April Showers Bring Spring Sewing Plans

April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes, but also time to be inside and plot my sewing list for the next several months, yay! This month will be a bit crazy, however, with several weekends of out-of-town guests, and an industry summit in DC, which means out-of-town colleagues to catch up with, plus summit-ing. Nevertheless, I ignore reality and charge ahead with my overly-ambitious sewing plans!

Last month I finished my Vogue 7910 skirt (now apparently discontinued), in khaki twill with the camo reflective bias trim in the side panels. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, although the reflective trim isn’t as bright as I’d like. Also, I’d forgotten how wrinkly twill get, yikes. I wore it the very early morning I met some friends for a bike ride to see sunrise and cherry blossom blooms at the Tidal Basin, and am happy to say it’s a perfectly lovely biking skirt. I anticipate wearing this often in the warmer months ahead.

I tried to get my current project done in March, so I could move ahead with two tops in April, but that didn’t happen. I’m glad I made a muslin of the Kwik Sew 4104 (also apparently now discontinued) jacket I’ve got planned, because I don’t like the fit at all! It’s *huge* – and I cut out a size Medium! I’ve pin fit the muslin but now need to redo everything. Basically, I want to tailor the waist by taking in about 4″ all around, but I’m not sure how that’s going to turn out. I might cut a size Extra-Small in another muslin, I don’t know. I also need to drop the waist about an inch but that’s easy compared to how much needs to be taken in. Even though Spring showers bring May flowers, and I love almost anything floral, I’ve chosen a nautical theme for my Spring and Summer sewing line-up. I’m thinking wide-leg trousers, red and denim blue, lots of stripes, fish, and for something different, ammonites!

First up, an easy top with fish fabric from Spoonflower, in an easy Butterick pattern.

Then something more creative, also with Spoonflower fabric. I’m obsessed with the ammonite ditsy print that Spoonflower designer Coggon created! I think it will be perfect for a Breton-style top. I’m bravely going to try my first download-print out-tape together pattern (ulp), Christine Haynes Marianne dress, which I will then shorten into a top. (Seems like alot of work to tape something together to then cut it apart…)

I want to make more pants, because eventually I’ll find a pattern I like and learn how to adjust patterns for proper fit. I have the sailor pants pattern from Vogue, but I’ll put that off, and first make a nice pair of wide-legged trousers in faded red. I love wide-leg trousers, especially with a cuff. The Simplicity pattern I wanted also was discontinued, but luckily I found it on Etsy.

Then I am going to make two dresses from the same pattern, one for me and one for a friend. McCalls 6520 is *also* out of print, but again, thanks to Etsy, I was able to grab it. I’m going to do version A for me in lightweight pale denim, with the reflective floral blue fabric worked in somehow, and version C/D for my friend, but with 3/4 sleeves. She’s already picked out her fabric, but I haven’t even looked for mine yet. Deadline – a girls’ trip to New Orleans! I could be sewing late the night before we leave….

Out-of-print McCalls 6520 dreses

Out-of-print McCalls 6520 dresses

There are more things on my list but I think this will keep me plenty busy. I’ll be very impressed with myself if I can get this all done before Memorial Day weekend, but know it probably won’t happen. But if it keeps raining, maybe there will be more days and evenings at home sewing! And flowers in May…

2015 in Review: More Sewing, Less Biking

Hard to believe 2015 is already almost over! Christmas was barely over when every news agency and social media platform started trumpeting reviews of the year – hey, we still have a week! Nevertheless, I was curious to see what my nine best Instagram photos were:

Instagram 2015 Best Nine: Ironically, three are old photos I posted for a sewing challenge! (Top left, top right, bottom left)

Instagram 2015 Best Nine: Ironically, three are old photos I posted for a sewing challenge! (Top left, top right, bottom left)

Looking over 2015, I realized that I did indeed do waaaay more sewing than biking. I made 18 garments this year! Two pieces were for other people, but regardless, that is more than I made in 2012-2014 total (I made a total of 15 things in those three years)! That also doesn’t include the American Girl Doll things for my niece, plus two attempts at reflective bucket bags. Guess I was indeed madly sewing away. No wonder I’ve gotten so out of shape – I really haven’t done much biking beyond my daily commutes and errand running.

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As with most sewing, there are things I love and things I don’t. My favorites are the Liberty of London blouse I just finished and wore to Christmas dinner with the in-laws; the Bike word skirt; the color-blocked dress; the hummingbird blouse; the culottes; and the “antique” floral blouse. I love the way the reflective trim turned out in that.

It’s not that I didn’t do *any* biking – The Mechanic and I did the CASA River Ride in Shepherdstown, WV, again, and we did some mountain biking with friends.

I did participate in some bike events – BikeArlington’s Balaklava and Baklava sewing events; the Women’s Bicycle Forum during the National Bike Summit; a Ladies’ Night at Revolution Cycles; tested out Forest and Fin’s Bicycle Wrap Skirt; a bike rodeo for some elementary school children over the summer; and Reid Miller’s bicycle fashion trunk show.

