Obsessed With Outerwear

I’ve been a bit obsessed with designing reflective outerwear this year. I have realized, over the last year, that many of my reflective makes spend a lot of time under coats and jackets, which sort of defeats the purpose of reflective fashion. So, I decided I need reflective outerwear.

My first attempt turned out beautifully- my reflective tweed coat makes me so happy!!! Made with reflective tweed purchased last year in London from Dashing Tweeds (the burgundy) and wool from Fabric.com, its lined with flannel backed satin from Vogue Fabrics, and interlined with ripstop nylon. The ripstop is intended for added warmth and to prevent the wind from going straight through the wool as I Bike. I have to say, it holds the body warmth pretty well – maybe too well! Oh, and it looks spectacular on!

Flush with the success of that coat, I started my brocade bomber jacket. I picked Simplicity 8418 because it has a lining, and for added warmth, I am using the same flannel-backed satin I used on my tweed coat. The brocade I purchased a year or so ago from a fabric store in New York that was going out of business. At the time I didn’t know what to do with it, but my bronze reflective fabric from Mood Fabrics coordinates so perfectly that I knew they had to go together. A brocade bomber jacket seems decadent but also, a fun alternative to a work blazer. I hope. So I got started on that this weekend.

Once I complete the bomber, I have two other jackets to make. One will be a light duster, from Simplicity 8055, with the front and back yokes out of reflective fabric. It’s not lined so I plan to flat line the yokes and sleeves; I hate unlined sleeves. My initial plan was to use the black reflective fabric I just purchased from Mood, but a coordinating dark fabric just made the whole thing too dark. Instead, i think I will use the red reflective fabric and find a denim, twill or chambray to match. Red will be a fun color, and a bit more visible than black.

That should be a fairly simple project, but my last (currently) planned coat looks quite a bit more complicated. The Closet Case Kelly Anorak is pretty much exactly what I want – big pockets, tall collar and drawstring waist. And it has a lining option, yay! I will make the outside from the reflective digital camo fabric I have from Rockywoods Fabrics, and then add a fun lining. Maybe I will splurge on a fun print from Spoonflower, to make it more interesting. But my idea is to do this in late summer, for the fall, so I have a while to decide.

Those jackets should be a cool assortment to add an extra layer over my blouses and tops – a dinosaur blouse out of luscious Liberty of London Tana Lawn, two different ruffle sleeve versions of Simplicity 8454, and a basic white blouse, version C of Vogue 9299, with the adorable cameo buttons I found in New York. Whew, that’s quite a list! I’d better get started – reflective fashion doesn’t sew itself!

Sorry, still no internet at home! I’ll link all these sources when I am not on my phone with sluggish cellular.

My Name in Lights?!?

Bike-friendly Arlingtonians are all a-buzz these days, ever since BikeArlington announced an open casting call in partnership with Modacity and Vancouver Cycle Chic. Modacity will be doing a series of videos on everyday Arlington residents who just so happen to bike for transportation. They are taking applications through the end of the month, and then the lucky winners will be filmed in May. The whole goal of the campaign is to show biking as a normal activity, something people of all ages, ethnicity and socioeconomic backgrounds do. Check out this video as an example:


Of course I plan on applying! I think I’m perfect for this! What shall I wear? What photo should I pick showing me and my bike? What can I say about myself that will make them choose me as representative of Arlington bike riders?! Then there is a bigger question – I need to have my bike repainted, but what color?! I mean, if there is a chance it could be on film, it can’t just be any color! But I don’t see any reason to pick a different color, so do I ask to have it redone in the same paint? (The Mechanic, by the way, is the one who first painted it that color, before we even met.) And then I might need to make a new reflective dress to coordinate!

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But I think that I might be getting ahead of myself. First of all, BikeArlington is in my office, so is this one of those things where “employees not permitted to participate in contest” rules apply? I’m assured not, but I don’t know what Modacity might think. And I work in TDM, so maybe that disqualifies me. I’m not exactly a “normal” bike rider, although I started biking to work long before I even knew about BikeArlington and got my job. And then, making my own bike friendly clothes is different, not normal. Not everyone makes their own clothes that they can bike in and wear in the office.

How "normal" is this?!

How “normal” is this?!

