Revisiting Bike Fashion Options

I recently realized that I haven’t done much with women’s bike fashion outside of my own sewing projects (and admittedly I’ve gotten a bit away from making *everything* reflective and/or bike friendly). I haven’t done much non-commute biking a far too long, either, so it’s been a bit off my radar. I thought that maybe I’d be inspired to both bike and refocus my sewing if I found some great resources out there, so naturally I poked around on the Internet a bit. However, I found what I sort of suspected – there isn’t much going on.

Well that’s disappointing.

It’s not like there isn’t anything going on, of course. Here is my round up of options for the stylist city cyclist.

Resolute Bay

Resolute Bay recently released their women’s cycling jeans. Naturally I love the reflective details! (Resolute Bay is working on a really cool reflective jacket too – for men.) But man, these jeans look tight on the model – how are normal sized women supposed to feel about that? Maybe I’m feeling overly sensitive after realizing how much weight I gained this summer (oops, not biking enough) but I can’t get excited about tight jeans.

Ligne 8

Ligne 8 is still around and has added more pieces since I looked last time, including “cycling gear,” which seem to be geared towards the road bike crowd – jerseys, padded shorts, bibs. I love the “urban” collection of A-line skirts, basic shirts, and several non-jeans pants.   I wish I could afford to order some of these pieces to see what they feel and wear like, but alas, they are out of my price range. That is – I’d rather spend the money on fabric! Still, it’s a nice collection of wardrobe basics for the woman (or man) who likes to look classic and classy on the bike and at the destination.

Reid Miller Apparel

I met Reid Miller in DC a few years ago and backed her cycling jeans on Kickstarter, which are my favorite cycling jeans. Reid has been busy with her company and blogging about the the sustainable manufacturing journey she has been on over the last two years.  I’ve read her updates with interest as she examines fast fashion and it’s negative impact on the garment industry in the United States. You can still order her Riding Jeans, and she is relaunching the Riding Jacket this fall, but if nothing else, I recommend reading some of her blog posts.

Here I am in August 2015, trying on the Reid Miller jacket and jeans

The Willary

The Willary is a new company that has gained many fans among the women I follow on social media. The company’s tagline is “A wardrobe that works” and each piece of the Core Wardrobe is made of stain resistant, stretch fabrics in classic shapes. I love the dress, the Core Dress, which to me is one of those perfect travel pieces (I live in this fantasy that I travel alot and need things that work for every destination, haha!). It’s short and doesn’t seem quite bike-friendly enough, but that’s no reason to not like it! I do like the way they have approached different body shapes, as explained in their video. I hope they have the opportunity to expand their collection; I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

The Willary Core Dress (Image from The Willary website)

 

REI

REI seems to have redone their Novara brand because the cycling clothing has moved away from the casual, everyday clothing I used to like and now only seems to have “biking” clothing. That’s disappointing, and makes me like the pieces I still have, like my Whittier Dress from 2014 (!!!).

When this dress was new – THREE years ago!

Anything Else?

There must be more out there for the everyday person who happens to ride a bike and not want to wear spandex. I do like T Athleta and Title Nine , but most of their things are still pretty sporty for my tastes. Terry Bicycles often has some non-spandex options. And since I don’t wear jeans often, cycling jeans aren’t what I’m looking for. So help me out and introduce me to collections I have missed!

UFOs in June

I’m back! Did you have a relaxing Memorial Day weekend? A friend from New York visited and The Mechanic was in Phoenix visiting his friend, so we each got alot of socializing in! My friend and I visited Mount Vernon (by boat from Old Town Alexandria, which I recommend – it was so relaxing!), National Harbor, the Tanger Outlet mall at National Harbor, and the new MGM casino. I’d never been to National Harbor, right across the Potomac in Maryland, and it was so easy to get to from the King Street Metro station – a quick NH2 Metrobus ride across the bridge. We had a blast and shopped perhaps a bit too much. I did fulfill a long-time sartorial goal by purchasing a Diane von Furstenberg dress at Memorial Day weekend sales steal prices. It’s not one of her iconic wrap dresses but it’s pretty amazing and I can’t wait to wear it.

