Trend in Reflective: Culottes

I had just finished my culottes today when I checked my email, and lo and behold! VeloJoy’s newsletter was about culottes! She sums up the reasons why I decided to embrace this trend, despite my initial skepticism (okay, flashbacks to childhood fashions): freedom of movement yet classy, easy to dress up or dress down. Culottes are bike-friendly midi skirts!  The opposite of everyone’s favorite skinny jeans/pants for biking, culottes offer a more flattering fit (note: you have to get the right cut for your size!) yet are shorter than the other current trend, wide-legged trousers. Oh sure, you can use a pants strap on those, but culottes make it unnecessary. Swing your now covered legs off your bike and it immediately looks like you are wearing a smart skirt. Yep, I’m a convert.V9091

I ordered Vogue Pattern V9091 just this month, and found the plum colored linen blend fabric at JoAnn Fabrics. Initially I’d been thinking of culottes in some sort of faux suede, since suede is also on trend for Spring. I chose V9091 because it had a flat front; I still can’t bring myself to wear pleated pants or culottes or shorts. But once I got the pattern in my hands, I realized that Version B did in fact have a massive inverted pleat right in the front! Oh. So much for my faux suede idea; linen has a better drape.V9091 cullottes I actually cranked these out in two days, after a few days of trying to decide how to alter the pattern. I’m trying to be better about the fit of the things I make, and I know that back in the early 90s, when I took a pattern alterations class, I had to do a certain number of alterations to get pants to fit properly – lengthen the rise, more curve for the bum… I just can’t remember what the exact numbers were. So I only added 1/2″ to the rise and yet somehow they still ended up being rather high-waisted! No matter, it makes my waist look tiny, and I can’t complain about that!

Giant inverted center pleat

Giant inverted center pleat (Lands End tee shirt)

The linen blend was just lovely to work with, pressed up easily, nice and forgiving to sew on, nice drape. I started with the size 14 pattern and then took in the waist enough to fit properly, although maybe I did it a bit too carefully – there is no room to gain an ounce in these now! Not that I want to, just saying I can’t.

I didn’t have much in the way of obvious seams for reflective trim, so I only ended up adding a bit to the side seam. I probably should have done more, because now this falls into the “nice try” category – just enough to say it’s reflective, but not enough to be truly visible. Grr. I considered just edging the hem with it, but thought it would negatively impact the drape, so I didn’t, but that would have been more visible. Given the fullness of these culottes, the reflective bits might not show as much as I’d like.

Reflective bits

Reflective bits – should have extended it higher up the seam

The legs are much fuller than I anticipated, and I feel somewhat like those early cowgirls who wore giant divided skirts to ride their horses. Anyone else remember that Folkwear divided skirt pattern?

They are very comfortable to wear, but I didn’t get to bike in them today because, well, The Mechanic accidentally flung ice cream on my lap and I wanted to wash them right away. <sad face> But I can’t wait to try them out!

The next challenge will be to figure out how to style them. Some of the photos I’ve found on Pinterest show crop tops or oversized shirts, but I think any top I wear with these will need to be fairly fitted, to balance out the bottom. And although the oxfords look fine, I will need to try other shoe options. Even if they aren’t the “bikiest” of the things I’ve made (that is, with the least amount of reflectivity), they will probably become a summer favorite because of the lightweight, easy breezy feel of them.





Clothing Review: Levi’s Commuter Jeans for Women

I mentioned earlier that I was chosen by Levi’s to test out/blog about their new Women’s Commuter Jeans and now the time has come to do a formal review. As you all know, Levi’s came out with their men’s bike commuter clothing collection ages ago, with no apparent interest in a women’s collection. At last, however, they have caught up with the times and demands of women who bike, and released a women’s collection of jeans, shorts, shirts and jackets, all designed with bike commuting in mind. This has been greeted in my circles with cries of relief and success.

I got a pair of the Commuter Skinny Jeans in “Cityscape Blue.” They are also available in “Monument,” a light gray, and black; Eleanor’s NYC got the blue blue pair that no longer seem to be available (I know I’d seen them on the website at one point!). At first glance, they look just like a normal pair of jeans, but they are full of bike-friendly details: “temperature control technology,” stretch, “odor repellent,” a high rise, reflective detail on the inside side seam, lined back pockets and flatlocked seams for comfort. And the all-important Levi’s leather patch on the back right hip is black, rather than traditional tan; it would have been cool if this was reflective! The little red tab is there though (I would have made that reflective).

