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″ 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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/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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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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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.

Recap and Review of Me Made May

I was pretty impressed with myself during this year’s Me Made May challenge – with the exception of the few days I had to wear company branded clothing and the one day I wore my Diane von Furstenberg dress for a fancy work event, I wore something Me Made every day this month. This might actually be a first. It means that I have things in my sewing collection that I like well enough to wear often. So let’s break that down a bit.

  • I didn’t like everything I wore – for example, I don’t love my Colette Wren dress but like it under a blazer.
  • Not everything fits well – e.g., the pink print duster needs to be wider across the back and the sleeves are waaaaay too short.
  • I don’t actually fit into some stuff I’ve made in the past since I’ve gained more weight in the last year than I should have. (#dislike)
  • My goal is always to find the right <dress, skirt, top> and I decided that there are some patterns I could repeat, even though I hate repeating patterns.
  • Having red hair now means that some stuff I made when I had blonde hair doesn’t look quite right.
  • I finally bought a tripod and remote so I can take pictures someplace other than my office bathroom! My Instagram followers must be relieved, haha!

With the exception of my denim lace dress, which I forgot to take a picture of, here are my top faves for this month:

As I mentioned above, part of the goal for sewing is to find styles and thus patterns that I really love and that really work for me. I’ve had a lot of trial and error, and I’m beginning to figure out things. Gaining weight hasn’t helped, because I’m disappointed in myself at how I look in things, but overall, it’s not that much of a gain that I can’t see what I like and don’t like. I still don’t have me-made pants that I really like, although I do love my culottes, so I guess that’s something. I think I need to focus on perfecting the patterns I do like, rather than just trying new things over and over.

That being said…. on June 1, I finished this dress: (Note: when I bought this fabric, my hair did not match it!)

I absolutely *love* this fabric but I tried a new pattern and don’t love it. It’s McCalls 6885, and I thought it might be a nice simple summer dress. I’m sure it will be, but I don’t think it’s very flattering. It’s rather shapeless, even with the back ties. And the collar is HUGE! I feel like I should be going to a 70s party in that collar. Maybe it will grow on me. The sleeve tabs are reflective, though, which of course I love. I was thinking that I’d make this in an autumnal plaid but I think this will not be a repeat pattern.

well, when you have to take something apart, might as well make the process enjoyable, right?

Another reason to focus on what I like is that I seem to have lost my ability to ease in sleeves properly. I think I need to make a few of the same to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

That all being said, I’m trying a new dress pattern.

I’m doing Version A of this New Look 6095 dress.

I just want a nice simple dress pattern so I can make a few work-appropriate summer linen dresses. Something with a fuller skirt would obviously be more bike friendly, but I’m not in love with the dirndl skirt style at the moment. What to do, what to do? Stay tuned!

Linen on the left from Marcy Tilton Fabrics, linen and buttons on the right from JoAnn Fabrics

 

The Return of Red

A natural blonde of a rather boring sort, I started coloring my hair red when I was first out of high school, and have been every shade of red possible in the 1990s and early 2000s. I would actually buy hair color when I was in Germany, because so many women there had/have the brightest, most red red hair I’ve ever seen. But then over the years, I went dark brown, then gradually lighter and lighter, until the pale blonde of recent weeks.

Most recent blonde, as pale as I have been maybe forever.

The one constant in my life is that nothing is constant – I got bored and decided to go a different route this weekend. Voila! Return of the Red!

Power Red!

This L’Oreal Feria “Power Red” color fell into my hands in Target last week, so here we are. I love the color, properly called Cherry Crush, and The Mechanic likes it too but is having a hard time getting used to it. To be fair, it’s barely been 36 hours.

In other news, I decided to throw together a drawstring backpack this weekend. I’ve been thinking about our Disney World vacation this fall (I know, I know, it’s months away, but I can’t help myself) and wondering what sort of day bag to take. I thought this might be a good option. I didn’t bother with a pattern and just sort of made things up as I went along. It has a long narrow zippered pocket in the front, and two pockets in the back with zippers on the sides, for things I need to reach often, like my phone and maybe wallet. Made with my reflective camo fabric, I added a reflective ribbon loop to the top as well. I don’t know what drawstring I will end up with so for now it’s just black grosgrain ribbon.