And now it’s June. I have use-or-lose PTO to burn by the end of the month, so I’m going to use up most of it with some mini sewing staycations. All this unexpected time off means I should to focus on finishing up my UFOs – also known as unfinished sewing projects. Technically I only have one UFO, since I already wrapped up a few over the past weekend. I made a quickie tee shirt with the happy floral striped Art Gallery knit, shortened the lining of a skirt that I made too long, and finally added the waistband to my wedding skirt. I still need to redo the waistband on my 1940s inspired trousers, too.

I ended up using the same satin from the train to make the waistband, which actually turned out pretty badly. Thank goodness a much more talented seamstress friend did the zipper and hem! Where will I wear this? Who knows!

My one true UFO is this pair of red chambray pants that I cut out last year. The idea was for them to also be a wearable muslin, but the complicated zipper fly has prevented me from tackling them. And by complicated, I mean more than a one-weekend sewing project. I really need to get these done, but honestly, being lazy with both my diet and with my workouts lately means that I’m not the size I’d like to be for pants. I’d like to put these off a bit more. At least until I’ve gotten my BodyPump gym class groove back and feel a bit less squishy.

Someday, pants, someday….

Other things I need to finish before I jump into new projects include two dresses, pants and a blouse, all of which were supposed to be done by now.

Of course, I have that gorgeous fabric I bought in London, and then I just got this fabulous denim lace from Marcy Tilton….NO!

Focus, focus….

Some of these things should be fairly simple, so hopefully I can have one mad, frantic weekend of knocking those things out quickly. Because I think that denim lace will make a perfect summer work dress, and I need it now!

Time to just grin and bear it, and sew up this stuff before I can move on. Anyone else ever force themselves to get long-neglected UFOs completed? At least wearing my makes encourages me to want to get more done. I wore my new tee shirt and denim skirt with the reflective yoke last Saturday when The Mechanic and I went biking along the C&O Canal. Perfect and inspiring!

 

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Pink Hair Don’t Care: Giving Up Corporate

Well, I kind of gave up – I’ve been trying so hard for a long time to look more “corporate,” and I just can’t do it. So this is what happened:

Pink hair, don’t care!

Yes, I colored my hair pink! It actually has come out a lovely sort of rose-gold color after washing it yesterday, and I really love it. It’s just edgy enough to make me feel better, but not so crazy like blue streaks (which I really wanted). I’ve been blonde for a long time, so I was due for a change.

L’Oreal Colorista, a semi-permanent color – just what I wanted!

And I realized that I just can’t keep up the whole corporate look, it’s just not me. I need to be creative and express myself. Sure, I like blazers, but I also love funky shoes and bright colors and slightly quirky styles. Maybe I should be working in the office for some creative field, marketing or something. I don’t think I want to design for my day job, I think I’d get overwhelmed! Of course, I still have clients for whom I need to look professional, but I think I can do that without getting stuck in the “corporate” look of matchy-matchy dark suits, prim heels, petite pieces of jewelry and perfectly coiffed hair.

A friend and I went to the GW University Textile Museum over the weekend and saw the “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair” exhibit. The Ebony Fashion Fair was touring fashion show for the African-American community, masterminded by Mrs. Eunice W. Johnson (of the Johnson Publishing Company), and full of haute couture pieces Mrs. Johnson chose to dazzle and delight her audiences. The clothing was amazing, but the fashion fair program covers were just amazing – some of the pieces my friend and I kept incorrectly placing the wrong decades! It was a good reminder of how fashion is not just frivolous, that it has the power to inspire and engage and delight, and allows us to reflect on who we are and where we’ve come from. I don’t presume to think that my sewing has anything nearly as serious as the impact Mrs. Johnson and the Fashion Fair shows had on their audiences, but I can say with confidence that it’s not silly, vain, shallow, or insincere, as some would have you think. We all make statements about ourselves in how we present ourselves to others. And my statement is that I am creative and not a round peg for a round hole. My peg is probably somewhat star shaped, or maybe floral shaped! And I wouldn’t have it any other way. So good-bye corporate clothing and hello, guilt-free personal expression!

