Hummingbird 9

Rainy Day Reflective Hummingbird Blouse

Saturday, June 27th, was not only a rainy Saturday, it became a record-breaking day for rainfall (2.75″, beating the previous 2.59″ record of 1881) and made June 2015 the second wettest June on record since 1871. Just look at the photos and videos at the bottom of the article to see how dramatic it was.

What’s a bicyclist to do when it pours rain? Sew! I was anxious for some sewing instant gratification, so having planned ahead and trekked to JoAnn Fabrics in Seven Corners (on the bus, so I could also buy new fish and not jostle them too much before getting them home), I was prepared with thread, the Butterick pattern I wanted, and my fabric. I set aside the cool blue floral asymmetrical top for a weekend when I have more time, and cranked out Butterick B6214.

Fish on a bus! Three new Platys and a horned snail made it home on the bus

Fish on a bus! Three new Platys and a horned snail made it home on the bus

I thought this pattern was a perfect design to show off the reflective fabric from King Tech Industry I have, as well as give perfect 360* visibility for the reflective design. The fact that it is a pretty easy pattern didn’t hurt. I opted to do French seams again, because they are easy and I like the clean look. Hummingbird 5Probably because I was in a hurry, I spaced and cut out the longer sleeve pattern, rather than the shorter one designed for Version C, the version I chose. It didn’t even occur to me until I had finished the top and was putting the pattern envelope away and looked at it again. D’oh! Thankfully I had cut it out too long, but rather than try to recreate it as designed, I just shortened the sleeves a few inches. It definitely made the top look better; I am still a bit dissatisfied about exactly how boxy it is.

One of the reasons why I liked this pattern is because of the dropped hem in the back. It’s subtle, but it’s there. Just a nice touch for biking – the subtle drop will be just enough while I’m on my bike, since my position isn’t too aggressively forward. Hummingbird 7I am pretty much in love with the fabric. The lavender and teal hummingbird print is the cotton lawn I purchased at B&J Fabrics when I was in New York last month. I had been hunting for something to coordinate with the teal reflective fabric and almost missed this. I’ve never worked with cotton lawn before and I might be a convert. It’s so lovely, soft, fine, presses up well….. The reflective fabric, unlike the others I have, is very rubbery on the back, so for the first time, I tried the tissue trick – I used a bit of the pattern tissue scraps to put between the fabric and the feed dogs, plus used my new Teflon foot. It worked amazingly well! After all the projects I’ve struggled through… Hummingbird 6The reflective fabric doesn’t press well and doesn’t drape well, so it’s not really an ideal fabric for this drapey boxy top. I’m sure it won’t breathe either. But it doesn’t matter! It’s my favorite color and it’s REFLECTIVE!

Hummingbird 10Hummingbird 8The only thing that I don’t love about this top is that it is *so* huge. I’m still debating on whether or not to try to take it in at all on the sides. Normally I prefer to wear clothes that fit my torso a bit closer, so I’m not 100% sold on this shape. (I didn’t use a bunch of photos here because they made me look pregnant, which I definitely am not; that’s never a good look if you aren’t actually pregnant.) But I’m going to try it out and see what I think – and what my friends at work think. I need their fashion advice sometimes, too.

I mean, that's a lot of fabric until you get to my waist....

I mean, that’s a lot of fabric until you get to my waist…. (Also, note the Levi’s Commuter Jeans and purple Dansko heels)

I will need to test out a few different skirts and pants to figure out the best way to wear this blouse to work, but I think the fabric (both print and texture) and fun reflective fabric will win out over the fit. It’s just so pretty! Hummingbird 9


Guest Blogger Wannabe (Pick Me!)

I got distracted last night by a pin I saw on Pinterest: BloggerCollage-600x600It was accompanied by the words “Want to join our team of Guest Bloggers?” – well heck yeah! I clicked on the link and practically drooled on my computer screen. Blog about sewing? I think I can do that!

The fantasies swirled in my head as I envisioned all the cool things I would make with Britex Fabric, for a fabric store I’ve loved since the late 1980s. It was Mecca when I was in high school and still has that same feel, despite experiencing Manhattan Garment District shops. I did make something last fall with fabric I purchased at Britex last summer, and naturally I sent that blog post in with my “application.”

