For some reason, Paprika Patterns wasn’t entirely on my radar. I remember liking their skirt pattern when it was released, but I was super busy with my own patterns, and somehow I missed the release of their Jasper sweater/dress pattern entirely, until I stumbled upon it on my Twitter timeline, and thought WOW! And then immediately went and bought it.
As luck would have it, shortly after I bought the pattern I was gifted some amaaaaaaazing technical fabric from my friend with activewear industry connections – it’s charcoal jersey on one side, bonded with navy wicking fleece on the reverse. It’s super high quality with nice stretch and a great weight for keeping warm post-workout. I have also seen nothing like it on sale anywhere, sorry!
So I thought it’d be the perfect fabric and pattern combo to be my post-workout cooldown coverup. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I’ve been wearing the same ratty old red jacket after long runs and hard workouts, which I’d bought 10 years ago from a discount chain! Not really a great look when I wear all the crazy, wonderful workout gear underneath, so it was high time I upped my post-workout wardrobe game.
Seen here with my mesh-insertion leggings which I still love, but are too baggy for running in these days. Still great for cycling and casualwear though!
I thought an all-grey sweatshirt would be too boring for me, though, so I added a bunch of accents in lime green wicking jersey – I’d found some deep discounted gym tops in Pennsylvania in January so I bought the biggest I could find to get the most fabric possible, and paid only $5! The hems and bindings were particularly useful for inserting into seams, but for the large colourblocked areas I overlaid the green onto the thicker jersey/fleece first, since the green was considerably thinner.
I made a size 6 (B cup) of the Sweater length and the fit is great – I did narrow the sleeves by about 1.5cm further (and adjusted the cuff to match) but that was the only fit change I made. The length of everything is perfect for me.
The lower back colourblocking wasn’t originally intended – it’s not included in the pattern and only came about because I realised I did “a stupid” and accidentally cut the Back piece along the Lengthen/Shorten Line instead of the Sweater cut line, guh! So instead of cutting a whole new piece, I decided to play with the lower back and make it look intentional instead!read more >>
Like anyone who’s had a site for a while (nearly 10 years, in my case!), I get an astounding amount of random email questions sent to me each day. Answering every single one of them takes up a considerable amount of my time, and sadly, I never get to reply to as many as I’d like. And frankly, sometimes I just get sick of telling people over and over that just because I posted about X magazine five years ago doesn’t mean I know where you can buy it! Or telling people that no, I don’t work for Burda/Patrones/Manequim/Lekala/whatever and I really can’t help you with your customer service issue.
For some reason, though, I received an unusually large amount of random questions while I was on holiday in NYC. I was moaning about it on Twitter, and Stacy suggested I compile them into an “Ask Melissa” column, which I thought was an excellent idea. I’ve spared you the truly random, boring ones, or the ones too specific to be applicable to anyone else, and instead just included a few here which others may be interested in.
Activewear Fabric Suppliers
I came across your website today and wanted to find out where you source the fabric for the sports clothes you make. Would you be able to tell me?
Support for Large Busts
I’ve been admiring your work for several years now, having discovered you through your many rave reviews at patternreview.com. I’m not the best with knits, but I am about to try this summer, starting with your workout wear. I do CrossFit and high intensity classes, and am just giving up on finding clothes that will support my busty bust but fit my small rib cage. I am 32 DDD to G; can you recommend any of your patterns over the others for supporting large breasts? We spend a lot of time bouncing, upside down, etc. and form-fitting and supportive would be dreamy. And I see you even do bras; another reason I admire you! read more >>
On Friday I showed you the full-length version of the Steeplechase Leggings pattern I made for my niece, Megan, but as soon as I finished making those, I decided to throw in a shorts version, too, so she can wear them in the warmer Virginia summers.
I’d measured her in person when I had to return to the States briefly in January, and I made and posted them over in time for the pattern launch. Since I’d already cut out her size (XS) for the longer leggings, the only difference I had to make for these was just to cut along the Biker Shorts hem line instead!
