MeMade Reflective Bike Fashion Challenge

I decided that it’s time for another MeMade Reflective Bike Fashion Challenge – how many days in a row can I wear to work something that I have made? I did this once before, last year (September 2014), and since it’s been over a year, it’s time to do this again! So many more reflective bike fashions to showcase!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my sewing goal is to make clothing that A) I can wear to work; B) that have something reflective somewhere, so I am more visible when I am biking to work; C) must be bike-friendly. The reflective materials have gotten more exotic and varied, so I’ve been able to do some great stuff this year, a trend I’m not sure will be sustainable. Nevertheless, I’ve made fourteen new pieces since this time last year, which means almost a full three weeks of just new stuff alone! However, some of the things are not necessarily work-appropriate, like the Kwik Sew 3513 knit foldover waist skirt I made for summer weekend biking.

I started this week, but unfortunately, the mornings have been too dark, so the photos are taken inside. This means they are not great, thanks to our lousy apartment lighting, and neither The Mechanic nor I are fully awake. Please don’t just the sleepy looks on my face….

Day 1 – McCalls 6361 Skirt

MeMade Challenge Day 1 - McCalls 6361 Skirt

MeMade Challenge Day 1 – McCalls 6361 Skirt

This skirt is only one of two garments without any reflective trim. Shocking but true. I just couldn’t see it, so I didn’t add it. It’s not the best biking skirt either, honestly, but whatever. I paired this skirt with my favorite floral-print denim shirt from Ann Taylor Loft, and a very old Loft blazer. The suede booties are from Land’s End. I think I need to up my tights game, however. Don’t love these cream-colored cable knit ones with this look. Wooden necklace purchased in Prague in 2006.

Day 2 – McCalls 7160 Dress

MeMade Challenge Day 2 - McCalls 7160 Color Block Dress

MeMade Challenge Day 2 – McCalls 7160 Color Block Dress

I really love this McCalls 7160 dress. I think I need an assortment of belts, however, because it feels a bit unfinished. I really wanted to wear my Boden soldier print shirt under this, but it wasn’t ironed, oops, so I added one of my Land’s End striped turtlenecks. Again, not in love with the tights, but I am in love with those Dansko heels! Check out the way the trim is reflecting! A friend made me the necklace, lucky me. I got a complement on this dress from a stranger on the street the day I wore this – I consider that a successful garment.

Day 3 – Vogue 9026 Sweatshirt

MeMade Challenge Day 3 - Vogue 9026

MeMade Challenge Day 3 – Vogue 9026

A warm rainy day. I often wear my faux leather skirt, purchased on a whim last year at Macy’s, when it rains, because I know the water will roll right off the skirt and not hurt it. I didn’t realize it was going to be quite so warm, or I might not have worn this top, however! I had to bike to a client event and was a sweaty mess by the time I got there! Oh well. This gray velour sweatshirt with all the lovely reflective bias trim is one of my favorites as well. I don’t always love what I make, but this one I do. Pattern is Vogue 9026, and the fabrics were purchased from Britex, in San Francisco. Boots from I don’t remember where, but they were cheap and leak badly, so I need to replace them. And I don’t leave the house without my Cleverhood when it rains!

The rest of the days depend on the wishy-washy Fall weather and what I’m doing for work, of course. Friday I have to be at an event wearing a work-branded shirt, and since I haven’t yet made pants that would coordinate, well, that’s going to be an off-day. Stay tuned for the next update, though! Several more options lined up!


I made a skirt for a friend tonight (the one who made my bunny necklace, pictured above). This Kwik Sew 3513 knit skirt (same as mentioned earlier) whips up really easily, and the faux snakeskin-print knit she picked out was actually really lovely to sew – nicely squishy. The fabric is soft and fuzzy on the back, which means she’ll need to wear it with a slip, or it will crawl right up her legs when she walks. (I’m assuming that in the coming months, she’ll want to wear tights with this, as it gets colder.) I can’t wait to give it to her and pray that it fits properly. I made this pattern for me, and like it, but I’m not good at sewing for other bodies. Snakeskin skirt


Trends in Reflective: Floral Prints

Anyone who knows me or follows this blog knows that I love floral prints. Big flowers, small flowers, Liberty of London flowers, embroidered, printed, batik – just check out my Pinterest board for proof. And this summer, floral prints seem to be everywhere. Naturally, I did my best to keep up with this trend!

