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Cycling, sewing and suffrage storytelling through inventive women’s cyclewear


Cycling in ordinary dress could be dangerous. It blew near the wheels and caught in the chain


I allude to the death of Miss Carr, near Colwith Force. The evidence of her friend who rode just behind her, says that “Miss Carr began the descent with her feet in the rests, but finding the hill become much steeper, she strove to regain her pedals and failed”. I think she failed because she could not see the pedals, as the flapping skirt hid them from her view, and she had to fumble for them. Could she have taken but a momentary glance at their position, she would have had a good chance to save her life. The poor girl lingered a week - Daily Press, Sept 20, 1896.

smoking cyclist


But it wasn’t always safer to 'rationally dress' for cycling, as onlookers could hurl abuse and stones!


 It’s awful – one wants nerves of iron… The shouts and yells of the children deafen one, the women shriek with laughter or groan and hiss and all sorts of remarks are shouted at one, occasionally some not fit for publication. One needs to be very brave to stand all that. It makes one feel mad and ones ideas of humanity at large sink to a very low standard - Kitty J Buckman to Uriah, August 23, 1897.

Cycle wear was not widely available, so women had to make it themselves.

These women didn’t just make and wear radical new forms of cycle wear. They also patented their inventions…

…. and they designed convertible cycle wear that enabled them to transform their garments when needed

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Inspired by these ingenious patents, and struck by the absence of women's inventions in our cycling history, we reconstructed a collection of Victorian women's convertible cycling costumes and use them to tell stories, run sewing workshops, write papers and host events and exhibitions.  

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