All together now, the pattern description is:
These leggings have no inseams! Instead, a curved, outer seam runs from the back of the ankle up to the centre front, where it joins a separate yoke piece. There’s an optional, hidden back pocket, elasticated waistband, and your choice of three lengths: biker short, capri, or full length leggings.
These were a little bonus gift, but I still wanted to make them stylish for her so she could wear them for play, sports, or school if she wanted, so the main fabric is the very last of my adored Eclipse “Hint of Mint” supplex (which you may remember from my Mint X Back Workout Top or my Multi-Print VNA Top), but I made the yoke from offcuts from my Animal Magic Steeplechase Leggings, which I was cutting out for myself at the same time. Like the afore-mentioned VNA Top, I really like the mix of the prints here even though they weren’t designed to go together.
I love how well these shorts stand up to all the movements a 12 year old can throw at them – running, jumping, diving at the football (soccer ball) – they aren’t shifting for anything!read more >>
I hope you’re not sick of seeing all my versions of my latest Steeplechase Leggings pattern yet, because these are the pair I’ve been most itching to show you!
Ever since I started designing something special for equestrians, I knew I wanted my niece, Megan, to be my athlete-model. I’ve sewn for her on and off as she’s grown up, but living so far away, it’s difficult to get accurate measurements before she goes and grows again! But my impromptu trip to the States in January meant I could measure her in person, and post them over in time for the pattern launch.
To refresh your memory, here’s the description:
These leggings have no inseams! Instead, a curved, outer seam runs from the back of the ankle up to the centre front, where it joins a separate yoke piece. There’s an optional, hidden back pocket, elasticated waistband, and your choice of three lengths: biker short, capri, or full length leggings.
Once I was back in London, I sent her the Funkifabrics url, let her pick whatever she wanted, and she chose the black and white Solar System print, which I think is a pretty mature choice for a tween!
I made her the full length leggings, and used the same fabric for the yoke and the body, though you can only barely see the yoke in these photos as she’s wearing a teeshirt over top. I thought that we’d be able to arrange photos much earlier so I could show you how these work in the saddle before the pattern release, but alas, there was another death in the family and the horrible East Coast weather also severely disrupted her Saddle Time.
But the upside is that you get to see photos of Megan riding her horse at the local stables in gorgeous sunshine, and in only a teeshirt on top, too! Since I made and posted these before I had any feedback from my pattern testers, though, you can see that the knees are a little baggy on her – this was a common issue with my testers and was adjusted for the final release version.
One of my pattern testers, Kelli, is a keen rider and gave me so much amazing feedback on the 5 (? or was it 6?) pairs she made during the 2 week testing period, that I really wish I could’ve applied those lessons to Megan’s pair, which was made before I knew!read more >>
James and I have been talking about returning to New York City at some point for a while now. We last visited on our honeymoon back in 2010 and had a fantastic time. We’ve also since acquired a rather expensive immersive theatre habit and really wanted to see Sleep No More before it closes (I’m guessing later this year). We’d seen Punchdrunk’s London show, The Drowned Man 4 and 5 times over the course of a year, and knew that a similar show, based on Macbeth, would be well worth the trip. So James booked the flights for my birthday and tickets to see it twice in that week.
And then we heard about the immersive show Then She Fell (set in a disused hospital in Brooklyn, based on the works of Lewis Carroll, and limited to 15 audience members per showing), so booked that, too. And then ended up seeing Sleep No More for a third time directly after the second showing. Because it’s that good. Frankly, it’s two weeks later and I’m still kinda living in a dream world in the fictional McKittrick Hotel. Snippets of songs get stuck in my head, people say things that trigger a memory from the show, I look down and see a drip of fake blood on my shoe from one of the scenes… that sort of thing. I honestly cannot recommend either show enough. So, so worth the money.
But this isn’t a site about immersive theatre, nor is it about the excessive amount of cocktails and brunch we consumed, nor the sleep we didn’t get, or the great quality time we got to spend with my cousin in Brooklyn or the many friends who’d moved back there. So I’ll stick to the sewing-related highlights or we’ll be here all day!