I was a bit worried about the fit, to be honest, having seen an ad somewhere that said, “Our skinniest fit yet!” and therefore asked for a size 10, one size up from my normal 8. Glad I did! They are definitely the skinniest jeans I have ever tried on. They are tight on my calves! Really? But…. once I get them on, they are amazingly flattering, thanks, I’m sure to the high rise waist. These jeans don’t just have a higher rise in the back, they are higher all the way around. This is a trend that is creeping its way into our wardrobes, and I feel ready to embrace it now. I wish I had a longer inseam pair but there is plenty of reflective detail showing when i cuff them up over my ankle bone. The front pockets are not particularly deep, nor are the back pockets, and there is no U-lock loop. I don’t wear my U-lock but know some women like to, so if you are one of them, be aware of that missing feature.

Checking out a Little Free Library in my Levi's Commuter Jeans

Checking out a Little Free Library in my Levi’s Commuter Jeans

I have worn these jeans biking as well as being a tourist in the American History Museum on the National Mall, so I have had the chance to test them out in different scenarios. The denim seems to loosen up nicely the more you wear them, which I appreciate. They are easy to bike in, and the high waist holds in my tummy a bit more than my other jeans. I don’t bike in jeans enough to worry about the crotch rubbing thin, so I can’t say how I think that will turn out, but the denim seems sturdy enough. I’ve only worn them in the cold, so as of yet I can’t speak to the temperature control technology, and I have no intention of finding out how well the odor repellent feature works.

I had The Mechanic take photos on a not-quite-warm-enough day, and I tucked my turtleneck in to show the high waist. Taking another one for the team by sharing photos I’m not 100% comfortable with…

The high rise is flattering but I'd still never wear shirts tucked into my jeans.

The high rise is flattering but I’d still never wear shirts tucked into my jeans.

At $88, I think these are a good investment if you are looking to support companies that make women’s bike clothing; not too pricey, not too cheap. Levi Strauss & Co. is a company I’d like to support more because it is a company that is trying to be more sustainable. For example, they created a line of jeans (again, only for men) that use less water in the production process, but by encouraging consumers to wash their jeans less often to reduce water usage. Putting my money where my values are means that I will explore more Levi’s products, like this women’s Commuter bike shirt.

Overall, I am quite happy with these jeans, and very grateful to Levi’s for giving me the opportunity to test them out. I am interested to hear what you think of them, if you own them or have tried them on. Susi at VeloJoy is happy with hers as well – what about you? Levis 6



Reflecting at and on the Women & Bikes Forum

I was fortunate enough to attend the National Forum on Women & Bicycling, a day before the 2015 National Bike Summit. This was the fourth year in a row for the women & bikes day, and the third year I attended. As promised, I wore my new reflective bomber jacket and my Ligne 8 jeans, and I risked the rain to wear my Dansko Nevin Mary Jane heels. Although the temperatures are no longer flirting with the freezing mark, I still opted for a wool overcoat. But no, I did not bike to the National Forum on Women & Bicycling. I couldn’t get up early enough….  Women Bikes Forum 1

Numbers. Martha Roskowski, the VP of Local Innovation at PeopleforBikes shared some statistics from a recent participation study. Some of the points include the fact that only one-third of people in the US rode a bike last year, 30% of those people rode five days or fewer, and 70% of those people riding for transportation rode to a “leisure time activity,” rather than to work. Martha also said that 39% of women respondents still worry about their personal safety on a bike, that is, they worry getting attacked while they are riding their bikes, and that only 14% of women feel safer than they did five years ago. That’s pretty sad. Elysa Walk of Giant Bicycles said that almost 90% of both men and women have ridden a bike at some point in their lives, but only 44% of women have ridden in the last year, and of those, only 42% rode frequently (sorry, I don’t remember her source). Basically, women ride less as the years go by. I assume this is as their lives get more complicated, and they have children and hobbies and business clothes and meetings or more than one job, or any number of other barriers that keep women from biking. Or maybe they are concerned about their safety, both lack of safe infrastructure and personal safety, and lose confidence and interest. Regardless of the reasons, women are not biking as much as they could be.

"With increasing bicycle infrastructure, there will be more & more women like me."

“With increasing bicycle infrastructure, there will be more & more women like me.”

Speakers. The opening plenary, “A Case Study in Leadership,” featured Ren Barger, the CEO of Tulsa Hub, and her mentor and Tulsa Hub Past Board President Barbara Bannon. Barbara Bannon seems like the kind of woman we should all want in our lives – honest, upfront, intelligent, perceptive, strong, driven, caring funny. The two of them shared how Barbara help Ren grow into a stronger, more skilled CEO while developing Tulsa Hub into a functional organization. I found their partnership inspiring and encouraging. Rue Mapp, CEO and Founder of Outdoor Afro,  was the closing plenary speaker, and also funny and engaging and motivating. Her organization focuses on getting African-Americans in nature, hiking, camping, biking, fishing, and so on, and because I have a strong belief in the need for nature, I really support her mission.

