Working My Way Back to You, Bike

It’s been three and a half weeks since I had major surgery. In that time I’ve watched the trees from our bedroom windows, played with our rabbits, read alot, gotten a tattoo, done a bit of sewing, and eaten way more comfort food than planned (whoops). I’d say it’s been relaxing but it hasn’t been, really. There’s still some pain and I am exhausted all the time. The days I’ve managed 5,000 steps have wiped me out so when I’m finally allowed to start biking again, I might not be biking very far. But I’m working my way back to you, Fauntleroy – we can’t miss all the lovely spring biking weather!

Gaston, Quinn and Sullivan (l to r)

Inspirational necklace made by a friend many years ago.

I’ll be ready for that day though, because one of the things I made is a lightweight coat. This Simplicity 8055 was a super easy pattern but I decided to make it slightly more complicated by lengthening the sleeves, flat lining all the pieces, adding some dimensional stitches to the cuffs, and making covered buttons. Playing around with my Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 965q stitches was a lot of fun and I plan on doing this again on other projects.

Lately, Spring has sprung around our place so my daily walks have resulted in many, many photos of flowers.

I’m returning to work with some trepidation, knowing that I need a nap every afternoon. But I need to get back to my normal routine, or at least as close as I can. I guess I have to accept that it will be slow going, but I’m not a patient person, so we’ll see how it goes.

Brocade Bomber for Biking

I told you I am obsessed with outerwear right now and here’s more proof! My brocade bomber jacket is done!

I bought this brocade in New York City last year in a store that was going out of business. I am thrilled at how well it coordinates with the bronze reflective fabric from Mood.

I was originally thinking I would make a moto jacket but decided on Simplicity 8418 instead – the simpler lines allow the fabric to shine, plus this pattern includes the lining. And it has pockets! The same flannel backed lining I used on my reflective tweed coat matches perfectly with this as well. (I’m newly converted to how great this lining fabric is.)

I’m pretty happy with how easily this came together. However, I need to automatically add at least an inch to every sleeve I make. The sleeves aren’t horribly short but I would have preferred them longer. Helps keep my wrists warmer while biking.

Speaking of biking, check out how cool the reflective trim looks:

Oh yeah!

I’m excited to have a dressy casual jacket that I can wear a multitude of ways.

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!


Surviving Snowzilla

The weather forecasters were surprisingly accurate with this past weekend’s blizzard. Multiple meteorologists said the storm would hit the DC area between 1-3pm on Friday, January 22, and just after 1pm, I saw the first snowflakes. By the time we went to bed, there were already several inches on the ground. Saturday, January 23, was a day of relentless snow and wind. Although I enjoyed peeking out the window, it did feel tedious after a while.

I started Snowzilla (as it was named) strong, cutting out fabric, but didn’t actually feel like sewing, so I snuggled up on the couch and read all day, keeping an eye on the snow. Sunday, on the other hand, I was highly productive! The Mechanic had to work, so I accompanied him partway (thank goodness he can walk to work!) to see the results of the blizzard. (All the public transportation was shut down, so lord only knows how those poor people who *had* to work got around.)Snowzilla 3Everything was buried under fluffy white snow! And I mean everything! Once again, I was grateful that I am not car-dependent.

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Rabbit-meteorologist Edgar measured 19" in front of our apartment. Thanks Edgar!

Rabbit-meteorologist Edgar measured 19″ in front of our apartment. Thanks Edgar!

Bathed with some bright winter sun, and warmed up by trudging through the freshly-fallen show, I came home and tackled my sewing. I outdid myself – I made a blouse AND a skirt!

Working with this cheery, summery print made me happy, and long for warm weather! I made use of some of the reflective grosgrain ribbon I purchased ages ago in New York City for the ties, although I think it works better for the back tie than for the neck tie. And I had enough large scraps of the purple reflective fabric to get the cuffs made. Both the fabric and the grosgrain coordinated perfectly! The pattern is New Look 6187, which I plan to make again soon in the lower neckline with long sleeves.

