Sewing June 2019: N + 1

In the bicycling world, there is a long-standing joke about N+1 when it comes to bicycles – once you have one, you need another, and then another, and then another. Look at The Mechanic and I – we have six bikes between the two of us! (One may or may not be in the bedroom, although neither of us are bothered by that. I know some spouses might be.) I suppose it is the same for any hobby. When I got my first tattoo I was told it’s addictive, and it kinda is – I do want another one…

My camera can’t capture the gorgeousness of this Iced Peach Floral Japanese Lyocell Cotton from Marcy Tilton so check out the website for better photos –> https://marcytilton.com/collections/woven/products/iced-peach-floral-japanese-lyocell-woven

But I hadn’t really put sewing into that perspective until this past weekend, when I shared photos on Instagram of some fabric I spontaneously ordered. It’s *gorgeous* fabric, but in a colorway I don’t really have any other clothing in. The fabric is intended for a blouse, so I’ll need either pants or a skirt to go with it. Or both. And then I need to see if any of the pants or skirt patterns I already own works with the fabric I need to get, the style of the blouse I plan to make, and anything else that might happen to go with this gorgeous fabric. So it totally made sense when one of my IG sewing friends commented “If you give a sewist some fabric, she’ll have to make some pants to go with it,” referencing the popular children’s’ book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. And then I realized – N+1. Fabric = more patterns = more fabric = more patterns, etc.

I’ve been trying really hard not to acquire more fabric and patterns, because I’m really anxious to make the fabric and patterns I have. But I feel like it’s too late to finish my summer sewing, and maybe I should move onto fall plans. Of course, I know that it will stay warm well into October, so there is plenty of time to get my warm weather garments made! But cold weather clothes take longer, so I feel like I need to get started now! Now, now now!!! N + 1 = more fabric and more patterns.

The irony is, The Mechanic and I are both not only pretty happy with the bikes we have, we are considering getting rid of some. I mean, it’s been a few years since I’ve dusted off my mountain bike – is there any point in keeping it?! We are planning a West Virginia road trip in October, though, so I guess I will decide after that. But is it worth keeping a bike for a maybe once a year opportunity? I don’t know, is it worth buying fabric that I may or may not every have time to sew up?

I have been sewing up a storm this month, unlike my bike habits. I’m especially proud of the New Look 6262 dress I made from an IKEA duvet cover, and the Vogue 9302 pants, made from IKEA curtains. The dress doesn’t fit great but it feels lovely, the cotton/lyocell fabric is silky and lightweight, and perfect for the upcoming hot weather. The pants are a wearable muslin for wide leg pants that I want to make for the colder months, something I can line with flannel, and/or fit thermal underwear underneath. And hey, tropical print pants! The shift dress is a nice basic, and the infinity scarf will be so great with many things.

I also ordered new sewing labels, yay! I have 100 – how long do you think they will last? I can’t believe I’ve already used 100 labels, frankly, so we’ll see what happens with these! Oh dear – do 100 labels mean N = 100??!

 

A Weekend Five Years in the Making

The Mechanic and I just celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe we’ve been married that long, and yet it seems like we’ve always been together. Is that how marriage works?!

We haven’t done much to celebrate in the last few years since they’ve seemed a bit anti-climatic. I was in New York last year with a friend, if that is any indication of our attentiveness. But five years seemed like a big deal so we made some plans.

First up, we splurged on a fancy dinner at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, a plant-based restaurant in Washington, DC. It’s been on my list for a while but due to it price and exclusivity (Friday and Saturday night seatings only, wine pairings an extra $60 per person), we hadn’t been. But it turned out to be the perfect anniversary dinner.

Violet Moon cocktail and an empty first course dish – as the dining excitement begins!

Although we passed on the wine pairing, we did order cocktails. My Violet Moon appeared more gray than violet, but the vodka, kombucha, creme de Violette, and Freixenet Blanc de Blanc combo could possibly be my most favorite cocktail ever. I had two – just to test the consistency, of course! I can’t even begin to describe the food, it was so amazing. So many wild and different flavors in one mouthful! The Mechanic and I, not being foodies, credited our years of vegan Green Chef meals with introducing us to the possibilities of flavorful, exotic, and adventurous dining – if it hadn’t, this meal might have been a great shock! I didn’t take pictures of all seven courses but I did take a few of the more picturesque ones.

One of seven delicious courses at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw

Also, I wore my new Vogue 9091  linen culottes and the Named Clothing Inari Tee Dress, which I cropped into a top. I love this combination so much!!! Expect to see me in it alot – and sorry for the bathroom photo….

