Time to Sew and Think

Use-or-lose PTO expiring in June means taking extra time off this month. Initially, The Mechanic and I discussed going back to Shepherdstown for our third wedding anniversary last week, but in the end, opted against it. So I used some PTO for a mini sewing staycation instead.

Mini champagne “tasting” and fancy desserts for a low-key third anniversary

I was probably both overly ambitious with my plans and less efficient than I could be, so I did not actually achieve all my goals for the extended weekend. I did some sewing, made a Shutterfly photo album gift for a friend, visited with friends, hung out with Gaston, and had lots of time alone with my thoughts.

Sewing

I am pleased with my sewing accomplishments, however. I made a fun new dress from McCalls 6886 and the scuba knit I impulsively ordered from Mood Fabrics earlier this year. I call this my crowd-sourced dress because I kept asking questions on Instagram about designing it – fellow sewists recommended this pattern over a more complicated one, and the scoop neck over the crew neck. I think they were right on both accounts. As my second sewing project on my new sewing machine, it was also the perfect way to learn how it handles stretch fabrics. Thankfully and unsurprisingly, it is soooo much better than my old machine! The dress turned out great, and although the fabric doesn’t breathe much (okay, not at all), it will be perfect for work, and probably not terrible to bike to work in if the weather is decent.

Accessorized with my fabulous boots from Cordings London and my Heidi Sturgess rabbit purse, also from London

I even used the label Mood sent with the fabric! #madewithmood

The other sewing project I completed was altering the corduroy trousers I made last month. Although I love the color and super soft corduroy, they were too big around the hips and waist, and the waistband did not lie flat. So I took off the waistband, made deeper pleats in the front, took out about an inch for a swayback alteration, and replaced the zipper. (I totally forgot to get an invisible zipper foot when I bought my new machine!) I redrew the waistband to reflect what I’d pinned out, and although it looked rather extreme, it worked out perfectly. Of course, as these things go, I didn’t have enough fabric for both sides of the waistband, so I used lining for the facing, and then I didn’t have enough interfacing of any kind, so it’s a pretty wimpy waistband. But I’m much happier with the pants now, and look forward to wearing them.

 

They are subtle but they are there! Bicycles on the waistband! I should have used contrasting thread.

Thinking

In between bursts of sewing, I did a lot of thinking. It’s nice to have time to think, not distracted by daily life (aka, work). I always feel frantic, rushing from work to home to work to home, and sometimes I just need time away from it all. (Seriously, how do parents manage it all?!?) The Mechanic prefers to camp when he needs time alone; I prefer to sew and read and watch British television shows. I just needed time to think about where life is going and in which direction do I want it to move.

Saturday night sewing with Gaston and Father Brown, while The Mechanic was camping and mountain biking

I’ve been at my job for just over five years now, and although I certainly don’t know it all, I feel like I’ve learned a lot, and I’m sort of ready to move on. I feel like this is a personality flaw – it’s hard for me to stick to just one thing. Through learning about transportation demand management, and doing outreach to people about their transportation choices, I’ve come across so many other really interesting topics and ideas, and I want to explore those. Overall sustainability is top of the list, and through sewing and this growing interest, I’ve learned more about sustainable fabrics, a field I’m definitely interested in exploring. Then there is general behavior change and all the psychology around that; I’ve always been interested in *why* people do what they do. And I can’t help but feeling like I’d like to return to history as a field, or maybe public history and museum studies. And always the thought – how do I make a positive impact on the world?

Alas, all my thinking was merely that, thinking. I didn’t come up with a plan or a decision or a new goal (well, a new goal beyond moving to Europe someday). Do I feel more relaxed, from all my time off and sewing and thinking? Hm…. maybe. Maybe if I’d actually gotten more done, or finished a book or something. I did, however, come up with a plan for my next sewing projects! Between now and the end of July I want to finish my star Liberty of London blouse and a shift dress with the denim lace fabric from Marcy Tilton. Maybe it’s better to just stick to the sewing and do less thinking.

