04/10/14

Crafting with Inner Tubes is now available

by Jessie Kwak

Okay, all the teasing is over — I’m now officially ready to launch the first-ever Bicitoro ebook: Crafting with Inner Tubes.

Click to read more about it. You can even snag a copy of your own if you want – I won't stop you.

Click to read more about it. You can even snag a copy of your own if you want – I won’t stop you.

I already gushed about it a ton last week and on its sales page, so I’ll spare you much more here.

I’m selling it for $6, but I’ve got a special deal for anyone who’s subscribed to my email list — it’s only $0.99 until April 15. Sign up for the list and I’ll send you the code.

Happy crafting!

04/6/14

Merino wool inspiration – active yet chic

by Jessie Kwak

If you’re not already familiar with Fabric Mart, then I’m sorry to do this to you. Sewists without self control probably shouldn’t click on that link, because you’ll just find crazy cheap fabrics from name brand designers. All the luscious silks, wools, and bamboos you’ve been trying to avoid buying, all at prices that are so insanely reasonable it just would be crazy to not buy a few yards.

What you really shouldn’t do is sign up for their email newsletter, because they’ll just send you tempting emails full of killer deals, like 50% off merino wool jersey in a whole rainbow of awesome colors.

(They’re not paying me for any of this – I’m totally just warning you out of the goodness of my own heart.)

I’ve been on a fabric buying freeze since we moved, because shit, moving is expensive! Plus, having to pack all those boxes of fabric reminded me that I’ve started to verge on hoarders territory. But when Fabric Mart sent me their nefarious newsletter a month ago, I just couldn’t resist snatching up some of this gorgeous merino wool jersey.

Merino wool jersey

Aren’t those colors stunning?

I haven’t cut into any of it yet, because I’m still coming up with inspirations. I’ve pinned a few here:

Screenshot 2014-04-06 14.57.43

I’m wanting to make something that’s sporty enough to work well on a bike – even a more “workout” sort of ride – while still looking cute. I have 2 yards of the green and orange, and 3 yards of the purple, so while I might be able to make a dress out of that, the green and orange will likely turn into tops of some sort.

I’m really loving something like this Equinox Dress from Morphic on Etsy, maybe in the purple (which is a bit heavier weight).

Equinox dress

I also dig this asymmetrical button dress, which seems like it would work in a lighter weight jersey. I could maybe pull that off with 2 yards of fabric. But should I do it in orange or green?

Gathered merino dress

I’ve been wanting a blouse like this Siren Shell from Ureshii, also on Etsy. That would be pretty simple to make.

Siren Shell

What do you guys think?

02/26/14

Tutorial: Sporty knit slip

by Jessie Kwak

I’m so in love with this slip, you guys!

Sporty knit slip tutorial - finished | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

I have an army of camisoles that I wear under everything from tees to dresses in order to smooth out bra lines and add a bit of smoothing, etc. (You know.) The problem with wearing a camisole under a dress is that it tends to bunch up around the hips, giving you that weird bulging line right where you least want it.

This sporty knit slip is basically a long tank top, and eliminates that tank-top line problem.

Why is it sporty? It’s made out of wicking, anti-microbial activewear fabric. It’s stretchy, so there’s no problem pedaling, yet it fits a bit snugly, so if your skirt flares up on your bike you’re not giving the world a show. I think it’s quite nice to wear under a dress if I’m pedaling around town.

It’s meant to hug the body snugly, which is why I’m not going to model it for the internet. I’ll let Little Red take on that responsibility, because she doesn’t mind spending a February afternoon standing around in the backyard in her underpinnings. She’s a bit of an exhibitionist that way.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - front view | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

You’ll just have to believe me when I say it looks fabulous on me, too. :)

Make your own sporty knit slip

Grab a favorite close-fitting knit camisole – this is your main pattern. The only other pattern piece you need is this one, for the bodice. That piece is for a size small – I’ll talk about modifying it in a moment.

Lay the camisole out on a double layer of knit fabric, and trace around the whole thing with chalk. Use the back of the camisole as your guide, and don’t bother tracing the front at this point. You’ll be making the bodice cups separately.

Figure out where the hem of the camisole hits on your body, and figure out how long you want the slip to be. Draw a line straight down from the camisole’s hem to lengthen the skirt.

(You can make the skirt flare if you like, but I kept it as a pencil silhouette.)

Add seam allowance (I used 1/2″), then cut out the whole thing through both layers.