We balanced the fancy experience at Elizabeth’s Gone Raw the following day with a road trip to Shepherdstown, WV, where we had gotten married five year previously. We rented a (ginormous) pick up, and The Mechanic managed to nicely arrange our bicycles in the back so we could take them with us. Once in Shepherdstown, we started with a casual lunch at our favorite place, the Blue Moon Cafe. The food is always good, with plenty of vegetarian options, but the highlight is the outdoor seating with a small stream rushing through it. We love this place so much that we made it part of our unofficial wedding reception (we had a lunchtime wedding and reception, so everyone who stayed joined us at the Blue Moon for dinner that evening). We continued our wedding anniversary tour with a stop at the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery, where we had ordered our wedding cake. We purchased a slice of cake that was almost identical to ours – this was almond cake (instead of the lemon we had five years ago), with a raspberry filling and buttercream frosting. Just as delicious as we remembered!

Biking has always been a large part of our memories of Shepherdstown – we first encountered the town when we signed up for the CASA River Ride seven years ago. We also used it as our starting point for a bike camping trip down the C & O Canal that same year. We’ve returned over and over, since it is a perfect day trip destination. Luckily the weather this year was dry enough for us to squeeze in another bike ride down the canal tow path. It was so lovely and just perfect, and we agreed we need to do more of *that* sort of biking – adventure travel biking, casual, gravel roads, nature, trees, etc.

Our last anniversary-related stop was at the Bavarian Inn, where our wedding had taken place. We were one of the first weddings held overlooking the infinity pool, and there had been some question as to whether or not it would be ready for us – but it was, and provided a lovely backdrop of just nature and the Potomac River. We visited a few times since then, but not for a few years, so we were completely surprised at the remodeling they had done when they added Bavarian Brothers Brewery to the site last year. Walls were changed, decor was modernized, fixtures were new, the bar was larger, and there was an entire new dining area where our reception patio space had been. Wow! It looks amazing! We had a flight and some fondue, then took home a growler – which I had to bike back to our rental truck, since we’d gone there on our bikes. What’s more bike-y than beer and cupcakes on a bike?!

 

Part of my wedding reminiscences included pulling out my wedding skirt, which I made from my wedding dress. It’s a bit too small for me now <ahem> but I would still love to have a reason to wear it somewhere. Someone, invite me to a garden party!

So many changes since 2014!

Who knows how many changes there will be in another five years!!! We have enough to keep ourselves busy until then, so check in with me in 2024!

May19: Momentous May

It’s the merry month of May! It’s a rather momentous month every year because of three things that always happen (and are important me): my birthday; Me Made May; and National Bike Month.

My Birthday

This year I am turning 47. I have no idea how I got to be suddenly so close to 50!!! Eek! I feel a sudden urge to figure what I should do with my life. I need to put a plan into place to help me focus the next three years. Maybe that’s the year The Mechanic and I will finally move overseas somewhere. Who knows, it could happen!

Early celebratory mermaid themed cupcake!

Me Made May

Me Made May is a personal challenge for sewists on Instagram. The idea is generally to encourage you to wear the things you have made, especially the pieces that get little use. Most sewists set their own pledges: I pledge to wear something #memade everyday; to work; not buy fabric; finish up neglected projects; etc. This year I plan to sew what I already have planned, and see what gaps I think I have by wearing as much as I can (depending on what fits). Loved wearing some #memade things in New York Cityast weekend! I got so many compliments on my coat, I was shocked!

National Bike Month

Yep, a whole month to celebrate biking. It will be a bittersweet month in the DC area as the bicycling community continues to mourn and fight for improvements. I pledge to bike as much as possible this month! It’s the perfect month to get serious about my regular biking. I plan to use this time to analyze my love of all things reflective. Does the reflectivity make sense on the things I’ve made? Are the trims in the right place? Should I give up making reflective tops, because they are covered up in the winter, or I’m not out late enough in the summer? These are things to consider.

Wore my new nail print skirt on a recent bike commute- it was perfect (but not reflective)!

All Together Now

Putting all these things together, May should be a month to plan, reflect, and celebrate. What do you plan to celebrate this month?

April19: Sewing and Biking

My goodness, life has gotten overly complicated and blogging has gotten away from me! Sorry for irregular postings. I’d like to promise that I’ll get more disciplined, but I suspect that won’t happen…

Here we are, staring down the last full week of April already! I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot of sewing this month, which is great. What isn’t so great is news about a local bike advocate getting killed, and the lack of support of Vision Zero by cities that have signed onto it. I’m a bit upset about it, so if you don’t want to know more, don’t read the end of this blog post.

Sewing

I feel like I’ve been a busy little sewing bee! I have completed three projects since I last blogged about my sewing, among other things.