UFOs in June

I’m back! Did you have a relaxing Memorial Day weekend? A friend from New York visited and The Mechanic was in Phoenix visiting his friend, so we each got alot of socializing in! My friend and I visited Mount Vernon (by boat from Old Town Alexandria, which I recommend – it was so relaxing!), National Harbor, the Tanger Outlet mall at National Harbor, and the new MGM casino. I’d never been to National Harbor, right across the Potomac in Maryland, and it was so easy to get to from the King Street Metro station – a quick NH2 Metrobus ride across the bridge. We had a blast and shopped perhaps a bit too much. I did fulfill a long-time sartorial goal by purchasing a Diane von Furstenberg dress at Memorial Day weekend sales steal prices. It’s not one of her iconic wrap dresses but it’s pretty amazing and I can’t wait to wear it.

And now it’s June. I have use-or-lose PTO to burn by the end of the month, so I’m going to use up most of it with some mini sewing staycations. All this unexpected time off means I should to focus on finishing up my UFOs – also known as unfinished sewing projects. Technically I only have one UFO, since I already wrapped up a few over the past weekend. I made a quickie tee shirt with the happy floral striped Art Gallery knit, shortened the lining of a skirt that I made too long, and finally added the waistband to my wedding skirt. I still need to redo the waistband on my 1940s inspired trousers, too.

I ended up using the same satin from the train to make the waistband, which actually turned out pretty badly. Thank goodness a much more talented seamstress friend did the zipper and hem! Where will I wear this? Who knows!

My one true UFO is this pair of red chambray pants that I cut out last year. The idea was for them to also be a wearable muslin, but the complicated zipper fly has prevented me from tackling them. And by complicated, I mean more than a one-weekend sewing project. I really need to get these done, but honestly, being lazy with both my diet and with my workouts lately means that I’m not the size I’d like to be for pants. I’d like to put these off a bit more. At least until I’ve gotten my BodyPump gym class groove back and feel a bit less squishy.

Someday, pants, someday….

Other things I need to finish before I jump into new projects include two dresses, pants and a blouse, all of which were supposed to be done by now.

Of course, I have that gorgeous fabric I bought in London, and then I just got this fabulous denim lace from Marcy Tilton….NO!

Focus, focus….

Some of these things should be fairly simple, so hopefully I can have one mad, frantic weekend of knocking those things out quickly. Because I think that denim lace will make a perfect summer work dress, and I need it now!

Time to just grin and bear it, and sew up this stuff before I can move on. Anyone else ever force themselves to get long-neglected UFOs completed? At least wearing my makes encourages me to want to get more done. I wore my new tee shirt and denim skirt with the reflective yoke last Saturday when The Mechanic and I went biking along the C&O Canal. Perfect and inspiring!

 

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Still Sewing – and Still Biking

Despite being fed up with biking (well, drivers, really), I ended up biking Monday-Wednesday last week, then rode the bus Thursday because of a work event. Then Friday I was a driver myself! The Mechanic and I took Gaston to the vet – we love the vet but they are not located anywhere remotely convenient to bike or bus, so Zipcar it is. I have to say, I felt much better about biking – maybe I just needed to vent? But also, I was pretty relieved to take the bus to work on Thursday, and not only because of the rain all day. I appreciate all the words of encouragement from you, thank you!

Gaston highly disapproved of the vet experience

And I plan on biking this week as well. But this week I am especially inspired, because I finished a new dress, and the weather will be warm enough to wear that AND my 3M reflective dress, woot!

A-maz-ing!!!

First up, I finished my Christine Haynes Marianne dress, in nautical blue stripes. I’m not the biggest fan of PDF patterns, partially because I never seem to get the pieces taped together properly. I had to do a bit of fixing once I was done, to get the lines to match…. And that was just the beginning! I think I redid every single seam on this dress, not to mention redrawing the seams on the side to fit better. Because of that, I wasn’t sure I would like this dress when it was completed, but I have to say, it’s much cuter than anticipated! I lengthened the sleeves significantly, and I took in the sides. I thought I had cut the neck binding too short, so I cut a longer piece, and then realized the first piece was probably fine. But I love the navy and aqua color combination, as well as the blue reflective fabric accents. I made a rookie mistake and forgot to hand baste the reflective trim in, but it didn’t slide around too much. And how cool are the reflective covered buttons?!?!

Fun, isn’t it?