The whole point of “normal” biking is that it doesn’t take any special gear to do it, just a bike and a desire. My bike is an extension of my style, and I choose to dress around it, as well as dress it up, but I have to say, I don’t see other women biking around like this. More so in DC, but not in Arlington. So I’m not sure how normal that makes me! And frankly, I’d like to see a good mix of bike riders chosen, people who represent all the differences that make up daily Arlington life – families, older people, people biking to the farmer’s market and to their jobs, in all the different neighborhoods, including Columbia Pike.

I still plan on applying and definitely want to be chosen to star in a video. But I will be okay with not being chosen, with not representing “normal” Arlington. I’ve never been “normal” my whole life, so I guess, why start now?

And if you or anyone else you know would be good for this cool project, be sure to apply or pass along the link above! Good luck, Normal Arlingtonians!

Edgar probably makes me not normal either.....

Edgar probably makes me not normal either…..


Just Bikey Thoughts

The Sea Gull Century behind me, I had looked forward to at last making my colorblocked sweatshirt, and duly set out in rainy weather to find fabric inspiration. Alas, inspiration was nowhere to be found. I found some options, just nothing I was in love with. So, no sewing project this weekend, sadly.

These two colors were close, but the fabric was too lighweight. Bummer.

These two colors were close, but the fabric was too lightweight. Bummer.

I made sourdough bread instead.

Yum, sourdough bread!

Yum, sourdough bread!

So instead of talking about me, I wanted to talk about some friends.

First of all, I need to share the new BikeArlington movie, “BikeSwell.” The Mechanic and I attended the premiere of this movie last week, on a very rainy Thursday (which did allow me to wear my new Cleverhood again!). “BikeSwell” is a 30-minute movie about how bicycling is picking up in Arlington County. It’s full of prominent people in the biking and walking movement here in Arlington as well as colleagues and people I admire. I admit to a “swell” of pride watching it – I’m part of this! Definitely watch the video. BA_Poster_vFinal

But even while I feel part of this bicycles-as-transportation movement here in Arlington, and even though I just completed by first century, I still don’t feel like a “cyclist.” Lady Fleur had a timely post on that topic today in her blogpost, “From Far and Wide, Ladies Ride, Ride, Ride!”  (This post made me wish I could bike with her and her gal pals – they always look like they are having so much fun!) It’s the group’s comments after the bike ride that I want to draw attention to – the discussion of what it means to be a “cyclist.”

Lady Fleur reports how opinions varied from “earning” the right to be called a “cyclist” after starting to wear a jersey, to not even wearing a jersey counts as being a cyclist. I thought this was interesting because now that I have that one century under my belt, I finally feel like a real “cyclist,” yet still don’t think of myself as a “cyclist” first and foremost. Nope, if you were to ask me, I would say that I am a designer, or a historian, or a stitcher, but not a cyclist. Maybe it’s because my primary bicycling function is my transportation cycling – I ride to work, I ride to Target, I ride to G Street Fabrics, I ride to JoAnn Fabrics. Although I have recently spent almost my entire weekend on my road bike, it was a short-term thing, and not something I’ll return to. (Well, not on that level. I am looking forward to a few regional half- and metric-centuries next summer.)

Nearing the finish line of the Sea Gull Century!

Nearing the finish line of the Sea Gull Century!

Maybe it has to do with time spent in the saddle? My daily commute is so short I hate to even admit I bike to work! Somehow, when I say that, it seems like it should be much more difficult and strenuous. And yet, that is exactly what we try to impress upon people – it doesn’t have to be hard, or challenging, or sweat-producing. It has to be easy, or you’ll never want to do it again. And we want it to be everyday, commonplace, no big deal, just jump on a bike and ride to the store. That’s the goal, to be like the Copenhageners, who don’t identify themselves as “bicyclists,” because it’s just something everyone does, every day. So maybe the goal is to not be a “cyclist,” after all. And yet…. there’s nothing special about being commonplace.

Commonplace people in Montreal

Commonplace people in Montreal

Oh dear. Such a mixed message! Does any other women have any other interpretations of “cyclists”?







Biking Buys Me Happiness Too

Today was one of those days where I was just happy to be on a bike. Three things happened to make today’s riding happier than it’s been in a while – the weather, the bike trail, and a new cassette. Although, technically, since I bought the cassette, you could argue that again, money has bought me happiness. But let’s focus on the non-monetary aspects of this post tonight.

