it would fit perfectly on a Victorian woman’s London bicycle.

[cap

[/caption]

inlizzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5866″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5866″> Another convertible skirt-culottes design![/caption]Since

Since culottes have been having a moment this year, mainstream stores from Ann Taylor to Anthropology have been showing wide-legged pants cropped at various lengths, and I love my culottes, I was pleased to see that some of the designs look like modern culottes. I first made Vogue 9091 because it looks like a skirt but is “bifurcated” (the word makes me giggle, I can’t say it with a straight face), which makes it perfect for me. I made my first pair in raspberry linen in 2015 and another pair in navy suiting gabardine the following year, and I wear them pretty frequently in the summer. Every time I wear them, I remember how much I love them.

zzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5869″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5869″> Fabulous office bathroom selfie… but I love this outfit, too, so I don’t care!

Since read

[/caption]Since reading this book, I’ve been eyeing all the sewing patterns out there to make something a bit more “skirt” and a bit less “trousers,” and I think I recently found something that might be exactly what I want – the Megan Nielsen Tania pattern. This pattern offers not only different “skirt” lengths but two different fullnesses, so the sewist can pick how much like a skirt she wants her culottes to appear. And shortly after I became obsessed with this pattern, I saw that COS has an almost identical pair of culottes on their website! Guess I’ll be super chic when I make mine.

ridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5870″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5870″> So excited about this pattern!

I like these other patterns as well – this is just a sample from the McCall Pattern Company family, but many other pattern companies have made culotte patterns as well. As much as I like these, I’m more obsessed with the Tania skirt-culotte style – it seems like more of a secret, don’t you think?

Although fall and cooler temperatures are on the way, I still want to make the Tania culottes. I think that out of a heavier yet still drapy fabric, maybe with a lining, they can still be a perfect office option – no one will know that my nice navy “skirt” is actually *pants* that allow me to easily swing my leg over my bike’s top tube and not crumple the fabric on that same piece of bike frame. Similarly to the way some Victorian women wished to appear that they were wearing skirts when they were off the bike, I too wish to appear to wear a skirt when I get off my bike. And now when I wear my culottes, and whatever else I feel like wearing when I ride my bike, I will think of those women who paved the way with their bike fashion patents, and sit up a bit straighter – no corset required.

Channeling my inner Victorian cyclist in the first pair of culottes I made in 2015!

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