Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Looking forward to seeing you in a new year and new decade!
Sewing Jan19: So Much to Catch Up With!
Welcome to my first post in my attempt to focus my blogging a bit more in 2019. Every month I will do a sewing post, a biking post, a travel post, and a catch-all ICYMI post. That way, everyone who likes different things about my blog can read what they are most interested in – and I have a bit more focus!
After doing zero sewing in November, I cranked out a ton of stuff in December. Remind me next year to not leave the gift sewing until the last minute, okay?!
In between sewing presents, I made myself four new garments – mostly *after* Christmas.
I threw together this Named Clothing Inari Tee Dress, which I ordered pre-printed with this “Dark Matter” print from Sprout Patterns, as part of their closing sale. It’s waaaaaay too short on me, which I should have anticipated. As the pattern pieces were printed onto the fabric, there was no way for me to lengthen this. I wore it to work with leggings and boots but might end up shortening it into a top. But I love the print, so it will stay as a favorite.
I also made another pair of the Burda 6770 pants, but this time in black corduroy. I also didn’t include the drawstring, and just made two wider elastic bands. I love the darkness of black corduroy, and wanted something winter-weight that I could someday fit thermal leggings under, when it’s super cold. These will do the trick, and go with everything else I’m making this winter.
Then I made a fabulous cardigan from a pattern I’ve made before, McCalls 6844. The first time I made this, I made the asymetrical peplum, but this time, I wanted the peplum the same longer length. Since I apparently didn’t keep those pattern pieces, and the pattern has vanished from the internet, I had to re-draft them! I like pattern drafting though, so that was fun. This black and white “tweed” knit was recently purchased at JoAnn Fabrics. I added black reflective piping to the waist seams for some subtle yet important reflectivity. I really like this cardigan, although I’m not a fan of cardigans that don’t fasten in the front. I added ties to the first one I made, but decided to leave this one alone. Maybe I’ll add something later.
The last thing I made in 2018 was this cozy tunic made with Dri-Flex fleece, ordered from Stonemountain and Daughter (glad I ordered it when I did – now they only have it in this purple-pink color). The pattern is McCalls 7660, version F with Version E sleeves, a quick and easy make. This stuff doesn’t press well though, so the hems feel poufy! But the inside of the fabric is so soft, and I can see this being a three seasons top.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with my 2018 sewing. I made 24 things, not counting the baby clothes and the zip pouches I made as Christmas presents. Some of the things were sleeper hits, like the Sewaholic Granville shirt I made out of the Tula Pink snail print. Even though I lengthened the sleeves too much, I tend to wear it alot. I did some random Disney World sewing, but also made my fabulous Dashing Tweeds reflective coat and Liberty of London dinosaur shirt. And, since 2012, this brings my MeMade garments to a total of 100! Not all are winners, and sadly, I am not skinny enough to fit into some of the earliest favorites at the moment, but I feel well on my way to an exclusively MeMade wardrobe.
I have such a backlog of sewing projects! So many that I have fabric and patterns paired up, just no time. At least there are a few long weekends in January and February!
But on January 1, as I sat down to start another cardigan, my serger gave up the ghost. It’s a long story but essentially, I couldn’t get it to work at all. It’s probably 25 years old, and I’ve been thinking about replacing it, but I sort of thought I’d have some more time. I guess we are never really when something beloved dies, are we?
So I ordered one from Amazon and it arrived just in time for weekend sewing.
This one will be fine until I decide if I want to look into a nicer one. It’s pretty lightweight and already it feels like I’m running it too hard and fast. A sturdier machine would be really nice someday, but for now, this will get me through that project list.
I broke in my new serger and interrupted my black and white winter theme to complete a blue cardigan that should coordinate well with almost everything I already own. Trying to make some winter basics is a big part of my winter sewing right now. This McCalls 6996 cardigan doesn’t have any front closures either, so I may end up adding something. I just feel that cardigans should actually close, amiright? There weren’t many seams so all this one got was a bit of black reflective piping at the back waist seam, but it will do. I hope that this will be a good travel piece, too.
I am interrupting my black and white winter theme one more time this month. I’m headed to a conference in Orlando in February, which means Disney World, which means, yep, you know it another Disney-themed something! This time, it will be a Jungle Cruise-themed long sleeve shirt. I found this “lagoon map” Cotton & Steel print and coconut buttons. It will be perfect for a winter jungle cruise! And I can get away with it in the office, too.
I’m still on my hunt for the perfect <fill in the blank> garment, the perfect pants, the perfect skirt, the perfect dress, etc. I’d love to perfect pants, always my weakest link, but I need to not get distracted until I get through this list. Then I can evaluate what has worked best and study the dismal failures. I need to wear what I’ve made until I can’t stand it any more, and then I’ll know what works best, what I’ve worn the most and love the most. But I’ve got a while before that sewing list finally ends!
