My Lovely Reflective Bicycle Dress

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a garment that makes me as happy as my new reflective bike dress.

Reflective Bike Dress, without flash

Reflective Bike Dress, with flash

I love the cut, the fabric, and the fact that in the right light, I shimmer! Okay, I sort of look like Tron, but really, I’m okay with that. The skirt moves very nicely, and turned out to be the perfect length; I had been a bit worried. And I’m really proud of myself for doing this.

Tron Legacy (nope, haven’t seen it)

From a professional perspective, there are many things about the dress that did not turn out the way I would like. The biggest challenge was getting the piping to not “creep” while I stitched it. I had to take the skirt entirely apart, then hand baste all of it that nothing would wiggle as much. Even then had to stop every few inches and reset. Basically it meant that I had to take longer with this dress than I normally prefer to do when sewing. On the other hand, it looks better, and I do have the space to leave my sewing machines and stuff out while I slowly work my way through things. This was impossible in my NYC apartment, where I didn’t even have a kitchen table!

Thanks, Tim, for the pictures!

I’m happy to report that it glows beautifully on the bike as well. The Mechanic obligingly took some photos last night, so I could see me in action. This is the drawback to looking cool on one’s bike – it’s hard to see it yourself!

Work Friendly! At one of the bike racks at work.

I glow everywhere! If you look closely at my right foot, you can see the tiny glow from the reflective material on my Merrell Evera Mary Janes.

My helmet looks very bland next to the rest of me. Hm…

Let me do another cost analysis. I spent $72.68 at JoAnn Fabrics, on the fabric (4 yards @ $12.99 a yard), zipper, thread, lining, and so on. The four packages of Dritz Reflective Sew-In Piping cost me about $25, including taxes and shopping, since I had to order it online. The Simplicity pattern was another $12. So materials alone cost me about $110. In terms of hours, well, I stopped keeping track when I realized I had to take it apart and start over. Easily 20 hours, times a rate of $25 an hour, that’s $500 right there! So basically this is a $600 dress! Well, it is a Cynthia Rowley dress pattern, and her stuff is high end, so I guess that’s about right! (I love that this dress is so similar! I like the pattern I chose much better though.)

This entire project has made me realize that I am a bigger fan of Cynthia Rowley than I realized. As I’ve looked through the Simplicity patterns online, every single cute pattern I pick out is a Cynthia Rowley! I do have something in mind for my next reflective sewing project, with fabric I already have in stock, something a bit easier.

But first, I have another project to tackle – clipless pedals! Eek!

I’m scared of falling, even though I know I will.


Fabric Shopping Online

The Mechanic is away for the weekend, and today was my compressed Friday off, so I dedicated the entire day to fashion, rather than transportation. Except for walking to the market, I haven’t gone anywhere – kind of  a treat!

I’m anxious to get started on my next bicycle fashion project, this Cynthia Rowley dress. I’m doing the sleeveless version. I love everything trimmed in piping or edged in contrasting trim, so I’m excited that this dress actually calls for piping in the seams! You might be able to guess where I’m going with this – yes, reflective piping! But I can’t decide what fabric to pick!

Cynthia Rowley Dress

I know what I want – blue or gray, since the piping is silvery; a small, non-directional pattern (or something that won’t look dumb if it’s cut in different directions); and sophisticated enough that I can wear it to meet clients. But since I’m limited to a small JoAnn Fabrics near me, or the internet, I’m having some trouble. If only I’d had this pattern when I was in New York!

I spent what seemed like hours trolling website for fabrics, and I’ve narrowed it down to three so far. But I can’t decide which I like the best.

Option 1 – Expressions Circles

I love this Expression Circles print because I love this sort of “bubbles” design, and anything with circles. I think it will work well with the shapes of the pattern pieces, and the trim should go well with the pale blue.

Option 2 – Imperial Medallions

Option 2, the Imperial Medallions, is the kind of print I really love – symmetrical, circles, and historic. It would look great with the trim, but I’m not sure if it would be too busy as a full dress. But I really love it.

Timeless Treasures

But I love the clouds print too. I really wanted something blue, since my bike skirt is black and white, but this is so great. I’m mildly obsessed with Shadowplay NYC and their NASA imagery fabric and clothing – if I could find a starscape fabric that isn’t too childish, I’d consider that.

Shadowplay NYC Retro Galaxy dress

I decided to think on it and feed my design brain by catching up on my fashion scrapbook.


As old-fashioned as it now is, thanks to Pinterest, I cut out pictures of my favorite things from fashion magazines, and collage them into books. I’ve been doing this since the mid-80s (oops, did I just age myself?!), and love to look through them over and over again, when I need inspiration. It’s funny how I always seem to like the same things.

I still can’t decide which fabric I like! I’ll probably cruise through JoAnn’s again, before I commit. So what do you think? Which print would you recommend?