You know sewing is an illness when you finish one project and jump right into another. Yes, I made a muslin of the Simplicity New Look 6434 blouse, Version D with the ruffled sleeves. This will eventually be made out of some Charley Harper print cotton, but I used an old sheet to make this up. Actually, I love the color, so I think I will try to clean it up so I can wear it. For this blouse, I widened the shoulders a half inch, and am pretty pleased with the results. I also lenghtened the sleeve, but may need to widen it a teeny bit. I used the full ruffle pattern, not cut down for my size, but I think I will do that next time – it’s a little too ruffled for my taste. But I know this sleeve is hot right now because it’s popping up on everything! McCalls Pattern Company is even doing a sewing contest with their version of this style. It will be a while until I can make the Charley Harper version, since that fabric won’t be shipped for 6-8 weeks (!!!). But maybe this will work.

This week is the last “calm” week before several weeks of just craziness, so I’m hoping to relax and enjoy biking and not sewing, well, not really doing much of anything. Just being. I need to get some sleep before the craziness. Or I could squeeze in one more sewing project….

More Reflective Sewing and Things

Although some might call my interest in All Things Reflective an obsession (or bizarre), to me it’s an art. I think about it all the time, collect pieces of value, and am discerning when it comes to what I like. But this art collection is one I wear, not hang on walls, display on shelves, or hoard for no one but me to enjoy. And to share with you, of course! So today I want to share a few more reflective things, including the pants I just made, as well as some reflective fabric travel plans.

For starters, I ordered some reflective Red Heart yarn from Amazon. It’s my favorite color, so I couldn’t resist! My mother knit me an infinity scarf from gray a few years ago, but I thought a spring color would be nice. I’m hunting through the millions of options on Ravelry to find another knitting pattern for her. Luckily my mother is willing to knit for me!

Then, while I was hunting around on Amazon, I found this reflective thread – it’s by Hatnut and shipped from Germany. I looked up the company after the package arrived, and they do some cool yarns, as well as this reflective stuff. I had hoped to be able to topstitch the hems of the pants I just made with this thread. The test stitching worked pretty well, but when I tried to actually sew, the thread got caught up and shredded. It’s fragile, not like your regular Coats & Clark or Gutermann thread. I’ll play around with it a bit, but it could be a hand sewing only type thread. Now I just need to learn to embroider – wouldn’t that be amazing?! Now, about those reflective pocket pants. I had purchased the McCalls 7547 pattern to try Version B, the skinny leg pants, to see if I could improve my attempts to properly fit pants, and replicate some of my favorite pants.

(Kinda scared of the flared overalls…)

I opted for a gray twill, something inexpensive that would work as a “wearable muslin,” aka, a test pattern that I can also wear out of the house, in a color that goes with a fair amount of tops I’ve made. And then I decided to make two back pockets, and to make them out of the reflective camo fabric I have. It’s not the perfect color match, but for a muslin, I don’t really care. And I love the idea of fully reflective back pockets for the spring and summer evenings when I’m biking (and walking) around. This pattern happens to be the McCalls Pattern Company’s Spring Sewalong, too. I happened to mostly make these on our surprise snow day last week (woot!), so I’m waaaaay ahead of the sewalong, but I had to take advantage of the time off. I posted a rather unflattering set of photos on Instagram to show my initial progress, and get some tips on how to adjust the fit, and thankfully, Amanda, Sewalong co-host and sewing blogger, had some good tips.

Oof – humility. Posting unflattering photos of one’s behind for the whole world (of my Insta followers, at least) to see!

So I spent the weekend adjusting and altering and refitting. I am pretty pleased with the results, although I know the crotch fit is not perfect. Once I released the side seams to accomodate my thighs, the crotch fit was much better. I also dropped the front 1/2″ as Amanda suggested. I tried “scooping” the crotch but I’m not sure I was doing it correctly. I tried three different ways to put in the side zipper, and ended up with a terrible center zipper. I did the pattern instructions method first, but then needed to let the sides out, so replaced it with an invisible zipper, which couldn’t go in properly to save my life (and I normally prefer them because they are so easy!), then gave up and did a basic and still imperfect zipper. Whatever. It’s the muslin. Now that the pattern is at least altered, the next time it should be easier. I don’t know how to take out a fisheye dart on the back of my legs as Amanda suggested, but I’ve recognized for a while now that I need to do that.High-waisted pants are on trend at the moment, and somewhat more flattering on my tummy, but I am not sure how often I’ll actually tuck in my top. (Confession: I’m feeling bad about how out-of-shape I’ve gotten now that my sewing has overtaken my biking as my main hobby, so I’m a bit self-conscious about how everything is fitting these days.)