I studied the current Britex Guest Bloggers, too. They look like a group of really talented people and have some pretty interesting blogs and shops of their own. It’s cool to see so many who design and sell their own patterns, too, since pattern drafting is something I enjoyed when I took the classes decades ago. Check out Grainline Studio’s collection, and By Hand London, and I particularly love April Rhodes’ “Riding Peplum and Party Dress” pattern – designed for “a horse, a bike or a motorcycle”! I feel like I need to buy that pattern just because (and one of the models is wearing the same Dansko sandals I have and love). And Jamie Christina is modeling her “Sunny Day Dress” on a bicycle! I think these people understand the sewing and biking success combo!

April Rhodes "The Riding Peplum & Party Dress pattern (image from website) - cute, designed for biking, and the blonde model is wearing my shoes!

April Rhodes “The Riding Peplum & Party Dress pattern (image from website) – cute, designed for biking, and the blonde model is wearing my shoes!

Although I got an email shortly after I applied thanking me for my application and saying I was being considered, I can’t imagine they’ll pick me. I think my sewing theme (reflective office fashion) is a bit too avant garde, even for San Francisco. But it got me thinking about my sewing and where I might want to take it next. Rather than design and sell my own line, I’d rather guest blog for other companies and review other people’s designs and products.

And continue to sew for myself. Although the pattern is a bit complicated and stretches all my spatial visualization skills to picture in my head, the Vogue V9087 asymmetrical top with the floral reflective fabric is coming together well. I’m trying hard to get through the work week until Saturday when I can sit down again and SEW! My fingers are itching to get this done and start the next project! I definitely identify with this funny blog post on the McCalls Pattern Company Blog, about what happens to the writer when she goes too long without sewing. I’m glad to know it isn’t just me who feels this way! Check out all the comments!

V9087 coming together

V9087 coming together

I don't know how this fabuous floral reflective pattern will read to others but I LOVE it!

I don’t know how this fabulous floral reflective pattern will read to others but I LOVE it!

Funny how I can’t seem to get away from the need to design and sew…

Bike There Bikeyface book

Summer Book Reading – Bikes Included!

It’s officially summer, and that means it’s officially summer vacation time! And that always seems to mean “What’s on your summer reading list?”

My reading list is season-less, and never-ending and ever-growing. As much as I value my reading time (the only truly relaxing activity I do), as with so many other adults, I rarely get or make time to do it. So, books sit half-read waiting for some down time. Others just pile up, although since I try to limit myself to e-books these days, I can’t really see them stacked up. Maybe that’s the problem!

Someday I will finish reading The Conquest of Nature, by David Blackbourn. I’ve been working on it a while now, but it’s serious reading, and I need dedicated time to concentrate on it. Sadly, I suspect that by the time I finish it, I will have forgotten the beginning. This is a huge book, so it will not be something I take on a flight to read in the plane. The Conquest of NatureOne history book I did recently finish is Brave Companions: Portraits in History, by David McCullough. This is a great travel book because it’s a collection of short stories about men and women who had an impact on the world. Alexander von Humboldt, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harry Caudill, Francis P. Valentine…. some are familiar names, some are new to me. It’s inspiring to me, to read about the challenges and triumphs of these people, as well as to consider how lucky we are to benefit from their experiences. Brave CompanionsStill in the history genre, I recently received the latest bulletin from the German Historical Institute. The essays in the bulletins tend to be more modern German history so when one arrives that has something late 19th century related, I get very excited – this one is about post-1848 popular press, a topic that I researched for my Master’s Thesis. It’s long and intellectual, so it will require an evening dedicated to reading, but I’m pretty excited. I miss getting to do research, and I loved my topic, so anything that keeps it fresh makes me happy. GHI BulletinThe Mechanic and I are in the early planning stages for a trip to Iceland next February or March, so I have collected a stack of tourism books. Our only goal for the trip is to see the Aurora Borealis (fingers crossed!), but there is plenty of other stuff to do as well. I don’t know how much hiking I’ll want to do in the winter, but there are museums, cooking classes, the Blue Lagoon, whale watching tours, and a bridge across the Continental Divide! Iceland BooksIf you haven’t yet read Bikeyface’s Bike There book, I strongly encourage it – it’s not very long, and in her famous and beloved cartoon style. If you have friends who are interested but concerned, this would be a great gift as well. I wish I could get dozens of copies and hand them out to people on my bike rides. Bike There Bikeyface book BikeyFace BookI am hoping that this summer I’ll finally get around to reading the rest of Bikenomics, by Elly Blue. As much as I love biking, I find it hard to read “industry” books in my free time. But this is a classic and I need to finish it. BikenomicsI would much rather read books about biking that are history, fiction, fictionalized, or children’s books. I found some fun ones on A Mighty Girl’s website. Tillie the Terrible Swede, about a woman who sews and bikes; Bicycle Madness, about a girl and a suffragette in the late 1800s; the sweet story of The Girl and The Bicycle; and one I’ve wanted to read for a while now, Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom. I know there are more like this out there, but these should keep me busy for a while. Wheels of Change

