Reflective Thoughts for Fall

And….. it’s Fall! The temperatures have dropped, with a frost advisory overnight last night and chilly temps for the bike ride to work – overnight lows in the upper 30s! Besides digging out the warm bike gloves and the ear pads for my Nutcase helment, I’m happy to bring out my fabulous Dashing Tweeds reflective coat.

I love this coat so much – reflective tweed, OMG, which I bought in London in 2017 AND I think I did a really good job making this McCalls 7667 coat. It fits so well! I finished in this past February, wore it to New York, then haven’t had much chance to wear it again, let alone bike in it. So it’s very exciting to me.

On a slightly warmer day last week, I wore the dusty rose reflective duster I made from Simplicity 8055. I still can’t believe how perfectly the twill matched the red reflective fabric! It’s flat lined, so it has a bit of weight, but it’s not a *warm* jacket, nor is it meant to be. Perfect for over a long sleeved top when the weather peaks in the 60s. And how cool are the reflective “bubbles” on the cuffs?!?

I’ve also worn the reflective brocade Simplicity 8418 bomber jacket I mentioned last week. Lined with flannel-backed satin, it’s warm, even though it’s short. I don’t have any good recent pictures of it reflecting, so here’s two views from when I finished in March.

I need to focus more on reflective outerwear. I think that more should be done to encourage driver awareness, rather than focusing solely on what people walking and riding bikes wear, but I still want to make sure I am visible while I am out in the short, dark winter days. Since I refuse to just through a hi viz safety vest over my regular outfit, I focus instead on what “normal” looking clothes and accessories I can wear that are reflective and lighter colored. I’ve learned a few things along the way, so here are some tips and easy products to help.

Think about where you are going to most be seen while you are walking and biking.¬† Focus on your back, where you can’t see who is behind you – back, waist, hips, arms, shoulders, feet. Yes, 360* visibility is important, but you can *see* the cars in the front, whereas you can’t from behind you. So make that more visible.

  • Add reflective trim to cuffs, waists, ankles
  • Wear reflective belts – I’ve replaced the belt on my winter coat with one from Vespertine NYC. You can also order reflective grosgrain ribbon to sew or iron onto a webbing belt.
  • Consider painting shoes with reflective paint. Albedo 100 makes a spray paint in two versions – a non-permanent one for textiles, and a permanent one for wood and metal and so on. I tried the textile one on a pair of sneakers many years ago, and am considering doing the side walls of my winter boots.
  • Add reflective trim to gloves – the iron-on Dritz trim should work for this.
  • If you knit, consider reflective yarn for hats and gloves and socks. Red Heart seems to be the go-to brand for this – not the best quality but totally fun!
  • I am currently obsessed with Finnish company Moiko on Instagram – boy do I want their reflective floral heart mittens!!!!
  • Add a fun reflective button from Reflective Society – I know, I said focus on the back, and this is something to wear on the front, but I love her buttons so much! Check out the reflective lace pockets on the jeans, though – hm, total idea….
  • Also in the reflective accessory line, check out Firefly Reflectors. I love my reflective tassels and the adorable soft reflectors, but also check out their stickers and pins. So. Much. Fun. I hadn’t seen their new soft tassels yet – I think one of those will find its way to me this winter… (OMG, this one has *eyes*!!! I need this.)

So there are a handful of ideas to get you started. It’s much easier to be fashionable and visible than you might think, especially if you aren’t a seamstress like me. There’s always a shop on Etsy or elsewhere on the Internet to help you find the perfect reflective pieces, so you are stylish and seen. Warm, well, I can’t help you much there….

A bunch of my reflective accessories reflecting – even shoe laces!

 

 

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.

Leopard print, the perennial classic, even as a reflective tassel! (image from http://www.shop-firefly.com)

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!