Nevertheless, these pants go with many things in my closet, so I’m sure I’ll get alot of use out of them. And see? Even something as simple as a practice piece can be art! Why be plain when you can be flashy?!?

Current State of Affairs

After last month’s series of five year anniversary re-introductions, I thought I’d catch everyone up on the current state of my affairs. As always, there is a lot going on, so much so that I missed my last planned anniversary re-introduction! That one was supposed to be about travel and how The Mechanic and I love to travel. Recent examples include a spontaneous rental car trip, where we attempted to go by VeloOrange in Annapolis (not open on the weekends), then drove through a powerful storm to Baltimore, arriving just as the storm ended and discovering their new ebike bikeshare system and bike lane wayfinding signs.

I’ve been sewing of course – finished the Simplicity 8166 blouse I’ve been dying to make forever, at last! It was sort of a bear. I love the tencel twill, the weight and drape of it, but maybe it was too heavy for all the rows of gathered elastic. Trying to feed it at the same time was challenging, but looks amazing in the end. I haven’t worn it yet because I had to wash it – get the chalk marks out as well as the blood – I managed to stab myself every time I sat down to sew, and didn’t realize until after I’d gotten blood on the garment. Sigh. But isn’t it gorgeous?!?

Gorgeous, but not a single bit of reflective on it!

Gorgeous, but not a single bit of reflective on it!

I *bought* a sweater and then realized I had a spring sewing theme going – a nautical theme! I was lusting after this J. Crew sweater with an Art Nouveau type floral design as well as mermaids! I love mermaids, so much so that even though this sweater is merino, and I find it terribly itchy, I had to have it. I’ve already suffered through an itchy day worn it and think it’s just the loveliest thing (well, I think the ruffled collar is a bit not my style/odd).

(sorry, I couldn't manage a better photo than this...)

(sorry, I couldn’t manage a better photo than this…)

Then I realized that my current sewing plans include some Breton striped garments – a top using some cool ammonite fabric from Spoonflower, and the cute Christine Haynes Marianne dress. nautical-sewing-plansAdding these two patterns plus my mermaid sweater to existing nautical things in my wardrobe, well, I should be headed to the seaside somewhere!

A friend and I are heading to the Philadelphia Flower Show, and I am finally making her a long-promised dress –  she had picked a lovely floral print, so of course she needs to wear it when we go. I love the fabric, although its slippery polyester and has required a lot of hand basting, which I don’t normally do. Am I the only one who tries harder on clothing not intended for me? flower-show-dress

A super cool non-sewing dress came my way last week, the Betabrand 3M reflective dress that I’d supported way last fall – it finally arrived and is really cool! It’s that stretchy nylon fabric that will be perfect for travel, with pockets, pulls on over the head, and omg reflective!!!! Seriously, it’s pretty cool. I can’t wait to wear this somewhere. Clearly not designed with 360* reflectivity, the reflective fabric is only in the front. I’m a bit disappointed by that, to be honest; it seems like a lost opportunity. I’m sorry it’s sold out on Betabrand but keep Tweeting to 3M and maybe they’ll eventually figure out there is a retail demand for reflective fabric and help out us home sewers who are desperate for it.

A-maz-ing!!!

A-maz-ing!!!

Speaking of reflective, have you seen Vespertine NYC’s reflective collaboration with Brompton? It’s really lovely and I wish I could get all of it, but there’s that wool thing again. I mean, I guess I could do the shoelaces, but those seem so less interested compared to the cool designs of the hat and scarf. Check them out if you haven’t yet! brompton-x-vespertine-refective-collection

I don’t know if Vespertine will be at the National Bike Summit this week, but she’s been there before, so if you are in the area, check it out!