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Celebrating My Mid-Life Crisis

Last week I turned 45, and as it is more or less the middle of my life (3 of 4 grandparents lived into their mid-90s), I figured it was a good time to have a midlife crisis. So instead of running off with a younger man (done) or buying an expensive sports car (why?), I opted for two different things – modeling in a fashion show and a weekend trip to London!

I get my hair done at a local Aveda hair salon, Casal’s de Spa and Salon, in Clarendon. I have always been a big Aveda supporter, because they do so much good stuff for the environment. Every April they celebrate Earth Month by focusing on protecting clean water, and salons around the US have fashion shows to fund raise and showcase their stylists’ skills.  So when my hair stylist asked me if I wanted to be one of their two models in the DC area show, I hesitated only briefly. I did have to audition though – that was nerve-wracking enough! I hadn’t thought much about the actual show until we got to the venue. Honestly, being up on that stage by myself made me so nervous that I thought I would collapse! But I was enormously proud of the team of stylists from Casal’s who made the outfit, all from recyclable materials from the salon, cut and colored my hair, and did my makeup, and thrilled that my look won best overall of the show! And now I can add “runway model” to my resume!

Plastic caps, hair color tubes, shampoo and conditioner bottles, and signs and placards make up this outfit, all on a base of an old pair of jeans. The white lashes are individual strips of paper glued on. I wore my own flat shoes, because the stylists didn’t want me towering over everyone else.

Then, a few days later, The Mechanic and I flew to London!

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We had found really inexpensive flights, so we went for a long weekend. We arrived on Friday and returned on Monday, giving us three and barely a half days to explore one of the biggest and most exciting cities in the world. I had last been to London in 1990, on my first trip out of the US. I didn’t remember much of London, so it was great to run past all the major sights. And although my girlfriends and I saw Princess Diana in the Natural History Museum in 1990, The Mechanic and I didn’t see any notables on this trip. Of course, I was too busy shopping to pay attention!

And shopping I did – on my list were Liberty of London and Dashing Tweeds. I planned on buying fabric at both locations. I simply *adore* anything Liberty of London, and although there were so many beautiful fabric options, I ended up buying the star print Tana Lawn cotton I wanted. Then at the last minute, I grabbed two pre-made handkerchief/scarves in prints I also loved. Dashing Tweeds is the menswear shop that makes bespoke suits, including lovely reflective tweed suits. They sell their Lumatwills tweed fabric, so naturally that was what I was after. I wasn’t planning on getting more than a yard, but the burgundy color I wanted had a yard and a half on the bolt, so of course I bought it all. And a cap in basic gray. I think I know just the coat pattern I want to use this on…

Then there were the spontaneous purchases – the most amazing shoes ever and an adorable rabbit purse. The shoes are from Cordings, a shop I’d never heard of before, but we walked in simply because they had a huge ad for the Tweed Run in their window. Full of tweed and Liberty of London women’s shirts, the blue suede ankle boots caught my eye and then the rhinestone edging sold me. My first 100% Made in Italy shoes! Definitely my Midlife Crisis Shoes.The first major purchase of the trip was actually this rabbit clutch from Heidi Sturgess London. Made in England, her website claims her small boutique items were a well-kept secret in London. I didn’t know that at the time, having purchased this clutch at a stall in Covent Garden, but I like the idea that these are handmade and the owner has her hands very much in the products. 

