Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Arms, knees and feets - sewing cycling gear

It was Flipper's birthday recently and as I have done twice before (but only documented once here) I made him some lycra cycle shoe covers.

Why cover your cycle shoes with lycra booties? Well, they keep your toes slightly warmer, make you go ever so slightly faster, but mostly they make you look way more pro!

But this year I went a bit further and made him some arm and knee warmers too.

For the blog readers who don't cycle, or rather who don't cycle in lycra, I'll explain. Good quality lycra cycle gear is expensive, and to have long sleeve, short sleeve, long legs, short legs etc , and multiples of each 'cause you ride every day and can't keep up with the laundry, well it would get crazy pricey.*

*At this point I must mention out good friends and clothing sponsors who run THE best cycle holidays IN THE WORLD. Topbike Tours - check 'em out

Also, when you set off in the cold early morning and then it heats up later on, it's nice to be able to peel off your arm or knee warmers and not suffer in the boiler suit of a full length cycle kit.

Add in that the fella had taken a slide recently and put holes in his kit as well as his legs, he was sorely (ha!) in need of new cycle gear.

When I put in my order for the amazing eco-friendly VITA swimsuit lycra, I also ordered a few metres of Carvico Vuelta. It's a brushed back, fleece lycra with amazingly soft feel. Nice and thick but plenty stretchy enough. These arm and knee warmers feel every bit as good as that super expensive Swiss brand but I bought 3 metres of fabric for the cost of one pair of their arm warmers.

Of course it's hard to photograph black fabric and you'll just have to imagine the soft, snuggliness of the brushed face of the lycra.

As far as patterns go, I just traced around some existing kit - minus the road rash holes of course. I have all the pieces on pattern trace interfacing and could easily upload them if anyone has a desire for one size fits most cycling gear. These fit me just fine as well. Ping me an email if you're interested (sounds of crickets...)

The critical part of getting the "totally pro" feel is in the elastic. I've used silicone grip elastic to finish both upper and lower hems of the knee warmers, and the upper hem of the arm warmers. The wrist hem of the arm warmers was turned under and twin needle hemmed. The elastic needs to be firm but not overly tight. Here's where custom made really rocks, as it's easy for the less than super lean amongst us to get that awful sausage casing effect if the elastic is too tight. Yet nobody likes kneewarmers that keep falling down while you pedal. Happily, just going off his existing kit I got it exactly right.

Determined to make these to an acceptable standard I decided to fake flatlocked seams throughout. I've sewn the seams on the overlocker with wrong sides together, then folded the seam allowance to one side and stitched it down with the twin needle.

Most fortuitously I had just been gifted some silver, reflective bias tape from a sewing friend I went mountain biking with (thanks Nicki). I tucked little lengths under the seam allowances before stitching them down, so all three items; knees, arms and booties, have reflective tape on the back edges.

I'm very pleased with these and more than a bit jealous. I think I need to make some for me now.

Pattern: Self drafted from existing TopBike booties, Adidas kneewarmers and Assos Armwarmers
Fabric: Carvico Vuelta fleece lycra - heavenly!
Notions: Silicone elastic from Jimmy's Buttons. Reflective bias tape gifted.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Cut, Sew, Cartwheel, Blog: Jalie 3136

One of the things about sewing for kids is that their enthusiasm can be catching. Everything gets set aside to whip up the outfit of the moment. Right now it's all about gymnastics.

On Sunday, she was bugging me to buy a second hand leotard from her gymastics club that she's just recently joined. It was too small and the full priced ones that might come in her size just seemed crazy expensive to me. Do you do this too? It's not that I couldn't afford to buy the regular leotard but it just irks me to know that I could do it cheaper, probably just as well, and have more fun in the process.

So I convinced her I'd do a trial run and then we'd go fabric shopping together next weekend...

Sunday night became cutting night:


Whenever I've been at the sewing machine repair shop (Nick Ciancio - he's good) the kids rummage in the scrap fabric basket and dress themselves in outlandish outfits of tied on scraps. Last time, A had found a remnant that almost looked like it might be big enough for something. Nick always lets the kids take whatever bits they like, so we kept it.

It was big enough, but only just. The tiny bits above are all the leftovers after cutting the leotard. Design choices were made based solely on the fabric allowance.

Long sleeves were out (boo), but then that left enough to add the skirt (yay). The requested cross over bodice was possible (yay) but only on the front (boo).

I thought it would be as simple as cutting the View B bodice for the front and the View A bodice for the back, but I hadn't looked at the shoulder width. The round neck version has a considerably narrower shoulder than the cross over one. I had to scoop a good 3/4" off the front shoulder to make them fit together.

Monday was sewing day and to say she was excited to wear it to her gymnastics class on Tuesday is just a bit of an understatment!

The neck binding looked a bit wavy and stretched out when it was straight off the machine, but happily when she's wearing it, it is fine.The size is the same J width and L length I'd done for swimemrs. Fit wise: I think the leg elastic might need to be bigger, or maybe cut the leg openings a bit lower at the back. I suspect there was some wedgy action going on under the skirt. The upper sleeves are a tiny bit tight. Otherwise it seems perfect.

She was positively prancing around in her class and her teachers did comment that she was easy to spot! :)

Pattern: Jalie 3136
Size: J width l length
Fabric: Scrounged lycra with crazy print and metallic gold highlights from Nick Ciancio Sewing Machine Repairs.
 (go watch that video link, it's great!)

* crappy photography virtue of flash battery being dead and us being in a hurry to get to gymnastics.
Notions: 1cm elastic