I’m not attending the National Bike Summit this year, as I have in the past, but I’ve been watching attendees roll in (literally) on Instagram and Twitter. Bikie Girl Bloomers, Pedal Love, Bikey Face, and many other bikey ladies I know from NBS and social media are there. But speaking of bikes, Bletchley, my new vintage Raleigh, is in the process of being taken apart to be upgraded. I’ve been riding The Mechanic’s Workcycles bike to test out the hub, and we found brake levers that I really like. Slowly but surely this bike will come together. bletchley-brake-leversLastly, Gaston is a delight, and seems to be getting fluffier by the day. He’s gotten a bit snugglier and while I don’t foresee him sitting in our laps any time soon, demands and gets as much attention as we can give him. It’s a shame I can’t pet him and sew at the same time! gastonSo what else did I miss while I was reviewing the last five years of my blog life?

Re-Introducing My Reflective Bike Fashion

In the five years since I started my blog, I have become obsessed with reflective fashion – not just making it but buying it when I can. Naturally I prefer to make my own but I love seeing what other designers are making (Current fave Chance of Rain). Because my reflective sewing projects are intended to be fashionable in the office AND make me more visible on my bike, I’ve refined what and how – just throwing reflective spots here and there aren’t necessarily the best. So I thought I’d share some of my lessons learned.

Where to Be Reflective

One of the most important things I’ve learned is where reflective trim should go to be most visible to drivers. Shoulders, wrists, elbows, ankles, lower back, side seams of pants and skirts – all the best places. Collars and anything on the front, while there’s nothing wrong with that, tend to be less visible. I’ve made tons of lovely things that are covered up by long coats and scarves in the winter, so I really need to work on making outerwear!

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Patterns

I buy patterns from anywhere; I haven’t yet gotten around to drafting any of my own. I love the big companies, Simplicity, McCalls, Vogue, Butterick, New Look, and wait until they go on sale then buy in bulk. I have also bought patterns from some of the independent companies, and downloaded a few as well, but I don’t use too much of them. The designs tend to be a bit too vintage and sweet for me (I don’t do peter pan collars, for example), and honestly, downloading, printing, taping together and the trying to figure out which size lines to follow, well, it’s more work that I really care to do. I’m thrilled that these companies exist, and love the Colette sewing planner, but I personally want to sew things a bit more on trend.

When I choose patterns, I look for seam details that will easily allow for adding reflective details: back yokes, cuffs, side seams and extra seams, any sort of sleeve interest… Check out this McCalls pattern as an example:

McCalls 7357 - plenty of seams in the sleeves and a back yoke that could be reflective fabric. Or where piping or bias could sneak in.

McCalls 7357 – plenty of seams in the sleeves and a back yoke that could be reflective fabric. Or where piping or bias could sneak in.

Personally, I always struggle with finding patterns that are “corporate” enough for work; most of my sewing projects so far are a bit more “business casual” or “Friday casual.” I have done some things that don’t have any reflective trim at all, like the Simplicity 8166 blouse I finally started.

Reflective Fabric

This is the biggest challenge – where to source reflective fabric? It’s hard to find and usually expensive when I do find it. Mood Fabrics currently has some lovely reflective fabrics (check out the sequined fabric! I can’t tell if it’s “my” reflective or just reflective because of the sequins, but I may need to find out…), and Rockywoods is still selling the water repellent reflective camo nylon fabric I bought last year. I had purchased some silver reflective fabric from Britex Fabrics, in San Francisco, but they don’t carry it anymore, and Dritz Notions stopped making their reflective piping a while ago but Seattle Fabrics sells it. Wherever I find it, I buy it. However…. some of this fabric, as lovely and reflective as it is, has a few drawbacks – it’s heavy, it’s hard to sew, it doesn’t press, and most importantly, it doesn’t breathe! This is a problem for biking in the summer! So I place it with care, knowing that I’ll sweat like mad under wherever the fabric is, yokes, collars, etc. Natural fibers reflective fabric is no! Admittedly, lately I’ve made a few things that don’t easily suggest reflective pieces, so I’ve simply added a tab of reflective grosgrain ribbon – not terribly useful in terms of safety, but, well, I feel obligated…

Bikeability

The other challenge in sewing bike fashion is how bikeable garments are. Pencil skirts are a challenge, and the main reason why I wanted a step-through bike. I don’t mind hicking my skirt up further than is acceptable because I wear Jockey Skimmies Slipshorts or Bikie Girl Bloomers under skirts and dresses, but not being able to throw my leg over the top tube of my commuter bike is the challenge! Full skirts and circle skirts, on the other end of the spectrum, tend to be too much fabric for me, but half-circles, A-lines and similar skirt and dress styles are perfect. I also gravitate towards tops with longer backs; thankfully high-low tops and tunics are stylish these days! Jackets, blouses and other tops need to allow for extended arms, and I always lengthen sleeves anyway, so long sleeves don’t end up halfway up my elbows.