(Freshbikes location used as approximation)

Comfort Biking: Picking the Bike Lane Over the Trail, Again

Wednesday night I attended a work-related event in Westover; naturally I biked there. The event got out around 9pm, I chatted with a few people, then walked out to rain. We’ll ignore the fact that I had a coat for the air-conditioned auditorium, but not my Cleverhood, so not only was I then not properly and fully waterproofed, it covered up my reflectivity. The issue here is that I opted, again, to use bike lanes and sharrowed streets to get home, rather than use the much more convenient and very nearby Custis Trail.

I also opted against the Custis Trail to get to my location but that had more to do with the fact that the direct route would have had me pedaling straight up a hill, one I know to be short but steep, and I didn’t want to arrive too sweaty. But the other option is Washington Blvd, which only has a bike lane for about a half-mile near the destination. I biked with the traffic and survived; it was not perfect but fine. However…. coming home after 9pm meant not just rain, but dark.

Rats! I didn't even have the IKEA poncho that makes me look like a giant strawberry on a bike!

Rats! I didn’t even have the IKEA poncho that makes me look like a giant strawberry on a bike!

Yes, the Custis Trail has street lights, but it’s still pretty isolated, and I just don’t trust isolated locations after dark. Maybe I lived in New York for too long. Maybe, as a woman, I’m more paranoid about my safety. Maybe I read the news too much – even though this is Arlington, women are still attacked, and on the multi-use trails we all love. Regardless, I decided against the Custis Trail, and set off down Washington Blvd.

It was dark, the bike lane ended, it was raining, and frankly, I don’t trust drivers. So at George Mason Drive, I thought, “I know – I’ll cut down to the Bluemont Junction Trail, catch the very end of it, then pop out into the bike lanes in Ballston!” George Masson Drive has sharrows and “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs – but in the dark, in the rain, riding a well-lit bike in a light lavender coat, I was super paranoid that drivers *still* couldn’t see me. (One proved it, too, by the way.) So at some point I thought, “I’ll just pick up the Custis Trail here, and be done with it. There isn’t too far to go to get to Ballston from this point.” I turned towards the connector to the trail – and circled back. It was so dark, even with the street lights on! Maybe the residents dislike the lights so they aren’t on fully, I don’t know, but it was too dark for my taste. I turned around and went a different route.

(Freshbikes location used as approximation)

(Freshbikes location used as approximation)

I felt so much better once I was on Fairfax Drive, where there are proper bike lanes, lots of lights, lots of people around, and yes, even cars.

I do use the Custis Trail, and the W & OD Trail, and the Mount Vernon. But I don’t always want to *have* to use them. I like that we have options here and that Arlington takes biking as transportation seriously. I know of many localities where bike lanes are put in here and there (Fairfax, I’m looking at you – what’s up with that paved path that parallels Route 7?!), because biking is a sport, something you do recreationally, not something you would possibly do to <gasp> get somewhere. And ultimately, I’m only going to bike on what I feel comfortable with and that might not be the same from day to day. It will depend on the weather, where I’m going, what time of the day, what day of the week, how my knees feel, and so on.

Paved lane that appears to end in the bottom right corner - but it will reappear someplace else, I'm sure

Paved lane that appears to end in the bottom right corner – but it will reappear someplace else, I’m sure

So it is important to have ALL the options in place. If you truly want the 60% interested but concerned people out there riding their bikes (and reducing congestion and improving air quality and getting healthier and boosting the local economy), you need to have a range of comfortable option for them. And don’t even get me started on making it easy for children and older/less physically able adults to bike for transportation either – that’s a topic for another blog post!

