Sartorial Bike-Friendly Sun Shade

Rain. Nothing but rain. One lovely day – Bike to Work Day, thank goodness. But it’s been nothing but rain all month. So making a sun hat might seem like a crazy weekend project!

We've had so much rain, the gardeners can't mow the lawns, so they are beginning to look like meadows!

We’ve had so much rain, the gardeners can’t mow the lawns, so they are beginning to look like meadows!

I’m headed to New Orleans soon, and the weather forecast says upper 80s and sunshine. I’m not really sure I know how to pack for hot weather, but I did decide that maybe it’s time for a new sunhat. A quick Google search came up with the perfect pattern from Worthy Goods, on Etsy. Sold! Click, download, print, and I was good to go. What better excuse to order fabric from Spoonflower, right?! It’s reversible, so blue chambray on one side, vintage postage stamp print on the other. Adorable. I even added a reflective ribbon tab at the back, because, reflective.

Our weekend plans changed last minute, so I didn’t have as much time to throw this hat together as I’d planned, so the fact that it turned out too small somehow means that I can fix it – but not any time soon. After the trip. Hopefully I can make it work. But look at how fun it is!!!

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Thinking of sunny days, and reading reports that suggest the summer will be hotter than normal (so what else is new?), I started thinking about bike helmets and sun protection. I wear sun screen year around, and am pretty religious about it. Although I’m no longer training for centuries and out for hours on my bike, even running errands means I sometimes sweat off sunscreen. A brim is an easy physical barrier when out and about, on and off the bike. But what are the bike options?

Not much, it turns out. There are two – Da Brim, a fabric ring that attaches to one’s bike helmet, and the super cute yet highly in-demand and not inexpensive straw hat helmet currently being sold by Bike Pretty (well, she’s taking pre-orders for a few more weeks). Bandbox Bicycle Helmets also has several really great sun protection styles that I wouldn’t mind trying – check out The Panama, The Palm Beach, and The Charleston. [Note: Bandbox Helmets can only be purchased through the Bandbox website; the Bike Pretty version is not a Bandbox product.}

Da Brim, a fabric brim that attaches to a bike helmet (other colors are available!) - Image from Da Brim website

Da Brim, a fabric brim that attaches to a bike helmet (other colors are available!) – Image from Da Brim website

Straw bike helmet currently being sold by Bike Pretty - summer itself! Image from the Bike Pretty website

Straw bike helmet currently being sold by Bike Pretty – summer itself! Image from the Bike Pretty website

Now you are probably wondering if I’m considering making my own visor thingy, and making it awesome and reflective. Tempting…. But I’m not sure how they would attach to a Nutcase helmet. By the time I get it figured out, this summer would be over. We do have some small biking vacations planned and in mind, so the “need” for a brimmed bike helmet does tempt me…

I would probably order one of the Da Brim brims and see how I like it before I invest the time into making my own. If I thought it worked, didn’t make me feel hugely dorky, and is something I could craft for Summer 2017, when The Mechanic and I are considering another European bike tour, well, maybe….

This brim doesn't offer much in the way of sun protection, but I still like it.

This brim doesn’t offer much in the way of sun protection, but I still like it.

What do you think? Would you considering wearing a sun hat bike helmet? What’s your best sun protection while biking?

Bike Clothes Shopping with REI Dividends

This past weekend, The Mechanic and I found ourselves (along with everyone else in Arlington and Fairfax) at REI, 2014 member dividends in hand. Neither of us had earned much, but combined with the members-only coupon, I was definitely ready to spend! You will not be surprised when I say that I headed straight to the women’s bike clothing section and swooped up several things I’ve been studying on the website to try on.

I would like to apologize for the lousy pictures I took in the dressing room! I didn’t really think about it – the staging is sloppy, the lighting was atrocious, and could I have at least smiled?! Oh, and trying on stuff all day made me feel bad about my shape – I hated the way I looked in just about everything. I almost don’t want to share the photos but think it’s good to show what stuff looks like on a real person. Perhaps you are super athletic and never worry about your fat arms or your thunder thighs (which I had long before I started biking, btw) – but some of us do. So for the rest of us, these photos are for you!

I like REI’s Novara bike clothing for women. It’s fairly cute, has enough reflective details to make me happy, it’s usually made out of some stretchy, moisture-wicking material and it is fairly reasonably priced. Let me show you what I tried (again, remember, bad photos!):

Novara Glencliff Bike Top and Novara Brightwood Bike Skirt

Novara Glencliff Bike Top and Novara Brightwood Bike Skirt

First up – the Novara Brightwood Bike Skirt and Glencliff Bike Top. I really liked the skirt; it fit well, the fabric was nice and the pockets were deep enough. It felt short, but it’s no shorter than bike shorts. I didn’t like it enough to buy it and probably won’t, unless it goes on super-sale. The Glencliff top is cute but the sleeves are really narrow and made my arms look like overstuffed sausages. That will never happen.

