Capsule Wardrobe: cycling knickers

I adjusted a pants pattern to make some knickers for cycling. The stretchy fabric was a challenge, especially on vertical seams. I struggled with the zipper installation, and the waistband, and regret not using a stronger fusible interfacing. They came out wearable, and comfortable, and ok. A great practice garment I think.


My precision top stitching is lost among the threads, because black matched too well. Ah maybe next time I will be bold and choose a more vibrant color. You can see there is lots of room for movement in these knickers.


The fabric is a wool blend, clearly with more lycra than was best. When you purchase ready to wear knickers, they are a thin strong poly lycra something or other. The fabric is tough, feels tough, and has mechanical if not actual stretch to them. They have paneling in the seat, presumably for comfort of movement. I want to design/find a pattern that works well to make better cycling pants. I want to have paneling in the seat so I can either add two layers of fabric where you sit on your bike seat, or some other type of strengthening of fabric to that area.


The small grey tag is reflective fabric, just a hint of the purpose of these pants. I made the pockets with some quilting cotton, a blue background with multicolored bike and traffic signs. Also you can see the beautiful texture of thee fabric in the below picture, showing you the pocket bags.


With my extra bits I whipped up a matching pair for my kiddo. While he does love the pants and was very excited to have them, he dislikes sitting still for posed pictures.


He does look so much like his father sometimes it’s shocking. The merino wool v-neck I made him earlier this year looks smart with these pull on summer “shorts.” The pattern is a bermuda shorts pattern from Ottobre, of course.


So far, I am very happy with my capsule wardrobe. My hubs looks good and likes his new clothes, and it’s fun to see him wearing clothes I make. I have until the end of May to finish the capsule wardrobe; only 3 pieces left. Let’s see if I can remain focused!

Pins and Needles, stickers too

I love learning new things. It’s in my family blood I think, as I am one of a group of makers. and, as far as I can tell, we are all suckers for instructional videos. The “how it’s made” movies and videos are awesome, and quick bits of information you can easily learn about and be mesmerized by. I recall seeing how pencils and crayons are made in a long movie, I think maybe from Reading Rainbow, as a little girl. I love watching manufacturing. I find solace in process, and recognize repetition in patterns easily. It’s like a preternatural skill, my eye for identifying comparable systems. So when I saw a silly Facebook link to “How Pins are Made” I jumped on it instantly.

Now wasn’t that awesome? So much work, just for needles. Polishing for days! Crazy! So neat! And the hand sorting …. does that really happen?

Well, having watched this video two days ago, I discovered yesterday why the hand sorting is so crucial. Like a negative Kismet moment, or bad karma biting me back, let me show you what happened.

If I recall good sewing advice, it begins with…

“Pull your threads back before you start sewing, making sure the threads are a few inches long.”

“Hand crank the wheel a turn or two before you start the pedal.”

But, you know how it goes. You are pressured for time or rushing or maybe just excited to be making something and you sew. You go and sew. And then you hear or see or feel that terrible scratching crunching breaking sound that your little sweet baby is broken.

Check this.


Crazy right? ONE NEEDLE IS LONGER. OMG. By a fraction, by the tiniest bit of a bit. a hair’s breadth. a minuscule amount. barely. But long enough to scratch up the bobbin holder.

scratched bobbin holders

See those gouges? One needle a smidgen too long.*

So thank you THANK YOU hand sorters! Whomever makes my needles correctly for the past 8 years of regular sewing, I have never had this happen before. Good job. Great job even. 1 needle among hundreds that were perfect. and 1 little jerky needle who decided to be too long.

On a good note, look at the gorgeous stickers my husband had made for me! If you want one, let me know! Send me an email with your physical address!

bird and bicycle stickers



*ok maybe not all the scratches but the giant gouges for sure from just this needle.

** for the disbeliever, these are the same brand of needle just different sizes.

Wool Pullover for Bicycling

Biking in the fall and winter in our lovely and beautiful pacific northwest means you need layers. It does rain here, but I find that real rain “proof” clothes like rain slickers or capes are frustrating to commute around in. Wool is great, dries well and keeps well. This pullover works as a top layer, with a neck zipper for extra ventilation. The pattern was Simplicity 1287, and had easy simple lines. In my stash was this gorgeous waffle knit in a grey wool, ridiculously soft, so easy to work with. It was perfect for this project and a stash buster!

As this was a Simplicity pattern, I double checked the finished garment size, and made a mock up. The finished chest size was 46″ on a medium. Crazy! So to fit my tall and slender husband, I cut a medium almost everywhere. I added 1″ to the arms (see the cuff fits perfectly on his wrist!) and blended the shoulder from a medium to the large at the neck collar. I kept the collar a large, and it worked out beautifully I think. The fit seems great, and I will keep this pattern to make him a couple more. Maybe a fleece one with some reflective shoulder pieces? Or some fancy bonded stuff from Seattle Fabrics?

wool pullover by bird and bicycle for commuting by bike

I am not going to say this was an easy project though. The collar was really a bugger. The muslin I made was in an interlock knit with a similar stretch and weight as the wool, and for some reason the collar went in perfectly smooth in that textile. I top-stitched the wool collar at least 4 times, and got really good practice at removing cover-stitch threads. I top-stitched the zipper and then removed those threads as well. I struggled to get the perfect line, and eventually gave in to “good enough.” Luckily that doesn’t show in the final product.

I struggle with my need for perfection.

My husband likes this, and it may prove helpful when we do our camping biking trips this summer. Otherwise, if it’s a hot summer (OMG it’s been 86′ here that is CRAZY and climate change is ruining my cool spring. I hope we fix this problem soon!*) I won’t see him wear this until at least October, which is a bummer because dang…. he looks good in this.

wool pullover by bird and bicycle for commuting by bike

I am getting the sunny itch to sew my kid some adorable spring clothes in citron and navy, so I may take a break from this capsule wardrobe for a week or sew and make some adorable things for my 4 year old. We will see!

If you want to see what other people are sewing in the capsule wardrobe, check out the sew a long Facebook group here (or maybe it’s private, anyway, here it is.)



*wow I really made climate change, the destruction of our planet, and humanity’s awful selfishness sound like no big deal. Recycle, use less, consume less, share more, and stop wasting! Don’t drive – bike!