Well, the world has gone upside down and I, like many of you, are stuck at home. During the week I am pretty busy with homeschooling, even though the kids get to be in contact with their actual teachers via their phones and computers. Still, they need somebody to tell them to open up the app and check their assignments. I have still managed to find time to do some sewing. I found this free pattern for cycling bloomers by Bikes & Bloomers and decided to give it a try.
Cycling was a new and very fashionable thing in the late Victorian era. Women, in particular, were taking on this new hobby that allowed them to move around with ease. Thus, they needed clothes that would suit better for this hobby as the long skirts got caught with the chain and the spokes. I have seen many culotte-type of trouser patterns although they were still called skirts or divided skirts. With more regular skirts, bloomers were worn underneath the skirts for modesty’s sake.
I used this mysterious tweedy fabric that I picked up at the remnant section of a little fabric store close to my parents’. It only cost 7 € and thus, I was ready to sacrifice it if this didn’t work out. I was a bit worried about chafing, so I did what I’ve seen in many men’s trousers: I took a scrap of lining fabric and lined the front pieces of the bloomers. I also needed a little bit of cotton for the pockets.
The pattern comes in approximate size 12. It might to run small as I am normally size 10 and these fit almost perfectly. (My waist is 71 cm and my hips 96 cm.) I made a toile first and checked the fit. The only thing I had to do was to scoop out the back curve about 5 millimetres.
The pattern didn’t come with any instructions. Bikes & Bloomers advertise a book that talks about women and cycling in the Victorian era but I don’t have the book to check if it contains any instructions. However, it wasn’t very difficult to figure things out even without instructions.
The only thing that baffled me was the pocket construction. I finally just made the welts and then made a rectangular opening to the outermost pocket piece the edges of which I turned under and hand-sewed in place. Still, I couldn’t understand why the other pocket piece was smaller. I was left with two working pockets with raw edges of the smaller piece loose inside the pockets. Finally, I just turned the raw edge in and slip-stitched them in place carefully so that the stitches were invisible on the right side.
As I already mentioned, I lined the front pieces. However, I cut away a chunk of fabric due to the pockets.
The zigzagged lining edge goes along the pocket line:
I decided to make fancy facings and decorated the loose edge with some blue bias tape.
Here are the bloomers just before I sewed the side seams:
The bottom edges of the bloomers were gathered and attached to cuffs that both have 3 buttons. The bloomers open from the both sides with four buttons. I also had to add buttons and little tabs to close the pockets that had a tendency to open when I sat down. I added a waistcoat slide buckle to the back that removes any worry of the bloomers gaping at the back when leaning forward on a bicycle.
The finished pair of cycling bloomers
I am really happy how this project turned out. The cycling bloomers fit nicely and are comfortable. I added a shirtwaist, a silk scarf, a thrifted wool jacket and a pair of laced boots to complete the outfit. I still want to make a cycling skirt to go over the bloomers and a nice period jacket. Thus far I am trying to work with what I already have in my closet.
Here are some pictures of me testing these bloomers out on my bicycle:
Here you see the buckle and the tab at the centre back:
I had just stopped snowing. I was a bit worried about falling down with no winter tires but I didn’t.
Oh, I forgot to mention one thing. While adding the pockets to my cycling bloomers, I added some cotton tape and a D-ring onto which I can latch my keys!
The cotton tape came with the delivery from Pretty Mercerie that arrived this week. I had ordered some white cotton voile and green and white striped linen to make some cute vintage inspired spring blouses. I can say that I am super happy with the quality of fabrics I received (Not an advert, just a happy customer!).
The good thing about all this madness is that we get to spend time at home with our families. I hope my readers stay safe and practice social-distancing to get this epidemic under control. Luckily sewing is a hobby that can be still practiced and you can order fabric online!
I hope you liked this post and happy sewing!