We just so happened to be there during London Craft Week, an annual event that showcases exception craftsmanship in all types of things. If I had known about it in advance, I would have made an effort to find some of the events. I think there is a lot of amazing craft work going on in the UK right now, and, as someone who sews their own clothes, I appreciate and admire handwork of all sorts.  It is funny – when I went to Europe for the first time in 1990, I came back with a burning desire to work with clothing, so I gave up my career goals of something international and multilingual to take sewing classes and work in theatrical costuming. Twenty-seven years later, I’m experiencing the same sort of thoughts. I really want to spend more time with handcrafted clothing. Is that the midlife crisis brewing?!?

 

Me Made May Returns!

It’s May! It’s my birthday month! It’s National Bike Month! It’s really finally Spring! It’s also Me Made May month, again, and this has me a bit flummoxed.

I love the idea behind Me Made May, of wearing clothing I’ve made myself every day the entire month. In it’s eight year this year, the challenge is intended to encourage people who sew and knit and create to wear and love the things they make. Everyone can make up their own specific challenge, be it to finish projects or wear less-loved things and/or to create a list of holes, things they wish they had. Personally I still want to try to focus on business-appropriate garments, because although I definitely have 31 me-made garments, they aren’t all “corporate” enough for all the work events in my life. And I wear most of my items pretty regularly, so making and hiding isn’t that big of a concern of mine. Although of course there are things that I wish I loved better, I was fairly pleased with how last year’s Me Made May turned out:

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In addition to the corporate looks, part of this year’s Me Made challenge will be our upcoming trip to London. I’m turning 45 and thought that this would be a good excuse for a weekend trip to London – a city I haven’t visited since 1990! For our four day trip I’m thinking two pairs of pants and a dress or skirt, then a few tops. I just can’t decide which because most of my tops are summer weather, and it probably won’t be that warm. I hate to take blouses that will wrinkle in my luggage because I hate ironing on vacation, haha! And most of my dresses are summer dresses as well. I want to take my new striped nautical dress, but I’m not sure the weather will be warm enough. I might take it anyway! I wish I’d had time to finish the 1940s trousers I’m making; I bet they would be perfect.

Maybe, maybe not….

There are other challenges that prevent me from wearing Me Made clothing, namely, the bike events in May to which I need to wear work branded clothing. I certainly don’t need another pair of jeans, but something to wear with a polo shirt might be something to add to the list of holes in my 31 day wardrobe. It seems like my list of “missing” clothing is really long already!

I haven’t pledged on Zoe’s website but here is my pledge:

I, Elizabeth of TinLizzieRidesAgain, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to wear at least one Me Made garment each day for the duration of May 2017. In addition, I will create a list of “missing” clothing to help me focus on my future sewing plans.

The drawback to this pledge, of course, is that I plan on buying fabric at both Liberty of London and Dashing Tweeds, which will probably throw off any cohesive, practical sewing plans I might have. I’ll need to finish aforementioned 1940s trousers but then you know I’ll be dying to get something made with my new stash! Capsule collection, pshaw. But really, this is a good opportunity to help me focus, and maybe figure out how to be 100% pleased with what I make.

I really want to take this as well but think it will be too cool for this as well. Bah!

More Reflective Sewing and Things

Although some might call my interest in All Things Reflective an obsession (or bizarre), to me it’s an art. I think about it all the time, collect pieces of value, and am discerning when it comes to what I like. But this art collection is one I wear, not hang on walls, display on shelves, or hoard for no one but me to enjoy. And to share with you, of course! So today I want to share a few more reflective things, including the pants I just made, as well as some reflective fabric travel plans.

For starters, I ordered some reflective Red Heart yarn from Amazon. It’s my favorite color, so I couldn’t resist! My mother knit me an infinity scarf from gray a few years ago, but I thought a spring color would be nice. I’m hunting through the millions of options on Ravelry to find another knitting pattern for her. Luckily my mother is willing to knit for me!