Barbara Bannon, left, and Ren Barger, right

Barbara Bannon, left, and Ren Barger, right

Marketing. Once again, presenters talked about how women are not and have not been represented in marketing, and talked about what they are doing to fix that. Representatives from SRAM, Specialized and Liv Giant are all doing basically the same thing, focusing on building community networks, having “ambassadors” lead events, clinics and rides for women, and focus on the fact that women like social networks. Maria Boustead of Po Campo was the fourth presenter, and the most interesting to me, because she admitted that she started making a product then realized she needed a marketing campaign. Some of the stuff she did was really creative, like hosting a “Braid Bar,” where women could get their hair braided and talk about biking. I liked hearing about Po Campo events because her market is only urban riding, whereas the other three still are geared more towards road and/or mountain biking. Less “bikes as transportation” conversations happening there. Women Bikes Forum 2

Shopping! I don’t only go to the Women & Bikes Forum for the women-owned bike product pop-up shops, but it is a huge plus! I planned on buying “bloomers” from Bikie Girl Bloomers, and she had the turquoise and red polka dots pair that I wanted, yay! Owner Karen and I chatted a bit; she’s only been doing this for two years! I think she has a fabulous product, and I can’t wait to wear mine. I also loved the black pair with the red flames print. I chatted with Susi Wunsch of VeloJoy, Susan Mocarski of Cleverhood, Lara Neece of Forest and Fin and the upcoming Bicycle Wrap Skirt, Robin Bylenga of Pedal Chic, Lani Tarozzi of TandemNYC Skirtweights, and many other creative and talented women who are developing useful and stylish products to help women feel more comfortable while biking. We all have different definitions of comfort, but there are enough options out there that we can find what suits us best. The important thing is to have those options!

My takeaway this year was less inspiration and more thought-provoking. The statistics really make me think about the need for more “comfortable” bike accessibility. I admit that I’m a chicken cyclist – I like my bike lanes and buffered lanes and separated bike lanes, and quiet neighborhood streets. I prefer to ride on streets that have lanes, rather than sharrows or of course nothing at all. I’m not brave like The Mechanic and numerous other men and women I know who bike regularly, although I try to be! I think I am not alone in this. Maybe I need to do more to speak up about my safety concerns, so that planners and developers and city officials and whomever else know that A) I ride my bike B) I shop, pay taxes, and vote C) I dislike being treated as a second class citizen because I don’t drive a car everywhere. Make my city (okay, county) safe for me! And then it will become safer for the children, older people, people with physical challenges, and everyone else in my community. Even those who own cars.

It's not all serious at the #womenbike #NBS15 National Forum on Women & Bicycling!

It’s not all serious at the National Forum on Women & Bicycling!


A Much Needed Change

An impromptu trip to IKEA last night meant that I unexpectedly spent Sunday building IKEA furniture. At last, I redesigned my workspace! I think this will make me more productive, since I won’t be buried under crap, or at least might have it organized a bit better.

This desk configuration was done recently, to give me more sewing table space:

Computer on my old sewing table, an old school desk, plus several pieces of mismatched storage units

Computer on my old sewing table, an old school desk, plus several pieces of mismatched storage units (sorry for the blurry photo!)

More space for the machines, but still with mismatched storage pieces

More space for the machines, but still with mismatched storage pieces

So my day went from flat pack boxes to wide open desk space:


I still have piles of stuff that doesn’t yet have a home, but I plan on figuring that out this upcoming week. Regardless, having this open space makes me feel so much better! This much needed change makes me feel a bit more professional, with matching/coordinated space. Now I can focus on the changes I want to bring to my blog.

You maybe have noticed, if you are a regular reader, that I recently changed the look of my blog. I am trying to come up with something a bit more sophisticated and TinLizzie, reflective fashion-appropriate. I’m not entirely sure what that is, but I’ll know it when I find it. In the meantime, I am working on refocusing my blog to be more on bike clothing and fashion. I’d like to find more bike fashion designers to talk to, especially bike friends like Bike Pretty and Cleverhood and velojoy. I know I have much to learn from them and their experiences, and if you aren’t already following them, well, you are missing out.

So stay tuned while I tinker with things – more much needed changes coming!

Still building!

Still building!

2014 National Bike Summit Women’s Forum

On March 3, I attended the National Bike Summit’s Women’s Forum. Most of the area, including my office, was shut down because of the snow storm, but I threw my reflective Cleverhood over my purple blizzard coat, and braved the oddly empty streets – DC at 7:30am during a snow storm is quite otherworldly.

I need to blog about my love for my Cleverhood - great in the snow, too! (as are my $4 safety glasses I mean bike glasses)

I need to blog about my love for my Cleverhood – great in the snow, too! (as are my $4 safety glasses bike glasses)

Of course the streets were empty - everything was shut down for the storm.

Of course the streets were empty – everything was shut down for the storm.