The Bavarian Inn, where we got married

First Anniversary Weekend in Shepherdstown

The Mechanic and I celebrated our first weeding anniversary on June 14th, and naturally went to our favorite spot out of town and wedding location, Shepherdstown, WV. It will probably be next year before we get to go back, the way our (mostly my) travel schedule for fall is shaping up, so we tried to do some new things as well as revisit some wedding things.

One of the things we decided to do was to stop at one of many Virginia wineries on the way to Shepherdstown. I discovered that the Breaux Winery was holding it’s 18th annual Cajun Festival and Crawfish Boil on the 13th, so we decided to stop. I’d never had crawfish before, but The Mechanic was eager to have them again. We were pleasantly surprised at how much fun it was! A live Zydeco band, wine tasting, souvenir wine glasses and beads, local vendors, food trucks, and arts-and-crafts kept us happily busy for a few hours.

Another thing we decided to do on our way was stop at the Appalachian Trail crossing and walk a bit on the Trail. The parking lot is in a fairly awkward blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sort of location on the side of a very busy road, but we managed to get into it and find one of the last parking spots. Fun to stop and see what it is like. Someday we’ll check out more of it, elsewhere, for more than 10 minutes.

Our “new” adventures continued in Shepherdstown. I’d long been interested in Elmwood Cemetery, but didn’t realize that below the Memorial to Confederate Soldiers, it had a separate area for Confederate soldiers. The town itself is quite old (chartered in 1762, which is old for the United States but young for Europe and infantile for other cultures), and some of the tombstones attest to it’s mid-18th century origins.

After so much new exploration, we returned to the tried and true, and visited some favorite spots, places that also now have wedding significance for us.

The Rumsey Monument - we had wedding photos taken here last year.

The Rumsey Monument – we had wedding photos taken here last year.

Dinner at Bistro 112, a lovely French restaurant where we also had our rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding.

Dinner at Bistro 112, a lovely French restaurant where we also had our rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding. (yes, we drank all the wine in that pitcher!)

The Bavarian Inn, where we got married

The Bavarian Inn, where we got married

Our ceremony overlooked the Bavarian Inn's Infinity Pool, so we had to make sure we visited that!

Our ceremony overlooked the Bavarian Inn’s Infinity Pool, so we had to make sure we visited that!

The Mechanic surprised me with a gift I’d really wanted, but forgotten I’d mentioned – a Bird Industries reflective bracelet! I love it! Could it be any more perfect? I think not.


On the way home on June 14th, we made two other wedding-related stops. I bought flowers from Megan Webber Flowers at the Shepherdstown Farmer’s Market. She did our flowers last year, and she has the most artistic eye when it comes to flower! I really wish I could sign up for her flowers CSA. Then we stopped into the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery to pick up our anniversary cake. I would have never thought of this, but when we were ordering/designing our cake last year, we were told that the bakery keeps your receipe on file so you can order a smaller version of it for your first anniversary. We hadn’t planned to keep the top layer (we planned to eat it all!), so this was a fun option. Plus we thought it was really tasty and wanted more! So cute, they even decorated it like our wedding cake! Anniversary Cake and FlowersMegan Webber FlowersI had planned to wear my wedding skirt in Shepherdstown on Sunday but realized too far out of town on Saturday that I had forgotten to grab it! Dammit! I had very carefully packed it in a garment bag, but then somehow ran out of the apartment without it. I was very disappointed, so I made sure I put it on when The Mechanic and I walked to our massages when we got home Sunday afternoon. A bit overdressed for a massage, but I wanted to make sure I wore it on our anniversary! It still isn’t hemmed, and now goodness knows when I’ll get around to doing that – someone needs to invite me to a garden party to force me to do it! And then I can dress it up a bit.

It was a pretty low-key anniversary, but one full of both old and new memories. I guess that is the way they should all be, right? Anniversary Cake


Google Map Commute Options

Comfort Biking: My Commute

It occurred to me that if I am going to talk about comfort biking, I should talk about my daily commute, which I eventually settled upon because even though there are many options, this one is the most comfortable for me.

