How to Make a Skirt Guard So You Can Be a Pretty Bike Lady, Part 2

S on SnowdoniaAfter K got her awesome old bike, she asked me to make her a skirt guard so she could also be a pretty bike lady. And I was happy to oblige. I love making stuff!

In case you didn’t know, I’m really excited about K’s bike. Back when I first introduced you all to bluebird, I mentioned that I got her because I fondly remembered my mom’s beautiful blue bike with brown handlebars and saddle, and that bike is K’s new Ole Biddy.

The reason for the second tutorial here is that Ole Biddy’s rear rack is not shaped the same as Bluebird’s. For my skirt guard, I was able to attach the fabric directly to the ring on my rack that was designed to hold bungee cords. K’s new rack, as you can see below, had no such loop.

So clean and so fresh!At first, I was worried about how I could attach the skirt guard, but I found the perfect thing! We had these clip rings from college when K had made a tapestry into a curtain.

We decided that a burgundy skirt guard would look beautiful on Old Biddy to bring out her stripes. After holding up a bunch of things we had to her, we realized we needed a brown burgundy, not a purple burgundy, found the appropriate color in the Artist’s Pantone book, and headed out to the thrift store. We picked out a sheer burgundy tunic with embroidery and edging that we thought would go great with the 70’s styling of her bicycle. Here is the shirt with the clip rings:

shirt before

After playing around with the shirt, we decided that we wanted to use the embroidery along the top edge of the fender, so I cut straight up the back of the shirt.

back cut open

Then the sleeves were in the way, so I removed them as well.

sleeves removed

I sewed a few sets of snaps to the edges of the former neckline and made a new seam down the length of the sleeves, cutting off the back portion. This allowed the top part to attach to the bike:

front snaps

Next, I hooked that curtain ring onto the fender:

curtain ring

Then I pulled the extra fabric through the rings and pinned where it should end. I cut off the excess and hand sewed the fabric around the ring, being sure to tuck in the raw edges. And then I was done, and she went on a ride. And it was a fail.

fail

As soon as she started riding, the fabric all bunched forward so that it didn’t cover the back portion of the wheel. That wouldn’t be helpful for a ride in a flowy skirt, so I added a couple more snaps to hold it down.

final snap

Skirt guards are the awesomest!

after

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Refashion Friday: White Tank Top

S on SnowdoniaWe’re going home to see our Mom and Dad this weekend for Father’s Day and my Dad’s birthday. So I’m busy packing and making the house clean. So I decided to do a quick refashion.

Not every refashion is about taking clothes and making them drastically different. Sometimes it’s just little tweaks to make them fit better in your wardrobe. That’s the case for this week’s tank top. I’ve had it for a long time and I’ve always liked it, but the length has always been a problem for me. Since when is it that tank tops are so long?

white tank top too long beforeI assume it’s made that way to be worn over leggings to yoga class or some such. However, I don’t really leave the house in leggings (dance pants sometimes, but this tank top is too long for them, too.) But it’s just too long to wear with a skirt, as you can see. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense considering my entire wardrobe is skirts and dresses. So far when I’ve worn it, I have basically just pulled the bottom up to where I’d like it, but it’s just got too many folds to look really nice:

white tank top scrunched before

A chop was in order.

chop!I folded it under, and I wanted the bottom to look like it was made that length, so I outfitted my sewing machine with my handy dandy walking foot and twin needle.

twin needle

And now I have a shirt that is a much better length for skirt wearing!

white tank top after

And thus completes this week’s terrible to wearable, completed in less than an hour.

white tank top before and after

 

 

 

Add an awesome bike to the family! (Including a lot of upgrades)

K on treeSo I know you have been waiting a long time for this, but I finally have a bike! The rest of the family has had one for a few months now, and I’ve been totally left out waiting for someone to go pick up my bike from my parents house.

See, when S and I were children, our mom had this really pretty bike that she got at a garage sale. I remember it being so awesome because it was pretty and delicate, not stupid and sporty like all the new bikes in the store. (My bike was pretty too then, cuz it was all metallic purple and stuff, but it was still pretty sporty since that’s the kind of bike you get at department stores, and, let’s be honest, children don’t need expensive bikes.)