Season’s Greetings from Sewing Cycling Santa
Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m sure Santa was busy delivering presents by bicycle (although I hope he used a cargo bike!) last night!
I am celebrating by spending some Me Sewing time. The Mechanic and I are both in our happy places working on projects, while thinking about loved ones near and far – and you too, dear Readers!
Enjoy your day, however you celebrate.
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.
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!
Mindful, Perhaps Green, Shopping
Thanksgiving now over, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas! My parents, brother, sister-in-law, aunt and possibly cousin are visiting us this year, to see our new home and bunnies. I am so excited to celebrate with the whole family this year, and I’m already making a list of things that need to be done – enough Christmas stockings for everyone, where and/or what do we eat, what fun post-Christmas things can we do…?
This year we all managed to agree to *not* buy each other Christmas presents. It’s something we discuss every year, but this year, we are committed. None of us needs anything, and besides, it’s more about being together. Since they are all flying here, we are gifting them an overnight stay in the Shenandoah Valley, which will be more fun in the long run. If nothing else, we’ll roll our eyes for years over the fact that any restaurant we go to there won’t be prepared for four vegetarians! (There is one small caveat – we are each getting each other one $5 stocking stuffer, something edible, handmade or eco-friendly.)
On the heels of this agreement came a report that talks about the high environmental cost of delivery. In “The Environmental Cost of Free 2-Day Delivery,” published on Vox on November 17, the authors of a study done at the University of California Davis tell us that the emissions from delivery trucks are worse than the emissions of individual cars driving around to malls and stores to buy things. The big challenge is 2-day shipping – that rush to have things immediately is killing our environment. Erk. One of the ways I manage to be car-free is to have as much delivered as possible. Josué Velázquez, director of the MIT Sustainable Logistics Department, says in a related article on Huffington Post that getting companies to add buttons sharing the impact of free 2-day shipping might inspire consumers to opt for slower delivery options. Knowing that choosing 4-5 day delivery will only kill 10 trees, compared to killing 3,000 for 2-day delivery would work for me! In fact, it already has.
Part of my plans for the holidays involve sewing projects that require fabrics and patterns I can’t buy locally, on my bike or otherwise. So now I really need to think about it – how much can I order from one place? I should order it all now, so that I can pick the slowest delivery option available, and not need it in a rush. And while I’m thinking about that, I need to be mindful of everything else we need this month, and moving forward. How to we continue to reduce our impact? Do we wean ourselves off Amazon? <gasp!> I think this means more trips to NYC to stock up for my sewing projects!
If the thought of giving up free 2-day delivery right before the holidays stresses you out a bit, here are a few positive, encouraging stories about how the fashion world is trying to help the environment.
Swedish Plant Burns H&M Rags Instead of Coal, on The Business of Fashion website
How C&A Created the World’s First Cradle to Cradle T-Shirt, on Greenbiz.com
Ready for Christmas, Warm Weather or Not!
Balmy, warm and rainy weather is not the way the Washington, DC, Metro area normally celebrates the week of Christmas – 73*F with thunderstorms is far above normal. It’s hard to feel seasonal and get in the Christmas mood while digging out some summer dresses and covering them with my Cleverhood. I bought new Christmas PJs (yes, I broke down and bought them at Target for $10, when I could have a made them myself), but don’t think I’ll be wearing the long sleeve t-shirt for a while! My mom’s newly-arrived socks coordinate nicely. Nevertheless, it’s Christmas Eve! All the presents are wrapped, shipped, sorted and waiting to be opened. My mother knit The Mechanic and I some wonderful Christmas stockings, which arrived full of presents! Even Edgar got a tiny stocking complete with present. Time to retire my old stockings.
I finally got around to making a tree skirt for our tree. I picked the fabric last year, but now I don’t really like it. I guess I can make a new one next year. But it gives my childhood Hallmark figurines a nice place to sit. I decided to cook Christmas Eve dinner, since we will have Christmas dinner with The Mechanic’s family in Maryland. I’m going to attempt a vegetable Wellington, with mashed sweet potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts. For someone who doesn’t like to cook, this is a big deal. Wish me luck!
I wish you a happy, peaceful, full of love weekend! May your Christmas celebrations be magical and your time special and meaningful.
Yes, Virginia, Santa Bikes
Christmas is my favorite holiday, full of magic and surprise and friends and family, not to mention Gluehwein, bulging Christmas stockings on Christmas morning, candlelights in windows, gingerbread, German Christmas markets, and Santa Mouse. Just because we are adults doesn’t mean we should leave the magic of Christmas to children. I especially love the story of Santa Mouse – be sure to read it if you don’t know it.