  • Visited Stitch Sew Shop in their new location, where I bought the Scout Tee pattern for my Zodiac top (among other things)
  • Ordered scalloped pinking shears, to try an idea (which I haven’t tried yet)
  • Ordered some different black reflective fabric, which I ultimately don’t really like – it’s hardly reflective!
  • Completed a wearable muslin of the Scout Tee in some Charley Harper cotton from my stash – it’s easy and simple, and will be perfect for the embroidered mesh Zodiac fabric
  • Finally made the Cotton & Steel Rifle Paper Co. Amalfi Freja print button up shirt I’ve been planning for ages, another version of my favorite Vogue 8772
  • Made, then remade, the Simplicity 1369 skirt out of nail print cotton – designed to fit low on the hips, I took it in 4″, shortened it a tad, and now it’s perfect! Thanks to my Instagram fellow sewists for their feedback!
  • Finally cut out the Burda 6678 pants pieces, from a gray chambray I purchased at Stitch Sew Shop
  • Discovered “A Stitch in Time” on Acorn TV – a documentary series with fashion historian (and icon!) Amber Butchart, who selects garments from several historic portraits that a costume shop led by Ninya Mikhaila recreates using historically accurate tools and techniques. It’s 100% where I wish my career could have gone – history, research, sewing… It’s so wonderful to see pieces from paintings recreated! And of course, I’m terribly envious that they were all made to fit Amber.

I love Charley Harper art so much! Yes, I have it on my walls : )

Biking

I was very proud of myself – briefly. One whole week, I biked each way! Although I biked to work one morning, then biked home the next afternoon. So not full round trip rides, but a bit every day. This actually worked out really well, given weather, my work schedule, social outings, etc. Then the following week – nothing. Sigh. I did wear some of my #memades, though, but I didn’t get photos each time. But May is National Bike Month, so I plan to do as much biking as possible then – wearing reflective #memade garments, of course! In other biking news – the Washington, DC, bike community is reeling after a beloved bike advocate, Dave Salovesh, was killed in a car crash. I didn’t know Dave but I followed him on Twitter, and even with that distance, it hits close to home. I feel for the #bikeDC people I do know who knew Dave so well – their pain and anger is completely justified. I suspect that the only reason why his killer was charged with second degree murder is because he was speeding in a stolen vehicle. If he had been speeding in his own car, I doubt it would have been the same. It’s so frustrating and upsetting that a supposed Vision Zero city seems to do so little to support the goals of eliminating traffic deaths. i am not as qualified to talk about Vision Zero as some, like Dave, are, but from what I see in the news, American cities such as DC and New York City that have pledged to these goals are doing pretty much the exact opposite. Also on Twitter over the weekend, people in NYC were reporting that cops were confiscating bikes from kids and/or ticketing them for not having bike bells. Seriously?! Bike bells? When are they going to confiscate cars from drivers who don’t use their turn signals?! Gah!

I don’t post political stuff much because I don’t have the interest or energy for getting into social media spats with strangers, but these two things pushed me over the edge. We read and hear all the time about an obesity crisis, and climate change is pounding down our doors, but god forbid we actually embrace the easy and inexpensive ways to tackle both – active transportation. Some cities get it, like Vancouver seems to, but others just don’t really give a sh*t. I don’t know how long The Mechanic and I will live in the DC metro area, but I can tell you that we are making a list of cities that promote the things we value and we’ll consider them first and foremost.

National Bike Month

May is National Bike Month. I talk about it every year. But this year, I’d like everyone to think about some simple things they can do to promote the well-being of others. We really are all in this together, and we can only make it if we are careful of our actions. That means put down the cell phone and use turn signals, as well as cross at crosswalks and stop for red lights. You don’t need to bike to be careful of people on their bikes, or people walking. National Bike Month should only have to celebrate the joy of biking, not remind people that life is fragile and gone in an instant. And maybe, just maybe – try a bike ride yourself if you haven’t in a long time.

 

Travel Jan19: Dreaming and Planning

It’s the first bitterly cold day of 2019 and luckily it’s a holiday Monday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), so I don’t have to leave the house. Instead, I’m dreaming about a warm vacation somewhere exotic – or at least maybe not in the US.

The Mechanic and I agreed that we need to stay home this year and not travel, because we did a terrible job at saving money last year. It’s the smart and practical thing to do. But I simply cannot sit home all year and not go anywhere!!!

