The Memorial

It was wet and wild. Don’t I look happy?

This week’s ride was wet, wild and full of mishaps.
It began with the intent to get into downtown Seattle for a memorial without needing to worry about traffic from the pro football game that was also going on. And to save some $$ And to eliminate a car trip. It was raining/snowing and the wind was howling but I pulled on my rainpants (never before used for a bike ride because as I always tell my husband “I don’t ride in the rain”), down jacket, bike coat, merino wool cap, polarfleece gloves, and safety glasses over my dress and tights. And of course my prototype handlebar bag with my trusty extra tube and cell phone.
We stopped for a picture on the beach to document.
The wind was blowing so hard at times that I was probably only going 2-3 miles per hour. When my bike started pulling to one side I figured it was the wind pushing me. I rode a little more and it was still pulling. I looked down in disbelief to see a flat tire. I suggested my husband ride on and I would catch the bus. He insisted on changing the tire and continuing together. I reached into my trusty bag and handed him a fresh tube. He changed the tire. But the bike pump didn’t work. It had probably been tossed around enough over the years that things got jammed up. We started walking towards the gas station about a mile away. I suggested it might be faster if he rode with the tire and I kept slogging along.
Off he went only to return with a tire that had already lost its air. He reached for his phone for the bus schedule, we locked our bikes and hopped on the bus. I reached into my trusty bag for my Orca card. At that point he must have handed me his phone and I must have put it in my trusty bag. We were on the 132 which is full of distractions when he noticed he didn’t have his phone. He said go on ahead I need to go look for my phone.
When I got to the memorial I opened my trusty bag to turn off my phone and OOPS – it had two phones in it.
He eventually showed up. My moral of the story is – slow down and pay attention to what you are doing and always bring your trusty bag.
Tell me about your weekly ride.



If you have been reading this you know that this blog is like the impromptu speeches I have given at Toastmasters. A challenge to myself that I don’t always succeed at, that meanders all over the place with no point. It’s purpose has been to explore my style and figure out what to do when I grow up.

Along the way I wondered if I wanted to be a personal stylist (I know pretty odd considering all those awkward photos of awkward outfits). I wondered if I could teach classes on finding your style (but that has already been done in a much better way than I could do it). Could I be a blogger that links to items I like and gets a small return? (Now we’re back to the awkward photos). For a while I experimented with a sewing blog thought. With patterns and instruction. Then I asked myself could I design women’s clothes and or patterns? Maybe but there is still a lot of learning that needs to happen there.
Then there is the question of the guilt over adding to the mounds of products we already produce and consume. I really couldn’t bring myself to add to it. Or else it was that secret fear that always lingers in the back of our heads of “I’m not good enough”.

I decided to go with the guilt. At last after a year plus of awkward writing and exploring I have decided to launch a line of up cycled and refashioned bike bags that are pretty enough to use everyday even if you don’t ride a bike. They would also work on a stroller handle or walker handle if life has taken you there. They can carry your bike equipment or your life equipment. They are designed to be easy on and easy off and bring joy to your life.

Most items are made from pound store purchases (rejects from even the thrift store) on their way to be turned into rags. I LOVE the challenge of looking at something that was once something else and turning it into a useful well loved item again. Everything gets thrown in the washer and dryer and put in a stack for future creations. It is a slow process that provides unique items.

What isn’t a pound store rescue is a remnant from a project in my life or someone else’s life. Buckles and webbing are new and I am exploring which options are most eco friendly. I recently purchased some past their prime leather coats that may provide handles or other bag pieces.

With this launch I am officially changing my blog page name to The Weekly Ride. Yet another way to walk my talk.
I’ve finally found my joy. I hope it brings you some as well.
What have you found to bring joy?

Dad’s Closet

Who would guess at 59 I would still raid my dad’s closet. He is 92 and has kept everything he ever owned even though he admits he is overwhelmed by it. He is of the generation that kept everything. Even things his dad had kept and things other people gave him even though it didn’t fit him. I asked him if he wanted me to give items to the thrift store and he was pretty adamant that “no all the relatives need to be asked if they want things first.” So I dug in to see what I could find. Unfortunately I had already raided all the bowling shirts when I was a 20 something.

I did manage to find this vintage cotton bomber jacket and this spiffy vintage nylon shirt both in pretty good condition and sizes and colors that fit me. I also took an old hunting suit he wore 60 years ago and a lovely black wool overcoat that were both in sad shape. I ran them through the washer and dryer and am in the process of re purposing them into bike bags. Photos of that project next time.

