As I’ve mentioned before, I am pretty obsessed with my bike right now. I promise, I will eventually return to talking about other subject matter, but for now you guys are all stuck hearing about my bike. As are the other inhabitants of Casa Half Egg. I’ve been spending a lot of time on the internet reading about bikes and about women wearing skirts on bikes and all manner of ladylike bike information. The Artist started teasing me that I was googling “how to be a pretty bike lady.” I wasn’t actually, but it was funny. But I do want to be a pretty bike lady, so I included that in my title this week.
But in order to be a pretty bike lady who bikes around in skirts (I’m not going to suddenly fill my wardrobe with pants so I can start using my bike as a major mode of transportation), I realized I needed a skirt guard.
Right now, you are probably asking yourself what a skirt guard is. They are very uncommon on American bikes, but are apparently quite common on Dutch bikes, since the Dutch love to ride their bikes around in their everyday clothing. A skirt guard is a piece of metal or fabric that attaches to the fenders on the rear wheel to keep skirts or long coats from getting stuck in the spokes as you ride. Not everyone who rides in skirts uses a skirt guard (case in point- the women of the blog Let’s Go Ride a Bike don’t have skirt guards on all of their bikes). But I was wearing one of my favorite skirts on my bike a couple of weeks ago, and it got stuck in the brakes and the spokes, especially whenever a car passed me and made a cross wind. So I decided that it is important to me to have one. Can’t go getting fabric stuck in our brakes, now, can we?
You can purchase skirt guards on Etsy or other places on the internet. But why would I ever spend $30 or so when I can spend just a couple of dollars and a few hours with my sewing machine? So I headed to the thrift store. They didn’t have anything good, so I went to Buffalo Exchange, where, incidentally, every single employee separately complimented me on my awesome helmet. I purchased this purple and gold sheer shirt for $7.
And the usual first step: taking out all the seams. This shirt was very flowy, so it yielded a nice big quantity of fabric.
I used the two sleeve sections for one part of the skirt guard and the front and back for another. I sewed the bottom seams of the front and back together for the seam to lay right over the fender, and put in on the bike to pin things.
I put some pins in a line to show myself where the skirt guard should end. Then, once I’d hemmed those edges, I worked on how to attach it. I knew I wanted the guard to be removable so I can wash it if necessary, so I decided to attach it with tabs that snap on. I sewed the tabs to the edges of the fabric, and then pinned where the snaps should go. I did the fitting with trial and error–tugging and pinning until it fit how I wanted it to.
I made the tabs out of the edging from the shirt–the neckline and the sleeve ends.
The skirt guard is made out of two sections. This section was made using the sleeves, and it covers the front portion of the wheel.
The other, larger section has three snap tabs on each side–to cover the brakes, middle, and rear of the wheel.
That’s it! Before I show a picture of me riding in a flowy skirt with my new guard, I’d like to share a funny story from the ballet class I teach. My class is out in the suburbs, where nobody bikes for transportation. Bikes in the suburbs are for weekend rides for fun, if even that. So my students have never seen it done. I mentioned that my husband and I had just gotten bikes to ride around, and one of my students said, “You know what I hate? Is when men ride their bikes in suits and business clothes. It’s like, that’s not what you wear to ride bikes!” So I laughed, and said that that’s exactly what my husband does. And then another student said, “Yeah, and in movies how they always have women riding around in flowy skirts. It’s like, that just doesn’t happen!” So I laughed again and told them that I don’t wear pants and I ride my skirt in flowy dresses, so yes, it does happen. They asked about it getting stuck in the spokes, so I explained about skirt guards and I think I blew their minds. I’m definitely their hippie teacher–another time I said I don’t use a hairdryer, so they asked if I dry my hair by rolling my car windows down, and then were very, very confused when I said I don’t drive often enough for that to be a hair drying strategy.
Anyway, after I finished my skirt guard, I put on a pretty flowy dress and went on a ride. I found that the drivers were generally much sweeter when I was all girlified. One woman was grinning ear to ear as she watched me make a left turn in front of her.
(For instructions on making a skirt guard for a bike that does not have the built-in bungee cord loops, please see How to Make a Skirt Guard So You Can Be a Pretty Bike Lady, Part 2)