Then, while I was hunting around on Amazon, I found this reflective thread – it’s by Hatnut and shipped from Germany. I looked up the company after the package arrived, and they do some cool yarns, as well as this reflective stuff. I had hoped to be able to topstitch the hems of the pants I just made with this thread. The test stitching worked pretty well, but when I tried to actually sew, the thread got caught up and shredded. It’s fragile, not like your regular Coats & Clark or Gutermann thread. I’ll play around with it a bit, but it could be a hand sewing only type thread. Now I just need to learn to embroider – wouldn’t that be amazing?! Now, about those reflective pocket pants. I had purchased the McCalls 7547 pattern to try Version B, the skinny leg pants, to see if I could improve my attempts to properly fit pants, and replicate some of my favorite pants.

(Kinda scared of the flared overalls…)

I opted for a gray twill, something inexpensive that would work as a “wearable muslin,” aka, a test pattern that I can also wear out of the house, in a color that goes with a fair amount of tops I’ve made. And then I decided to make two back pockets, and to make them out of the reflective camo fabric I have. It’s not the perfect color match, but for a muslin, I don’t really care. And I love the idea of fully reflective back pockets for the spring and summer evenings when I’m biking (and walking) around. This pattern happens to be the McCalls Pattern Company’s Spring Sewalong, too. I happened to mostly make these on our surprise snow day last week (woot!), so I’m waaaaay ahead of the sewalong, but I had to take advantage of the time off. I posted a rather unflattering set of photos on Instagram to show my initial progress, and get some tips on how to adjust the fit, and thankfully, Amanda, Sewalong co-host and sewing blogger, had some good tips.

Oof – humility. Posting unflattering photos of one’s behind for the whole world (of my Insta followers, at least) to see!

So I spent the weekend adjusting and altering and refitting. I am pretty pleased with the results, although I know the crotch fit is not perfect. Once I released the side seams to accomodate my thighs, the crotch fit was much better. I also dropped the front 1/2″ as Amanda suggested. I tried “scooping” the crotch but I’m not sure I was doing it correctly. I tried three different ways to put in the side zipper, and ended up with a terrible center zipper. I did the pattern instructions method first, but then needed to let the sides out, so replaced it with an invisible zipper, which couldn’t go in properly to save my life (and I normally prefer them because they are so easy!), then gave up and did a basic and still imperfect zipper. Whatever. It’s the muslin. Now that the pattern is at least altered, the next time it should be easier. I don’t know how to take out a fisheye dart on the back of my legs as Amanda suggested, but I’ve recognized for a while now that I need to do that.High-waisted pants are on trend at the moment, and somewhat more flattering on my tummy, but I am not sure how often I’ll actually tuck in my top. (Confession: I’m feeling bad about how out-of-shape I’ve gotten now that my sewing has overtaken my biking as my main hobby, so I’m a bit self-conscious about how everything is fitting these days.)

Nevertheless, these pants go with many things in my closet, so I’m sure I’ll get alot of use out of them. And see? Even something as simple as a practice piece can be art! Why be plain when you can be flashy?!?

2017 Sewing Planned Already

Somehow I’ve started 2017 with EIGHT sewing projects lined up! Patterns and fabric, just waiting for some time. And they mostly seem to be spring/summer projects – what happened to my winter sewing plans?! At the rate I get things done, though, I might as well get these things made, so I have them all ready for warmer weather.

Trying to use my Colette planner to stay organized and coordinated this year.

Trying to use my Colette planner to stay organized and coordinated this year.