The bike was a pretty blue. I think it’s probably from the late 70s, and I knew my mom still had it in her basement, even if it hadn’t been ridden in at least 10 years. So I figured instead of buying a new bike, I’d wait and pick up Mom’s bike and see if I could get it fixed up for a good deal less than the new bikes. Plus I’d have an awesome vintage bike with sentimental value (love you, mommy!).

S and the Architect went over on Memorial Day weekend and picked up my bike. Ol’ Redneck’s dad had done some work on it to make it look a lot better, but the brakes were clearly still in need of replacing, and we were a little worried about safety.

This is what it looked like when I got it:

IMG_0099 (1)As you can see, the shape of the bike is awesome! What’s a little harder to tell is that it’s kinda rusty all over. She kind of complained loudly whenever you rode her (still does actually), which is why I’ve named her Ole Biddy.

Oh, and here’s a gratuitous picture of the bike all packed up and my mom’s dog, A Dubs, trying to ride her. But seriously, A Dubs, I know you like attention, but that’s not how you ride a bike.

A Dubs! That's not how you ride a bike!So the first thing I did was take it to the bike store to see if I could get it in working order. They said for about $100, they’d fix up the gear shifter and replace the brake pads and tires, which was all that was really needed to fix ‘er up, and that they’d even add a rear rack for that much! Yay!

So after a week of waiting some more, I went to pick up my bike. Good news: she looked pretty! Bad news: the had run out of brake pads, so she still squealed. But he said he had cut them a little, which apparently helps to be sure they work in the meantime until the new pads come in from the distributor. Here I am riding her for the first time without feeling like I’ll die!

Ridin' a bike

Though, you can tell how she’s complaining with my facial expression. That Ole Biddy does not like to be ignored! So after we figured out that it would be a totally usable bike, S and I spent a weekend morning cleaning her up with some old soap pads Mom gave us. They really worked like a charm! It was amazing! With almost no effort, we wear able to get a lot of the rust off, leaving a glistening shine instead of an allover rusty glow!

Here is the washing in process:

washy washy

And a complete after view, looking sparkly!

So clean and so fresh!

Bling!

After that, it was really like a facelift for the Ole Biddy, making her look a lot younger and fresher. Now that the safety issues were (mostly) fixed, there was only one thing to do: find a basket. So we went on a long (16 mile) bike ride down to an antique mall to pick out a new basket for her. Along the way I discovered that this old seat was EXTREMELY uncomfortable. I knew that the springs were rusted, but there was something inside that was actually poking right into my bones. So we tried to stop by a bike store to buy me a new saddle, but they didn’t have any I liked, so I ordered one and dealt with the pain. (That saddle still isn’t in, but they felt bad for me and lent me a Brooks saddle for the meantime, so at least that’s a perk). Oh, and in case you were curious, this is the horrible image of the inside of the Hannibal Lecter torture device seat, under the faded faux leather:

Hannibal Lecter will eat you from you bike!The horror!!!!

Anyway, we got a cute basket, which the Architect cleverly installed with some wooden boards, screws and metal fasteners, and now I look super pretty on my bike! Here’s a picture from a picnic the Artist and I went on for our 6th anniversary!

Bike bike bike

And in keeping with the bike theme of our lives right now, I got him a rather appropriate anniversary gift: excellent panniers for his bike. They are awesome because they roll up, so they don’t have to be taking up space if you don’t want them, they have a detachable shoulder strap so you can carry them into the store if you want, and they have a lock so you can lock them to your bike if you don’t feel like taking them into the store with you. Luckily he was quite happy with the anniversary gift, and I’m quite happy with our relationship, and everyone is happy about their bikes.Bike bags

 

Our Little Family FAQ: Groceries and Budgeting

S on SnowdoniaI figured I would continue on with the posts explaining our family dynamics and such with a post about budgeting and groceries. Our system is to split pretty much everything in half, and each couple deals with their own half.