I have a pretty short, pretty easy route, and I confess that I am quite lucky in this. The first mile-ish is through my lovely neighborhood, then bike lanes the rest of the way. Honestly, the hardest part of my commute is hauling my bike up and down the stairs to our apartment.

This would be easier if the landings were bigger and my bike fit on them!

This would be easier if the landings were bigger and my bike fit on them!

Once I get out of my lovely, quiet neighborhood, I turn onto Clarendon Blvd. and have buffered bike lanes through most of Clarendon before hitting Courthouse and Rosslyn. It’s generally pretty light traffic, although I have to watch for cars turning into the Starbucks in Clarendon, because they always seem to be so focused on caffeine that they don’t notice where they are going.

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The way home is more challenging. It’s uphill – not a huge, dreadful, painful, awful hill, but it is a hill nonetheless. I dislike hills. Now it take me past recently opened Tupelo Honey Cafe, a Southern restaurant where The Mechanic was able to indulge his Texas-reared okra-loving tastebuds. (It’s definitely worth a visit, but it has only been open a week and getting busier each day as worth-of-mouth gets around.) In the evenings, Clarendon is a bit of a mess – after passing Revolution Cycles, I arrive in the restaurant part of Clarendon, and everyone is trying to parallel park through the bike lane, and generally doing a bad job. I thoroughly disapprove of parallel parking to the right of the bike lane. But then I turn back into my neighborhood, and it’s easy pedaling the rest of the way home.

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This is my normal route on a map: Google Map Commute OptionsAs I mentioned, there are options, as you can also see on the Google Map. There is also the Custis Trail, which runs just north of 66, straight into Rosslyn. It’s used by hundreds of bike commuters every day, and I prefer not to use it. I don’t find it comfortable.

There, I said it. I mean, bicyclists are *supposed* to want trails for commuting, and I do. But I find the bike lanes much more comfortable, even though I’m mixing with cars. The trail is full of roadies, whereas there are fewer in the bike lanes. I find the trail boring – not as much to look at before you get to walls separating the neighborhoods from those passing through. I like to see the shops and the houses and the people walking their dogs, and the people running to the Metro stations. I see some of the same people everyday, in fact. I have seen houses being built, office buildings going up (some more slowly than others), a small public space was created, and now a new hotel is going up in Courthouse and I get to watch that happen, as I bike over construction plates and dodge signs in the bike lane. It’s more interesting and it makes me feel more connected to my community. However, if I didn’t have the bike lanes, I don’t know that I’d follow the same route. I much prefer to be in a bike lane than trying to share a lane, so I’d probably find a different route, or suck it up on the trail, miserable though that would make me. (The Custis Trail is also really hilly in that stretch, which is probably really good training, but my knee isn’t interested.)

So comfort for me is:

  • Bike lanes. Buffered bike lanes are better, and protected bike lanes would be heavenly!
  • My community. Getting to see what is going on around me, the places where I shop, workout, dine, and spend time with friends and family.
  • Nature. I think I get more nature in my neighborhood than on the trail. I see all the trees blossom, then turn colors, all the flowers in the yards, all the chipmunks and rabbits and birds, grass and weeds and shrubbery. I know it’s there on the trail as well, but I really enjoy people’s gardens. It’s different, somehow.
  • Flat. It’s not a totally flat route but it’s flatter than the Custis! Thank goodness for the small ring….

What provides comfort on your bike commutes? Why have you picked the route you take? Do you have options, or do you make it work?

Selfie with Revolution Cycles!

Selfie with Revolution Cycles!

Finished McCalls 6604 Version C

Singing the Pattern Fit Blues

On Friday, I made a lovely blouse from McCalls 6604, Version C, from the vintage Liberty of London fabric a friend recently gave me. And I was disappointed in the fit. And Sunday I sort of corrected it.

I always measure patterns before I cut anything out. I took pattern alterations and fit classes back in the early 1990s, when I first started seriously sewing (long after my Girl Scouts sewing badge), and I know vaguely remember how my measurements need to be adjusted for in commercial patterns. Always add some length to the back seat curve, lengthen pants, rise and waist, etc. But lately I’ve found that when I try to adjust properly, it doesn’t go the way I expect it to. Case in point – when I made my reflective bomber jacket, I carefully measured the sleeve pieces for length, and they should have been fine, and yet, the sleeves are about an inch too short. Not that anyone buy me will know, but still. This is especially annoying because the gray velour reflective sweatshirt i made prior ended up with really long sleeves!