The Novara Ardenwald Bike Top was really cute, even though I have an aversion to things with bikes printed on them. I like the way this fit, and honestly, the penny farthing print won me over. I tried it in a size Small because they didn’t have a Medium in stock, and it fit well enough that I’d probably buy it in that size. The fabric is pretty lightweight, but in the summer, that might be just perfect. I like the reflective shoulder tabs, too.  Novara Pants BlueThe Novara Tuxedo Park Bike Pants were not to be – I wanted to like them, since I always have a hard time finding pants I love, but it didn’t happen. I tried on sizes 8 and 10, and the 10 fit better over my curves, but the stretch fabric was comfortable and forgiving in either size. You can’t tell but I was trying to show the reflective belt loop on the waist. The inside cuff has reflective trim too, so you can roll them up for some added flash. I wasn’t excited. I want summer pants that are not super tight fitted. Guess I’ll have to make lots of drawstring pants!

I actually really loved the Novara Wicker Park Bike Top and bought it. On the website, the cut looked weird to me, slightly boxy, maybe too short, I don’t know, it just seemed off. But once I put it on, I was hooked. Okay, part of it is that it’s striped, and next to floral prints, stripes are my favorite pattern. The cut is indeed a bit boxy; I almost bought the Small instead of the Medium, but it was over an inch shorter and I prefer the longer length. The moisture-wicking fabric feels nice as well.  The reflective piping down the back seam and in the cap sleeves only made me want it more. I wish the neck was a bit lower, but the pink edging and buttons are a fun touch. I can see myself getting a ton of wear out of this.

Terry Transit Bike Top

Terry Transit Bike Top (geez, just smile, will you?!)

The last thing I tried on was the Terry Transit Bike Top. I wasn’t in love with the color, but liked the fabric and cut. Alas, the fact that the placket pulled and wouldn’t lay flat annoyed me, but the neckline is sophisticated, and I can see this being a really great business top in the summer.

I also almost bought the CycleAware Tour de Joy handlebar bag in silver – it is intended for kids, but it’s the perfect date night purse! Metallic purses are always fun in the summer.

CycleAware Tour de Joy Handlebar Purse (for girls)

CycleAware Tour de Joy Handlebar Purse (for girls)

Waiting in the mail for me was my lovely red striped Ligne 8 top, ordered last week from Bike Pretty. I’ve wanted this for a long time, and now that Bike Pretty is offering it with free shipping, I couldn’t resist! Although she has styled hers with a French beret, mine will go perfectly with my vintage J. Crew linen sailor middy jacket!

Striped shirts on our striped duvet cover - yes, I like stripes!

Striped shirts on our striped duvet cover – yes, I like stripes!

A Much Needed Change

An impromptu trip to IKEA last night meant that I unexpectedly spent Sunday building IKEA furniture. At last, I redesigned my workspace! I think this will make me more productive, since I won’t be buried under crap, or at least might have it organized a bit better.

This desk configuration was done recently, to give me more sewing table space:

Computer on my old sewing table, an old school desk, plus several pieces of mismatched storage units

Computer on my old sewing table, an old school desk, plus several pieces of mismatched storage units (sorry for the blurry photo!)

More space for the machines, but still with mismatched storage pieces

More space for the machines, but still with mismatched storage pieces

So my day went from flat pack boxes to wide open desk space:


I still have piles of stuff that doesn’t yet have a home, but I plan on figuring that out this upcoming week. Regardless, having this open space makes me feel so much better! This much needed change makes me feel a bit more professional, with matching/coordinated space. Now I can focus on the changes I want to bring to my blog.

You maybe have noticed, if you are a regular reader, that I recently changed the look of my blog. I am trying to come up with something a bit more sophisticated and TinLizzie, reflective fashion-appropriate. I’m not entirely sure what that is, but I’ll know it when I find it. In the meantime, I am working on refocusing my blog to be more on bike clothing and fashion. I’d like to find more bike fashion designers to talk to, especially bike friends like Bike Pretty and Cleverhood and velojoy. I know I have much to learn from them and their experiences, and if you aren’t already following them, well, you are missing out.

So stay tuned while I tinker with things – more much needed changes coming!

Still building!

Still building!

European Bike Style

Inspired by my meet up this past week with Bike Pretty, I decided it was time to share some observations from our  honeymoon about the bike style we saw in Europe.

As we all know, European approaches to style differ significantly from us. Speaking from our experiences in Zurich, the Bodensee area, Brussels and Bruges, and Amsterdam, I was surprised to notice several differences in each area. Cyclists in Zurich and Konstanz, for example, primarily use rear baskets to chart stuff around. This surprised me – I initially had a rear basket and didn’t like not being able to keep an eye on  my stuff. Of course, it looks very elegant, and Germans and Swiss definitely have much more trust and security when it comes to their bikes and accessories anyway.

In Belgium, we noticed something else – people still just locked their wheels up, not necessarily to the bike racks, but everyone had matching panniers that they just left on their bikes. I’d be too paranoid to do that here, but I was in awe of all the fun, lovely, colorful panniers! And totally jealous.