Google docs is our friend. We have two family documents set up, one called “Shopping List” and one called “Who owes who what.” Anytime someone pays for something for the house, which is usually groceries, but also includes rent and other miscellany they add 50% to their column. We have one column for K and the Artist, and another column for the Architect and me. At the end of each month, we tally up what each couple owes the other, find the difference, and then pay up. The Architect and I pretty much always owe a big chunk of money to K and the Artist, because K pays the rent.

As for groceries, anytime someone uses the last of something, they add it to the Shopping List. Our cooking schedule is that the Artist cooks on Mondays, I cook on Tuesdays, the Architect cooks on Wednesdays, and K cooks on Thursdays. The weekends are usually eating out, cooking whatever we find in the kitchen, or eating leftovers. Each weekend, everyone decides what they are going to cook and puts the ingredients they need on the Shopping List. Then on Monday either the Artist or I goes shopping.

We have a chalkboard menu in the kitchen where we list whatever we’re cooking. It often has funny names, like stuffed baked potato extravaganza or whatever’s in the house pot pie.

Each couple deals with their own budgeting differently. It’s easier for the Architect and I, since we’re married and have joint banking. It means that we don’t ever owe each other money, which K and the Artist do sometimes. But on the other hand, K and the Artist have budgeting much easier because we have WAY MORE student loans that make a pretty big dent in our money.

 

Refashion Friday: Sun Cardigan

S on SnowdoniaI’m getting tan. Really tan. Here it is the end of May and I’m already as tan as I normally am at the end of the summer. I think there are a few reasons for this. One of them is that we’re further south, so the sun’s rays are more intense. And then I think it’s being outside more often, which is because of a mix of not having a job tying me to the indoors all day long and spending so much time on my bike.

So, something must be done to keep me from totally frying my skin. I’m not a huge fan of the “sunscreen every day” method, so I prefer the “wear clothes” method. Which I’ve done before with success by wearing a button-down cotton shirt if I know I will be outside a lot. It’s like carrying around portable shade! It’s the best. (Well, second only to sun hats.) But the only cotton button-down I have is yellow with flowers. While it’s cool, it doesn’t exactly go with all my outfits. I decided to refashion a sun cardigan that’s white so I can wear it with any of my dresses, and a crop length so that it doesn’t totally hide my other clothes. I  bought the perfect thing at the thrift store:

sun cardigan before

I don’t really get what’s going on with the shoulder seam being so far down, and (spoiler alert!) I didn’t do anything to fix that in this project. This shirt is too drapey and long for the sun cardigan of my dreams, and I would really prefer not to slip it over my head. The back had a little corset lacing detail:

before back

At first I thought I might open the back, removing the corset-lacing panel, and wear the shirt backward, but when I tried it on that way, it just looked really weird. So I cut straight down the front.

cut down the front

I opened it up and decided it would be good to give it a knot closure, so I cut off the bottom shaped to make ties.

bottom chopping

And then I hemmed the bottom and folded the front to hang how I liked and then stitched that down. Eh voila! A sun cardigan!

after front

I think the lace-up detailing is cuter now, and the drapeyness there can be a little wind vent on my bike.

after backThe end!

before and after

 

Our Little Family FAQ: Dating

K on treeI’m going to follow up on S’s post last week about our little family to discuss another part of our lives that people often ask about: dating.

People frequently wonder if we get enough time alone with our significant other to have a quality relationship. Then I hear people giving relationship advice saying “remember to date your spouse. Keep the romance alive.”

One of the great benefits of our living situation is the almost necessity to have dates. You want some time just the two of you–you have to plan it. This weekend was a good example. S and the Architect went off to visit his family for the weekend, so the Artist and I were left alone. That of course meant that we had to have an epic date day! Time alone is special!

There are major benefits to believing that time alone with each other is special, which means you appreciate it so much more when it happens. If you’re just alone all the time, you don’t have a reason to take advantage of the time.

