One of my most frequently asked questions is definitely “where can I buy fabric for yoga/running/exercise/etc?”, so I thought it’s high time I make an attempt at something like a global list.
In general, though, the word you should be searching for is “Supplex”. This is a brand name, though, like Lycra (whose generic term is “spandex”), but the generic alternative is something like “wicking spandex”, and generally isn’t used as often as “Supplex” in fabric stores, I’ve found.
If you can buy supplex at a decent price, buy it. It’s soft, has great recovery, wicks away moisture while you’re sweating, and stands up to washing without a ton of pilling. It can be hard to find though, and sometimes only comes in a limited amount of colours, but I wouldn’t hesitate to run a marathon in supplex – it’s great stuff.
If you’re running shorter distances, or in cooler weather, you can get away with exercising in any number of lycra/spandex jerseys, though. These won’t wick sweat away, but they come in a gazillion colours and prints, plus have a multitude of foil and sequin effects, and can be way cheaper, too. Ditto goes for swimsuit fabrics – you can certainly use them for shorter exercise sessions even though they’re not wicking. Personally, I wouldn’t mind running a half marathon on a cool day in lycra leggings, but your mileage may vary (pun intended!).
- Tissu aka “In Fashion Fabrics” – Supplex in a limited range of colours, but by far the cheapest in the UK
- UK Fabrics – Scruffy Badger has used their “Mock Eyelet” for running gear and recommends it! I also love their 2oz nylon and athletic mesh for Threshold Shorts, and their “high quality nylon lycra” for the rest of my patterns which require high stretch.
- Funki Fabrics – Not wicking, but an unbelievable amount of digitally printed lycras that are suitable for swimming and activewear. They also stock supplex in black and white only (good quality, but twice the price of Tissu). I’d also recommend their “matte” Flexcite in solid colours for exercise, too. Update: They’ve since released an activewear-specific performance base which I’ve personally tested (and run a marathon in!)
- Bra Maker Supply (formerly “Sewing Chest”) – stock a wide variety of power net/mesh which I use to line and give support to sports bras. I also love their Athletic mesh for my Threshold Shorts patterns.
Know any more UK shops? Tell me in the comments!
- Shelby (Finland) are an outdoor company, but stock several wicking base layer materials that are suitable for exercise
- Extreme Texil (Germany) “He has quite a few of the Swiss Eschler fabrics that are great for running, cycling etc. I have ordered from there numerous times and am completely satisfied.” (thanks, Vick!)
Know any more European shops? Tell me in the comments!
- Bloomingdale’s in the Shanri-La Mall, Manila (Philipines) – “the only place I know of in Manila to get exercisewear fabric. The daughter of the owner is a tri-athlete so this is her special project.” (thanks, Karen!)
- Suzi Spandex
stock the KING of all supplexes, which they mill themselves, called “Suziplex”. I cannot stress enough how awesome this stuff is! You need to order over the phone (or buy in personal from their Montreal warehouse), but no matter how much you buy you will wish you bought more.Update: The Suziplex mill burnt down, and it’s been discontinued forever!! They still stock a staggering array of regular lycra/spandex prints for the dance and skating communities, though.
- Sundrop Textiles – “Bricks and mortar store near Vancouver in B.C. and an online store as well. A variety of outerwear and activewear listed.” (thanks, rebeccas!)
- Peak Fabrics – Supplex in some great non-traditional “sporty” colours
Know any more Canadian shops? Tell me in the comments!
Know any more Antipodean shops? Tell me in the comments!
I only knew one or two places to buy exercise fabrics in America (since the shipping is extortionate to the UK, I can’t buy from there anymore), so I asked Kathy for help. oh em gee – she sent me back this embarrassingly long list of suppliers, which totally puts the rest of my list to shame! So consider this a bit of a guest-post from her I guess, and definitely go check out the exercise gear she’s sewn, too. Comments in italics are hers.
- Sew Kinetic – A shop specialising only in activewear fabrics with solid supplexes, heathered knits, and waterproof, breathable shell fabrics
- Spandex House – Supplex in a surprisingly wide array of solid colours
- Spandex World – They are much like Spandex House, are in NYC also, and have a brick and mortar store, too. They have supplex and a fantastic selection of spandex… duh!
- Fashion Fabrics Club – Watch out because they put a lot of non-supplex regular knits into the “Activewear & Swimwear” category – look at the fabric content and go for the ones specifically marked “Activewear”. (they also go by Denver Fabrics (I don’t know why?! It’s the exact same company.)
- Fabric Mart (They have a brick and mortar store in PA as well) I’ve gotten all of my supplex here, along with other activewear materials. They buy out fabrics from manufacturers so the selection varies from week to week, even day to day.
- Fabric.com – Mega online shop for fabrics. Folks in the US usually are generally well-acquainted with this site
- The Fabric Fairy – I got swimwear fabric here, but I also used it for running clothes because it’s nylon/spandex
- Girl Charlee – These guys are the sweetheart of the US blogosphere these days. They sell ALL knits. I got swimwear stuff here, plus I of course use it for running clothes!
- Fabric Depot – A great source for activewear and lingerie materials
- Sew Sassy – A source for really basic colors of material activewear/swimwear. (They do lingerie stuff, too) including power mesh for lining and supporting sports bras!
- Michael Levine – They have a brick and mortar store in Los Angeles. There’s a few headings here with several activewear related fabrics: athletic mesh and of course lames!
- Spandex By Yard – I JUST found these guys, so I don’t know much. They look to be an ideal place to shop for activewear material… I saw a heading for moisture wicking fabrics!
- Designer Alley Fabrics Also just learned about them, they look to be another hot source! And they list supplex!
- Chez Ami – Also new to me. They have tactel among some other knits.
- Seattle Fabrics> – “They have several different types of athletic and outdoor clothing fabrics including wicking fabrics and Gortex.” (thank you Norma!)
- Rose City Textiles aka “Fabricline” – Click on “wickaway knits” (see Katherine’s post for details of a ton of fabrics bought there)
- The Rainshed – Lots of wicking stretch fabrics, fleeces, and shell fabrics here, including a huge variety of reflective fabrics!
- Etsy and eBay – Sellers do sell supplex here along with other activewear fabrics. Just plug in ‘supplex’ to search. I’ve never ordered activewear from either site so I can’t recommend any particular seller.
And if you want some inspiration of your own, why not have a look back through some of the exercise gear I’ve sewn for suggestions on patterns, finishing techniques, and even ways to refashion old race shirts?
Oh, and I launched a running site yesterday! Have a read through RiverRunner.co.uk!tags: exercise, knit, shopping