Planning The Sewaholic Cypress Cape

I bought the pattern for the Cypress Cape a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t planning to buy it that particular evening but I was just seeing where I could find it at the best price including P&P. I came across e-Bay seller Trixie Lixie who has free P&P and before I knew it I had bought the pattern.

Sewaholic Cypress Cape Pattern

Sewaholic Cypress Cape Pattern

Since this pattern came out in September I’ve been thinking about suitable fabrics. The Sewaholic blog mentions a cotton feel waterproof fabric. The only one I’ve come across in the UK is Ventile but at £27.5 per metre and requiring 3.9mts to make, at that price it’s not really an option.

A lot of waterproof fabrics are just too crispy and don’t have much drape so I focused in on two qualities. A waterproof microfibre fabric from UK fabrics online which is reasonably soft and does have some drape or a polyester cotton gabardine from Calico Laine. The gabardine isn’t waterproof and would need to either have a spray on or a wash in water repellent finish added.

I have some water repellent spray which I bought from Aldi and use for re-applying the WR finish on my waterproofs. I tried this out on the gabardine (which is left over from the unfinished trench coat) and when water is applied to the fabric it does ‘bead’ on the surface rather than sinking in and runs off. I tested the gabardine in it’s normal state and the water does bead but it began to sink into the fabric much quicker. It has a bit of natural repellence due to the polyester content and the twill weave.

The fabric on the left is gabardine without any finish, the water does bead up but you can see the fabric is darker underneath the water, it is beginning to soak into the fabric. The fabric on the left has had WR finish sprayed on, you can see the water has beaded and is just sitting on top of the fabric without beginning to soak in.

The fabric on the left is gabardine without any finish, the water does bead up but you can see the fabric is darker underneath the water, it is beginning to soak into the fabric.
The fabric on the left has had WR finish sprayed on, you can see the water has beaded and is just sitting on top of the fabric without beginning to soak in.

I think now I’ve decided on the microfiber as it is properly waterproof. The sample I have is from UK Fabrics On-Line at £6.99. It wont be a fully waterproof jacket as I won’t be taping the seams but water won’t be able to penetrate the fabric.

I’ve also been thinking about the whole hi-vis issue, (not actually thinking about making the whole cape in hi-vis…). I’m in Manchester in the UK and it seems to me that every commuter cyclist wears hi-vis. I haven’t got around to putting on my horrible boxy hi-vis waistcoat yet this autumn as I’m currently wearing a bright red jacket which must be quite visible but sometimes I do feel like I’m doing something wrong. There does seem to be a lot of debate surrounding the hi-vis issue. In my opinion in daylight it does it’s job but when the evenings are dark it’s lights and reflective areas that are most important.

Commuter cyclists in hi-vis

Commuter cyclists in hi-vis

So anyway… I did have the idea to make the central panel in the hood either hi-vis yellow or orange. I’m thinking about a dark green for the cape and I thought that the orange would give it a look reminiscent of old school parkas with the orange hood lining. But I think I’ve gone off that idea now but now thinking again whilst typing, maybe…what do you think?

If I really want to add a flash of hi-vis to myself there are plenty of options with wrist / ankle bands etc.

old school parka with orange lining

old school parka with orange lining

But then sometimes you an over-think a project. I’ve wanted a cape for a while and this is a stylish cape designed for cycling but it’s not the complete answer to wet-weather riding – for a start the sleeves are too short, if it’s really raining you are going to need gaiters for your wrists!
Which then makes me think gabardine will be fine after all…..

I shall start gathering the fabrics and trims. I can get the reflective piping and the front open-end zipper from Pennine Outdoor.

I shall keep you posted.

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The End Of The Ready To Wear Fast

A couple of weeks ago I ended my Ready To Wear fast. I gave in to the constant badgering from Johnnie Boden and bought myself a couple of Breton stripe long sleeve tee shirts.

Breton stipe tees from Boden

Breton stipe tees from Boden

I started the fast the beginning of January 2014 and signed up the ‘Goodbye Valentino’ RTW 2014 fast and then signed up again for 2015.

** I will come clean, in 2014 I bought a pair of waterproof cycling over trousers from Aldi and this year I bought a lightweight waterproof jacket from Berghaus – again to use whilst cycling ** I was never going to make either of those two items so I cut myself a bit of slack there.