So what did the Artist and I do on our epic date? We biked down to a park, had an awesome picnic, went to a hardware store and got some flowers, then rode back, went to the pool, went out for dinner, and played videogames. That’s what I call a day appreciating each other and your relationship.

bike date

Refashion Friday: Picnic Blanket Dress

S on SnowdoniaToday’s refashion came courtesy of one of my Mom’s Old Fashioned Fabulous Thrift Store Hauls. It’s a sundress that looks like a picnic blanket. I thought that made it particularly appropriate of a refashion to start the Memorial Day weekend. The Architect and I are going to go visit his parents.

This is actually not the first picnic blanket dress I have ever owned. When I was first getting into sewing as an adult back in college, I made myself a red gingham dress that I really, really loved. I wore it all the time, especially on the fourth of July. Or, you know, while rehearsing dance pieces on stage the day of a performance:

Picnic blanket dress frm scratch

However, the dress eventually had to go to the thrift store to make new friends because my ribs got bigger and I couldn’t breathe while wearing it anymore. It was a truly sad day.

But! Now I have a new picnic blanket dress. The only problem is that neckline is WAY LOW.

Picnic blanket dress beforeThere’s a refashioner on the case, though. So it’s not a problem at all. Step one: Remove the bust pieces:

bust removed

Step two: Switch their places and sew them together in the middle.

bust reconstituted

Step three: Reattach them to the top of the dress and call it a day!

Picnic blanket dress after

And thus concludes this week’s patriotic holiday-themed (why are picnic blankets supposed to be red plaid anyway?) picnic blanket dress refashion.

Picnic blanket before and after

 

 

Our little family FAQ: Privacy

S on SnowdoniaIt’s been a while since I made a post about life with my little family of four. Back in October, I wrote a post about marriage and sisterhood, and why we all choose to live together. Today, I thought I would answer a frequently asked question that I get about our lifestyle.

We are two couples who live together, and when I tell people that I live with my husband, my twin sister, and her boyfriend, there are a few stock responses I get. (That happens so much in life. I get the same joke every time I tell someone my name, too. And I often get stripper jokes when I tell people I’m a dancer. But that’s beside the point.) One of the responses is “Oh, I’ve always wished I had a twin. That must be so nice.” Which is great. It is so nice. Another one is “I would never want to live with my sister. Don’t you need to have your own identity?” People ask us when we’re going to grow up and form our own households, or how that will never work once my husband and I “start a family.” Which is funny, I think, because the four of us together already HAVE started a family with each other.

Anyway, none of those are the questions which I intend to address today. The real question I get is only asked by people I know a little bit. It’s not asked by the dentist or the business contact, but by people who may someday turn into friends. And that is the question of privacy.

We somehow have this idea in our society that if you are a single twenty-something and have a roommate, privacy isn’t a real problem. If you are a couple living together, it’s not a problem. If you’re a couple with kids, the kids probably get in the way of privacy, but of course they do. But why on Earth would a couple want to live with other adults? It’s the same question that couples with another roommate get a lot, I think.

And I’ll be honest, privacy has been a problem for us sometimes. In our last apartment, which was a big factory-conversion loft where the Architect and I lived with K throughout our engagement and first year of marriage, the walls to our bedroom did not go all the way to the ceiling. We had many whispered conversations in those days, since our bedroom was in the living room, acoustically speaking. K’s bedroom walls did go all the way to the ceiling, so at least there was some ability to have walls block sounds in the apartment. Our current apartment is so small that there is nowhere good for the Artist to put his computer, so his desktop screens face the couch and we can all see what he’s doing all the time.

We can’t walk around the house in our underwear. We can’t assume we can’t be heard. But we’re all adults. When the Artist and I are home alone all day, I often pretend I can’t see what’s on his computer screen and purposefully keep my eyes away in the interest of maintaining some privacy. We do sometimes have to build privacy. The Architect sometimes watches sports and the Artist plays videogames while K and I have girl time with our friends who come over. We snuggle in separate parts of the house at the same time, each couple in their own world. We steal kisses around the corner in the kitchen.