I’ve had this top planned forever, it seems, but only now was able to complete it. It’s Vogue V9087, an asymmetrical top that I decided was perfect for the blue floral reflective fabric I have. I hunted around for a long time trying to find a floral print to coordinate, and since I kept coming back to the same Robert Kaufman London Calling one, decided it was meant to be. And I think they go together nicely! Asymmetrical Floral Top 7Asymmetrical Floral Top 8The unusual pieces had me scratching my head in confusion more than once – I’m normally pretty good at visualizing how pattern pieces fit together, but this one was not as intuitive. Thankfully, this blue reflective fabric doesn’t have the same rubbery backing as the teal in the Hummingbird blouse, so at least it was easier to sew. Doesn’t press well, however, even with a press cloth. Nonetheless, I’m pretty excited about it. This is an unusual pattern, and makes the ditsy floral print a bit less precious. At least, I hope it does.

Some of the details up close:

Naturally, you want to know how reflective it is. I carefully picked the left side for the reflective pieces, as I feel that is where a car is most likely to see anything reflective. And the whole side, under my arm and everything, is quite reflective! (Before you get too upset, please note that we ran out to take photos in front of our apartment and I completely forgot to grab my helmet. I didn’t feel like going back to get it. So although I am paranoid and almost always wear a helmet, no helmet appears in these photos.) Asymmetrical Top Reflecting 1Asymmetrical Top Reflecting 3Asymmetrical Top Reflecting 4I’m amazed that we don’t see more garments made out of this reflective fabric. It’s just so cool! Asymmetrical Top Reflecting 2I can’t wait until The Mechanic and I have our next bike date night, so I can wear this out in public! A night when we can’t get reservations until later, so I can get the full effect of biking home after dark and lighting up the roads in this asymmetrical reflective floral top!

This will have to keep me going for a while, because I will not be at home for the next three weekends, which means no sewing. <sniff> Very sad. I can’t wait to finally start my jumpsuit, and hope to get that made in August. I covered the machines, like I’m closing up shop.

Until we meet again, old friends....

Until we meet again, old friends….




Boots and Colorblocking

I’ve been hopping around this evening out of excitement, because Merrell has at last created bike-friendly boots! I want both pairs!

Merrell Evera Fade - this color is my favorite fall/winter neutral, so I love them even more!

Merrell Evera Fade – this color is my favorite fall/winter neutral, so I love them even more!

Merrell Evera Amp - a very work appropriate dressy black boot.

Merrell Evera Amp – a very work appropriate dressy black boot.

I love boots, and I love my Merrell Evera bike shoes, so I’m especially excited to see these two. And I love that wine color – it really is one of my favorite winter neutral colors. My beautiful big wool overcoat is that same color, and I just love it. Merrell has also come out with a cute Mary Jane style heel, which makes me a bit crabby, because I just this spring bought a pair of the basic black pumps, but the size is too small. A shoe that is not strapped around my ankle just doesn’t stay on, so I hoped that a smaller size would help. Not really – anyone want to buy a barely used pair of black Merrell bike heels?

The Merrell Evera Draft - I would much rather have these than the ones I have. I even love the color.

The Merrell Evera Draft – I would much rather have these than the ones I have. They have just enough of a strap to keep them on my foot. I even love the color.

These shoes are a reminder that I’ve started to see fall clothes pop up here and there, and now I’m getting my mental list ready for what I want to sew for the fall. I already have one very clear project, although it is a bit too hot these days to get excited about sweatshirts.

I’ve shared this pattern already, but I’m posting it again.

McCalls 6792

McCalls 6792

I’ve got two ways of altering it so the block is on the back as well as the front, and then I can put reflective piping on both sides. But what got me more excited about this pattern is my latest Lucky magazine, which had several color block tops here and there.

Colorblocked sweater - like these colors.

Colorblocked sweater – like these colors.

This is neoprene, but I LOVE the color combination! This is my biggest inspiration.

This is neoprene, but I LOVE the color combination! This is my biggest inspiration.

A few black and blue options. Like the one with the white shoulders.

A few black and blue options. Like the one with the white shoulders.