Not that we don’t have travel lined up already – in February I am going to a work-related conference conveniently located at Disney World. It’s  repeat of the leadership program I’m involved with that we launched last year. I can’t afford to spend much time there so I will have limited time in the parks. But considering it will be my fourth time in 13 months, I think I’m okay with that! Then in March, we are traveling to see siblings – The Mechanic’s sister ended up in the same West Texas town that my brother lives in. But after that…. nothing! Well, maybe a quickie weekend to NYC.

At Disney World last January for the Association for Commuter Transportation’s ImpACT! Leadership Program

What we really want to do is another European bike tour. We had such a wonderful time when we did the one for our honeymoon, and this year will be our five-year anniversary, so it seems like a good time. Friends brought us biking magazines from Germany, which is only adding fuel to the fire. Gah! All I want to do right now is bike through some gorgeous countryside in warm weather, stopping at cute cafes and biergartens, and perhaps attempt some rusty German language skills.

But we have to figure out when, how much to spend, and most importantly, which one?!?! There are so many we want to do! We’ve been talking about this Venice to Porec, Croatia one for a few years now, but then saw this Danube Delta Bike & Barge trip in Romania that looks *amazing*! Of course, it’s way more expensive than we originally had in mind, but neither of us have been to Romania, and a few days in Bucharest would be pretty fabulous as well. Then again, if we did the Ruhr Valley loop, we could visit friends who live in the area – plus that tour is half the price of the Danube Delta one….

Adding to the travel plans is the tentative plan with my mother and aunt to go to the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play, in Oberammergau, Germany. The entire town takes part in this event, which has been going on for centuries, and only happens every ten years. This is something I first learned about in my high school German class, and despite not being terribly religious, I’ve always wanted to go.  It’s also eye-wateringly expensive, due to the fact that the easiest way to go is with a tour group. The town is tiny and lodging books up fast – in fact, it probably already is. As much as I’m not a tour group traveler, I’d do it with my mom and aunt. The tours include other destinations, so it would be a fabulous time. It just means I need to be super careful with both cash and PTO, so I can do it.

Everything you need to know about the Oberammergau Passion Play is on the official website https://www.passionsspiele-oberammergau.de/en/home

Then where does that leave time and money to see friends and family scattered across the country? The drawback to having people scattered across the globe means that it’s hard to see everyone. Sigh.

So we’ll continue to save and dream and hopefully plan for later this year. Do you have any travel suggestions for us?

Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’… and plannin’ and dreamin’ …..

 

Biking Jan19: Winter Biking – So Far

I already failed my January goal of biking to work three times a week. I blame the weather. I blame my apparent inability to gauge cold and warm – how cold is it really, and how many layers do I need to wear to stay warm on a four mile bike ride?

The first day wasn’t so bad – not terribly cold, nice to be out on my bike, surprise new bike lanes on the route I normally take (makes me feel legit!).

Now my regular commute is legit!

The second day was colder, so I decided to wear my corduroy culottes with the reflective leg warmers my mother knit for me several years ago. This wasn’t too bad on the way TO work, but on the way home, the temperature had dropped and the wind had picked up. I got blown around on my bike, and the full legs of the culottes blew around my legs, so I wasn’t as warm as I wanted to be. I was certainly reflective though!

Here are my reflective winter touches, from outside, working in:

  • Nutcase helmet (not seen: reflective stickers on side and back)
  • Reflective Rabbit scarf, knit by my mother
  • Old Lands End red puffer coat
  • Vespertine skinny reflective belt
  • Reflective lobster gloves (don’t remember where I got those)
  • Funflector reflector on my very old Basil pannier
  • Reflective leg warmers, knit by my mother
  • Navy corduroy Megan Nielsen Tania culottes with black reflective piping in the side seam, made by me

1. All a-glow, after I got home

2. Unpeeling the layers….

3. Ta da! This is how I looked in the office – respectable and not the least bit “bikey”

Then it got even colder and stayed windy. Although it meant I missed my third day of biking, I was fine with it. And now we’ve had the biggest snowstorm in three years, with 9″ of snow on our back deck alone, so I won’t be biking for a bit. Although Arlington County does a great job at clearing the bike lanes and trails, the same cannot generally be said for the conditions of streets. In years past, my bike route has been blocked by the giant piles of snow pushed aside by snow plows. I just don’t feel like the battle, so I opt not to, especially since the bus is so convenient.

9″ of snow on our back deck this morning, wow! Of the originally predicted 3-6″, I was hoping for 3″, haha!

I discovered something I’d forgotten in a year – after a 25-30 minute bike ride, my back is sweating and my fingers are freezing. So I plan to spend the rest of this month trying to balance out the warmth, and figure out how to keep my fingers warm and my core a bit cooler. I might just break down and make my own bar mitts – reflective, of course!

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?!?

 

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.

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[/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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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.