I don’t really miss shopping, since having children I very rarely get the chance to go out on my own to look around the stores and I don’t have the disposable income I used to have before having children.

I think it was the change of season that got me. It was mid September and I wasn’t quite ready for wearing tights, so that ruled out dresses and skirts, my trouser offering is beginning to look a bit ropey and decent tops were in the washing basket. I got dressed for work one day and looked at myself and thought what an uninspiring mess. Then a Boden catalogue dropped through the door with a code for 20% off and free delivery. I’m forever thinking about striped tops and looking on-line for decent cotton yarn dyed striped jersey. Then I thought “why don’t I just buy some?” So I did, and lovely they are too, a nice relaxed fit and great for layering.

I don’t have time to make everything I’d like and I think I’ve ended up keeping things in my wardrobe that have seen better days.

Now it’s October the tights have come out and skirts are being worn again, I’ve also got a few items in the pipeline, I’m working on a denim skirt and have cut out a pussy bow blouse using the Sew Over It pattern. I’m also ready to tackle another pair of jeans and bought a length of denim from Abakhan last week.

I really got excited when I saw the new pattern releases from Sewaholic. I keep thinking about the Cypress Cape, I’ve wanted a cycling cape for ages and this looks like the perfect pattern. I’m a bit apprehensive after the poor effort I made with the Robson Trench coat (I can’t bear to look at the bag with the unfinished pieces in) but I really like this style.

Cypress Cape from Sewaholic Patterns http://www.sewaholicpatterns.com/cypress-cape

Cypress Cape from Sewaholic Patterns
http://www.sewaholicpatterns.com/cypress-cape

As my trouser selection is looking a bit poor I’m going to get around to making Simplicity 1696 Amazing Fit trousers. ( I said this last year but now I know how to sew a fly zipper I can see it actually happening).

1696 Simplicity Amazing Fit Trousers

1696 Simplicity Amazing Fit Trousers

I may have ended the fast but I don’t think I’ll be going crazy in Primark any time soon!

They’re Not Quite Working Out As Planned…..Time To Admit Defeat

My plan to make a pair of bicycling trousers inspired by the Outlier ‘daily riding pant’ has not worked out as planned. I knew that these trousers were going to be a bit of an experiment so I’m not too downhearted.

Blue trousers at the stage where I decided not to take them any further!

Blue trousers at the stage where I decided not to take them any further!

I was hoping to look like this…. (once I’d also grown another 8″)

But they were just not working. The softshell fabric is not quite right, it’s very stretchy but doesn’t actually have any spandex in and also slightly thick. And it rustles. Things seemed to be going all right but there was too much horizontal wrinkling at the back of the knees. I put them on inside out and pinned the legs and I felt I’d made some improvement but then decided that even if I got the fit right they would still ‘rustle’ when I walked which was no good.

hmm - not quite going to plan

hmm – not quite going to plan

The left leg has been pinned and looked better but no enough to carry on and there was still the rustling issue.

The left leg has been pinned and looked better but no enough to carry on and there was still the rustling issue.

I was also never quite convinced about the colour. There’s not much to choose from, black, navy, grey or royal and I was determined to go bright and I think I was just willing myself to like it.

But there have been positives! The pattern alteration to the back waist is now a perfect fit for when I make my next pair of jeans and the fly zipper insertion was a good effort, especially as this fabric doesn’t like to be pressed.

You win some, you loose some….I’ve moved on to the A line khaki Marc Jacobs skirt which is so far so good but I’m taking my time so as to avoid another dud 😦
(I don’t seem to be able to link to the Matches.com website to show you the skirt without my lap top freezing but you’ll find a picture in the previous post).

Bike Bloomers

I only started cycling to work last September and even though I regularly cycle in skirts I’ve been wearing thick tights through the winter so there’s been no need to worrying about flashing my thighs.

