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.

[c

[/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!

[/caption]

Sometimes Biking Isn’t the Car-Free Answer

Longtime readers of my blog know that it started off talking about biking, biking as a woman, biking while trying to stay fashionable, and making biking safer and more accessible. Over the years, my sewing has taken a larger role and some of the biking-as-transportation topics have dropped away. Although there are multiple reasons for the slow shift, lately, the reason why I haven’t been blogging about biking is because I simply haven’t been. Major surgery at the end of March kept me off my bike for almost three months, then emergency surgery three weeks ago put a stop to my slow increase back into the bike commuting world. It’s frustrating to not be able to bike.

This is what my commute should look like – my bike at the rack at work.

I suppose that most people now are thinking, “Oh, so you are driving to work instead.” Well, no. I don’t own a car. I haven’t had a car since 1999. And although The Mechanic now has a truck, A) it’s his hobby truck B) it’s a “vintage” fixer-upper C) it’s a manual transmission. I did learn on a manual transmission as a 15 year old but haven’t driven stick shift in 30-ish years, so I’m not exactly going to beg to borrow his car to get to work. Instead, I’ve been taking the bus. And Lyft. And I’ve been eyeing those dockless e-scooters that are popping up all over the area. I’m telling you, *those* are a game-changer.

Taking the bus to work is actually a pretty pleasant, convenient commute option. There’s a bus stop a few blocks from our house, and two blocks from my office. I’ve always managed to get a seat, although the buses do tend to fill up. I read the news (depressing) and Twitter (also depressing), post on Instagram, delete unwanted emails, write emails, and obsessively plan future sewing projects. Can’t do that on a bike.

But it’s not ideal. Buses don’t run all the time, and even when they do, you are still shackled to the timetable. No jumping on the bike and going whenever you feel like it. I don’t know what’s going on lately with the driver but I am getting seasick from all the herky-jerky driving, ugh. And I gotta be honest – there have been a few crazy people on the bus. Nothing like a relaxing ride home with the wild-eyed guy in the back cussing up a storm to no one in particular.

Never seen this before – a screen that rotates through camera views *inside* the bus – smile, your commute is on candid camera!

So I’ve been eyeing the dockless e-scooters like Bird and Lime. These electric scooters function similarly to dockless bikeshare – you download an app, agree to a bunch of stuff, enter a credit card, then use the app to locate the closest scooter. Because they are dockless, they can be found and left anywhere – preferably someplace responsible, please, and not the middle of the sidewalk! In April, the Washington Post reviewer said she couldn’t ever see a reason to use them and wasn’t sure anyone else could either. Well, I’m here to give you a reason.

Current and potential commute options

Post-surgery, I’m not allowed to bike, so even electric bikes, docked or dockless, are not an option. Riding the bus is getting on my nerves. I don’t have a personal car option. Lyft is too expensive for a regular commute and if I wanted to ride with other people in a Lyft Line or UberPool, well, I’ll take the bus. However…. an e-scooter is really appealing. I could just stand and let the scooter’s tiny motor get me where I need to go. And I could wear a pencil skirt.

I think the limited amount of effort required to make an e-scooter work is exactly what could make them so much more accessible by people who can’t or won’t bike. Older people, people with balance issues, people with certain mobility issues, people who don’t want to sweat on their way to work – all possible e-scooter users. We in the transportation industry who want to see fewer cars on the road need to find ways to reach beyond the brave, athletic, committed ones and I think e-scooters could be a solution.

Dockless bike saddle share?

Obviously there are many things that e-scooters can’t do, like haul three kids to school the way an e-cargo bike can, but that’s okay. It’s just one more option in the toolkit of carfree living. Because having a range of transportation options for all your different needs means having the flexibility to live without a car. Now we just need a single app to rule them all, Helsinki-style.

I haven’t yet tried an e-scooter but as they move into Arlington, I’m sure I’ll test one out sooner rather than later. I’ll let you know how it goes. It could be my non-bike car free answer.

DIY Disease

When do you realize that you have DIY Disease? Is it when you realize, for the nth time, that you’ve seen something you *know* you can recreate yourself, better/to your specifications, regardless of how many other projects you have lined up? Do you find yourself with a growing to-do list that mostly consists of “I really need to CLEAN HOUSE” type things while you madly focus in on the latest “I can make that myself!” project? No? It’s just me?