Most of the fun panniers were in Bruges, and it seemed as if every woman I saw on a bike was wearing a cute dress or skirt. And no wonder – there was a store not far from the town center with fun bike accessories! No, it wasn’t a bike shop, just a women’s clothing and accessories store, full of great shoes, fun purses, funky jewelry and clothing, and yes, bike bags, bells, stickers, and so on. This is what we need in the US – cute bike stuff sold not always in bike shops!


Plenty of bike style in Amsterdam, too, of course.  I expected that.


Style aside, there were many practical accessories that we don’t have easily available to us. I think my favorite was the stroller attachment, so you could hook your baby’s collapsible stroller to your bike, then have it handy when you and your child reach your destination. How smart!


Once again, I am in awe of the cycling culture in Europe, or at least in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands (I’d say Denmark too, but I think I covered that when I blogged about our trip there in 2012). Practical, yes, highly functional, yes, highly stylish, yes. And I haven’t even yet written about the infrastructure, and how the bike lanes we saw and experienced have forever changed my opinion on bike lanes in America. Stay tuned for that blog post!

In Brussels

huh. (In Brussels)

A Quickie Tour of San Francisco

Two weeks after returning from the honeymoon, I flew to San Francisco for a work-related conference, the annual Association for Commuter Transportation conference. Lucky us that is was in San Fran this year!

Being so close to home, I squeezed in a few hours with family and friends in Sacramento.


Because of the conference, I didn’t get to see much of San Francisco, but I hit some highlights.

After hours of discussing transportation demand management, marketing and outreach, behavior change and community-based social marketing, I snuck out at lunch to run to Britex Fabrics, a few blocks from the hotel. Despite a long list of projects, I only found fabric for one. I did buy some silver reflective fabric, and some fun trims, too. But the best part was meeting up with Melissa of Bike Pretty! It was so fun to meet her in person, and chat fashion and bikes, and see her current project. I am disappointed I didn’t get to spend more time with her, so I look forward to the next trip to the Bay Area!

When the conference was over, some friends and I did the tourist thing, and took a vintage streetcar to Fisherman’s Wharf. One friend wanted to go to Alcatraz, but the tours were all sold out, so we settled for a bay cruise. Although I’ve spent years in SF, I’ve never done that, and really enjoyed it. The weather was just as I like – somewhat foggy.


My brother and sister-in-law flew in from Texas, not just to see me, but because my brother was headed to a conference in Sacramento. It was nice to see them, and hear about their trip to Indonesia, which had prevented them from attending our wedding. (Yes, I was disappointed they weren’t there, but what a great opportunity for them!) And with that, the trip was over!

Eno Wine Bar

Eno Wine Bar


I counted 15 hotels and 7 flights in the last 6 weeks – no wonder I’m tired of travel! (And that doesn’t include trains). It will be nice to just be at home for a while, get some sewing done, and catch up on the wedding and honeymoon stuff I still haven’t organized. Still, a whirlwind tour through Europe, then northern California, are not bad ways to spend a summer!

#edgar at Pier 39 (If you don't know Edgar yet, check out my Instagram account. He's taken it over. @earlettef)

#edgar at Pier 39 (If you don’t know Edgar yet, check out my Instagram account. He’s taken it over. @earlettef)

Love the One You Wear

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and some of my favorite blogs are full of great Valentine’s Day themes, and I had to share.

I love all the gift ideas in Bike Pretty’s two “last minute” blog posts (here and here) – hint hint hint…

And Bikeyface’s Valentine’s Day cartoon pretty much sums up The Mechanic and I – just toss in a few other oft-repeated topics (rabbits and motorcycles), and cheese and crackers, and that’s pretty much our days! Thanks Bikeyface!

And here I am, in love with my new reflective leg warmers. I feel a bit selfish.bikes 001My mom made these for me, at my request, so in a way, this is about love…

She found this great reflective thread/yarn stuff, but I don’t remember where, and since she’s currently on a cruise, I can’t ask her. But I’ll report on it when she gets back.

My mom had almost finished one when we were at Disney World in December, and the package with both of them arrived last week, with an Agent P Valentine’s Day card (how can you not love a pet platypus that moonlights as a secret agent?!). bikes 004They are nice heavy gray yarn, something not wool, since I can’t wear that, and machine washable, since I assume they’ll eventually need to be washed. Today was warm enough to wear a dress to work, so it was the perfect opportunity to wear them. I took them off once I got to work, quite pleased with how warm they are. I suspect I’ll wear them often this spring.

bikes 003I’ll have to get better photos at another point; I had to drag The Mechanic out of bed to take pictures.

But not only did I love wearing them, I love that my mother made them for me, I am proud of her talent, and thankful that she’s willing to do crazy stuff like this for me! Even though she is currently cruising the world, and lives in California, wearing something she made me means I always have her with me – so I really do love what I wear.

Happy Valentine's Day from Our Bike Household to Yours!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Our Bike Household to Yours!