The Mechanic and I are spending our first Mr. & Mrs. holiday together, just us, and we look forward to our new Christmas traditions. Given the weather, one new tradition might be a bike ride together – but not dressed up as Mr. & Mrs. Claus!
Many best wishes for a loving, peaceful and magical holiday season to you, no matter where you are and what you believe!
Copenhagen Part 1: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Here it is New Year’s Eve and I should be busy thinking about this past year and what will happen in 2013, but I’m bursting to share my Copenhagen experiences! There is so much to tell, and so many pictures to share (yes, probably half my photos are of bikes, people on bikes, or bike infrastructure)! So I’ll start off with a summary of the trip, and expand in forthcoming blogs.
- We had a lovely apartment in Norrebro (I wish I could type the o with the / through it but I couldn’t figure out how. So I apologize to the Danish.), found on Airbnb. Ida, our “hostess,” (who used to work as a bike messenger) met us when we arrived, showed us around, pointed the direction to the closest grocery store, and left. She had decorated for Christmas, and left us some treats. The apartment was European-small but cozy, with two balconies that must be great in the summer. The apartment was close to several bus stops and two S-tog (metro) stations, and at least four different grocery stores. Oh, and two bike shops!
- OMG there were bikes EVERYWHERE!!!! Our eyes just about popped out of our heads when we walked out of Copenhagen’s Central Station to catch the bus for the first time – a sea of wheels, frames, seats, and baskets. Every bike had at least one basket, and many had both a front and back basket. And they were all “comfort” bike styles, very few with drop handle bars. And none of them were locked to anything! Yes, you heard me – the ring lock was all they used! Unbelievable!
- Rosenborg Slot (castle) was a definite highlight beyond the bikes. The castle itself was a detailed museum, and the Royal Treasury was staggering. I’ve never been that close to a crown before, let alone three, let alone all those precious gems and all that gold. Oh my goodness, be sure to visit if you go to Copenhagen!
- Just about everyone spoke flawless English, even in Sweden. The only person who did not was the older gentleman working in the gas station I wandered into on Christmas Day. I don’t know how they do it, although Danish sounded like a hard language to learn. Luckily, it looks a lot like German, so I was able to guess our way around based on that.
- There were fireworks every night. Seriously – we could hear them, but not always see them. One night they were in the abandoned lot across from the apartment! But they are clearly private citizens, not anything organized by the city.
- The Mechanic had some minor health problems that unfortunately kept us from doing some of the stuff we had planned. On Christmas Day, I did the (unguided) walking tour we had wanted to do, to see the city highlights since everything was closed. We almost didn’t make it to Malmo, Sweden, either. He’s not 100% yet but got well enough to enjoy the rest of the trip.
- The sun set at 3:45pm. Not only is that early, if you include the fact that several days were overcast, well, it truly was dark the entire day. It really confused our bodies at first!
- The fireworks every night. I began to feel like I was living in a war zone.
- There is soooo much to write about! I’m going to have to blog steadily for a week to share everything I want to!
The Ugly (stuff that isn’t bad, but wasn’t great, or was simply unexpected)
- The shower in the apartment was not exactly what I’d expected. Basically, you shut the bathroom door, pull a shower curtain over the door, then pick up the hand unit and shower over the sink and toilet. It wasn’t terrible, just unexpected. I’m sure it might have upset some, but I’ve done similar showers elsewhere in Europe. I had just forgotten, in the last 6 years, what European standards can be.
- Everything really was closed for three days over Christmas – the 24th, 25th, and 26th. Yikes! Luckily there were a few places to find food (like the gas station and a coffee shop), but the city really did shut down to celebrate.
- Bike helmets – contrary to what some would have us believe, Copenhagen cyclists DO wear helmets! At least a third of the cyclists I saw were wearing them. And every bike shop (and we saw many) sold dozens of them. Not what I was expecting at all!
- There were open flames everywhere! This was actually pretty cool, but again, unexpected. This would never work in this country. Shops had small pots of fire on their stoops, there were fires in Tivoli and at the Zoo, and in other unexpected places. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen in this country, yet the Danes calmly and safely went around their business. Ah Europe.
I really want to talk about bikes, so I’m saving that for another blog post or two or three. Then there is the great bus and metro system; that’s another blog. Then bike fashion, then European cars, then bike infrastructure… I may have to set up a Flickr album with photos, if anyone is interested in seeing more than what I blog about. But to sum up, we had a great time, and I can’t wait to go back. But this time, when the weather is warmer!
While I continue to sort pictures of bikes, I want to wish you all the best for a joyous, healthy, and happy 2013! May your biking days be many and happy, and if you don’t bike, well, you should try it! (Have I taught you nothing this whole year?!)
Copenhagen Part 2: First Bike Impressions