Celebrating My Mid-Life Crisis

Last week I turned 45, and as it is more or less the middle of my life (3 of 4 grandparents lived into their mid-90s), I figured it was a good time to have a midlife crisis. So instead of running off with a younger man (done) or buying an expensive sports car (why?), I opted for two different things – modeling in a fashion show and a weekend trip to London!

I get my hair done at a local Aveda hair salon, Casal’s de Spa and Salon, in Clarendon. I have always been a big Aveda supporter, because they do so much good stuff for the environment. Every April they celebrate Earth Month by focusing on protecting clean water, and salons around the US have fashion shows to fund raise and showcase their stylists’ skills.  So when my hair stylist asked me if I wanted to be one of their two models in the DC area show, I hesitated only briefly. I did have to audition though – that was nerve-wracking enough! I hadn’t thought much about the actual show until we got to the venue. Honestly, being up on that stage by myself made me so nervous that I thought I would collapse! But I was enormously proud of the team of stylists from Casal’s who made the outfit, all from recyclable materials from the salon, cut and colored my hair, and did my makeup, and thrilled that my look won best overall of the show! And now I can add “runway model” to my resume!

Plastic caps, hair color tubes, shampoo and conditioner bottles, and signs and placards make up this outfit, all on a base of an old pair of jeans. The white lashes are individual strips of paper glued on. I wore my own flat shoes, because the stylists didn’t want me towering over everyone else.

Then, a few days later, The Mechanic and I flew to London!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had found really inexpensive flights, so we went for a long weekend. We arrived on Friday and returned on Monday, giving us three and barely a half days to explore one of the biggest and most exciting cities in the world. I had last been to London in 1990, on my first trip out of the US. I didn’t remember much of London, so it was great to run past all the major sights. And although my girlfriends and I saw Princess Diana in the Natural History Museum in 1990, The Mechanic and I didn’t see any notables on this trip. Of course, I was too busy shopping to pay attention!

And shopping I did – on my list were Liberty of London and Dashing Tweeds. I planned on buying fabric at both locations. I simply *adore* anything Liberty of London, and although there were so many beautiful fabric options, I ended up buying the star print Tana Lawn cotton I wanted. Then at the last minute, I grabbed two pre-made handkerchief/scarves in prints I also loved. Dashing Tweeds is the menswear shop that makes bespoke suits, including lovely reflective tweed suits. They sell their Lumatwills tweed fabric, so naturally that was what I was after. I wasn’t planning on getting more than a yard, but the burgundy color I wanted had a yard and a half on the bolt, so of course I bought it all. And a cap in basic gray. I think I know just the coat pattern I want to use this on…

Then there were the spontaneous purchases – the most amazing shoes ever and an adorable rabbit purse. The shoes are from Cordings, a shop I’d never heard of before, but we walked in simply because they had a huge ad for the Tweed Run in their window. Full of tweed and Liberty of London women’s shirts, the blue suede ankle boots caught my eye and then the rhinestone edging sold me. My first 100% Made in Italy shoes! Definitely my Midlife Crisis Shoes.The first major purchase of the trip was actually this rabbit clutch from Heidi Sturgess London. Made in England, her website claims her small boutique items were a well-kept secret in London. I didn’t know that at the time, having purchased this clutch at a stall in Covent Garden, but I like the idea that these are handmade and the owner has her hands very much in the products. 

We just so happened to be there during London Craft Week, an annual event that showcases exception craftsmanship in all types of things. If I had known about it in advance, I would have made an effort to find some of the events. I think there is a lot of amazing craft work going on in the UK right now, and, as someone who sews their own clothes, I appreciate and admire handwork of all sorts.  It is funny – when I went to Europe for the first time in 1990, I came back with a burning desire to work with clothing, so I gave up my career goals of something international and multilingual to take sewing classes and work in theatrical costuming. Twenty-seven years later, I’m experiencing the same sort of thoughts. I really want to spend more time with handcrafted clothing. Is that the midlife crisis brewing?!?


Me Made May Returns!

It’s May! It’s my birthday month! It’s National Bike Month! It’s really finally Spring! It’s also Me Made May month, again, and this has me a bit flummoxed.