I finally got a tripod for my phone/camera, too, so now I can take more interesting Me Made photos that aren’t selfies in the bathroom at work or ones I’ve begged The Mechanic to take for me. I will need some practice, though….

Speaking of fashion, did anyone else watch the Royal Wedding on Saturday? I got up at 4:30am EST to watch guests arrive so I could admire the hats and dresses. I enjoyed drinking my tea and texting with friends as everything unfolded and had to laugh when it looked like Sully wanted to get in on the action too. He and Quinn are *English* angoras after all, haha! (Aren’t the peonies gorgeous?! They are blooming in front of our townhouse!) I think the new Duchess of Sussex could look gorgeous in anything, and her wedding dress was about what I expected – simple, classic and still dramatic. I love the story behind her veil, however – flowers from every country in the Commonwealth, as well as flowers to signify Kensington Palace and California, were embroidered on it. Beyond loving the symbolism, I love anything embroidered and would love to see this close up. There’s a list of all the flowers on the royal family website as well as more details about the wedding party’s outfits. I also loved the Art Deco tiara she wore, but wasn’t horribly exited about the bridesmaids’ and page boys’ outfits. But I absolutely LOVED her second wedding dress! And the photographer who caught the fabulous photo of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their way to their evening reception has hopefully made his or her fortune with that photo! Here copied from Daily Mail:

Thanks to whomever took this photo! I’d love to see a better picture of this dress.

My favorite dress was worn by Sofia Wellesley, wife of James Blunt. The Daily Mail considers her look a “miss” (really, “too wholesome”?) but I love her REDValentino dress. Did you have any favorites?

Sofia Wellesley in REDValentino at the Royal Wedding (photo from Daily Mail)

This is the sort of thing that makes me wonder about my new red hair though – can I pull off a floral dress with crazy red hair?! I need to rethink the sewing projects I have lined up. That yellow gingham might be shelved for another time, not sure how a top out of that will look with this crazy red hair!

Let’s see how this color does over the next few weeks!

Reviving Victorian Women’s Bicycle Fashion

Through the magic (!!!) of Twitter, I discovered a revival in Victorian women’s bicycle fashion. Yes, Dear Readers, it’s true – someone out there is biking around London in Victorian women’s bicycle fashions. As a historian (okay, two degrees in history, even if I don’t do that for my daily job), bicycle rider and sewist of reflective bicycle clothing, I couldn’t be more excited about this!

Dr. Kat Jungnickel is a sociologist at Goldsmiths, University of London, and has recently come out with a book that explores how Victorian women adapted their clothing as they adopted the freedom of the new-fangled bicycle. I ordered it but it hasn’t arrived – I’ll update you once I’ve read it. But better than just research and write about this topic, she’s *recreated* some of the clothing AND made the patterns available for free! <squee!!!> Best part is – the patterns were inspired by patents that Victorian women themselves invented and lodged. How cool is that?! Women’s bike style, now AND then! Inspiration for all of us now.

I hope Ms. Barnes doesn’t mind me sharing her photo from the Telegraph – it’s too wonderful to not share!

Some of the clothing has been created with Dashing Tweeds tweed – yes, the reflective stuff! Check it out in her Tweet.  One of the skirts converts to a cape as well, predating Cleverhood by over 100 years. Check out the article in the Telegraph for photos and more details. Not only are there some great photos by Charlotte Barnes, there are images of the original patents. Dr. Jungnickel also wrote an article for the Guardian that has examples of other patents, so you get a good idea of what was invented and what she’s had recreated. I also love the photo in the article in The Argus, because you can see the fun printed bloomers under the model’s skirt.

In the Guardian, Dr. Jungnickel shared this 1895 patent by Alice Bygrave (photo by Handout) – how cool is this?!?

Dr. Jungnickel is doing a book tour in costume and although I doubt she’ll make it to Washington, DC, or even New York, I’d sure love to meet her and talk to her about her research and costumes.