You now have two Back pieces.

To make one of them into the Front, figure out where the underbust line is. Draw straight across that, add seam allowance, and then cut across.

The bodice cups

Using this pattern piece modified for your own size, cut out two cups.

This piece is designed for a 14″ underbust measurement (flat measured on the Front pattern piece, including seam allowance). It fits well from cup sizes A-C, since the knit material is so stretchy, and it’s designed to fit quite snugly for extra support. I’m a C cup, and it fits great. Little Red’s an A cup, and it looks nice on her, too.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - little red1 | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

That said, if you’re a D or larger (or if you just want more coverage) you should probably do a FBA. (This post on Pattern Scissors Cloth about doing a FBA for the Ruby Slip is a good place to start.)

For a totally effective, totally hack way to modify it to a bigger (or smaller) ribcage size:

Measure flat across the underbust seam of your Front pattern piece (for me, that’s 14″). The lower edge of the cup piece should be two thirds that length when measured at the seam line, subtracting the fullness of the dart (the sample pattern piece is 9.5″ across, subtracting the dart).

Simply blow up that pattern piece on your computer to get the desired dimensions.

Like I said, that’s the totally not tailor’s-union approved way of going up a size. Knit fabric is super forgiving and the cups don’t take up much fabric, so give yourself permission to play around.

Construction

Stitch the darts in the cups.

Apply picot lingerie elastic or fold over elastic (I got mine from Porcelynne on Etsy) to the neckline of both cup pieces, leaving a tail long enough to be a strap. (Measure the straps of your pattern camisole to get an idea of length.)

To learn how to use picot elastic, check out this post at Indigorchid. (That’s a great place to start if you want to make your own undies, too.) Angry Chicken has a nice video tutorial on fold over elastic.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - closeup | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

Lay both cups over the pattern to figure out how much they should overlap in front, then baste together.

Stitch the cups to the front of the slip with right sides facing.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - bodice | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

Stitch the front and back together at the side seams.

For all the seams, I used a narrow zigzag stitch, and then finished the edges with my serger.

Finishing

Now you’ll use the fold over elastic to finish not only the back and underarm, but also the picot elastic straps. This creates a really strong, stretchy strap.

Starting at one end of the picot lingerie lace that edges the neckline, head down under the arm, around the back, and back up the other strap.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - strap detail | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

I use a zigzag stitch down the middle of one edge while the fold over elastic is laying flat. Then I fold it over and zigzag closer to the edge to make it lie neatly. Don’t stretch too much, since your pattern should already be quite snug.

Try on the slip. Pin the straps at the correct length, and mark the hemline. Mine falls about 3″ above my knees.

Stitch the straps in place with a zigzag stitch, and trim off any extra.

Hem the bottom, being sure to use a stretchy stitch, since it’ll stretch quite a bit when you walk or pedal.

Sporty knit slip tutorial - bodice detail | Bicitoro bikes and crafts


That’s it! This project took me about 2 hours, including the time I took to re-do the picot trim because it was wonky at first.

Questions? Ask away in the comments. My goal is to help people be more comfortable sewing quick projects like this without patterns, so I’m happy to help if you get stuck on any of the steps.

02/22/14

Sewing patterns for activewear

by Jessie Kwak

Has your winter been weird, too? In Portland it’s been sunny-rainy-gorgeous-Snowpocalypse-sunny-rainy-repeat. I’ve gotten out on my bike a little, but mostly I’ve been staying close to home.

Bad weather days are great for tackling sewing projects, and I’ve been feeling inspired lately to make some more activewear. Maybe another pair of leggings and a different vest.

Y’know, change up my look.

(How many years in a row can I rock the exact same leggings and vest?)

Photo by Robert Kittilson

Photo by Robert Kittilson

Sewing leggings is a pretty simple matter (check out this tutorial), but I’d like to make some more complicated items.

It’s hard to find good sewing patterns for activewear, though!

Here’s a roundup of what I have found. Have you got anything to add? Sound off in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!


Lola Sweater Dress

Lola_Cover

This sweater dress, Lola from Victory Patterns, would make an adorable winter cycling dress! I’ve got a few yards of bamboo sweatshirt fleece, and some yummy merino jersey that might be great for it.

I first saw Lola on Lladybird, where Lauren has some good tips about her own adjustments, as well as sewing lightweight knits.