But maintaining that privacy isn’t the real issue of privacy when living together in a group. The real issue is realizing that in the grand scheme of things, privacy isn’t that important. Historically speaking, Americans have an insane amount of privacy these days. A hundred years ago it was normal for a family with many children to share a one-room house, and even all share a bed. And it was fine. And we’re so much happier having this big family we see every day and share meals and difficulties with that it doesn’t even matter that we have to sacrifice a small amount of privacy. We still have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. We can get away from each other if we need to. But I would much, much rather have less privacy around the Artist, the Architect, and K than to be lonely.

And then there’s the question of the larger privacy issues in the world these days. Google knows more about me than many of my friends do. And there’s nothing that can be done about that, really. So what does privacy even mean? Who knows. All I know is that having two other adults in my house with my husband doesn’t make me feel like I don’t have privacy in the grand scheme of things.

Refashion Friday: Plum Plaid dress

S on SnowdoniaMy refashion this week was another thing I bought at the thrift store that I liked, but really just didn’t fit. It was a size XL. No big deal, of course. I can take it in. It was pretty, plum colored, and casual, which is just the kind of thing I need more of in my wardrobe.

The size meant that the chest hung too low, so I had to pull in the drawstring too tightly, and then it was just kind of lumpy all over.

plum plaid before

So the first thing I needed to do was take up the straps to make the neckline a bit less low cut. Because of the way it was shaped, I couldn’t just take it up from the shoulders, so I had to bring the seam forward a bit.

take up shoulders

 

After I took that in, I realized I couldn’t just take it in the sides because then the armholes would be too small.

shoulder doesnt fit

So I removed the bias tape from the edges so I could reshape the armholes after taking in the sides. Which I then did. Then I used another dress to shape the new armholes. As I did so, I made the straps skinnier to hide the seam on the front, to try to make it look a bit less altered.

recutting arm holes

And then I reattached the bias tape.

reattaching bias tape

 

And then I was done! Great new casual summertime dress.

plum plaid after

 

And that concludes this week’s refashion!

before and after

I finished another knitting project. Hooray!

K on treeOccasionally, I still find time to knit. And since I haven’t been knitting much, I’ve been interested in knitting shawls, especially garter stitch ones that I don’t require a gauge swatch or any thinking, really at all.

Also, we’ve been on this kick lately to get rid of things because we have stuff and our apartment was small. So I decided to kill 2 birds with one stone, and do an awesome, beautiful, easy stash-buster shawl! What was great about this was that I got to stash-bust 3 different yarns, and I ended up with a gorgeous shawl! How’s that for luck?

The pattern is called Slain by Lisa Mutch, and, unlike what I usually do, I sorta closely copied her colorways and followed the pattern exactly. No creativity whatsoever. Huzzah!

The lovely S is my model

The gray yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in Salt & Pepper. I had about a half skein leftover from when S made a pair of gloves for the Artist. (Ok, she had a half skein leftover, but let’s be honest. She wasn’t planning to use it.) We’ve probably had that yarn for about a year and a half.

The black yarn is one of the oldest yarns in my stash. Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Black. This yarn has been in my stash since 2010, when I bought it for the incredibly stupid idea of making cabled gloves on size 1 needles with it. (Why was that stupid? The yarn is black so there’s no contrast. You can’t see what you’re doing, at all.) Thankfully this project wasn’t intricate and did not require any looking at what I was doing. (OK, maybe a tiny bit).

The third, and most beautiful yarn in this shawl, is Madeline Tosh Merino Light in Tart. This was a gift from a friend of mine during our knitting group’s secret Santa before we moved. I always thought it was so beautiful, I couldn’t find a place to use it. So I finally decided this shawl was the one. And I think it looks pretty darn good.

Colors!

What I like about this shawl is that it’s completely asymmetrical. All the short rows are on one side, and the shawl is long and thin, almost more like a scarf. The design has movement and depth and beauty.

And it’s garter stitch, so easy knitting, blocking and wearing abound!

I’ll leave you with one last photo before I go. The front (aka, the short side!)

The front.