I also tackled the Disaster Dress. I took out the skirt panels and simply created an A-line skirt with the chain mail Spoonflower fabric. I did add some reflective trim to the side seams, and I think I will add some elastic to the waist, even though it doesn’t really need it. I was torn between making it a pencil skirt, or just using the pieces as I had cut them for the dress pattern, and decided the later would work best. It’s pretty flattering, although I couldn’t get a decent photo of me wearing it. So now the Disaster Dress pattern is put away, never to see the light of day again. I just didn’t like the shape. But the skirt is wonderful! Too bad I ended up wasting about a yard of the fabric. Chain Mail Skirt 2 Chain Mail SkirtMonday was a snow day – just about everything was closed, schools, government, etc. I cleaned the house, and walked to “our” park, Lubber Run. It’s not that far away, but with all the snow piles, well, it was a hike. It seems like I have to have at least one snowstorm rant blog post, so here it is – how walk-friendly Arlington is NOT after a snowstorm.

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The streets are plowed. Most of the sidewalks are cleared. But no one has cleared the CROSSWALKS! Glebe Road is a very busy road, not just for cars but for pedestrians. It’s a major bus route (the bus shelters were amazingly clear), and the neighborhood grocery store, Harris Teeter, is located right there. These few blocks are always full of pedestrians, and post-blizzard is no different. So there we all were, forging across walls of snow, because there was no way to get to the crosswalks. Walking through the street behind parents with a baby stroller made me anxious for them, as well as for myself! Although most of the people I saw out were fairly healthy-looking, stable people (Millennials and low income families), I did see some elderly people cautiously picking their way over the snow. And what better argument for making ALL walk signals automatic than seeing how impossible they are to get to, once the snow plows have piled the snow up around them?!

I realize that the DC Metro area does not get this sort of snow on a regular basis, so it’s hard to know how to tackle the snow recovery. That being said, we’ve had enough snow storms to realize that people still need to get around after them, even if it is just walking to the grocery store or park. It seems like instructions on clearing crosswalks would be a good start, and encouraging sidewalk clearing all the way into the streets. Find a way to have those working the smaller, more nimble Bobcats pile the snow in other areas than the street corners. It’s a shame to promote our “car free” communities while not being able to support them year-round.

Okay, rant over. Let’s turn our attention away from the ugly reality of snow removal to the beauty in the park. It really was gorgeous, and fun to see all the kids sledding down whatever hills they could find. It’s nice to have a place to go see the beauty of the season, rather than being bogged down in the increasingly ugly urban snow.

How did you survive Snowzilla? Or do you live somewhere where this sort of thing is a weekly occurrence? If so, how is the recovery managed? Snow Angel

Struggles with Pattern Fit (Among Other Things)

Between Thanksgiving travels, that holiday time of year (aka, getting Christmas packages ready to mail off soon because most of your giftees live in other states), getting sick, and everything else that goes on in life, I’ve been struggling to fit in everything that I *want* to do, including blogging and sewing. And we’ve had some pretty nice weekends of late, but I haven’t been able to get any non-errand bike riding in. At least I can enjoy the errands!

So I was pretty happy to squeeze in a few hours of sewing this afternoon. (Who needs a clean bathroom, right?) I am very behind in my fall sewing list, which is being adjusted for a winter sewing list (oh, and I’ve decided to make a winter coat, too), and I hate having projects sit and stare at me – two are behind me as I type and I can see another two across the sewing table…. All I managed to achieve today was to set in sleeves in the Simplicity 1779 blouse that I’m making out of whimsical Liberty of London cotton lawn and reflective material. I decided to try making them French seamed, something I’ve never done before. They turned out okay, I think, but trying to walk my Dayquil-infused brain through the logistics was more challenging than it should have been. But, hey! One step closer to done! I’m going to LOVE this when it’s done. Bow Blouse 2 Bow Blouse 3However….

Fit problems.

The sleeves are too damn short! Bow Blouse 1Gah.

I think the problem is not so much the sleeve length as the shoulder placement. The seam line hits my shoulder pretty far from my actual shoulder point. I’m kind of broad shouldered, but I haven’t decided the best way to A) determine the true measurement and B) make alterations based upon that measurement. I do know that if the sleeve started where I think it should, the sleeves wouldn’t be so short. They might still be too short, but at least it wouldn’t be so obvious.

Pretty sure the seam should be further away from my neck, towards my shoulder...