Okay, it’s me and The Mechanic. We both suffer from this disease. We’ve joked about it for a while now, me with the sewing and him with the building. We see something we like and we just know that we can make it better, better fitting, to our specific needs, better made, handmade, made in the USA. You name it, we’ve said it. And tried to do it. Which means that some things go undone, like the weekly vacuuming (a serious matter in a house with three rabbits that track hay everywhere), washing dishes, trimming rabbit toe nails, or even hanging artwork that has been sitting around for nine months since you moved into your house. (Editor’s note: blogging often gets pushed to the bottom of the list as well….)

ref=”https://tinlizzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5844&#8243; rel=”attachment wp-att-5844″> They look adorable but they are *a lot* of work.[/ca

So I gave up a bit. I bought plain white tee shirts instead of making them as planned. I gave up on adding anything else to my pattern or fabric stack. I simply feel overwhelmed and need some time for menu planning, cleaning house and slowly working exercise back into my post-surgery recovery. I decided that as much as I want to make my entire wardrobe, it’s simply not going to happen this summer, or maybe this year. Instead, I can’t plan/buy anything else until I finish my list. And some things may not stay on this list.

  1. Navy linen paperbag waist wide-leg pants, McCalls 7726
  2. Gecko stripe tee, Friday Pattern Company Sunny Dress/Tee pattern
  3. Finding Dory skirt*, Simplicity 8391
  4. Teal linen shirt dress, undecided
  5. White floral blouse, Vogue 9299
  6. Reflective Camo anorak, Closet Case Patterns Kelly Anorak with lining
  7. Beauty and the Beast tee shirt*, maybe Pamela’s Patterns Pretty Peplum Top
  8. Charley Harper top, Tilly and the Buttons Orla Tunic
tinlizzieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5830″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5830″> <– Skirt   Tee Shirt –>[/caption]
Let’s

Let’s be honest though – that’s a ton of sewing! Not much in the way of summer basics, but now that I have plain white tees to go with the crazy print stuff I love to make, I’m good for a while on basics.

What helped alot was taking a two-day mini sewing staycation this past week. First, I altered a wearable muslin dress I made earlier that I now love; this New Look 6095 in seagull print cotton might be a summer fave. Then I made a third Vogue 8805 with a second gorgeous piece from Marcy Tilton Fabrics. Lastly, I am halfway done with my navy linen wide-legged paperbag waist McCalls 7726 pants. I’ll finish those next weekend.

zieridesagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5843″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5843″> DIY Disease means I never properly clean up my sewing space because I’m too focused on SEWING

[/caption]

Obviously taking time off work to catch up on sewing isn’t something I can do all the time, but I’m really glad I did. It was healing, in a way. It allowed me to slow down and not feel so frantic.

esagain.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=5845″ rel=”attachment wp-att-5845″> See the squirrel on the railing? I think it was scolding me for relaxing.

[/caption]Of course…. I added one more thing. I decided to make our preteen niece a Harry Potter purse for her birthday later this month. Apparently she still likes Harry Potter, so I thought that rather than buy her a gift, I’ll make her something. I’ve never made a bag from a pattern before, so I’m using this Sew Sweetness Polaris Bag pattern to learn some proper techniques.

And that is a perfect example of DIY Disease. Do you have it as well?

*Yes, I’ve gone a bit off the thematic deep end and I’m making some Disney pieces to wear to Disney World later this fall. I can’t help myself…..

Heavenly Bodies and Earthly Bodies

Two weekends ago, a friend and I went up to New York City to see the Met Museum exhibit, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” The exhibit explores how Catholicism inspires designers, both religious designers and fashion designers. There were pieces from the Vatican collections (sorry, no photos allowed) that had embroidery so fine that it looked like photos and gems as large as your eyeball. Then there were chiffon pieces that appeared to float in the exhibits where they were found – everything was scattered throughout the museum.  Part of the exhibit was at the Cloisters, at the north end of Manhattan and in my former neighborhood, but we didn’t make it that far. We were at the Fifth Avenue location long enough, admiring everything.

The garments on display ran from the sumptuous… 

…to the “mundane.” There was traditional….

…and there was modern. I particularly enjoyed the Versace dresses on display far above our heads, but felt it was a bit weird to be staring up the models’ dresses and skirts. On the other hand, it did let me see some of the structure of the undergarments. I definitely recommend the exhibit. It runs through the beginning of October, so you have time to go see it.