It poured rain in the wee hours, and I was glad I worked from home today. But the sun came out by the afternoon, so when I left to run errands, it was cool, breezy, just a bit humid, and just glorious – Spring! I had left in just jeans and a tee shirt and initially feared I’d be too cold, but that was not a problem. It just felt so FUN to be out biking around, arms bared to the sun (albeit smothered in sunscreen), the lightness that comes with not wearing layers of winter weather clothing.

Post-storm blossom "snow"

Post-storm blossom “snow”

My errands took me on the W&OD Trail towards Falls Church, a route I haven’t taken in a while. Everything was in bloom, and covered with a haze of fresh green, giving me that happy-it’s-Spring feeling again. There were some people out on the trail, but it was a trail, not surface streets, so I was able to stretch my legs and get some speed going. The new cassette made shifting so much smoother, and I felt like I was flying along – well, I did hit 21 mph and regularly saw 14, 16, and 18 mph as well (yes, on my commuter bike!). I love the high gears. : )

Grass full of tiny yellow flowers of some sort, near a water filtration pond of some sort...

Grass full of tiny yellow flowers of some sort, near a water filtration pond of some sort…

So although money can buy me happiness, being out on my bike on a Spring evening with favorable conditions probably made me happier. Exercise produces endorphins, after all, and as Elle Woods once said in Legally Blonde, “Endorphins make you happy.”

(Image from Sam Schuerman)

(Image from Sam Schuerman)

Money Buys Me Happiness

We all know the saying – “Money can’t buy happiness.” And maybe for some people, that is true. But it’s not for me!

I recently purchased a new bike pannier/tote bag from Basil, and I couldn’t be happier! The zipper on my regular big pannier broke, so I used the opportunity to get the Basil Jada Shopper I’ve been eyeing for ages, but couldn’t justify buying. But with the busted zipper, well…. Perfect opportunity!IMG_4582

I was a bit worried that the bag wouldn’t be big enough, so I was impressed when it arrived, and it is actually bigger than I expected! Thank goodness, because I had to haul alot of stuff in the last two days.

The first day I used the bag to take sewing stuff to work

The first day I used the bag to take sewing stuff to work

Today I had to bring home a ton of files

Today I had to bring home a ton of files

It has really long shoulder straps, which is the best part, because now I actually can take the bag off my bike and throw it over my shoulder and go. My others had super short handles that were not the best for that. The pannier clips have a nicely fitted cover that zips over them, with an additional Velcro security strap. BVasil Side ViewClose Velcro

The outside pockets are numerous and handy, especially the gusseted zip-and-velcro one in the front. Basil Zipper Pocket

“But how does it work on the bike?!”

Cropped BikeAction BikeGreat! I’ve only used it two days so far, but I love it! (how do you like my beloved Cole Haan reflective oxfords? Totally my new go-to shoes!)

So money has bought me happiness in the form of a functional yet fashionable bike bag I can take anywhere! It’s also bought me those red shoes, my spearmint cords (love them too!), and these cute owl sandwich bags from Target: IMG_4643

See how easy it is to make me happy?

What have you bought recently that makes you totally happy and is worth the price? Bike-related or otherwise?


Love the One You Wear

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and some of my favorite blogs are full of great Valentine’s Day themes, and I had to share.

I love all the gift ideas in Bike Pretty’s two “last minute” blog posts (here and here) – hint hint hint…

And Bikeyface’s Valentine’s Day cartoon pretty much sums up The Mechanic and I – just toss in a few other oft-repeated topics (rabbits and motorcycles), and cheese and crackers, and that’s pretty much our days! Thanks Bikeyface!

And here I am, in love with my new reflective leg warmers. I feel a bit selfish.bikes 001My mom made these for me, at my request, so in a way, this is about love…

She found this great reflective thread/yarn stuff, but I don’t remember where, and since she’s currently on a cruise, I can’t ask her. But I’ll report on it when she gets back.

My mom had almost finished one when we were at Disney World in December, and the package with both of them arrived last week, with an Agent P Valentine’s Day card (how can you not love a pet platypus that moonlights as a secret agent?!). bikes 004They are nice heavy gray yarn, something not wool, since I can’t wear that, and machine washable, since I assume they’ll eventually need to be washed. Today was warm enough to wear a dress to work, so it was the perfect opportunity to wear them. I took them off once I got to work, quite pleased with how warm they are. I suspect I’ll wear them often this spring.

bikes 003I’ll have to get better photos at another point; I had to drag The Mechanic out of bed to take pictures.

