Last night I volunteered to help out with BikeArlington’s “Balaclavas and Baklava” winter accessories sewing event, and had a blast! Erin Potter, the Events & Outreach Coordinator, arrived in Arlington last spring with winters of Chicago biking under her belt, and took inspiration for this event from something she had participated in back in the Windy City. Needing extra sewing hands, she recruited a few of us from the office, and organized an awesome event!

Polar fleece and patterns for balaclavas, neck warmers and ear warmers.

Polar fleece and patterns for balaclavas, neck warmers and ear warmers. Check out that pink!

Erin did an amazing job of wrangling the 35 attendees who RSVPed, the 20 on the waiting list, piles of fantastic polar fleece, several volunteer sewing machines (mine are still “in hospital,” alas), thread and pins, baklava, mulled cider and even a fire in a fireplace! Okay, that was on the computer monitor above us, but was the perfect thing for a cozy cold weather craft night. Everything was organized into stations: pick your pattern and fabric; cutting out your fabric; pining; sewing; admiring your mad sewing skillz! Seriously, she thought of everything, even a large framed mirror to check out your new bike accessories.

It seemed like everyone had a really great time! Many people had never sewn before, and I helped several men pin and sew, which I thought was really inspiring. I enjoyed troubleshooting a range of sewing machines, from a super old Singer to a fancy computerized one that kept giving me an error message and we finally had to reboot it!

I love this old Singer (yes, that's Edgar in the background)

I love this old Singer (yes, that’s Edgar in the background)

Given the popularity of this event, I’m pretty confident Bike Arlington will do something similar again. Maybe we can convince them to repeat it in January or February – we might all need new accessories to perk up the winter doldrums by that point. If you think you’d like another night like this, or have other suggestions, email them at, Tweet to them at @BikeArlington or leave them a love note on Facebook.

I am happy that I was able to help so many people with their winter biking accessories, and that I was able to sneak a bit of that pink polar fleece to make a neck warmer for me. Hey, it matches my gloves! Successful evening all around!



5 thoughts on “Balaclavas and Baklava with BikeArlington

  1. Gosh that takes serious coordination to do a group sewing event! I’m certain if a bunch of you did a bike theme fabric patches for a sewn would auction off well for a fundraiser!!

  2. Hi there, Erin here! We ended up taking a pattern and adapting it from Chicago Bike Winter, where a small group of awesome people get together and make a whole bunch of fleece-y accessories and then give them out for free as temperatures drop to keep folks biking through the winter. Their patterns are online here: along with some good tips.

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