I love the idea behind Me Made May, of wearing clothing I’ve made myself every day the entire month. In it’s eight year this year, the challenge is intended to encourage people who sew and knit and create to wear and love the things they make. Everyone can make up their own specific challenge, be it to finish projects or wear less-loved things and/or to create a list of holes, things they wish they had. Personally I still want to try to focus on business-appropriate garments, because although I definitely have 31 me-made garments, they aren’t all “corporate” enough for all the work events in my life. And I wear most of my items pretty regularly, so making and hiding isn’t that big of a concern of mine. Although of course there are things that I wish I loved better, I was fairly pleased with how last year’s Me Made May turned out:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


In addition to the corporate looks, part of this year’s Me Made challenge will be our upcoming trip to London. I’m turning 45 and thought that this would be a good excuse for a weekend trip to London – a city I haven’t visited since 1990! For our four day trip I’m thinking two pairs of pants and a dress or skirt, then a few tops. I just can’t decide which because most of my tops are summer weather, and it probably won’t be that warm. I hate to take blouses that will wrinkle in my luggage because I hate ironing on vacation, haha! And most of my dresses are summer dresses as well. I want to take my new striped nautical dress, but I’m not sure the weather will be warm enough. I might take it anyway! I wish I’d had time to finish the 1940s trousers I’m making; I bet they would be perfect.

Maybe, maybe not….

There are other challenges that prevent me from wearing Me Made clothing, namely, the bike events in May to which I need to wear work branded clothing. I certainly don’t need another pair of jeans, but something to wear with a polo shirt might be something to add to the list of holes in my 31 day wardrobe. It seems like my list of “missing” clothing is really long already!

I haven’t pledged on Zoe’s website but here is my pledge:

I, Elizabeth of TinLizzieRidesAgain, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to wear at least one Me Made garment each day for the duration of May 2017. In addition, I will create a list of “missing” clothing to help me focus on my future sewing plans.

The drawback to this pledge, of course, is that I plan on buying fabric at both Liberty of London and Dashing Tweeds, which will probably throw off any cohesive, practical sewing plans I might have. I’ll need to finish aforementioned 1940s trousers but then you know I’ll be dying to get something made with my new stash! Capsule collection, pshaw. But really, this is a good opportunity to help me focus, and maybe figure out how to be 100% pleased with what I make.

I really want to take this as well but think it will be too cool for this as well. Bah!

Trend in Reflective: Bucket Bag

All the fashion magazines are singing the praises of bucket bags as *the* purse to have for Spring, and in fact, some editors are predicting it’s popularity through Fall. Even my latest Lucky magazine repeated the news. So I guess it must be true – and something to pay attention to. And by “pay attention to” what I really mean is “interpret with reflective fabric.” So I did. Twice.

Even the Lucky magazine editors say so!

Even the Lucky magazine editors say so!

I didn’t find a pattern for one, so I studied as many pictures as I could, and looked some up online to read measurements. Then I just sort of made it up, using for the bottom the pattern piece from my niece’s American Girl Doll carrying bag (McCalls 6854).

McCalls 6854, with my Samantha modeling the bag. Props to my niece for picking the awesome fabrics herself!

McCalls 6854, with my Samantha modeling the bag. Props to my niece for picking the awesome fabrics herself!

The first one I made I already shared with you, made with the reflective orange on the bottom and for the drawstring, and a camo print for the rest of the bag. I lined it in blue because that was all I had enough scraps for, but I don’t think my friend minded. In fact, she was pretty tickled with it.

But I learned a few things while making hers and tried to improve on mine, although I’m not 100% sure I succeeded. This time I sewed the  loops on before I put the lining in, but I wish I’d added more loops. I might add them later, and just stitch through – at least the lining is a busy print, so the stitching should be as noticeable. Somehow I had less webbing for the strap, which ended up fairly short, but I guess that it’s a big deal.

I picked the color combination because I love this plum reflective fabric (which I am now almost out of) and it goes so well with the Liberty of London for Target duvet cover/fabric I have. My original thought was to get blue microsuede fabric, but JoAnns didn’t have a blue I wanted, so I picked a light denim. It looks fine but is more casual than I’d wanted. I was sort of hoping I could carry this bag with the dress I’m wearing soon to a friend’s wedding. I may end up making (trying to make) a zippered clutch, but we’ll see.

I used fusible woven interfacing on all the fabric, including the lining, to give it a bit of heft; on the bottom I used a really thick, almost felt-like fusible non-woven interfacing that created a pretty firm base. I wish I’d known about that interfacing when I made my niece’s bag. It still doesn’t hold it’s shape the way I imagine the high-end leather bags do, but theirs aren’t reflective, so there you are.

Now I’m in a purse mindset – I want to make all kinds of bags! Especially since I have this cool metallic printed twill, silver and gold. I think the gold would be lovely as a foldover clutch to match my floral dress, but I can’t decide if I should mix in some reflective fabric. But I also can’t imagine sewing something that isn’t reflective anywhere – quelle horreur!  Stay tuned to see if I attempt something this weekend.

Future gold clutch purse?

Future gold clutch purse?