But not only did I love wearing them, I love that my mother made them for me, I am proud of her talent, and thankful that she’s willing to do crazy stuff like this for me! Even though she is currently cruising the world, and lives in California, wearing something she made me means I always have her with me – so I really do love what I wear.

Happy Valentine's Day from Our Bike Household to Yours!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Our Bike Household to Yours!



Copenhagen Part 2: First Bike Impressions

Once The Mechanic and I got over our initial giddy shock at the sheer number of bikes we saw upon arrival in Copenhagen, we began to look a bit more closely. Here are some of the things we saw:

  • We saw very few bikes with drop handles; most were “hybrid,” “comfort” or “Cruiser” style bikes, “sit up and beg” bikes, and whatever else the men’s versions would be called. 100_8592100_8606100_8253
  • Most of the bikes had at least one basket, either in front or in back, of varying sorts of materials – wire, wood, wicker, plastic. Just about every bike had a back rack with bungees or that strong spring. Very few panniers. I mentioned to the saleswoman in one bike shop that I predominately use panniers and she seemed confused.100_9008
  • In the same theme, we saw maybe a handful of cyclists in Lycra the entire eight days we were there. And little hi-viz clothing: half of what we did see was on runners.
  • It seemed to me like most of the cyclists were women, but at least half of them were.100_8711
  • People of all ages were on bikes. I noticed several older people, including one older woman wearing a full-length fur coat. She looked extremely stylish.
  • There were plenty of children on bikes  and many bikes had baby seats. There were different styles of child seats on bikes too, like the bucket style on the top tube with foot rests mounted on the head tube. I only saw one dad with the bike attachment, and the boy was leaning at a frightening angle. Most kids rode in the Christiania cargo bike front bucket. 100_9326
  • Many people were wearing helmets, and the bike shops were full of helmets. Most were of the solid helmet style, like Nutcase or Yakkay.
  • Many of the bikes had skirt guards, either in plastic “mesh” or solid vinyl. I was very excited to buy a set when we were in Malmo, Sweden.100_8646
  • The Danish Postal service uses bikes for delivery, and they were e-bikes! Same thing spotted in Malmo. That makes a ton of sense. Actually, I saw some other e-bikes here and there.100_9240100_9075
  • Everyone used hand signals. It was pretty impressive to watch.
  • Everyone walked their bikes through crosswalks. I know we are supposed to, but really, who does? People in Copenhagen, apparently.
  • There were bike racks everywhere, and not just one rack, but several. I counted about 50 spaces in the bike racks in front of one grocery store.100_8822
  • But no one locks their bike to anything, they just push the bikes into the rack and lock the ring lock. We were continually amazed by this. Bikes just leaning against apartment buildings, standing in lines in bike parking spaces in streets… Even strollers were left out, and we saw a motorized wheelchair outside, charging to an outdoor outlet. Okay, occasionally we’d see locks, but not very often.100_8805
  • There were a ton of new brands, and remakes of old brands. More on that later.100_9171
  • Everyone seemed to pedal very leisurely, yet the days we were out in the bike lanes, we were constantly passed!

I love the huge variety of bikes, brands, colors, styles, and riders. People weren’t decked out as “cyclists,” or “sporty athletes,” just individuals going about their day on their bikes. This is the kind of cycling I want to do, the type of cyclist I want to be, the kind of cycling culture I want to see take root in this country. I want to get us to the point that everyone, regardless of sex or age or ability, is comfortable enough to bike wherever they need to go, wearing whatever they want, and not worrying about it. I’m still not sure what it will take to get there, but improved infrastructure will help. My next post will show different aspects of the bicycle infastructure of Copenhagen.


See also:

Copenhagen Part 1: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Copenhagen Part 3: Bicycle Infrastructure

My Starry Night Skirt A-Glow

At last, I managed to finish my Starry Starry Night skirt! I’m so excited by it!  I’m very, very happy with the way it turned out, which is not always the case.

Starry Night closeup

I’ve had this star-embroidered corduroy forever, but never quite knew what to do with it. Enter my new reflective-trimmed life and voila! A Starry Night is born.  A little reflective piping on the hems of the ruffles, and we are good to go. I like how flirty it is too. I assume/hope the “fluffiness” of the ruffles will relax a bit over time, but corduroy is pretty bulky to gather, so fluffy it is. I feel like a flamenco dancer, or Josephine Baker it this skirt! Dec 013

Yesterday was abnormally warm, so I wore it with a short-sleeved shirt, but this evening when I dragged The Mechanic out for a photo shoot, it had gotten quite chilly. So I used the opportunity to test out the reflectivity of my North Face jacket (I have the women’s version) and my new little Terry Bicycles reflective daisy cap (you can just barely see it under my helmet). It’s hard to see how I reflect when I’m wearing this stuff!