Pretty sure the seam should be further away from my neck, towards my shoulder…

This is really a springtime blouse, considering the colors and the fun “floral” print, so having bracelet sleeves will be just fine. And I’ll wear it regardless, because the print makes me so happy! I mean, who can resist birds, mice and frogs running across one’s clothing?!

(But I still really need want a sewing tutor here in Arlington….)

ICYMI August: Comfort Map Biking and Completed Dress

August ends on a high note – I enjoyed my BikeArlington Comfort Bike Map bike route, and finally made something out of the bamboo jersey I originally purchased for a jumpsuit.

After blogging about the new Comfort Bike Map, I ended up using it to plan a route to Nottingham Elementary School, from Ballston. I first checked out the Google options, then compared that to the Comfort Map, and quickly found my preferred option – the Custis Trail to the W&OD Trail, then off to “easy” N. Ohio Street, and onto “easy” John Marshall Drive.

It was not only amazingly easy (except for one part, which I’ll come back to), it was quite lovely. The route once off the trail cut through Westover, the lovely neighborhood where I used to live, and past some familiar places. The only tricky part was the crossing at Lee Highway – Lee Highway is marked “strongly discouraged” on the Comfort Map, and the crossing is orange, but what the comfort map doesn’t show is that the crossing is not only not clearly indicated, it’s a simple painted crosswalk over four lanes – this left me up to the whim of the drivers both times when I needed to cross.

I enjoyed the rest of the route, and even stopped to photograph a deer casually chewing grass along the side of the trail on my way home. I was in a very good mood after this discovery, and am even more excited about the Comfort Map. Seriously, you need to get one!

The other exciting thing that happened this weekend is that I finally made something out of the tie dye bamboo jersey I had ordered ages ago for a different project. I think this New Look 6301 dress turned out cute, and boy is it comfortable! It didn’t get much reflective trim, because I realized that the jersey is too stretchy for the non-stretchy reflective material, but that’s okay. The wide stripe up the center back should work well. The skirt is swingy, which will mean plenty of bike pedaling space, and the faux wrap front is cute enough for date night. The pattern was very easy, although I omitted the waist tie. A fellow sewer on Instagram said that she’s made two and never added the sash, so since I didn’t have enough fabric, I was happy to not stress over it. I think it looks fine without it.

The fabric was very spongy to sew, which was fine, but having to take out seams was tricky, since the stitches seemed to melt right into it. I thought bamboo was supposed to have moisture-wicking properties, but wearing it over the weekend just to walk around in made me question that – I hope I don’t overheat the first time I bike in this dress!

Yep, it's reflective!

Yep, it’s reflective!

I can’t believe it’s the end of August, and the mental end of the summer. Students don’t start school until September 8, right after Labor Day, here in Arlington, and even though that’s a week away, the arrival of September always signals the beginning of the fall. The Mechanic and I have a mini vacation coming up soon, then we are both starting German classes (he is taking beginning, I will be reviewing grammar in an intermediate class), so I guess we feel that “back to school” pressure a bit as well. The fall seems to be already booked up for me, yikes. Are any of the rest of you going back to school in some way or another?

A DC Vision Zero Capital Bikeshare bike in Arlington! I didn't use it so I didn't Tweet about how it kept me safe, but if you ride one, be sure to read this article and Tweet!

A DC Vision Zero Capital Bikeshare bike in Arlington! I didn’t use it so I didn’t Tweet about how it kept me safe, but if you ride one, be sure to read this article and Tweet!

Assembling My Fall Capsule Collection Sewing List

It’s almost the end of August, the unofficial end of the summer, and I can’t stop obsessing over what I want to sew in the next few months. (Ignore the fact that I haven’t finished my summer sewing!) This season I am determined to stick to a “capsule collection” of items, to create basic garments that coordinate with each other. The idea behind capsule collections, or capsule wardrobes, is that you really only need a handful of pieces to create dozens of different looks. I really love the idea of hyper-focused collection of clothes, and this is why I constantly weed out my aforementioned closet. My challenge will be to create seven pieces that coordinate, can be worn in the office, and all have reflective details so that I will be extra visible as I bike home in the earlier sunset hours. Oh, and trying to stick to the plan will be a big challenge – I am sooo easily distracted by colors and patterns and designs and….