On my list are:

  • A tee shirt out of Charley Harper Sanderlings bird print knit (for our trip to Disney World in 14 days!)
  • Two Dressy Talk woven tees – one in a basic blue-gray tencel twill, the other in a shoe-print cotton that I’ve had for decades
  • A gray pencil skirt using the Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt pattern, something work-appropriate, although not bicycle-appropriate. It probably won’t get anything reflective anywhere
  • A summer dress out of a dark teal tencel twill, from the same Simplicity pattern I made the Pegasus blouse out of, Simplicity 8216
  • The only thing winter-appropriate on my list is the “Victorian” blouse out of ivory tencel twill (can you guess what fabric I’m currently obsessed with?!?), out of the fabulous Simplicity 8166 pattern. This will be super work-appropriate, and also not get anything reflective…
  • The red chambray trousers that I cut out ages ago – I *must* get these done! Plus, I love the style
  • A dress for a friend, which was promised way too long ago

I’m debating on whether or not to make the shoe print Dressy Talk tee as well as the sanderlings tee for our Disney World trip – I really want to wear something #memade every day of that five-day trip. On the other hand, I could use the time to start the Victorian blouse, because we have a work event at the beginning of February to which I’d really love to wear the blouse. I know, I know – everyone should have such dilemmas!

I am going to spend the rest of January analyzing my winter work wardrobe. I want to see how much winter-appropriate pieces I’ve made that I can wear to work, and keep a list of what I wish I had. I really want to make that winter coat I’ve been dreaming about, so that will need to go on this summer’s project list if I want it done for next winter. I think jackets and coats are going to be my 2017 learn-to-make projects. (See how I’m avoiding pants?) I am quite pleased with these two tops, made during my holiday Sewing Staycation….

…. but really can’t figure out how to style these pants… I just don’t love them. As you can tell by my face.  blue-pantsEven though I need to complete all these projects before I can justify starting something else, I have things in mind, so I need to buckle down and get these done! Then onward and upward!

Isn't this pin from Colette amazing?! One of my best Christmas presents!

Isn’t this pin from Colette amazing?! One of my best Christmas presents!

 

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My Holiday Sewing Staycation

Since The Mechanic and I neither traveled internationally or visited family for the holidays (I’d prefer to do both at the same time – family trips to Europe are awesome!), I opted for the next best thing – a sewing staycation!

I took off the week between Christmas and New Years, and have been madly sewing. It’s been lovely. I’ve gotten so much done and I still have one (hopefully easy) project left to go! I had grand plans – with nothing to do but sew, I figured I could schedule in workouts and yoga every day, and be in bed by 10pm, to reset my sleep schedule. I don’t suppose it will come as a surprise that my plans didn’t work out… I did yoga one day, and went for a lovely bike ride another day, and definitely have not gone to be at 10pm any night so far! But look at what I’ve done:

Pegasus Blouse

I’ve been dying to make a blouse out of this rayon for months, indecisive about which pattern to use. Finally I decided upon Version C from this Simplicity 8216 pattern, in part because I also want to make the Version A dress in the summer. simplicity-8216Turns out the new blue reflective fabric from Mood matches the colors in this print almost perfectly, so it was easy to make reflective cuffs. Not so useful in the winter when I’m buried under coats and gloves, but there will come a day… Too bad it’s a bit narrow across the back. But I love this blouse and can’t wait to wear it!

It actually looks pretty good with my red pants, too!

It actually looks pretty good with my red pants, too!

Denim “Edna” Skirt

The denim for this skirt was given to me by a friend, who found it in her mother’s stash of fabrics after she passed away. Therefore I named this the “Edna” skirt, in her honor. Friends on Facebook pointed out that it looks a bit Wonder Woman-esque, which would have been a good option too, but I like honoring the fabric.

Denim is hard to photograph indoors....

Denim is hard to photograph indoors….

I hadn’t planned on making a denim skirt, and I promised myself that I would NOT make anything for our upcoming trip to Disney World, but Version B of this McCalls 7475  pattern called to me…

McCalls 7475

McCalls 7475

I decided to make the entire back yoke out of that same blue reflective fabric. It looks cook but it too won’t be very useful until I’m no longer covered in coats. And actually, I might have to always tuck in my shirt to make it 100% useful. But it certainly reflects!