I’ve been struggling all week with my thoughts about the forum. Like last year, I experienced a mix of excitement and disappointment, then disappointment that I wasn’t more excited. I feel as if I should have been inspired, fired up, ready to change the world, and yet… I wasn’t. I feel guilty about that, because I’m sure (I hope) that for many attendees, it inspired and motivated them. I hope that most of the attendees were able to attend the following days’ summit and lobbying days, to truly get the best experience, but I was only able to attend the first day. It’s possible that my feelings would be different if I could have attended the entire 2014 National Bike Summit.

I opted to take Metro to the forum, rather than bike, but the snow made me feel less lame...

I opted to take Metro to the forum, rather than bike, but the snow made me feel less lame…

The things I enjoyed about it:

  1. I loved seeing all the vendors, all the women-specific products. It was fun to play with the new bikeshare Po Campo bag, see the new tan GiveLoveCycle bags in person (love the matching hardware!), discover (and purchase) NatrilGear, see Susan of Cleverhood again and admire her new reflective fabric (I will review mine soon, I promise!), envy the pretty blue bike jersey by Velocio Cycling Gear, and so on.
  2. I was so impressed to hear the speakers. All were amazing women, but some stood out to me in particular – Shannon Galpin of Mountain2Mountain spoke about her experiences bicycling in Afghanistan, where it is illegal for women to ride bikes. Kristin Gavin moved me as she spoke about starting Gearing Up, a program in Philadelphia that helps “women in transition” gain confidence through biking.
  3. My favorite of all the speakers was Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization of Women. She talked about women and biking from a slightly different angle – she said, rather than think about how to get women into biking, think about what women need, and how bikes fit those needs. I thought that was powerful because it came from a very normalizing point of view. And I’m mostly interested in making biking normal. I don’t know how much impact bicycling can have on the larger population of women, but we did hear stories that proves biking does make a positive difference is many women’s lives. Hopefully, all the attendees were inspired by her.

    Suzi Wunsch, of VeloJoy; Tanya Quick of CycloFemme; Susan Mocarski of Cleverhood; and Kristy Scrymgeour of Velocio (not the best picture, I realize...)

    Suzi Wunsch, of VeloJoy; Tanya Quick of CycloFemme; Susan Mocarski of Cleverhood; and Kristy Scrymgeour of Velocio discussing lifestyle branding, bikes, and women. (not the best picture, I realize…)

The things I didn’t enjoy:

  1. I suppose I shouldn’t complain. I should be grateful that there even is a women’s forum. But I was disappointed again at how segregated I felt this event was from the Bike Summit. No breakfast (not even coffee) on Monday, but apparently on Tuesday. The only vendors were the women’s products. I didn’t see any New Belgium beer at the women’s day, but they were proudly announced as a sponsor at the Monday night dinner and evening plenary! It was almost as if the women’s day was an afterthought, with no budget. I know, those are very small issues, and yet, they stand out to me. I also read on Twitter many comments about the lack of diversity on Tuesday, once the women’s forum was over – I guess that’s why I continually want to say “the women’s day” and “the men’s day.” Oops.
  2. With only one day, there were few breakout session options. Between the opening plenary and the lunch plenary, there was only time for one set of sessions (three topics), then an afternoon session, then the closing keynote. True, I couldn’t have been in more than one place at a time, but just as I felt things were getting rolling, the event was over, and they were setting up for the dinner event. I think we need more days!
  3. According to my program, most of the sessions at the Bike Summit focused on advocacy, policy, and lobbying. I would have liked to have heard about “Next Level Lobbying and Election Strategies” or “The Role of Enforcement in a Vision Zero Strategy.” Instead, I attended “Power of Storytelling to Engage Women in Bicycling” and “Gearing Up, Climbing to the Top.” I always enjoy storytelling, and eagerly listen to anyone talking about leadership, but somehow these topics seemed a bit “soft” compared to what followed the next day.
    Conference + snowstorm = overwhelmed coat rack!

    Conference + snowstorm = overwhelmed coat rack!

    So what would inspire me instead? Let me attend one Bike Summit, not two, and hear some of those women speak to everyone, alongside Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Pittsburg mayor Bill Peduto, and Phillip Darnton, Executive Director of the Bicycle Association of Great Britain. Let me pick out a new bike-friendly purse, and then examine some new, high tech bike counters. Let me hear about how to better involve my community, then learn about how to impact regional laws and influence politicians. Yes, I love biking in fashionable, bike-friendly clothing, but I also want to know more about laws that impact my route to work. I want hard facts AND touchy-feely stories. Yes, I want it all!  (oh, and by the way – boss, can I go to both days next year?!)

Pledging to find a way to work with Girl Scouts and biking, after my wedding

Pledging to find a way to work with Girl Scouts and biking, after my wedding