While I was reading about Dr. Jungnickel’s book, I found two other books that are related, sort of. The first is a book called Bicycles, Bloomers and Great War Rationing Recipes: The Life and Times of Dorothy Peel, OBE. The review doesn’t say much about the bicycles and bloomers part of the title, but if it’s looking at how society changed, bloomers and bicycles are an obvious place to start. The other book is titled Fashioning the Victorians by Rebecca N. Mitchell. A “critical sourcebook,” this pulls together primary sources to examine how fashion changed Victorians and vice versa. This is 100% a topic that I love so I’ll no doubt get my hands on this sometime soon as well.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (as my dad always says), I threw together some bicycle fashion of my own this past weekend. I decided I needed a basic gray skirt so I pulled out some unwanted cotton/poly twill (ordered online and the color wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be) and my trusty Kwik Sew 3877 A-line skirt pattern and cranked it out. I lined it in light blue and of course added reflective piping to the side seams. I love how easy this pattern is, and how surprisingly flattering it is. The twill seems to coordinate with several tops I’ve made, so hopefully I’ll get a ton of use out of it. Wish I’d added pockets though – I always regret it after I decide against it.

Pretty basic – sorta like a flight attendant’s skirt…

“Signature” bicycle trio stitch

Lined in light blue

It’s not surprising to learn that Victorian women invented their own ways of managing their long dresses and skirts on bicycles; humans are extremely creative and adaptive. It’s so refreshing to see their designs  and know that they were trying to solve the same problems that many of the rest of us are working on – how to combine a sport we love with the styles we love. But I’m grateful that we don’t have to work around long wool skirts and corsets!

A la francaise – new skirt worn with Ligne 8 striped jersey purchased from Bike Pretty and Cole Haan oxfords – and a rhinestoned beret to add extra flare!

Brocade Bomber for Biking

I told you I am obsessed with outerwear right now and here’s more proof! My brocade bomber jacket is done!

I bought this brocade in New York City last year in a store that was going out of business. I am thrilled at how well it coordinates with the bronze reflective fabric from Mood.

I was originally thinking I would make a moto jacket but decided on Simplicity 8418 instead – the simpler lines allow the fabric to shine, plus this pattern includes the lining. And it has pockets! The same flannel backed lining I used on my reflective tweed coat matches perfectly with this as well. (I’m newly converted to how great this lining fabric is.)

I’m pretty happy with how easily this came together. However, I need to automatically add at least an inch to every sleeve I make. The sleeves aren’t horribly short but I would have preferred them longer. Helps keep my wrists warmer while biking.

Speaking of biking, check out how cool the reflective trim looks:

Oh yeah!

I’m excited to have a dressy casual jacket that I can wear a multitude of ways.

Obsessed With Outerwear

I’ve been a bit obsessed with designing reflective outerwear this year. I have realized, over the last year, that many of my reflective makes spend a lot of time under coats and jackets, which sort of defeats the purpose of reflective fashion. So, I decided I need reflective outerwear.

My first attempt turned out beautifully- my reflective tweed coat makes me so happy!!! Made with reflective tweed purchased last year in London from Dashing Tweeds (the burgundy) and wool from Fabric.com, its lined with flannel backed satin from Vogue Fabrics, and interlined with ripstop nylon. The ripstop is intended for added warmth and to prevent the wind from going straight through the wool as I Bike. I have to say, it holds the body warmth pretty well – maybe too well! Oh, and it looks spectacular on!

Flush with the success of that coat, I started my brocade bomber jacket. I picked Simplicity 8418 because it has a lining, and for added warmth, I am using the same flannel-backed satin I used on my tweed coat. The brocade I purchased a year or so ago from a fabric store in New York that was going out of business. At the time I didn’t know what to do with it, but my bronze reflective fabric from Mood Fabrics coordinates so perfectly that I knew they had to go together. A brocade bomber jacket seems decadent but also, a fun alternative to a work blazer. I hope. So I got started on that this weekend.

Once I complete the bomber, I have two other jackets to make. One will be a light duster, from Simplicity 8055, with the front and back yokes out of reflective fabric. It’s not lined so I plan to flat line the yokes and sleeves; I hate unlined sleeves. My initial plan was to use the black reflective fabric I just purchased from Mood, but a coordinating dark fabric just made the whole thing too dark. Instead, i think I will use the red reflective fabric and find a denim, twill or chambray to match. Red will be a fun color, and a bit more visible than black.

That should be a fairly simple project, but my last (currently) planned coat looks quite a bit more complicated. The Closet Case Kelly Anorak is pretty much exactly what I want – big pockets, tall collar and drawstring waist. And it has a lining option, yay! I will make the outside from the reflective digital camo fabric I have from Rockywoods Fabrics, and then add a fun lining. Maybe I will splurge on a fun print from Spoonflower, to make it more interesting. But my idea is to do this in late summer, for the fall, so I have a while to decide.