Minoru Jacket

Materials for a Sewaholic Minoru

Of course, the Minoru Jacket from Sewaholic is a great cycling jacket. It’s got a loose and comfortable fit, and you can make it out of waterproof fabrics.

I made a version last year, and reviewed it here. I wear it all the time in the spring and fall!


Green Pepper Patterns

Oregon biking shorts

Santiam vest

Green Pepper Patterns has some awesome-looking activewear patterns that I’ve been meaning to try. That Santiam Vest would be perfect with the silver quilted nylon ripstop I picked up a few years back, and I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a pair of padded cycling shorts.

They also have a mens and womens racing jersey pattern, as well as a lot more outdoorsy patterns for runners and hikers.

There’s a great post on The Train To Crazy reviewing the jersey pattern.


Jalie Patterns

Jalie sports bra

Jalie also has some good sports patterns, like this zip-front jacket and hoodie, a softshell jacket, and a racerback sports bra top.

The sports bra is on my list – I’d love to make something that’s truly comfortable, yet does it’s job well.


Fehr Trade

Fehr Trade running top

I was super excited to see that Melissa of Fehr Trade has released a pair of awesome activewear patterns. I love this great workout top (with a built-in compression bra!), and equally great blog post from Kathy Sews about making it up.

I may have to try making these running leggings, as well!


How about you? Are you working on anything sporty this winter?

02/9/14

Tutorial: Inner tube plant hanger

by Jessie Kwak

I adore houseplants.

It may not look like it, given the stunning number of casualties my love of house plants has produced over the years, but I do adore them.

I sometimes forget to water them, I never think to fertilize them, and some of the poor things suffer, root bound in too-small pots for ages waiting for me to notice.

But I love them.

In an attempt to help us get settled in our new place, I’ve been sneaking stray plants in whenever I can. Succulents planted in broken teacups, an air plant nestled in a traditional Kwak beer glass, and now a spider plant suspended in the air…

Recycled inner tube plant hanger | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

…in a macrame inner tube plant hanger.

I just couldn’t resist. I posted my prototype last night on Twitter and Facebook to ask if this was a ridiculous idea or totally badass, and I got a 99% response of “badass,” with one respondent weighing in with “badassculous.”

Want to make your own badassculous inner tube plant hanger? Read on, friends. Read on.

Ingredients

You need:

3 busted road bike inner tubes
A ring of some sort – I used a 1.5″ D ring
4 binder clips
Scissors

Preparing your inner tubes

Snip the valves out of 2 of your inner tubes, then fold each in half and secure with a binder clip. Carefully cut up both sides of all 4 halves, stopping about 1/2″ from the binder clip.

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - cutting | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

At this point things will be a bit chalky because of the talcum inside the inner tube. Without removing the binder clips, wash your inner tubes with hot, soapy water. Dry with a towel.

(You can refer back to this post about cleaning inner tubes if you have any questions.)

Next, cut each strip in half lengthwise again, so that you have 8 inner tube strips dangling from each binder clip.

Cut open and wash your 3rd inner tube, then cut several long strips about 1/4″ wide from it. You’ll use these strips to tie the macrame knots.

Adding the ring

Carefully remove the binder clips, and thread everything through your ring. You should still have about an inch of intact rubber in the center to hold everything together.

Gather the 16 strands together with a gathering knot.

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - tie gathering knot | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

(Andrea from MacrameForFun.com will teach you everything you need to know about gathering knots.)

I used gathering knots for all of the knotting in this plant hanger, because it made a smoother look. Alternately, you could just tie overhand knots.

Making the basket

Measure down 15″ from the knot (12″ for a small hanger), and gather the strands into 4 bunches, securing them with binder clips.

Tie a gathering knot at each binder clip.

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - tie small gathering knots | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

Separate the bunches, joining 2 strands from each bunch with 2 strands from its neighboring bunch. Measure down 4″ (also 4″ for a small hanger) and mark with binder clips. Tie gathering knots.

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - binder clips | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

ONLY FOR LARGE HANGER: Repeat this process one more time.

Finish by tying a gathering knot around all 16 strands, about 3″ below the last set of knots.

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - finished plant hanger | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

Hang yer plant

Put the plant in, and hang it from something. You’re done!

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - finished shot | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts


What do you think? Is my brain totally addled from four days of being snowbound with no one to talk to? Have I finally lost it? Or is this a legitimate thing you would actually make?

Happy snowbound crafting, everyone!