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.


Product Preview: Bicycle Wrap Skirt

I really had planned on being able to do a more in-depth review of this fun skirt, but I haven’t had the time and since the Kickstarter has now launched, I want to get something out there. So please excuse the brevity and poor quality of some of the photos. Stay tuned though! This probably won’t be the only review of this skirt!

I don’t remember exactly how I found about about Lara Neece and her company, Forest and Fin. I did buy my sister-in-law one of her tee shirts for Christmas last year, but that was *after* I read about her plans to design a Bicycle Wrap Skirt. Always interested in helping out designers, especially one doing bike fashion, I reached out to her, and we met for the first time at Northside Social, when she was in town, far away from Savannah, GA. I lured her to the Women’s Bike Summit to introduce her to some people, and have stayed in touch. At last, her Kickstarter launched this week! I’m so excited for her!

Here is Lara herself, modeling the skirt in dreamy Savannah

Here is Lara herself, modeling the skirt in dreamy Savannah

But about the skirt – It’s seriously the perfect summer bike skirt. Lara focuses on earth-friendly materials and production, and come up with a linen/cotton blend that is machine-washable. It has a high waist that is flattering on almost every woman, but the best part is the wrap. How many of you have wrap skirts and dresses that expose way more leg than you want? Yup, we’ve all been there, and some of us are not comfortable with that kind of exposure. But the Forest and Fin Bicycle Wrap Skirt wraps and wraps and wraps! So much coverage! It has some clever hidden fastenings in the hem to keep it from flying up, but it’s probably not necessary.

Wearing the Bicycle Wrap Skirt in Shepherdstown, WV

Wearing the Bicycle Wrap Skirt in Shepherdstown, WV

Other cool features include a hidden side pocket and two different lengths, a regular and a tall, which is 2″ longer. She has come up with a fun way to clip the skirt a bit on the sides, so if you don’t like the skirt fluttering around while you are biking, you can rein it in. The detachable pouch is adorable and yes, fits an iPhone 6.

More lovely Savannah shots of Forest and Fin models

More lovely Savannah shots of Forest and Fin models

Lara sent me a prototype (in the tall length) to wear on Bike to Work Day, a few weeks ago. Alas, it was a bit cooler than expected/hoped, so I had to put a jacket on over it. But I modeled it for a few women who stopped to chat. Then I wore it while I biked to several different schools around Arlington, so I had the opportunity to get some real testing done.

Then I continued to wear it when we drove to Shepherdstown, before the CASA River Ride. We took our road bikes and our commuter bikes, and scooted around town on our commuter bike, so the skirt was the perfect thing to wear that evening. Alas, we were having so much fun we didn’t get too many photos, and the ones we did get are blurry. I’m sharing them anyway, but with apologies….

Here are my initial thoughts:

  1. I love it. It’s so full that it feels romantic and summery. I love full skirts, so I’m totally a fan.
  2. As I mentioned earlier, the wrap is so full, I didn’t feel I needed any other “modesty” help, but I like the side clips and the sneaky snap tape. While biking my errands, I tried wearing it every way, unclipped, clipped, snapped and clipped… The clips do make a huge difference, since I was afraid the skirt would flap into the wheels (if I didn’t have skirt guards, at least). Looking at the photos later, I realized that the tall length is still short enough that it wouldn’t get interfere with the bike.
  3. The side pocket is great, and I love the little pouch, but I’m not sure I’d wear that too often. I usually always have a purse or at least my front basket to carry stuff.
  4. The tall length was perfect on me; I wouldn’t want it shorter. But it would be super cute shorter, as well. (I think it made my legs look good!)
  5. I wore my Bikie Girl Bloomers under this, but they really aren’t necessary. I never worried that it would blow up. I just like to wear “bloomers.”
  6. If you live anywhere that is humid in the summer, this is the garment for you!
  7. I support Lara’s sustainability goals, and want to support this product in part because of that. I know it’s being made in this country, with eco-friendly fabrics and dyes, and they will donate part of the post-Kickstarter profiles to ocean and forest conservation organizations. Part of practicing what you preach. I say Amen!

I’m not getting paid to say this, but I strongly encourage you to head on over to the Bicycle Wrap Skirt Kickstarter page and pre-order now! Forest and Fin Bicycle Wrap Skirt Press Photo 2

Dreaming of Spring Flowers and Bike Skirts

The freezing cold temperatures, crazy strong wind and predicted snowfall isn’t the only reason why I am currently dreaming of spring flowers and bike skirts. I’ve been busy with both all weekend! Well, sort of.

For starters, I made the McCalls 6794 blouse out of the Liberty of London for Target duvet cover that I’ve had waiting for me. It went together pretty quickly and I am very excited by the result. I didn’t realize how tricky it is to tie a bow behind one’s back, but I’m sure I’ll get better at it with time.

The orange reflective fabric is heavy enough that I stitched it to the seam allowance to reduce the pull on the seam itself. I love that this is so flattering, with just one big piece of fabric in the back, and the sash stitched on in the front. I love sashes.

I have always loved Liberty of London fabrics, but this spring, I am clearly not the only one obsessed with floral prints. Shops everywhere seem to have large floral print clothing!

I really love the Land’s End floral tee and will no doubt order it soon-ish. But the Land’s End Floral Pants, the Nordstrom Topshop floral pants, the Zara floral pants, and the ASOS floral pants are all wonderful and definitely make me want a pair (okay, all of them!). A suit, not so much, but I might consider a blazer. The Talbots blouse I love because it is stripes AND floral print, my two favorite patterns in one of my favorite color combinations, gray and pink, but it’s almost too corporate for my taste, so I’m not sure.  These floral prints remind me of medieval tapestries, like the Unicorn tapestries in The Cloisters in New York. That might be less “spring” than the Liberty of London print of my new top, but I appreciate the slightly more mysterious designs, especially for pants.

"The Unicorn in Captivity - Google Art Project" by Unknown - 6QHwPO4q4grNtA at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Unicorn_in_Captivity_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg#mediaviewer/File:The_Unicorn_in_Captivity_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

The Unicorn in Captivity tapestry (“The Unicorn in Captivity – Google Art Project” by Unknown – 6QHwPO4q4grNtA at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Unicorn_in_Captivity_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg#mediaviewer/File:The_Unicorn_in_Captivity_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg)

But floral prints are not the only reason why I am fantasizing about spring and warmer weather. I recently met Lara Neece, of Forest and Fin, and talked about her new bike skirt design. An artist in Savannah, GA, she has a great collection of earth-friendly silk screened tee shirts with her own designs of birds and foxes and things. I love the Lovebirds Tee. She has also designed a bicycle wrap skirt and is in the process of having samples made and setting up her Kickstarter. Since she was visiting the DC area, we arranged to meet and chat, and I got to try on the skirt (okay, over my pants in the cafe….). It is lovely, nice and full, with some innovative details that I will let her share once her Kickstarter is launched. Lara is focusing on having the skirt made as sustainably as possible, but is still conscious of the price point, which is appreciated. I encourage you to follow her on Twitter and Instagram as well as her website and blog for updates on her skirt. It made me wish for spring and summer, because there is nothing better than biking in a skirt! A skirt, sandals, tee shirt or tank top… ah warm weather! How many days left until Spring?!

This is not the typical winter temperature here, brr! #dislike

This is not the typical winter temperature here, brr! #dislike