Those jackets should be a cool assortment to add an extra layer over my blouses and tops – a dinosaur blouse out of luscious Liberty of London Tana Lawn, two different ruffle sleeve versions of Simplicity 8454, and a basic white blouse, version C of Vogue 9299, with the adorable cameo buttons I found in New York. Whew, that’s quite a list! I’d better get started – reflective fashion doesn’t sew itself!

Sorry, still no internet at home! I’ll link all these sources when I am not on my phone with sluggish cellular.

And Now For Something New

When I moved to New York City at the end of 1999, one of my dreams/goals was to take hat making classes at FIT and become a milliner. I’ve always loved hats – my mom says it’s because she made me wear sun bonnets as a baby. I used to collect vintage hats but over the years, have reduced that collection to one, and even it’s life with me isn’t assured. I seem to spend most of my time wearing a bike helmet, but I do have an assortment of summer straw hats and even made a fabric sun hat a few years ago.

When I saw a hat making class listed in the Smithsonian Associates catalog, well, I couldn’t resist. So last Saturday, I joined close to thirty other women for a 2-hour hat making class in the Ripley Center on the National Mall. Knowing something about hat making from my theater days, and garment construction in general, I wasn’t sure how we’d learn to make hats in two hours, but all came clear when we were instructed to pick out a base to get started. After eyeballing a range of straw and felt hats, I opted for a black felt floppy brimmed hat, knowing that it would have more options than the straw ones. Then I chose some fuchsia pheasant feathers for the decoration.

The milliner showed us one by one how to steam and block our hats and helped us with the decorations. I wanted something a bit early 1920s with an asymmetrical brim, and spent alot of time free form cutting the brim (eek!). I would have felt more comfortable with a dressmakers curve to get it even but did the best I could with the offered dull scissors. I decided to drape the feathers (cut in half) around the brim, and although I like the look, that wasn’t exactly what I was going for. Well, there’s only so much you can do with a few hours and a floppy hat brim, but overall, I think I am fairly pleased with the outcome.

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The milliner teaching the class was a local man, who told us his personal story of how he got into hat making and said that since small, locally-owned stores were too expensive to run, he was reinventing himself and teaching classes. I think this is a wonderful idea and would love to help him set up more classes and really start with some hat basics and history. Maybe make it a 3-hour class with the first 30 minutes breaking down the history of hats, the different parts of hats, and techniques like blocking and steaming. I think a class making fascinators would be good – after all, there are two royal weddings coming up this year. Who says I can’t wear a fancy fascinator while watching it on TV?!?As I stare at my list of sewing projects for the spring, all I can think right now is about taking more hat making classes and wanting to reread all my hat making books. I want to learn more about steaming felt hats and creating different shapes. I think it’s time to bring back hats. It is one way to combat helmet hair, after wall. What do you think? Who’s with me? Break out your hats and start wearing them!

Hey, Minnie Ears are sort of like a fascinator, right?!

 

Ringing in 2018!

Happy New Year everyone!

Rang in 2018 with The Mechanic, my parents and my aunt who were visiting for the holidays

Who’s ready for a new year? <raises hand>

2017 was definitely not a bad year for me by any stretch but the last few months were just hectic enough that I am ready for a new start and some time to recover. To recap life since July:

  • We moved into a new apartment that we hated
  • We placed an offer on a townhouse and bought our first home
  • We took Gaston bunny speed dating and he picked a pair of English angora siblings, Sullivan and Quinn
  • We moved into our new home
  • We adjusted/continue to adjust to life with three rabbits, two of whom are larger and require more maintenance
  • We went to IKEA and Home Depot more times in the last two months than we have in the last two years
  • We hosted people for Thanksgiving
  • We hosted family for Christmas and took a 7-person strong trip to Natural Bridge, VA

Looking at it like that, it doesn’t seem like as big of a deal as it feels! Crazy, chaotic, stressful – and 100% good!

Now I’m looking forward to a new year and a fresh start. I need to catch up on many things, like sewing (I only made 15 things in 2017! <sad face>), biking, reading, and being healthy. Oh, and blogging more – I’ve gotten really behind with this blog!