All Together Now

So as you might guess, there are many calculations that go into my reflective bike fashion sewing! Can I bike in the garment? Does the pattern offer easy places to add something reflective? What goes with my limited stash of reflective fabrics and notions? Will the fabric be weather-appropriate? Given all these things, it’s a wonder I get as much sewing done as I do!

As you set about on your reflective sewing projects, I hope that these tips and ideas help. And if you find any new sources for reflective fabric, please be sure to share! Happy sewing!

 

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2017 Sewing Planned Already

Somehow I’ve started 2017 with EIGHT sewing projects lined up! Patterns and fabric, just waiting for some time. And they mostly seem to be spring/summer projects – what happened to my winter sewing plans?! At the rate I get things done, though, I might as well get these things made, so I have them all ready for warmer weather.

Trying to use my Colette planner to stay organized and coordinated this year.

Trying to use my Colette planner to stay organized and coordinated this year.

On my list are:

  • A tee shirt out of Charley Harper Sanderlings bird print knit (for our trip to Disney World in 14 days!)
  • Two Dressy Talk woven tees – one in a basic blue-gray tencel twill, the other in a shoe-print cotton that I’ve had for decades
  • A gray pencil skirt using the Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt pattern, something work-appropriate, although not bicycle-appropriate. It probably won’t get anything reflective anywhere
  • A summer dress out of a dark teal tencel twill, from the same Simplicity pattern I made the Pegasus blouse out of, Simplicity 8216
  • The only thing winter-appropriate on my list is the “Victorian” blouse out of ivory tencel twill (can you guess what fabric I’m currently obsessed with?!?), out of the fabulous Simplicity 8166 pattern. This will be super work-appropriate, and also not get anything reflective…
  • The red chambray trousers that I cut out ages ago – I *must* get these done! Plus, I love the style
  • A dress for a friend, which was promised way too long ago

I’m debating on whether or not to make the shoe print Dressy Talk tee as well as the sanderlings tee for our Disney World trip – I really want to wear something #memade every day of that five-day trip. On the other hand, I could use the time to start the Victorian blouse, because we have a work event at the beginning of February to which I’d really love to wear the blouse. I know, I know – everyone should have such dilemmas!

I am going to spend the rest of January analyzing my winter work wardrobe. I want to see how much winter-appropriate pieces I’ve made that I can wear to work, and keep a list of what I wish I had. I really want to make that winter coat I’ve been dreaming about, so that will need to go on this summer’s project list if I want it done for next winter. I think jackets and coats are going to be my 2017 learn-to-make projects. (See how I’m avoiding pants?) I am quite pleased with these two tops, made during my holiday Sewing Staycation….

…. but really can’t figure out how to style these pants… I just don’t love them. As you can tell by my face.  blue-pantsEven though I need to complete all these projects before I can justify starting something else, I have things in mind, so I need to buckle down and get these done! Then onward and upward!

Isn't this pin from Colette amazing?! One of my best Christmas presents!

Isn’t this pin from Colette amazing?! One of my best Christmas presents!

 

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2016 Lessons Learned

The fact that 2016 was a challenging year can’t be denied but it wasn’t all that bad either – The Mechanic and I traveled a lot and we adopted Gaston! gastonI can’t say I’m glad the year is over, but I do like new beginnings, so I’m always happy to ring in a new year. I enjoy looking back over my year and looking ahead to the new one, and I love planning, so of course I love making new plans.

There is always something to be learned from our past, even our really recent past, and 2016 is no different. I definitely learned some lessons last year, which will help feed my plans for 2017. The lessons applicable to this blog are about biking and sewing, of course!