The point in that yoke gave me a lot of grief and the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got. So don’t look at it too closely! But the fabric sewed up beautifully and I’m quite pleased with how the pockets look. The whole thing looks pretty good but I probably shouldn’t have taken in the waist so much because I think it sits too high – that is, it sits right 100% on my waist and feels funny. But looks good!edna-skirt-pocketUnless it’s predicted to be cold in Orlando, this will definitely be going to Disney World with me.

Navy Corduroy Skirt

Technically this wasn’t part of my sewing staycation, because I made it before Christmas, but it’s a recent sewing project so I’m adding it to the list. It’s a straightforward Kwik Sew 3877, which I’ve made before. I made it out of navy corduroy, added a lining, and put some reflective piping down the side seams. Ironically, I didn’t take in the waist and it feels huge – I guess I can’t figure out where and how my waistbands should sit! I do need to shorten the lining in the front a tad, since it peeks out.

Graphic Knit Top

My last sewing staycation project is a knit top intended to be “business” appropriate. (Not that these other things are not, but sometimes I feel I need something a bit more “corporate.”) It’s Vogue 8151, Version A. A “Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina” pattern, most of the instructions are about proper fit, so I’m looking forward to trying this out. I love the fabric, although it is nothing like my normal preferred prints. v8151

It's cut out and ready to go!

It’s cut out and ready to go!

I hope it goes smoothly. I could get stuck on the hems. I have a twin needle but the instructions walk the sewer through using wooly nylon thread, which I don’t have. But I have a new sewing assistant, so I’m sure he’ll be very helpful. What could go wrong?! sewing-assistantI’ll get to add these to my list of things that I made this year, which feels like a really big list! I can’t wait to review the year and share my favorites with you soon.

Happy New Year!

 

On a Reflective Roll

I’ve finally had a chance to get some sewing done, and to play with lots of reflective materials, hurrah! Somewhere I got the idea to make reflective neck warmers and so many ideas snowballed from there.

Neck warmer in action - reflective fabric backed with polar fleece

Neck warmer in action – reflective fabric backed with polar fleece

And the neck warmer reflecting!

And the neck warmer reflecting!

I made myself this prototype, complete with elastic drawstring at the top, so I can cinch it up over my nose when it’s really cold, then made one for my Secret Santa coworker. Then, I offered to make some as raffle prizes for the local Hains Point 100 fundraiser for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association’s Women and Bicycles program.

Then…. I had another crazy idea…. A friend brought over some luscious fake fur, to make herself a stole for a fancy holiday party. It was sooooo soft….

You can't tell here but it flowed like water when I brushed my hand over it

You can’t tell here but it flowed like water when I brushed my hand over it

What about a neck warmer lined with fake fur? And to make it super-classy, what if it was reflective tweed?!? I quickly looked up the reflective tweeds at Dashing Tweeds. Every single reflective plaid, check and wave is absolutely stunning and alas, quite expensive. But never one to be deterred by price, I ordered a bunch of samples. They arrived quickly and are so lovely, I almost wanted to cry. dashing-tweed-1

I mean, just look at this!!!

I mean, just look at this!!!

Now I’m thinking beyond the neck warmer – yoke and/or cuffs on a jacket, perhaps?

I also got some swatches of tencel twill and silk/cotton blends from Fabric.com, and this ivory tencel twill goes so nicely with some of the reflective tweeds. It will eventually be a high-necked blouse, which gives me plenty of other ideas.twill-and-tweed I suddenly find myself designing something Downton Abbey Goes Reflective…. I did just get the Butterick Miss Fisher pattern!

I totally have a weakness for traditional riding jodhpurs. Can't explain it.

I totally have a weakness for traditional riding jodhpurs. Can’t explain it.

So while I contemplate reflective tweed and what else I could do with the fabric, I am settling for making a navy blue corduroy A-line skirt with a bit of reflective trim in the side seams. I hope to have it done for Christmas – it’s not the exciting sewing project I’d hoped to complete by then, but its on the list and needs to get done, so that’s okay.