I’m not going to set any resolutions but here are a few of my plans for the near future:

Sewing

  1. Finish the Dashing Tweed reflective tweed winter coat I’ve been planning since the summer
  2. Make a reflective brocade bomber jacket
  3. Learn how to use my new walking foot
  4. Use the patterns and fabrics I have stacked up
  5. Rethink how and where I use reflective fabrics in sewing projects
  6. Find a new source for reflective fabric!

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Biking

I’ve become a weekday warrior! Seriously, I hardly bike on the weekends at all anymore. I just bike back and forth to work. (#lazy ) I need to find some fun yet not crazy long bike ride event to get back into the swing of things. Then make some fun moisture-wicking bike clothing! Any suggestions for VA-MD events?

 

Reading

I went to a Smithsonian Associates lecture about archeology and it rekindled my love of learning. The first of a series of five, “Indiana Jones: The Eternal Explorer” looks at the politics of archeology through the popular culture character of Indiana Jones. I love Indiana Jones aka Harrison Ford, and I love archeology, and it has something to do with the research I did for my Master’s thesis, back in the day. I can’t wait for the next four lectures. It makes me want to read more and learn more so I’m going to set a goal to actually get some reading done this year. Focused, historical reading, not the news, not work-related, but something that fires another part of my brain. Also, I just miss history.

Health

Isn’t this the top of everyone’s list every year? I let my health get away from me in 2017 and I’m ready to reclaim it! Time to get back to BodyPump and yoga and veggies and no desserts and cooking. The Mechanic and I are still doing Green Chef and love the meals, so we won’t give that up any time soon. It’s taught us a lot about cooking and food and vegetarian/vegan meal options. So now I can take those lessons and try to cook more ourselves. Toast and peanut butter really shouldn’t be my every day staple.

 

Blogging

I don’t seem to have time for two blog posts a week anymore so once a week it is. Sorry about that! I’ll try to balance out more with sewing and biking, especially as I get back into biking more (caveat: current temps are much colder than I prefer to bike in so it might be a while…). I have some sustainable fashion ideas as well as some general mobility topics in mind, and of course, my favorite – All Things Reflective!!! I need to do some scheduling and organizing to stay on track, I think.

 

What fun and exciting things are you planning for 2018? What will be your focus or goal for the new year? Whatever it is, I wish you a year of happiness, strength and success!

Reflective Gift Ideas

‘Tis the season to think about holiday gifts *and* being more visible, as we approach the longest, darkest days of winter. As a fan of all things reflective, I thought I would share two businesses making some really great reflective accessories that are perfect for gift giving – and hey, who says you can’t give yourself?!

First up is Firefly Reflectors, a company started by two Swedish women living in New York. They specifically created their company to help people be stylish as well as visible. I ordered several of their adorable and fun soft reflectors from them a few years ago for gifts and for me. But now, they’ve expanded quite a bit and now have gorgeous tassels, stickers, clips and even accessories like charms and D-rings. It’s so fun to build a key chain with a D-ring, add an initial charm, and then pick a tassel color. The problem is, I can’t decide on just one color! And then, which bag would it go on? This calls for serious consideration before purchasing.

Leopard print, the perennial classic, even as a reflective tassel! (image from http://www.shop-firefly.com)

A new discovery for me is Reflective Society, a small business in Portland run by the talented and creative Iris Vondell. Iris was inspired to start her collection of reflective accessories when she was hit by a car while on her bicycle. Recovered, inspired and determined, she turned her sewing and knitting hobbies into pins, earrings and necklaces made with 3-M fabrics and reflective yarn. A woman after my own heart! I love that she’s worked out how to stamp the images on the fabric. An early childhood educator by training and a lover of the out-of-doors, nature themes pop up frequently on her pieces; she even said a bunny is on her list (of course I asked!).

I couldn’t resist asking Iris a few questions about her art and she was gracious enough to tell me some details. She admitted that it took years of testing and prototyping and hunting for sources before she found things that work best. Iris also said that moving to Portland in 2014 really kicked off her line, as she found people who understand and appreciate what she is doing. Iris’s collection of button earrings, small and large buttons, bolo ties, pendants and earrings make perfect small gifts for anyone. I think her collection could do really well here in the DC area, so I need to figure out how to lure her to town some day. In the meantime, I ordered a few things from her, and promise to show them off when they arrive.

These two different companies have enough different styles to fit the tastes of everyone, so you should be able to find some last-minute small gifts for anyone on your list. Remember, you don’t need to be a cyclist to benefit from reflective accessories – everyone walks!