Starry Night Skirt 1

Aglow 1

I plan on taking this with me to Copenhagen – I hadn’t planned on taking a skirt at all, since it’s already hovering around the freezing mark. But, it’s so cute and well, we are going for a major  holiday and I will want something to dress up in, so it’s going.

I wonder how much reflective gear the Copenhageners wear – probably none at all. Like helmets, visibility for safety is probably not as big a deal for them as it is for us. But let’s be real here – I like the reflective projects because it makes me sparkle, first and foremost. It just so happens it makes me more visible and feel safer on my bike.

If you see me out and about in Arlington, glowing away, say hi!

50th Anniversary

Okay, this is really Post #52, but I am impressed that I’ve written 50 blog posts since February, and feel this is worth celebrating. And I want to thank those of you who read my blog, comment, and like. It’s greatly appreciated! This whole blogging thing is a whole new world, one I greatly enjoy.

I had originally thought that I would use this blog to discuss my love for all things transit related, mainly bikes, street cars, trains, and okay, even vintage cars. I had no idea I’d end up making reflective bicycle clothing! So I wonder where the next 50 blog posts will take me.

Some ideas and goals:

  • More biking – I am going to attempt to master winter cycling. I want to try biking in the snow. And I need to master clipless pedals. Plus there is a mountain bike in the works! And I’m itching to get out and do some last long rides before it is too cold. I’m sad that I’ve neglected my Sunday morning 30-mile rides.
  • More fashion – I need to finish the reflective skirt I’m working on now, then think about ideas for spring. It’s all about how to translate fashion trends into bike-friendly, reflective!, yet office-appropriate clothing. I don’t want to look like I’m wearing “bike clothes” even if I am.
  • More transit-related posts –  The more I get into the topic of walkable/bikable/”complete street” cities, the more I want to explore it on my own. I think the health aspect is just as important as the environmental ones, and might be the way to get more people on board with the idea of creating living areas that are safer for cyclists and pedestrians of all types (elderly, young, poor, disabled).

Actually, two of my three upcoming trips are transit-related.  Next week I will attend the Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change conference in Sacramento, CA. I am presenting on the work that Arlington Transportation Partners does, and I will be on a travel behavior change panel as well. I’m very much interested in behavior change, and can’t wait to see the other presenters and panel discussions while I’m there.

And conveniently, Sacramento is where I grew up and did my undergrad work, so I can see my parents, cruise the neighborhoods where I lived in college, check out the theater where I got my theatrical start, and reconnect with high school and theater friends I haven’t seen in way too long. It should be a really great week. It’s a shame The Mechanic can’t come with me, but at least we’ll have our trip to Copenhagen!

Superstorm Sandy and all the destruction in New York led to a boom in biking-as-transportation, HOV-only restrictions into Manhattan, and many conversations about transit infrastructure. I know I am not the only one who hopes this encourages serious conversation about making cities more bike friendly.

Destroyed NYC Subway station post-Sandy needs to lead to….

…more of this, more often.

I think we all agree that biking is important for many different reasons, even if we don’t all agree on how or why. My goal is to find a way to be part of the conversation. If that means I need to visit every bicycle friendly community to determine what works best for them, so be it! Wearing something reflective of course.

Starry Starry Night skirt in progress

It’s funny to look back at all the twists and turns my life has taken, but I believe I’m now on the path I was meant to be on. Thanks for coming with me this far. Let’s see what happens next!

Christmas Day in the early 80s (I think?) – testing out my new bike AND my new legwarmers. I think I’m using the same style handlebars…






Bicycle Fashion History Repeating

I love this vintage bicycle ad:

And I love the fact that it reminds me of this current Boden ad:

The two ads make me want to rush out and buy A-line skirts and short-sleeved sweaters, neither of which I (shockingly) actually own. Both girls look so chic and easy and sporty, n’est-ce pas?

I want to be like them! Of course, they clearly aren’t on their way somewhere specific, like work, requiring baskets and/or panniers, bags, helmets, locks, and so on – but let’s live the fantasy for a while, shall we?