Biking

I biked to work just about every day this year, and our new apartment gave me an extra half-mile each way. But I feel that I’ve gotten a bit lazy…

  1. Biking to work 3 miles each way every day really isn’t a workout. Combine lack of weekend/recreational biking along with my inability to get to the gym much this year, and I’m definitely out of shape. So I need to add “biking on the weekends” to my 2017 plans.
  2. I still prefer bike touring in new places. I stopped biking on the weekends mainly because I’d exhausted the trails that are easily accessible. If I can see in my head every turn and stop, I’ve done it too much and find it boring and uninteresting. But between our weekend at the Fall Foliage Bike Festival and our New Years Eve (chilly and quick 12 miles) bike ride in Purcellville, I’m reminded that I prefer new places to bike. Adding “find new places to bike” to my 2017 list.nye-wod

Sewing

Including the three garments I made last week during my Sewing Staycation, I made a whopping 29 things in 2016! Not all of it was for me, and not all of it I like and wear often, so that brings me to some lessons learned:

  1. Take time to get the fit right. Part of the reason why I don’t wear some of the things I’ve made as much is because I don’t love the fit. It’s nice to have quick, easy projects, but if I’m not pleased with the end result, then it was sort of a waste of time. Last weeks’ Sewing Staycation aside, I don’t have much time to sew, and hate the time it takes to properly fit and alter patterns, and to make muslins, but… I know I need to do it.
  2. Focus more on “corporate” things. I spend more time going to work than anything else, so to be wearable, I need to give it the “corporate meeting” test – would I wear this garment to a meeting with Very Important People? If yes, keep sewing. If no, think again.
  3. Keep working on nicer fabrics and things that coordinate. I’ve got several things that I love but don’t really go with much. It’s not a huge deal to wear the same outfit over and over, but I would prefer things to be multi-functional.

    Completed last Sewing Staycation project - complete with reflective ribbon tab on left hip, of course!

    Completed last Sewing Staycation project – complete with reflective ribbon tab on left hip, of course!

With these lessons in mind, I’ll have to work on some plans for 2017. I do so love planning! I’ve already got 8 sewing projects planned out – Spring things that hopefully will benefit from the above lessons learned. And The Mechanic and I are already talking about a mountain biking weekend – and planning a European bike tour for our big trip this year, yay!

Whether or not you make plans, resolutions or goals for the new year, I hope that you achieve all you want in 2017! Here’s to future success!

On the road to a successful 2017!

On the road to a successful 2017!

 

 

 

My Holiday Sewing Staycation

Since The Mechanic and I neither traveled internationally or visited family for the holidays (I’d prefer to do both at the same time – family trips to Europe are awesome!), I opted for the next best thing – a sewing staycation!

I took off the week between Christmas and New Years, and have been madly sewing. It’s been lovely. I’ve gotten so much done and I still have one (hopefully easy) project left to go! I had grand plans – with nothing to do but sew, I figured I could schedule in workouts and yoga every day, and be in bed by 10pm, to reset my sleep schedule. I don’t suppose it will come as a surprise that my plans didn’t work out… I did yoga one day, and went for a lovely bike ride another day, and definitely have not gone to be at 10pm any night so far! But look at what I’ve done:

Pegasus Blouse

I’ve been dying to make a blouse out of this rayon for months, indecisive about which pattern to use. Finally I decided upon Version C from this Simplicity 8216 pattern, in part because I also want to make the Version A dress in the summer. simplicity-8216Turns out the new blue reflective fabric from Mood matches the colors in this print almost perfectly, so it was easy to make reflective cuffs. Not so useful in the winter when I’m buried under coats and gloves, but there will come a day… Too bad it’s a bit narrow across the back. But I love this blouse and can’t wait to wear it!

It actually looks pretty good with my red pants, too!

It actually looks pretty good with my red pants, too!

Denim “Edna” Skirt

The denim for this skirt was given to me by a friend, who found it in her mother’s stash of fabrics after she passed away. Therefore I named this the “Edna” skirt, in her honor. Friends on Facebook pointed out that it looks a bit Wonder Woman-esque, which would have been a good option too, but I like honoring the fabric.

Denim is hard to photograph indoors....

Denim is hard to photograph indoors….

I hadn’t planned on making a denim skirt, and I promised myself that I would NOT make anything for our upcoming trip to Disney World, but Version B of this McCalls 7475  pattern called to me…

McCalls 7475

McCalls 7475

I decided to make the entire back yoke out of that same blue reflective fabric. It looks cook but it too won’t be very useful until I’m no longer covered in coats. And actually, I might have to always tuck in my shirt to make it 100% useful. But it certainly reflects!