Reading the cycling and sewing blog ‘tinlizzyridesagain’ I came across ‘bikie girl bloomers’. With the  RTW Fast I wouldn’t be buying any but I could easily make my own.

bike bloomers with a stretch lace trim

bike bloomers with a stretch lace trim

I bought a remnant of single jersey from Abakhan. I’m not sure of the exact fibre content, but I think cotton with lycra, it’s quite stretchy and you can see the lycra fibre when cutting out. It’s a nice weight with a slightly brushed face. In fact all the components are remnants I picked up in Abakhan, the waistband elastic was a cut piece, just the right size and the stretch lace was sold in small cut lengths. The remnant fabric is sold by weight and the single jersey was £2.99 and I only used half as there was enough for these and a tee shirt, the lace remnant was 30p for 2mts and the elastic 30p. So all materials for less than £2.50.

racks of remnants to be sold by weight at Abakan's on Manchester's Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter

racks of remnants to be sold by weight at Abakhan’s on Manchester’s Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter

For the pattern I used a pair of running leggings as a guide. They don’t get much any use now and are slightly too small so I added a bit of width at the hip, waist and thigh.

They were quick to sew up using the 4 thread overlocker, well once I’d got the tension for the needle thread correct it was quick. I used a zig zag stitch to attach the stretch lace around the leg openings tried them on and they looked terrible because with the lace being quite deep I hadn’t thought about it needing to be tapered. Anyway, it was a quick fix and I tapered both the outside and inside leg seams so they fit the leg snuggly.

Last week we had some good weather but as these hadn’t be sewn up I wore footless tights under my dress but since they’ve been finished the weather has turned cold again and I’ve worn jeans all week 😦
Anyway we’ve got the whole summer ahead of us.

A Waterproof Cover For Bicycle Basket

basket cover doing it's job in the rain and snow

basket cover doing it’s job in the rain and snow

I took up cycle commuting to work last September and usually plonk my handbag in the basket up front, when it rained I’d shove it in a plastic carrier bag. I do use pannier bags, I have a pair of Ortlieb front roller bags but only use one for work in which I keep my waterproofs, extra gloves and shoes to wear in the office.

basket cover with reflective piping

basket cover with reflective piping

So I needed a simple waterproof cover for the basket. Here’s one you can buy from Georgia in Dublin. This fits like a shower cap. I didn’t think this would work for me as my basket is secured to the handle bars with straps at the top edge.

I found a great on-line site for buying just the fabric I needed. Pennine Outdoor. You can buy everything you need to make your own outdoor gear including all accessories like zippers, reflective trims, elastic shock cord, toggles etc.

waterproof fabric and cord from Pennine Outdoor

waterproof fabric and cord from Pennine Outdoor

I bought this PU coated nylon at £5.75 per metre, along with some reflective piping. I also bought elastic shockcord, a toggle and some 1″ wide elastic, as at this point I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to secure the cover.

I started by taking a pattern for the top shape of the basket. I stitched the reflective piping around the sides and front. I then added a strip to form the side panel. I had to start and finish where the handle bar straps were then I added a small section between these points.

the reflective piping needed to be snipped to get it to sit round the curve nicely

the reflective piping needed to be snipped to get it to sit round the curve nicely

The top of cover fitted great but the sides stood away from the sides as the basket sloped inwards slightly. I had originally thought I would secure the cover to the basket with two loops of elastic which would secure underneath.  I thought about adding narrow elastic to the hem to pull it in slightly and then I went for the shock cord. I had originally bought this and the toggle to make a seat cover. I wasted a bit of time trying to thread the cord though the hem I’d sewn in the panel. It wasn’t going to work but I had enough depth to cut off the hem and do this properly. This took some thinking about 🙂 (don’t try to unpick waterproof fabric, you’ll be left with a load of needle holes).

If I wanted the toggle at the front I’d need to thread it on to the cord first and make a buttonhole for it to exit from.

setting the cord and toggle in position before sewing it in

setting the cord and toggle in position before sewing it in

To secure the ends of the cord to the cover I added a piece of self fabric to each end (I only broke one needle doing this) then secured the self fabric into the hem and stitched the hem with the cord in position.

sewing self fabric to the ends of the cord and then securing the fabric to the hem

sewing self fabric to the ends of the cord and then securing the fabric to the hem

I added some squares of stick on Velcro to the areas just by the handlebar straps but these lasted one journey but actually the cover is secure enough without these.

The cover has been put to the test a few times so far and it’s standing up to the job.

Hopefully this picture shows the reflective piping at work in the dark

Hopefully this picture shows the reflective piping at work in the dark