In Which I Try on Reid Miller Apparel

Last week, Washington DC favorite bike shop Bicycle Space in Adams Morgan hosted an evening for Reid Miller Apparel, so we could go try on the pieces from her Kickstarter collection. Naturally, I was eager to go, and carefully plotted out my Capital Bikeshare route to Adams Morgan. I hadn’t been to the new location, and boy was it beautiful! Bicycle Space Adams MorganReid was there with her display set up right in front, when I arrived, already helping some women try on the tweed blazers.

I’m a sucker for tweed, I confess (raised on BBC murder mysteries. Jeremy Brett is still my god), and I love that Reid is using Harris Tweed for her tweed jacket.

Mmmm... Harris Tweed...

Mmmm… Harris Tweed…

Reid Miller 4

Don’t I look like I should be biking through fall leaves, on my way to pick apples and my Halloween pumpkin?

Even though wearing wool makes my skin itch like¬† you wouldn’t believe, I tried on everything – the tweed blazer, the merino wool waffle sweater, and the jeans. I love them all – but can only wear the jeans. So please take my comments with a grain of salt – if you love biking in wool, you will love these pieces! Reid Miller 10 Reid Miller 11The jacket is cut large so that it will fit over whatever bulky sweater and scarf you might be wearing, and the sleeves are long, to accommodate your wrists as you reach for the handlebars. I love the zipped pockets, especially the one in the center back. The waffle weave merino sweater is lovely – squishy textured wool in three lovely fall colors; I gravitated towards the burgundy, which coordinated quite well with the purple Danskos I was wearing. I love waffle weave anything, because I like the texture, and this was just thick and sturdy and clearly high quality wool. A classic that I’m sure you’ll return to again and again.

I love the jeans. The sizing and fit survey that Reid sent out earlier this year resulted in this, a pair of skinny jeans that are cut more generously for women with cycling thighs and calves. Several of us tried them on, and we all looked good in them, standing next to each other. The waist is high in the back, and dips slightly in the front – not enough to catch the pooch (not that any of us have that, right?), but not crazy high. The legs are really long, which I love – this means I don’t *have* to cuff the legs to make it less obvious that they are not long enough. The denim is stretchy yet somehow sturdy at the same time, and the fit, well, I was really in love with the fit. I have both the Ligne 8 jeans and the Levi’s Commuter jeans, and I like these better. They are not as tight-skinny as the Levi’s, which ironically I rarely wear while biking because they are too tight. They are stretchier denim than the Ligne 8, and the cut of the waist is more flattering than the Ligne 8s as well. There isn’t any reflective trim on them, but you know me – I almost always have something reflective on anyway, so no loss there.¬† Oh yes, the jeans also have a reinforced crotch. These jeans I just might wear so often that this feature becomes useful!

There are only a few days left for Reid’s Kickstarter campaign. The garments are expensive, but will last for years of bicycle riding. The jeans are made in El Paso, TX, where my brother and sister-in-law live, which was another reason I backed them (not that either work in the garment industry, but still, it helps their city’s economy); the sweaters in Los Angeles, and the jacket in San Jose, Costa Rica (I can only imagine what they must think of the heavy tweed!). I have my fingers crossed for the continued success of Reid Miller and her apparel line! It’s nice to have one more woman thinking of things women might want when they ride their bicycles, and then try to bring them to the market. I heard whispers of Spring garments and hope to see those out soon too. I wish her well, and look forward to biking around this fall in my Reid Miller jeans!

Good luck, Reid!

Twinsies! Good luck, Reid!

 

 

Rainy Day Reflective Hummingbird Blouse

Saturday, June 27th, was not only a rainy Saturday, it became a record-breaking day for rainfall (2.75″, beating the previous 2.59″ record of 1881) and made June 2015 the second wettest June on record since 1871. Just look at the photos and videos at the bottom of the article to see how dramatic it was.

What’s a bicyclist to do when it pours rain? Sew! I was anxious for some sewing instant gratification, so having planned ahead and trekked to JoAnn Fabrics in Seven Corners (on the bus, so I could also buy new fish and not jostle them too much before getting them home), I was prepared with thread, the Butterick pattern I wanted, and my fabric. I set aside the cool blue floral asymmetrical top for a weekend when I have more time, and cranked out Butterick B6214.

Fish on a bus! Three new Platys and a horned snail made it home on the bus

Fish on a bus! Three new Platys and a horned snail made it home on the bus

I thought this pattern was a perfect design to show off the reflective fabric from King Tech Industry I have, as well as give perfect 360* visibility for the reflective design. The fact that it is a pretty easy pattern didn’t hurt. I opted to do French seams again, because they are easy and I like the clean look. Hummingbird 5Probably because I was in a hurry, I spaced and cut out the longer sleeve pattern, rather than the shorter one designed for Version C, the version I chose. It didn’t even occur to me until I had finished the top and was putting the pattern envelope away and looked at it again. D’oh! Thankfully I had cut it out too long, but rather than try to recreate it as designed, I just shortened the sleeves a few inches. It definitely made the top look better; I am still a bit dissatisfied about exactly how boxy it is.