The point in that yoke gave me a lot of grief and the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got. So don’t look at it too closely! But the fabric sewed up beautifully and I’m quite pleased with how the pockets look. The whole thing looks pretty good but I probably shouldn’t have taken in the waist so much because I think it sits too high – that is, it sits right 100% on my waist and feels funny. But looks good!edna-skirt-pocketUnless it’s predicted to be cold in Orlando, this will definitely be going to Disney World with me.

Navy Corduroy Skirt

Technically this wasn’t part of my sewing staycation, because I made it before Christmas, but it’s a recent sewing project so I’m adding it to the list. It’s a straightforward Kwik Sew 3877, which I’ve made before. I made it out of navy corduroy, added a lining, and put some reflective piping down the side seams. Ironically, I didn’t take in the waist and it feels huge – I guess I can’t figure out where and how my waistbands should sit! I do need to shorten the lining in the front a tad, since it peeks out.

Graphic Knit Top

My last sewing staycation project is a knit top intended to be “business” appropriate. (Not that these other things are not, but sometimes I feel I need something a bit more “corporate.”) It’s Vogue 8151, Version A. A “Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina” pattern, most of the instructions are about proper fit, so I’m looking forward to trying this out. I love the fabric, although it is nothing like my normal preferred prints. v8151

It's cut out and ready to go!

It’s cut out and ready to go!

I hope it goes smoothly. I could get stuck on the hems. I have a twin needle but the instructions walk the sewer through using wooly nylon thread, which I don’t have. But I have a new sewing assistant, so I’m sure he’ll be very helpful. What could go wrong?! sewing-assistantI’ll get to add these to my list of things that I made this year, which feels like a really big list! I can’t wait to review the year and share my favorites with you soon.

Happy New Year!

 

On a Reflective Roll

I’ve finally had a chance to get some sewing done, and to play with lots of reflective materials, hurrah! Somewhere I got the idea to make reflective neck warmers and so many ideas snowballed from there.

Neck warmer in action - reflective fabric backed with polar fleece

Neck warmer in action – reflective fabric backed with polar fleece

And the neck warmer reflecting!

And the neck warmer reflecting!

I made myself this prototype, complete with elastic drawstring at the top, so I can cinch it up over my nose when it’s really cold, then made one for my Secret Santa coworker. Then, I offered to make some as raffle prizes for the local Hains Point 100 fundraiser for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association’s Women and Bicycles program.

Then…. I had another crazy idea…. A friend brought over some luscious fake fur, to make herself a stole for a fancy holiday party. It was sooooo soft….

You can't tell here but it flowed like water when I brushed my hand over it

You can’t tell here but it flowed like water when I brushed my hand over it

What about a neck warmer lined with fake fur? And to make it super-classy, what if it was reflective tweed?!? I quickly looked up the reflective tweeds at Dashing Tweeds. Every single reflective plaid, check and wave is absolutely stunning and alas, quite expensive. But never one to be deterred by price, I ordered a bunch of samples. They arrived quickly and are so lovely, I almost wanted to cry. dashing-tweed-1

I mean, just look at this!!!

I mean, just look at this!!!

Now I’m thinking beyond the neck warmer – yoke and/or cuffs on a jacket, perhaps?

I also got some swatches of tencel twill and silk/cotton blends from Fabric.com, and this ivory tencel twill goes so nicely with some of the reflective tweeds. It will eventually be a high-necked blouse, which gives me plenty of other ideas.twill-and-tweed I suddenly find myself designing something Downton Abbey Goes Reflective…. I did just get the Butterick Miss Fisher pattern!

I totally have a weakness for traditional riding jodhpurs. Can't explain it.

I totally have a weakness for traditional riding jodhpurs. Can’t explain it.

So while I contemplate reflective tweed and what else I could do with the fabric, I am settling for making a navy blue corduroy A-line skirt with a bit of reflective trim in the side seams. I hope to have it done for Christmas – it’s not the exciting sewing project I’d hoped to complete by then, but its on the list and needs to get done, so that’s okay.

Just a bit of reflective trim in progress

Just a bit of reflective trim in progress