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So it was a busy bike-y year – just not not as much on-the-saddle, long-distance bike riding as previous years.

My goal for 2016 is to figure out how to balance these out a bit more. Of course, I’m already planning 5 or more sewing projects for the near future, so no sign of slowing down there! And The Mechanic and I are going to sell our road bikes and replace them with something more suitable to what our interests are. I’m currently thinking we need folding bikes, so we can take them with us when we travel. And there there may be plenty of travel in 2016, depending on how things shake out!

I always enjoy planning, especially for a new year. Expect to see a more formal 2016 Goals blog post next week. I can’t help it – planning, dreaming, scheming, creating… These are the best things! Balancing it all out so that it ALL happens is where I tend to get stuck.

 

MeMade Reflective Bike Fashion Challenge

I decided that it’s time for another MeMade Reflective Bike Fashion Challenge – how many days in a row can I wear to work something that I have made? I did this once before, last year (September 2014), and since it’s been over a year, it’s time to do this again! So many more reflective bike fashions to showcase!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my sewing goal is to make clothing that A) I can wear to work; B) that have something reflective somewhere, so I am more visible when I am biking to work; C) must be bike-friendly. The reflective materials have gotten more exotic and varied, so I’ve been able to do some great stuff this year, a trend I’m not sure will be sustainable. Nevertheless, I’ve made fourteen new pieces since this time last year, which means almost a full three weeks of just new stuff alone! However, some of the things are not necessarily work-appropriate, like the Kwik Sew 3513 knit foldover waist skirt I made for summer weekend biking.

I started this week, but unfortunately, the mornings have been too dark, so the photos are taken inside. This means they are not great, thanks to our lousy apartment lighting, and neither The Mechanic nor I are fully awake. Please don’t just the sleepy looks on my face….

Day 1 – McCalls 6361 Skirt

MeMade Challenge Day 1 - McCalls 6361 Skirt

MeMade Challenge Day 1 – McCalls 6361 Skirt

This skirt is only one of two garments without any reflective trim. Shocking but true. I just couldn’t see it, so I didn’t add it. It’s not the best biking skirt either, honestly, but whatever. I paired this skirt with my favorite floral-print denim shirt from Ann Taylor Loft, and a very old Loft blazer. The suede booties are from Land’s End. I think I need to up my tights game, however. Don’t love these cream-colored cable knit ones with this look. Wooden necklace purchased in Prague in 2006.

Day 2 – McCalls 7160 Dress

MeMade Challenge Day 2 - McCalls 7160 Color Block Dress

MeMade Challenge Day 2 – McCalls 7160 Color Block Dress

I really love this McCalls 7160 dress. I think I need an assortment of belts, however, because it feels a bit unfinished. I really wanted to wear my Boden soldier print shirt under this, but it wasn’t ironed, oops, so I added one of my Land’s End striped turtlenecks. Again, not in love with the tights, but I am in love with those Dansko heels! Check out the way the trim is reflecting! A friend made me the necklace, lucky me. I got a complement on this dress from a stranger on the street the day I wore this – I consider that a successful garment.

Day 3 – Vogue 9026 Sweatshirt

MeMade Challenge Day 3 - Vogue 9026

MeMade Challenge Day 3 – Vogue 9026

A warm rainy day. I often wear my faux leather skirt, purchased on a whim last year at Macy’s, when it rains, because I know the water will roll right off the skirt and not hurt it. I didn’t realize it was going to be quite so warm, or I might not have worn this top, however! I had to bike to a client event and was a sweaty mess by the time I got there! Oh well. This gray velour sweatshirt with all the lovely reflective bias trim is one of my favorites as well. I don’t always love what I make, but this one I do. Pattern is Vogue 9026, and the fabrics were purchased from Britex, in San Francisco. Boots from I don’t remember where, but they were cheap and leak badly, so I need to replace them. And I don’t leave the house without my Cleverhood when it rains!

The rest of the days depend on the wishy-washy Fall weather and what I’m doing for work, of course. Friday I have to be at an event wearing a work-branded shirt, and since I haven’t yet made pants that would coordinate, well, that’s going to be an off-day. Stay tuned for the next update, though! Several more options lined up!

Extra:

I made a skirt for a friend tonight (the one who made my bunny necklace, pictured above). This Kwik Sew 3513 knit skirt (same as mentioned earlier) whips up really easily, and the faux snakeskin-print knit she picked out was actually really lovely to sew – nicely squishy. The fabric is soft and fuzzy on the back, which means she’ll need to wear it with a slip, or it will crawl right up her legs when she walks. (I’m assuming that in the coming months, she’ll want to wear tights with this, as it gets colder.) I can’t wait to give it to her and pray that it fits properly. I made this pattern for me, and like it, but I’m not good at sewing for other bodies. Snakeskin skirt

 

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