I already ordered this corduroy from JoAnn Fabrics - I couldn't help it, it was 60% off and I love the print! It is described as being gray and teal but that's not what it looks like online, so I guess I'll be surprised when it arrives!

I already ordered this corduroy from JoAnn Fabrics – I couldn’t help it, it was 60% off and I love the print! It is described as being gray and teal but that’s not what it looks like online, so I guess I’ll be surprised when it arrives!

I started hunting for patterns with some criteria in mind:

  1. I need some outerwear, since as the weather gets cooler, I always end up covering my fun reflective things.
  2. I really want to perfect pants fit, so I need to take the time to slowly make a basic pair of pants.
  3. I want a few tops that coordinate with both a skirt and a basic pair of pants.
  4. The patterns need fun ways to incorporate any of my reflective fabrics and trims.

I have had the Vogue 7910 skirt pattern for ages, so this is easily added. I decided that the McCalls Palmer & Pletsch 6361 pants are one of the best basic pants patterns out there, so that’s done. The Kwik Sew 4104 jacket, version B (minus the collar), offers a great way to use my new reflective digital camo fabric. Then, I sort of fell in love with Version C of the McCalls 6844 knit cardigan pattern; I love those drop peplums! For tops, I found two Simplicity blouses I like, in Simplicity 1779, Version C, and Simplicity 6187 Version B. Lastly, I am obsessed with Vogue 7160, which I plan to make colorblocked – look at the line in that skirt! So perfect for reflective trim.

There are a few other patterns that I’m in love with that I will save for more winter outfits, that is, after I’ve made some of these. The pants and Simplicity 1779 I expect to be more challenging – I’ve been avoiding button plackets, eek! But the rest should be fairly easy. I think I’ll add an expose zipper to the Kwik Sew jacket, since I dislike jackets that don’t actually fasten in some way. Plus, I have another glow-in-the-dark separating zipper, so why not?!

Now I am obsessively hunting for fabrics. It’s hard when your local fabric stores are limited to JoAnn Fabrics (the Virginia G Street Fabrics store closed over the summer, alas), so I’m haunting fabric websites. I’ve found some lovely, lovely options at – I had no idea she sold fabric on her website! I love the black marble knit for the McCalls 6844 cardigan, and the Ashbury stretch denim for the Kwik Sew 4104 jacket, but since they are so similar, I can’t use them both. But which?!

Marcy Tilton Black Marble Knit (Image from website)

Marcy Tilton Black Marble Knit (Image from website)

Marcy Tilton Ashbury Stretch Cottom (Image from website)

Marcy Tilton Ashbury Stretch Cottom (Image from website)

While flailing about for fabric and color ideas, Simplicity suggested on Instagram that I look at the Pantone Fall 2015 color collection. Of course! So perfect! I love all the colors.

Pantone Fall 2015 Colors (I forget which website I found this image on, oops)

Pantone Fall 2015 Colors (I forget which website I found this image on, oops)

So I’ve decided that the Kwik Sew jacket will be Stormy Weather, since the reflective camo fabric is gray; the pants should be Reflecting Pond; the skirt will be Marsala; and Biscay Bay, Oak Buff and Cashmere Rose will be blouse and accent colors. Now I just have to find fabrics that fit! I think I want the skirt to be in corduroy, because I love that fabric and it can be 3-season fabric. I’ll probably use a basic twill for the pants, then branch out into nicer fabrics once I perfect the fit. I have reflective fabric that is practically Biscay Bay, and think that will be fun as the yoke on Simplicity New Look 6187. It will be hard to decide on the blouse fabrics, because I love big, bright prints – so many options!

Trying to work through and sketch out my ideas....

Trying to work through and sketch out my ideas….

I've already picked the fabrics for the color-block dress and can't wait to order them! I'm waiting to get the pattern first, to check fabric requirements.

I’ve already picked the fabrics for the color-block dress and can’t wait to order them! I’m waiting to get the pattern first, to check fabric requirements.

While I’m finishing my last two summer projects, I will take the time to think through what I want these pieces to look like. I will need to be super focused and not get distracted, so maybe the longer I hunt for fabrics, the more focused I’ll stay?!

What sort of plans do you have for this fall, biking or sewing, or otherwise?