Just a bit of reflective trim in progress

Just a bit of reflective trim in progress

Oct Travel Recap: New York City

Oh my – between travel and everything else crazy that has gone on this month, I haven’t had time to blog! But there is so much to share, so here’s the first of two recaps of October travel.

I went to New York City for four days earlier in October to fabric shop and visit friends. It was a really good trip, successful in fabric shopping, friends, art, culture and some thought-provoking museum exhibits.

Fabric shopping was on the top of my list, so after arriving on the Vamoose Bus and dropping my luggage at Schwartz Luggage Storage, I ran to the Garment District. Some friends had posted articles about the Garment District fabric stores closing, and although the large ones like Mood and my favorite B&J Fabrics don’t seem to be effected, the small, family-run stores are in danger. I found one store that advertised it was it’s last day, and everything was on clearance. Although I don’t have an immediate need for two-colored sequin fabric or brocades, well, I couldn’t beat the prices, so I purchased 2 yards of each. And a pretty knit for the McCalls 6844 sweater I’ve wanted to make for a while now.

Last day here - the owner (manager?) was very friendly and upbeat, flirted a bit, so I didn't ask about what he does next. I didn't want to remind him...

Last day here – the owner (manager?) was very friendly and upbeat, flirted a bit, so I didn’t ask about what he does next. I didn’t want to remind him…

I did buy some luxury fabrics at B&J Fabrics, to make some nice basics – a blue tencel twill for another Dressy Talk basic blouse, and a stretch gray for a Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt. Those two pieces will be nice work basics, nothing flashy, but good “uniform” pieces.

The blue is darker than I was looking for but I love the fabric. It's hard to get the color right in these photos!

The blue is darker than I was looking for but I love the fabric. It’s hard to get the color right in these photos!

Meeting up with a friend in Hoboken resulted in a stash of vintage sewing patterns. She has been cleaning out her mother’s and grandmother’s sewing stashes, and has offered me whatever I want. I made two blouses out of Liberty of London fabric she gave me a while ago. The vintage patterns were fun, especially after having attended the National Arts Club FashionSpeak Fridays talk about the collaboration between Jackie Kennedy and designer Oleg Cassini. I’m not a 1960s styles fan but seeing all the photos of Jackie’s outfits was wonderful. So I ended up with a few patterns that I might end up making.

I also went to two Broadway shows, “School of Rock” and “Something Rotten,” and loved both of them. I have friends working on both shows (wardrobe friends, so backstage, not on stage), so it was fun to see what they are up do. school-of-rock something-rottenMy visit to the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum was one of the best things I did all weekend (and I did alot of great things). I went for the Scraps: Fashion, Textiles and Creative Reuse exhibit, but found so much more. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a museum that so thoroughly engaged my intellect as well as my creativity. cooper-hewitt_scrapsThe exhibits focused on the design element in the world around us, such as the history of design of the American police system, but also how design can improve the future, how it tackles social injustice, the affordable housing crisis, and even allowed the public to design solutions for modern social problems.

I found these statistics to be depressing as well as educational and inspiring.

I found these statistics to be depressing as well as educational and inspiring.

But the Cooper Hewitt had a really cool feature that I wish all museums would do – a digital “pen” that allowed each individual guest to “collect” the display items that they like. You match the + on the end of the pen with the + on each item display, and it downloads or links or something. With each payment you are given a unique code, and then you can log onto their website and see the things you liked. So cool! Also, then I didn’t have to take photos of everything and fill up my already overtaxed iPhone storage…

I am always pleased to have such a stimulating trip, full of ideas and concepts and thoughts as well as just simple visuals of where I have been. Between the city itself, Central Park, the new Oculus at Ground Zero, and a stroll down Fifth Avenue, I feel inspired and yearning to create and design. Now, if only I had the time! After returning from this long weekend, The Mechanic and I went away for a bike weekend in the country. Still no time to create! But that was also a lovely weekend – stay tuned for that recap coming up soon.

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