Vintage shirt from dad’s closet

Vintage blue bomber jacket

I guess I am lucky to still have a dad’s closet to raid at my age.

Did you ever raid your parent’s closets when you were younger (or today)?

Shawl collar shirt

I continue to test new ideas and patterns. This shawl collar shirt is my latest.

Latest pattern

It is my test run for a more flattering bicycle shirt. I love it! I disappointed myself by not adding pockets. At one point I swore everything I made should work for bicycling and have pockets. Future trials will include hidden side in seam pockets, back pockets like a traditional cycle shirt and patch pockets on the front. I am also going to try a 3/4 sleeve version and some different prints.

Need to figure out swayback adjustments

It is hard to see in the photo and with dark fabric but I need to make a swayback adjustment (ten months ago I had never heard of such a thing). This was the most understandable discussion I could find on it and I look forward to trying it next time (and on my fitting bodice that is still a work in progress.)

What sorts of adjustments have you made to eliminate wrinkles? This is a lot easier than trying to make my body perfect.

Hike? Skirt? Update

To update my hike in a skirt post I wanted to add these pictures of the skirt I decided not to use. Problems – waistband too tall so it doesn’t fit my waist well (although it fit better after the hike). Skirt too long to provide needed cooling.

The skirt I did choose was also too long but had some advantages I would recommend in a hiking skirt – elastic waistband that made it easy to slide on and off before and after those clothing changes to either warm up or cool down. It had no pockets so that was a deduct.

I now have a personal verdict on hiking in a skirt and that is No for me. The chafing would have created another potential problem to deal with that I did not need. I did like having a lightweight skirt along at camp though. It was like a portable changing tent for the above mentioned changes.

Here are the pictures I forgot to include in the last post.

Hike in a skirt?

Each year we hike 100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail in an effort to one day complete the trail. Each year it is interesting to see what people are wearing and how they pack. Since we are still in Washington state near the northern terminus and the end of the trail some of the items we see are nearing the end of their useful life. A trend I noticed in 2013 was women hiking in skirts. It seemed impractical to me at that time but 4 years later I am considering it for this year’s hike.

Possible advantages will be easier use of the bathroom in the woods, easier to add layers when I stop hiking and more cooling (since temperatures are supposed to be in the 90s in the lowlands). Possible disadvantages will be getting tangled up in bushes or caught on rocks or the perennial skirt getting caught up in the back in underwear or pack.

This year I am going to wear a skirt and carry my hiking pants just in case I hate it. I made this skirt which is from the first pattern I ever drafted for myself. I am not happy with the pockets and will probably redraft them next time to see if I can’t get them to lay flatter. I have also seen interesting pocket treatments and shapes for this hip pocket style that I will try next time. My waistband is also not a consistent width and I should spend more time measuring to get it right on the pattern.

I am delighted with the experimentation I did with top stitching. I tried one of the many patterns available on my sewing machine as the top stitch on the waistband and decided to do the same on the hem. Now I can’t stop and am considering adding at least 2 more rows to the hem if time allows.

I am not sure about the practicality of the length but hesitate to shorten it until I test it out. I’ll let you know what I discover.

What do you think? Are you a skirt hiker?

Sew – who has time to sew?

Sew – who has time to sew?

cutting roof felt is like sewing right?

Life has been a little too busy to sew for the last month or so. I was lucky enough to travel to Germany, Slovenia and Iceland for beer drinking, biking and backpacking so all I did during that time was think about the subject on those long uphills.

Now that I’m back and it is officially summer here it is back to those DIY home improvement projects. This time re roofing some storage sheds. I won’t know if we were successful until the rainy season starts again but it felt good to try something new.

Measuring and cutting felt and piecing together shingles felt like sewing. I was utilizing those same skills. Different muscles – same skills.

As a bonus I got to customize an old t shirt by slashing a v neck and tearing off the sleeves to turn it into something I thought a professional roofer might wear. What do you think?

What sorts of DIY projects do you enjoy?