Then a friend posted this picture on some social media site, can’t remember which one. It’s a gown in the Bergdorf window in Manhattan.

Colorblocked gown in the Bergdorf window.

Colorblocked gown in the Bergdorf window.

It reminds me of this other pattern I have that I’d kill to make, but have nowhere to wear it.

McCalls 6755 - colorblocked skirt, which I love and is completely impractical for my life.

McCalls 6755 – colorblocked skirt, which I love and is completely impractical for my life. Too long to bike in, too dressy for the office, and I have no social life, so…

That, in turn, reminded me of an old Vogue pattern I recently rediscovered, this Issey Miyake pattern I bought in 1995 (I started writing the dates of purchase on my patterns for this very reason!).

Vogue 1563 Issey Miyake colorblock dress in two lengths.

Vogue 1563 Issey Miyake colorblock dress in two lengths.

I’m so tempted to make this dress right now, but I would have a hard time deciding which length. The short one is obviously very bike-friendly, but I love the longer one, and maxi dresses are very in right now. Besides, the shorter one just looks a bit awkward, and sort of like a maternity dress. No matter, I probably won’t get it done soon enough for summer anyway.

So I’m back to sewing the colorblock top for the fall, with some alterations needed to make it reflective fashion-perfect. Now I just have to pick out colors! I am so tempted to do the burgundy-aqua of the neoprene top, but I’m a bit worried that I won’t have anything to wear with it. I need it to be office-friendly, and what pants do I own that would be appropriate? Maybe I need to make new pants, too? I have noticed that the fall pants are a slightly different, more relaxed skinny leg (that almost scream the 1980s, which I’m trying to ignore…). It’s hard to balance fashion with office wear with sewing projects with what one already owns! And my closet isn’t that big. What do you do – shop for mostly work clothes, or mostly play clothes?

Yeah, I really want to make this dress...

Yeah, I really want to make this dress…









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?









Sewing Sunday

I was supposed to go on a group ride this morning, a group of lady roadies all similarly interested in doing a century later this summer or early fall – but I slept through my alarms….

So instead I’m turning my energy into sewing projects! I am still working on this complicated dress pattern; I need to go back and fix some problem spots before moving on.

But… because I do not have a one-track mind, I’ve been haunting the sewing websites for ideas for my next project. I realized that the blue bubbles fabric I initially bought for this dress perfectly matches some of the reflective grosgrain I bought in New York, so I want to find a great pattern for them.

There are several Vogue dress patterns that I like, and I think could work for this fabric, but I’m not sure about the trim.

Vogue 8807 dress and sash

Vogue dress 8810

Vogue wrap dress 8784

As you can see, they are all fairly similar.

I was cruising the Wall Street Journal this morning and found this great article about style in the New York Public Library, which I love for many reasons: It’s fashion (duh), it’s stylish librarians (I worked in a library when I was in high school but decided it was too quiet for my future career), and it’s the NY Public Library (where I spent many hours while writing my Master’s thesis). But… check out the photo of Jessica Pigza, Assistant Curator, Rare Books. She made her dress, which she is wearing as a jumper (too cute, totally love). I hadn’t heard of the Lisette patterns before, so naturally I had to look them up!

I feel sure that I’ve missed out on Lisette while others have embraced the fun fabric and cute styles, but studying the website shows that I’m at least somewhat familiar with it. The patterns are Simplicity, and the fabric is available at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  But everything seems fresher and younger than either of those. I love these dresses too!

Lisette Simplicity 1878

Lisette Simplicity Traveler Dress 2246

Lisette Simplicity Itinerary Dress 2060

Maybe I just like them because of the names – “Traveler” and “Itinerary” speak to my perpetual wanderlust. And I’m kind of in love with the Itinerary dress, and the contrasting yoke and obi sash. It’s not what I’m looking for right now, but I’m definitely going to keep this in mind for later. With the right fabric, it would be cute in the summer, or in the fall or spring with fun tights.  I could always add the reflective piping to the yoke and sash, and if they get covered up by a blazer in the fall, that would be okay too.  Hm…

While I ponder future sewing projects, I will work on my current one today, all while watching the Tour de France for inspiration for my century. If these guys can do that, I can do a mere 100 miles. After all, this CNN article says the success is all in your mind. And right now, I see myself in a series of cute bicycle dresses!

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…?