McCalls 6604, Version C

McCalls 6604, Version C – seems easy enough… and the neckline didn’t really turn out like that either….

At least this weekend’s project wasn’t awful, just not what i expected. Sure the pattern sketch makes it look shorter than the other garment, and when I looked at the provided finished garment measurements, and looked at me, I thought it would be fine. And when I was done, I was not happy with how short it truly was. Liberty Top 7Not terrible, not not ideal. Okay, honestly, I’m feeling self-conscious about my out-of-shape, not-eating-as-healthy-as-I-should tummy, so that’s part of the issue. It was disappointing, because I love the fabric, and worked hard to make it a nice garment. I did not even put in an inch of reflective trim!

By comparison, here’s the top next to one I made a while back:

About 3" shorter

About 3″ shorter

I decided that I needed to fix this because I wanted to really love this top – it’s drool-worthy, luxurious fabric, after all, and feels so lovely. So I gritted my teeth and added a band at the bottom. Hopefully the print is busy enough that anyone else will not notice the seam (French, of course).

The pattern fit problems I’ve been having lately make me a bit anxious and frustrated, because part of the reason for sewing one’s own clothes is to get them to fit better than store-bought garments. If I can’t get the fit right, ugh, what’s the point?! I’m having a hard time finding pants I like lately (see also aforementioned out-of-shape and not-eating-healthy comment), and I’d love to make some, but I’m not sure I can. Or I’m not sure I have the patience to work and rework, and redo and try again to get a pair that fits the way I want. And I don’t have anyone to help me, either, which adds to my frustration. So if anyone knows a good source to help with pants pattern alterations, *please* direct me to it! I’ve got a jumpsuit pattern calling my name, and at last the fabric I’ve been lusting after was in stock at, so that is near the top of the project pile. But because I’m long-waisted, I know it will need a lot of work. That’s partially why I’m opting to make my own.

Again, if anyone has any experience with Craftsy, or some other tutorial, please share! I see many of you make your own pants and jeans, so I should be able to as well. I just need some good refresher materials and advice!  Thank you!



Fabric 1

Label-less Sewing: A Personal Drama

At last it is June, and our lives seem to have calmed down a bit. Although we had a lovely yet brief trip to Wilmington, NC, The Mechanic and I are both grateful that we have almost no travel scheduled this month. The exception is an overnight trip to Shepherdstown, WV, to celebrate our first anniversary – I can’t believe the first year has gone by so quickly!

So now I have plenty of time to get caught up on some sewing, huzzah! The ideas, patterns and fabric are stacked up and awaiting my time – where to begin?! Fabric 1

Although I’ve been planning on Vogue 9087 for ages, it is a slightly more involved pattern, so after I realized that I can easily knock out McCalls 6604 with this vintage Liberty of London fabric a friend just gave me, I think that will be my second weekend project. I think the vintage look of this Liberty fabric lends itself well to the simple version C. I am, however, considering making it my first non-reflective sewing project. <gasp> No! you cry, how can that be?!  It’s a really simple pattern with little room for reflective creativity. I could just add it to the sleeves – or I could just leave it off. I can’t decide.

Then I can sink my teeth into Vogue 9087, version B, half in reflective fabric.

Then the luxurious hummingbird print cotton lawn I purchased in New York – this will be wonderful in Butterick 6214, version C (but without the silly useless pocket). I really can’t wait to make this one either! I am in love with the print.

Of course, I’m planning on making three tops, and I have no pants for summer. Seriously, I own three pairs of summer weight pants, and one pair is hugely patterned, ie, not going to go with everything. So I guess I need to consider that at some point too, such as perhaps this linen blend with this skirt pattern?

But here is the drama – I am out of clothing labels! I’ve put them into everything I’ve made so far, and even though they were a bit outdated and in no way connected to Tin Lizzie Bikes, sewing them into things gave an aura of “real” clothing. I’ve been hunting for new ones, and can’t find anything I like. I’d like to design something cool and special but I have no idea what that would be. I think I need a designer to help me. I’ve scoured the depths of Etsy and just can’t find anything that calls my name. I could just order basic, easy ones, but even still, they won’t come before I get any of these projects done. What do I do?!?!?  Seriously, this is a problem for me.