My friend and I inadvertently ended up dressed alike in floral shirt dresses and Dansko sandals – dresses I made! It was a whirlwind trip but we did make it to Mood, where I discovered a huge collection of reflective trims. I got white, blue and black reflective piping – expensive, but in colors I don’t have and it means I don’t have to make it myself! I think I need to call and order more… (by the way, my friend bought her purse from a street vendor on our way to the museum. It was the only one and we both wanted it, but I let her have it – then realized *afterwards* that it is reflective! And we never saw another street vendor the entire rest of the weekend!) Apparently my earthly body was feeling neglected, because I ended up in the hospital again. Three months after my surgery, and three months of constant pain, I went to the surgeon to ask when the pain would stop. After a quick examination, they directed me to the operating room of the hospital for emergency surgery! Internal stitches had popped and bad things were happening. So there I was, checking into the ambulatory surgery center in my business clothes with a full face of makeup, madly emailing and texting everyone who needed to know so I could cancel and rearrange my schedule. Although it ended up being a long day at the hospital and ended with more pain than it started, I was happy to see the same nurses I’d had three months ago. They made me feel much better about everything. One even pointed out that my nail polished matched the hospital gown! Although the repair surgery was not as dramatic (no incisions) as the last surgery, it still means no biking for a while, again, and taking it easy. I’ve been resting, resting, resting – I don’t want another trip to the hospital, no matter how nice the nurses are!

Hospital style, haha!

Hopefully this will be a fast recovery and I can get back to some sort of activity level before this summer is over. At least sewing isn’t too strenuous, right? I’ll be taking care of my earthly body from behind my sewing machine. Take care of yours however makes you happy.

Back to Biking, At Last!

Last week I finally started biking to work again, three months after my surgery. It felt really good to clean off the bike and get a few miles in. Rather than jump back into my 8 miles round trip immediately, I broke up the commutes, so I biked TO work on Tuesday, rode the bus home, then to work on Wednesday, then biked FROM work on Wednesday; repeat on Thursday and Friday. My muscles started complaining almost right away on Tuesday, so I’m glad I did that. It doesn’t matter than I only did half day commutes because I was just so happy to be biking again. And it’s not just that I haven’t been able to bike while recovering from surgery, it’s because I hadn’t enjoyed biking to work much at all in the months before the surgery. Frankly, I was privately grateful to have an excuse to *not* bike. Turns out that I am not alone in my loss of bike love. Jools Walker, aka Lady Velo, is a bike blogger, fashionista and expert in London, and someone I greatly admire. She recently blogged about how she had recently biked for the first time in six months. She had lost her love of biking – the thing her persona is so much a part of. Jools wrote a thing called “anhedonia,” which, like her, I hadn’t heard of before.  It’s basically losing interest in the things you love and a symptom of major depressive disorder. For her, being able to identify this and connect it to depression and anxiety she’d felt earlier, made something click. Allowing herself to name it also opened her up to wanting to do it again. Jools wrote that she finally realized that she had needed the break from cycling and that she shouldn’t beat herself up for it, and I think she’s right. I also think that I too needed a break from cycling.

I also didn’t want to admit that I didn’t feel like biking, and used my crazy work schedule to excuse my bus riding, then the surgery was the perfect cover. I probably could have started biking again sooner post-op but had a bit of anxiety around it – too  many days of reading about the horrible things that can ruin a simple, fun bike ride and I began to get a bit worried that I wouldn’t like it or be too scared. But something snapped, and the desire to bike again suddenly reared up and grabbed me. I’m glad and relieved that it did, because I had four days last week of just *happy* bike rides.

Fauntleroy at work again!

I feel like I’ve had a lot going on so maybe my schedule wore me out and wore me down, and biking was one less thing to worry about. Ironic, considering all the research and personally knowledge about how much happier I am when I’m exercising consistently. But I felt more in control last; there’s much to be said for being able to jump on my bike whenever, rather than racing to the bus stop to catch the bus.

I got a bit more inspiration on Saturday when I went to Clarendon and stumbled upon the Armed Forces Cycling Classic Clarendon Cup pro women’s bike race. I was early for my hair appointment so I watched them do laps for a while. It was inspiring and made me a bit wistful for my road bike and high speed cycling.

Happy Biking!

My bike commute to work isn’t anything like a pro cycling race but the feeling of euphoria is the same (okay, similar). I’m glad I had all that time off from my bike, because now I can feel free to love it again, and not dread it or feel anxious about not doing it when I felt like I should have been loving it all along.  I’m glad we had the break, but now it’s time for summer biking! And Jools – I hope your mojo comes back for you, that the slow burn becomes a steady (manageable) roar that makes you happy and content.