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Run Like the Wind

15 July 2008, 12:32

On Sunday I decided to step up my “July is Knit Month!” activities and finally break into the world of high-performance sports gear. I started running to lose weight a few years ago and, along with sewing, it’s now become my favourite way to both unwind and start the day. I really do get cranky and irritable if I don’t get my regular runs in!! Over the years I’ve amassed a good collection of wicking tops and trousers I wear in rotation until they fall apart, but recently I’ve been having a hard time finding good wicking sports gear under £30 a pop, and especially in the trouser style I prefer – long length and slightly boot cut. Everywhere I look it’s always either skin-tight leggings, capri length, or both! UGH!

So I was very happy to discover that Pennine Outdoor stock wicking sports fabrics, both polyester teeshirting AND Meryl cycling lycra! So in one shop I got supplies for both my tops and my trousers! Now, you may be excused for cringing at the mention of polyester, but in running circles it is well known that polyester is the preferred fabric as it doesn’t hold sweat or chafe like cotton does. If you ever get blisters from a run or long hike, switch to 100% polyester socks and you’ll never get them again. So while I shun polyester in regular sewing, I positively seek it out in running gear, especially when I find the exact same two-sided, slightly waffled weave that is used in all the official race shirts! Bamboo is even better than polyester, though, as it doesn’t hold the stink or microbial nasties either and is softer by a factor of ten, but that’s another discussion entirely…

Anyway, on to the sewing! Since I know my running habits I also know what I definitely do and don’t like in running gear – I need my tops to be close fitting and sleeveless, for starters. Shelf bras never offer enough support for me so I always wear a sports bra underneath even if there’s one built in, so I didn’t bother picking a pattern with an integrated bra. I liked the look of this running top from the February 2007 edition of KnipMode magazine, and for the running trousers I went back to the yoga trousers in Burda WOF 11/2007 (#122) that I’d made in fleece last winter.

I made some stylistic changes to both to suit my running penchants, however. I have a RTW Nike top that has all the seams serged in contrast woolly nylon thread on the outside, and I thought I’d give this a try instead of the piped contrast seams that KnipMode suggest. I also was itching to try out my black lycra FOE (also from Pennine) so I used this to edge the neckline and armscyes. On the trousers, I slimmed down the legs so they weren’t so boot cut, and halved the width of the waistband so I didn’t have to fold it over (and fiddle with it while I’m running!).

I wore both of these out on my favourite 10k river circuit on Monday morning (I really am spoiled – I run past the Mayor’s office, HMS Belfast, Tate Modern, the South Bank, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the Victoria Embankment, London Bridge, the Tower of London, and finally cross over Tower Bridge on my usual jaunt out) and I’m really pleased how they held up! I was concerned in the first kilometer that I hadn’t made the waistband tight enough (though I’d stretched it as far as I could) but the “oh god they’re slipping down!” feeling passed after a bit as I got used to the fact that they’re just naturally less constrictive than my RTW pairs and there’s actually no danger of exposure!

The top I’m really happy with, too, though I think my next version will be more scooped under my arm and maybe just clear elastic serged onto instead of the FOE. Neither chafed enough to be a problem, but they just felt slightly close to me. Luckily, the running tops take up so little fabric that I can easily get another one out of the one metre I bought, so I really will be able to make another, though I think I fancy buying more woolly nylon to get a different contrast…

Next up are a dress and top I also made this past weekend (and I still need to photoshoot!), and I’m going to gingerly dip my toes into the swimwear waters, too…

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  1. Those look fantastic! Do you find they shrink a lot less than store bought since you can pre-wash? I’m tall and my pants end up highwaters after a washing or two.

    — brianna    Jul 15, 02:34 PM    #
  2. Oh fantastic! I’ve been thinking of making up those pants again in a lighter cotton. You look so athletic AND cute!

    — cidell    Jul 15, 03:01 PM    #
  3. Brianna – I’ll let you know after a few washes! :)

    Cidell – I’ll tell you what, during that first kilometer when I thought they were going to slide down the whole time, I wasn’t too fond of them. Had the problem not solved itself so nicely, I would’ve copied a detail I noticed later on my RTW running trousers – just inside the top of the waistband they’ve sewn a bit of elastic inside to make the top of the waistband super snug (but not enough to make any visible gathers, and it’s invisible from the outside). Mine are snug where I’ve eased it into the tops of the trousers, but if you need any extra support that might be an idea…

    melissa    Jul 15, 03:13 PM    #
  4. I LOVE it! It’s very RTW – but better since it fits so well. You look fantastic!

    stacysewss    Jul 15, 03:17 PM    #
  5. This outfit looks so great! I’ve been resorting to scouring T.J. Maxx for sports shirts, but maybe I’ll have to try making one… When’s your next race?

    — Sara    Jul 16, 02:28 AM    #
  6. Great job! I’m sure you’ll save a ton of $ making your own clothes, and your outfits look just as good as store-bought, if not better. You mention bamboo in your entry & how it has some better qualities than polyester for exercise-wear. Would you recommend bamboo over polyester? Thanks!

    — jujubee    Jul 16, 07:40 AM    #
  7. Jujubee – I’d definitely recommend the 100% bamboo jersey for running tops, though I don’t think it’s strong enough for trousers. I’ve got a Nike bamboo top and it’s fabulous – along with the bamboo running socks, I can literally stuff my face into them after a run and they don’t smell at all. I think some places are doing a bamboo/lycra mix that might be worth getting a swatch of for bottoms, but I haven’t tried this. To be honest, I’m really happy with the meryl lycra for the trousers so I’d probably stick with that even if I went with bamboo for more tops.

    melissa    Jul 16, 12:24 PM    #
  8. Woow, definitely a stylish outfit! You look great in it. I love those exposed flatlocked seams.

    LauraLo    Jul 16, 12:45 PM    #
  9. You look awesome in your new running active wear! Well done!

    Tany    Jul 20, 09:51 PM    #

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