One of the reasons why I liked this pattern is because of the dropped hem in the back. It’s subtle, but it’s there. Just a nice touch for biking – the subtle drop will be just enough while I’m on my bike, since my position isn’t too aggressively forward. Hummingbird 7I am pretty much in love with the fabric. The lavender and teal hummingbird print is the cotton lawn I purchased at B&J Fabrics when I was in New York last month. I had been hunting for something to coordinate with the teal reflective fabric and almost missed this. I’ve never worked with cotton lawn before and I might be a convert. It’s so lovely, soft, fine, presses up well….. The reflective fabric, unlike the others I have, is very rubbery on the back, so for the first time, I tried the tissue trick – I used a bit of the pattern tissue scraps to put between the fabric and the feed dogs, plus used my new Teflon foot. It worked amazingly well! After all the projects I’ve struggled through… Hummingbird 6The reflective fabric doesn’t press well and doesn’t drape well, so it’s not really an ideal fabric for this drapey boxy top. I’m sure it won’t breathe either. But it doesn’t matter! It’s my favorite color and it’s REFLECTIVE!

Hummingbird 10Hummingbird 8The only thing that I don’t love about this top is that it is *so* huge. I’m still debating on whether or not to try to take it in at all on the sides. Normally I prefer to wear clothes that fit my torso a bit closer, so I’m not 100% sold on this shape. (I didn’t use a bunch of photos here because they made me look pregnant, which I definitely am not; that’s never a good look if you aren’t actually pregnant.) But I’m going to try it out and see what I think – and what my friends at work think. I need their fashion advice sometimes, too.

I mean, that's a lot of fabric until you get to my waist....

I mean, that’s a lot of fabric until you get to my waist…. (Also, note the Levi’s Commuter Jeans and purple Dansko heels)

I will need to test out a few different skirts and pants to figure out the best way to wear this blouse to work, but I think the fabric (both print and texture) and fun reflective fabric will win out over the fit. It’s just so pretty! Hummingbird 9

Clothing Review: Levi’s Commuter Jeans for Women

I mentioned earlier that I was chosen by Levi’s to test out/blog about their new Women’s Commuter Jeans and now the time has come to do a formal review. As you all know, Levi’s came out with their men’s bike commuter clothing collection ages ago, with no apparent interest in a women’s collection. At last, however, they have caught up with the times and demands of women who bike, and released a women’s collection of jeans, shorts, shirts and jackets, all designed with bike commuting in mind. This has been greeted in my circles with cries of relief and success.

I got a pair of the Commuter Skinny Jeans in “Cityscape Blue.” They are also available in “Monument,” a light gray, and black; Eleanor’s NYC got the blue blue pair that no longer seem to be available (I know I’d seen them on the website at one point!). At first glance, they look just like a normal pair of jeans, but they are full of bike-friendly details: “temperature control technology,” stretch, “odor repellent,” a high rise, reflective detail on the inside side seam, lined back pockets and flatlocked seams for comfort. And the all-important Levi’s leather patch on the back right hip is black, rather than traditional tan; it would have been cool if this was reflective! The little red tab is there though (I would have made that reflective).

I was a bit worried about the fit, to be honest, having seen an ad somewhere that said, “Our skinniest fit yet!” and therefore asked for a size 10, one size up from my normal 8. Glad I did! They are definitely the skinniest jeans I have ever tried on. They are tight on my calves! Really? But…. once I get them on, they are amazingly flattering, thanks, I’m sure to the high rise waist. These jeans don’t just have a higher rise in the back, they are higher all the way around. This is a trend that is creeping its way into our wardrobes, and I feel ready to embrace it now. I wish I had a longer inseam pair but there is plenty of reflective detail showing when i cuff them up over my ankle bone. The front pockets are not particularly deep, nor are the back pockets, and there is no U-lock loop. I don’t wear my U-lock but know some women like to, so if you are one of them, be aware of that missing feature.

Checking out a Little Free Library in my Levi's Commuter Jeans

Checking out a Little Free Library in my Levi’s Commuter Jeans

I have worn these jeans biking as well as being a tourist in the American History Museum on the National Mall, so I have had the chance to test them out in different scenarios. The denim seems to loosen up nicely the more you wear them, which I appreciate. They are easy to bike in, and the high waist holds in my tummy a bit more than my other jeans. I don’t bike in jeans enough to worry about the crotch rubbing thin, so I can’t say how I think that will turn out, but the denim seems sturdy enough. I’ve only worn them in the cold, so as of yet I can’t speak to the temperature control technology, and I have no intention of finding out how well the odor repellent feature works.

I had The Mechanic take photos on a not-quite-warm-enough day, and I tucked my turtleneck in to show the high waist. Taking another one for the team by sharing photos I’m not 100% comfortable with…

The high rise is flattering but I'd still never wear shirts tucked into my jeans.

The high rise is flattering but I’d still never wear shirts tucked into my jeans.

At $88, I think these are a good investment if you are looking to support companies that make women’s bike clothing; not too pricey, not too cheap. Levi Strauss & Co. is a company I’d like to support more because it is a company that is trying to be more sustainable. For example, they created a line of jeans (again, only for men) that use less water in the production process, but by encouraging consumers to wash their jeans less often to reduce water usage. Putting my money where my values are means that I will explore more Levi’s products, like this women’s Commuter bike shirt.

Overall, I am quite happy with these jeans, and very grateful to Levi’s for giving me the opportunity to test them out. I am interested to hear what you think of them, if you own them or have tried them on. Susi at VeloJoy is happy with hers as well – what about you? Levis 6