I am considering using some of this fun, gorgeous ribbon that I purchased last summer at Britex Fabrics. I love the squirrel theme, even though rabbits are My Thing. But I don’t have any cute rabbit ribbon. Squirrel RibbonIt is such a dilemma! I want whatever labels I put in my clothing to say something about me, and although I love these ribbons, I’m not sure they say what I want them to say. The problem is, I’m not sure what that would be. Bunnies? Bikes? Squirrels? Mermaids? Flowers? Trees? Globes? Maps? Compasses? Maybe my ankle tattoo? What screams “reflective office clothing!” to you?

And do you have any good suggestions on where to find sew-in clothing labels? Soon?!


New Fabric

ICYMI: May Was Full of Bike Fashion Too!

Although most of National Bike Month (aka May, to those of you not so enthralled with biking) has been focused on the how and the where of biking, rest assured, there was plenty of bike fashion going on in my world as well!

I didn’t know that May is also Me Made May, a month-long challenge for seamstresses and those who sew created by Zoe, of the blog So Zo… What Do You Know? The concept is pretty much what it seems – wear something you made every day in May. I love it! Except that I don’t yet have 31 garments that I’ve made (the yoga mat bag doesn’t count!). I think I will aim for this next year – perhaps by then I will have 31 different reflective-trimmed bike-friendly office-appropriate garments to get me through the challenge. I already have three things lined up for the next month or so.

I wasn’t idle, however, and I cranked out two blue casual bike skirts, with reflective trim of course. The first was a midi length blue linen-cotton blend, just two widths of the fabric sewn together with pockets and an elastic waist – but with reflective rick rack in the hem. It’s super comfy and will be perfect for biking around this summer on the weekends. It does make me feel a bit Prairie Girl but when it’s hot and humid later this summer, I won’t mind. Alas, The Mechanic and I have been so busy this month that I haven’t had a chance to do photo shoots with either skirt, so please excuse the lame photos.

The other skirt I made was a bit of an experiment because I have never used a Kwik Sew pattern, nor created anything (for me) just with the serger. Kwik Sew K3513 is a simple foldover skirt pattern; I made version B. I hadn’t planned on this skirt but found the fabric on clearance at JoAnn Fabrics and had to get it. Of course, I realized this past weekend that it’s a bit more sheer than I initially thought! Thank goodness I always wear Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts under skirts and dresses, on and off the bike. Initially I was worried that the size Medium would be too small so I fudged the seams a bit, and now I think it might be too big. Sigh. At least it will be easy to adjust, if needed. I almost didn’t put any reflective trim on this, but how could I not?! So I just tucked a bit in the side seams. It doesn’t go into knit fabric well, but I guess it’s visible. The Mechanic says it is. Again, no chance to do photos yet.

I did buy fabric to made another top, but first I have one ready to cut out – then I need to buy fabric for the jumpsuit I still want to make, then buy the pattern for the next reflective top. I aim to have all three done before a work conference at the end of July, so hopefully I’ll get some down time to sew.   New Fabric

And in non-sewing news, I was featured on Chasing Mailboxes’ blog, as part of Mary’s Women Bike DC series. I completely admire Mary for not only cranking out some serious bike miles and steady running, but managing to write so often. And being chosen from all the amazing women in the DC area who bike is a real honor. Check out the other women in her series, too, to be inspired.

And just last week, BikeArlington used a few of my photos in their Bike Errand Challenge blog post. I’m pretty amazed by the large loads on those bikes. I really want a trailer eventually. Actually, maybe I’d rather have a folding bike.

Both The Mechanic and I have been running around like made, crisscrossing our way across the Eastern Seaboard on the weekends and working long hours during the week, so we are definitely looking forward to relaxing next month. Our first year anniversary is in a few weeks, but celebrating that is the only thing we have planned. Hopefully it stays that way and I can get some sewing done!