Cutting mats

Last fall I went to the quilt show (even though I don’t quilt- quilting seems slower even than garment making) in Puyallup. I had been looking for a new sewing machine and knew there would be several styles there to test. I browsed all the booths and the exhibitors had more time to spend with me than they would at the big spring sewing show. This meant I had time to ask at the booth with the cutting mats whether people used them for garments as well. It was my assumption that they were used for quilting and intricate small cuts. As I learned they are used for garment cutting. The sales rep demonstrated and then allowed me to test. Very fun and no effort to cut with a rotary cutter on a mat. I bit the bullet and spent the $100 plus dollars to get a large mat, a mini travel mat, a ruler, a cutter and a healer.

I haven’t yet figured out how all the rulers connect with each other but I am loving cutting with my mat. It is designed to roll up so I can just stand it up without rolling behind my sewing cabinet. I put it on my sewing cutting table and I have a typical garment cut out in 5 minutes. Here is the company I purchased from. Big Mat

They even have some videos to review the use of the rulers although I would have benefited from having them more plainly labled and they end abruptly so I am not sure if I missed something.

I also have some wonderful Gingher shears that I bought when I was in sewing/patternmaking classes at Seattle Central Community College. I prefer the rotary cutter and mat. My wrists tend to hurt if I have been doing certain activities like bike riding and I can still cut without pain using the rotary.

Who would have guessed. Ask and you shall learn. What have you learned in the last couple months that you can share with us?


The bike bag

The bike bag

I have your typical bike bags (purchased for me by my husband) but I wanted something more- something with a little more style and that could be used on and off the bike, had a spot for maps and that didn’t require a trip to the fabric store.

I ended up with this.

The fabric came from some wool overcoats I bought at Goodwill a couple years ago. I was trying to felt wool by throwing it in a hot wash and dryer. A wool sweater felted very well but I haven’t yet done anything with it. The coats shrank and the fabric is not ravelly after the process. It was quite a time consuming process pulling the coat pieces apart.

Wool coat with pieces pulled apart

At the time I wasn’t sure what I would do with them but over the last few months I have decided to try bags. I made this red one from this stash.

Red bag from used wool coat

I loved the idea of using the coats button tab as my fastener because of both how it looked AND the fact that I hadn’t yet figured out the buttonholer on my machine.

As a side note in the future I will be looking at the Goodwill pound store outlet first because the actual coats were on the spendy side at $10 to $15 each.

This bag started out floppy and I wanted it stiffer because I believed that would result in a cuter bag both on and off the bike. I took an empty vinegar jug and cut out the end pieces in this stiff plastic. I then ended up also using vinyl as an inner liner with a thin blue decorative lining.. I am also hoping it will keep the inner contents a bit drier. Can’t wait to try it out. – not the wet part but the riding with it part.

What do you think? Would you use this bag? My husband’s answer was a resounding no but I bet he changes his mind when he sees it in action.


ASG Spring Fling

At first I hesitated. The “spring fling” was the day after we got back from a three week trip. Didn’t I need to stay home and catch up? Then I remembered – Catch up for what? I am on a 2 year leave of absence. I can schedule what feel like frivolous things back to back.

I also wasn’t a member of ASG – The American Sewing Guild. 

But a sewing meetup acquaintance had sent me a link to their spring fling and I was trying to learn more and meet new people to see what sorts of opportunities open up. So this wasn’t even really frivolous. I signed up and I am glad I did. I even became an ASG member and hope to attend some local meetings.

Even though I don’t look too happy about it (not sure why – probably tired) the day started off with me realizing this was the perfect place to wear my Michigan dress. And I was right. It was one of the best parts of the event to see what others made for themselves and wore. I even had a young woman (20’s) tell her mom she needed to figure out how to make one. Sewing can be a solitary hobby so it is wonderful to meet others and see what they are doing.

I am happier than I look

I was happy to discover coffee and a mix of healthy and tasty snacks to fuel us up for the day. The event had four speakers who were all well informed, poised and good at giving presentations.

The day began with a presentation where I learned about textile basics, how they are made and where to learn more.

Next up was a hilarious and reality based presentation about padding out a dressform to be your body double.

A former costume maker shared her  embellished wardrobe and brought some beautiful reference books on details. One was on sleeve details and I must say I NEVER imagined there could be so many variations on sleeves, their cuffs etc.

The final presentation was on Draping and  the speaker did an impressive job of thoroughly explaining the process as she draped a bodice with neck detail.

The event was fun. I learned a lot and I won one of the door prizes. What more could you ask for? Do you belong to any online or offline sewing groups? What do you enjoy most about them? How could they improve?