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

Yoga, Lift, Breathe, Sew, Repeat

The Mechanic and I seem to be overwhelmingly busy these days, with no end in sight! I felt so overwhelmed last weekend that to feel better, I sat down and whipped out a sewing project:

Reflective Obi Sash

Reflective Obi Sash

This is a reversible obi sash made from the two reflective fabrics I bought in New York.

Reversible sash on Fauntleroy, my bike

Reversible sash on Fauntleroy, my bike

I originally intended to make the sash to wear with a dress I plan on making someday, down the road…

Vogue 8807 Dress

Vogue 8807 Dress

The shoulder piece matches the belt, but I’ve always wanted a wide obi sash, so I made it for this, and the shoulder piece will be reflective to match. (Since I don’t have long hair to cover up the shoulders, this should be great in the summer!)

I actually ended up wearing it today over one of my nice black coats. I didn’t want to throw an ugly fluorescent orange reflective vest over my nice coat, so I grabbed the sash instead. Alas, my photographer (The Mechanic) wasn’t available to take a decent picture, so you have to imagine with this stop light self-portrait.IMG_4330

I think this will be a great, easily reproducible product, however, but with a print reverse side. A nice floral, like any one of those Liberty of London prints, would be so lovely!

I’m looking forward to the weekend so I can start adjusting the pants pattern I have, so I can start that project. I’m really excited about it, but as I may have mentioned, I’m not very good at/experienced with making pants, so I am forcing myself to do a mock up first, then the real deal. So it will take a while, but hopefully will be worth it in the end.

And did I mention that the CASA River Century, the one we did last year (well, we did the half century, which we plan on repeating), is now less than two months away, and I haven’t been more than a mile on my road bike? And I am scared of my clipless pedals? Eek!!!

Yoga class, BodyPump class, more yoga, some sewing, repeat – this is how I am trying to stay sane right now. I hope it works.




Fall Fashion Fantasies

It’s September, and you know what that means – the September Vogue!

September 2012 Vogue

Technically, this arrived on my doorstep (literally – it doesn’t fit in my tiny apartment mailbox) in August, but I haven’t had time until this week to peruse all 916 pages. I was surprised at the ads with bicycles in them – okay, only a few, but still, compared to a few years ago?

Longchamp has a 4-page ad featuring a tandem bike!

An ad for Target’s Kirna Zabete capsule collection

Between this, and the huge stack of catalogs that arrived this week, I’m obsessed with fall clothing.

My wish lists always fall into two categories, but this year I have a third. The first category is always the fantasy clothing, the stuff in the ads, pure design, something I would never wear even if I could afford it. Okay, I might wear it…

Haider Ackermann Fall Winter 2012

John Galliano Fall Winter 2012

Alexander McQueen Resort 2013


If it was Ralph Lauren, I would wear it. I’ve always loved his tweeds and country roots. His fall collection was is clearly inspired by “Downton Abbey,” and is totally the kind of stuff I love.

Ralph Lauren Fall Winter 2012

Ralph Lauren Fall Winter 2012

Ralph Lauren Fall Winter 2012 (not Downton Abbey but I love this!)

The second category is stuff that is more in reach – J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Boden, Garnet Hill, Jack Wills, Lands End, Ann Taylor Loft. I love these companies, and make my wish list from them.

Boden (yep, with a bike!)

J. Crew Liberty of London Shirt

L L Bean Signature Camo Print Dress

Clearly I’m obsessed with dresses and skirts this fall! And tweed – I always want tweed blazers and the perfect corduroy pants. From this list, I zero in on the few things I consider Must Haves, and try to figure out how to work them into my existing wardrobe.

This fall I’m adding a new category – bicycle fashion! There are several things on this list, some practical, and some not. Practical means I’m already thinking about biking to work in really cold weather, so gloves, and a non-vented helmet. Not really practical are the new Merrells I want but can’t really justify… and the cute stuff at Terry, like the cute Sharrows sweatshirt.

Terry Sharrows Sweatshirt (this would be so much cuter if it was reflective!)

Regardless of what I end up getting, I always create a look board. I have a bulletin board where I cut out magazine and catalog images I like and pin up. It reminds me at the least that I can mix up what I have to create the looks I like. Like everyone else, I get stuck in a rut sometimes, so it’s good to have a reminder to shake things up!

My inspiration board – with athletic and travel images as well, it basically focuses everything I love

I’m sure that I will be sharing items from my lists in the future, as I agonize over which items I really truly want and need. What sort of things do you want for the fall?









My Bike Fashion Faux Pas

Okay, this probably is not a faux pas by anyone else’s standard, but clearly I’m more of a prude than I thought I was. I can’t help it – I stand by some old-fashioned values! Like undergarments should never be seen.