Wearing the Bicycle Wrap Skirt in Shepherdstown, WV

Product Preview: Bicycle Wrap Skirt

I really had planned on being able to do a more in-depth review of this fun skirt, but I haven’t had the time and since the Kickstarter has now launched, I want to get something out there. So please excuse the brevity and poor quality of some of the photos. Stay tuned though! This probably won’t be the only review of this skirt!

I don’t remember exactly how I found about about Lara Neece and her company, Forest and Fin. I did buy my sister-in-law one of her tee shirts for Christmas last year, but that was *after* I read about her plans to design a Bicycle Wrap Skirt. Always interested in helping out designers, especially one doing bike fashion, I reached out to her, and we met for the first time at Northside Social, when she was in town, far away from Savannah, GA. I lured her to the Women’s Bike Summit to introduce her to some people, and have stayed in touch. At last, her Kickstarter launched this week! I’m so excited for her!

Here is Lara herself, modeling the skirt in dreamy Savannah

Here is Lara herself, modeling the skirt in dreamy Savannah

But about the skirt – It’s seriously the perfect summer bike skirt. Lara focuses on earth-friendly materials and production, and come up with a linen/cotton blend that is machine-washable. It has a high waist that is flattering on almost every woman, but the best part is the wrap. How many of you have wrap skirts and dresses that expose way more leg than you want? Yup, we’ve all been there, and some of us are not comfortable with that kind of exposure. But the Forest and Fin Bicycle Wrap Skirt wraps and wraps and wraps! So much coverage! It has some clever hidden fastenings in the hem to keep it from flying up, but it’s probably not necessary.

Wearing the Bicycle Wrap Skirt in Shepherdstown, WV

Wearing the Bicycle Wrap Skirt in Shepherdstown, WV

Other cool features include a hidden side pocket and two different lengths, a regular and a tall, which is 2″ longer. She has come up with a fun way to clip the skirt a bit on the sides, so if you don’t like the skirt fluttering around while you are biking, you can rein it in. The detachable pouch is adorable and yes, fits an iPhone 6.

More lovely Savannah shots of Forest and Fin models

More lovely Savannah shots of Forest and Fin models

Lara sent me a prototype (in the tall length) to wear on Bike to Work Day, a few weeks ago. Alas, it was a bit cooler than expected/hoped, so I had to put a jacket on over it. But I modeled it for a few women who stopped to chat. Then I wore it while I biked to several different schools around Arlington, so I had the opportunity to get some real testing done.

Then I continued to wear it when we drove to Shepherdstown, before the CASA River Ride. We took our road bikes and our commuter bikes, and scooted around town on our commuter bike, so the skirt was the perfect thing to wear that evening. Alas, we were having so much fun we didn’t get too many photos, and the ones we did get are blurry. I’m sharing them anyway, but with apologies….

Here are my initial thoughts:

  1. I love it. It’s so full that it feels romantic and summery. I love full skirts, so I’m totally a fan.
  2. As I mentioned earlier, the wrap is so full, I didn’t feel I needed any other “modesty” help, but I like the side clips and the sneaky snap tape. While biking my errands, I tried wearing it every way, unclipped, clipped, snapped and clipped… The clips do make a huge difference, since I was afraid the skirt would flap into the wheels (if I didn’t have skirt guards, at least). Looking at the photos later, I realized that the tall length is still short enough that it wouldn’t get interfere with the bike.
  3. The side pocket is great, and I love the little pouch, but I’m not sure I’d wear that too often. I usually always have a purse or at least my front basket to carry stuff.
  4. The tall length was perfect on me; I wouldn’t want it shorter. But it would be super cute shorter, as well. (I think it made my legs look good!)
  5. I wore my Bikie Girl Bloomers under this, but they really aren’t necessary. I never worried that it would blow up. I just like to wear “bloomers.”
  6. If you live anywhere that is humid in the summer, this is the garment for you!
  7. I support Lara’s sustainability goals, and want to support this product in part because of that. I know it’s being made in this country, with eco-friendly fabrics and dyes, and they will donate part of the post-Kickstarter profiles to ocean and forest conservation organizations. Part of practicing what you preach. I say Amen!

I’m not getting paid to say this, but I strongly encourage you to head on over to the Bicycle Wrap Skirt Kickstarter page and pre-order now! Forest and Fin Bicycle Wrap Skirt Press Photo 2