I took a top to work today that I haven’t worn in a long time. (It was raining when I left, so I took my entire wardrobe and showered and changed at work, in case you need to know). It’s a cute knit cowl neck top from New York & Company, nothing fancy, blue with a butterfly print. I don’t wear it often because it’s too big and the cowl drapes pretty low, and I feel like I’m constantly pulling it up. Whatever, not a huge issue.

Top in question is this cut, different print

That is, until I get on my bike to go to a client meeting. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I’d flash everyone within vision of the bike lane between my office and the client’s office! My upright bike puts me forward just enough… and it was breezy just enough… that I think it totally exposed my bra as the loose draped fabric blew around!  Eek! I’m sure that every guy really was staring down my shirt. Literally.

But this got me thinking – am I really a prude? I guess I do dress pretty conservative, especially for work. And I don’t believe that undergarments should be seen by the public. I always wear a slip if my skirt is unlined, a wrap dress, or in any other way see-thru. Perhaps this is a habit after years of working in theater, and trying so hard to make sure performers’ undergarments were not seen (unless they were part of the costume, of course).

I will never see this as acceptable fashion or style

But is it a problem that I don’t want to show too much chest/cleavage? Does anyone else worry about this? Should I start wearing low cut tops to force myself to be more comfortable with this? (I’m sure The Mechanic would approve!) I definitely would lean towards conservative in the office – after all, I think the whole “dress how you want to be treated” thing still applies in the office,  no matter what younger people might think. I’ve also heard it as “dress better than your boss” but I’ll be generous here. : )

This J. Crew Liberty of London shirt with tie and pencil skirt would be ideal office wear for me! Too conservative?

But on weekends and when I go out, maybe I need to start lowering the neckline a tad. But this Jack Wills cami seems too bare for me, although I doubt it would blow around too much on a bike. But if I crash, that’s alot of bare skin to scrape up, ow.

Jack Wills does cater to college kids….

But then I would need to replace all my crew neck tee shirts! Oy! What do I do?

So what is a good office-appropriate, bike-friendly top that isn’t too conservative, yet not too bare? I’m open to suggestions!

Oops! Back from flashing everyone on the street!



Shopping for Sparkles

Living in New York for ten years spoiled me for many things – delis on every corner, a $10 manicure, unlimited subway passes, subways that run 24-7, and of course, the shopping. I really didn’t fully understand the lament of my best friend, on how conservative DC is when it comes to shopping, but now that I’ve been in the area for two plus years, I get it. I really don’t want to look like every other shops at J.Crew-Gap-Banana Republic woman in the area! I like those stores too, but there is sartorially more to life than those places!

My $10 manicure, in dusty teal – I saw blue nails everywhere, so naturally I had to do it too!

Naturally, my recent trip to the Big Apple focused on shopping.  Uniqlo‘s Orla Kiely collection made me very happy, although I was disappointed in the fit of almost everything I tried on in Joe Fresh. Almost everything – I did get two tops.

But what I miss the most about shopping in New York is the Garment District, that lovely area full of fabric stores and trim shops. I dragged a friend to a few, hunting specifically for reflective fabric and trim.

We started in B & J Fabrics. I love this place, mostly for it’s huge collection of Liberty of London fabrics. If I could wear nothing but Liberty of London, I would – but I can’t afford it! Yikes, $37 a yard! Nope, not yet. I did find some reflective fabric, though, but only three options. I ended up getting a half-yard of the gold. It is $42 a yard, or I would have bought more. I have an idea of what to do with it, but it will be top secret for a while. It’s something for fall anyway, so I’m not in a huge rush to get that made.

Then we visited a few trim shops to find some more reflective grosgrain trim. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any reflective piping, but I did find the grosgrain.

In the first store, the color selection wasn’t exciting, and they were all $3.50 a yard.

They did carry a few different widths, which was a plus. But I couldn’t think of anything to do with orange or neon green reflective trim. Nothing I’d wear, anyway.

Then we went into a different store, and I hit the jackpot! A huge selection of really pretty colors, and only $1 a yard! Such a bargain! I got 3 yards each of my four favorite colors. J’adore!

In love with these colors!

So now I’m searching through the Vogue patterns website, trying to find something to do with these trims. The Cynthia Rowley dress pattern I loved isn’t available anymore, not online, but I will probably check in my local JoAnn Fabrics, anyway.

Cynthia Rowley dress pattern

There is always this super simple skirt pattern, which I can decorate with trim, like I did the first:

I do love making (and wearing) skirts in the summer.

I also found a great Donna Karan dress that would be good with reflective piping or trim, plus a few other patterns that are just cute and summery, although they don’t necessarily lend themselves to bike-friendly garments.

So I have something thinking to do! Thinking and designing. And now I wish I was back in New York to find some great fabrics.  Hm – next free weekend…?