Of course I couldn’t go to New York and not visit the Garment District, but my fabric stash is looking pretty healthy these days and I didn’t really have an entire day to kill wandering around. So I enlisted the help of some professionals! Oona and Ginger were my fantastic tour guides through Mood, Spandex House, and the myriad little haberdashery shops in the Garment District, but also in choosing a man creche (err, bar) with great cocktails!read more >>
Thank you all so much for all your compliments, orders, and finished photos of your Steeplechase Leggings! I knew I was onto a good idea when I dreamt these up a few months ago, but I had no idea they’d be quite this popular! So thank you!
I’ve shown you quite a few of my sample pairs already, but these are the last you’ll see me modelling for a bit, and they happen to be my wildest yet!
To refresh your memory, here’s the description:
These leggings have no inseams! Instead, a curved, outer seam runs from the back of the ankle up to the centre front, where it joins a separate yoke piece. There’s an optional, hidden back pocket, elasticated waistband, and your choice of three lengths: biker short, capri, or full length leggings.
This first pair are one of my absolute favourites! Not many women would choose to highlight their hips with neon green, but I think it’s fair to say by this point that I am most certainly Not Most Women, ha!
The main fabric is FunkiFabrics “Animal Magic” flexcite (it also comes in a red/orange colourway), paired with their fluorescent green matte lycra. If you want solid colours from Funki, I strongly recommend going for the matte varieties, because the non-matte ones are, well, Jane Fonda jazzercise levels of shiny! But the fabric is the same smooth, high quality stuff that the digital prints come on, and I’ve always been very pleased with how it stands up to repeated washings and mud fests – no fading or piling whatsoever.read more >>
So far I’ve shown you my two solid-coloured full length pairs of my latest Steeplechase Leggings pattern, but this pattern also comes in capri length or biker-short length options, too! So you can really wear these all year long, and the construction is exactly the same no matter what length you choose, which makes the instructions even more straight forward.
In case you missed the initial announcement, here’s the pattern description:
These leggings have no inseams! Instead, a curved, outer seam runs from the back of the ankle up to the centre front, where it joins a separate yoke piece. There’s an optional, hidden back pocket, elasticated waistband, and your choice of three lengths: biker short, capri, or full length leggings.
Here are the capri and shorts length versions I sewed up as samples. I tried to make these in more sedate colourways than my normal crazy prints! (Yes, only I would call bright purple “sedate”!)
I’m not usually a fan of capris, but I know so many people who love them that I always try to offer the length if at all possible. They can be a great transitional length when it’s too warm to wear full length leggings, but not quite warm enough for shorts.
(Seen here with my mustard merino wool Surf to Summit Top)
The fuchsia fabric used here is a super soft, comfortable wicking jersey with a brushed, navy back, which was gifted to me by a friend with industry connections (sorry!). I also got a biege colourway at the same time, and I’m looking forward to mixing it and the scraps leftover from this. The yoke is just a plain black supplex leftover in my stash.read more >>
Like little green shoots poking through the earth as the warmth of Spring approaches, I feel like my sewing productivity and creativity is just pushing through from all angles at the moment. I’m so proud that so many of you love my Steeplechase Leggings pattern as much as I do (and I’ve got loads more to share!) but I wanted to share a bunch of smaller things I’ve been getting on with…
Have you ever heard of Sock Stop? It’s a bit like puffy paint we used in the 90s, but it’s intended to paint onto the bottoms of socks and slippers to prevent slips and falls. I bought
some from Guthrie & Ghani recently to see if it helps keep activewear hems in place without requiring silicone elastic (which can be a bit fiddly to sew on). I’ve tried it out on the hems of my Steeplechase capris (which you’ll see soon) and I want to test them out on my next cycle ride…
I can’t believe my birthday’s nearly here again – it seems like I only just made my galaxy-print sheath dress! I celebrated early with my BFF Pip, and she very kindly bought me this Secrets of Sewing Lingerie book and a metre of gorgeous silk chiffon from Dalston Mills! I’m super impressed by the variety and styles of panties, bras, camisoles, garter belts, and accessories in the book, but I want to try out a few patterns before I post a review.read more >>
Wow, thank you all so much for your orders and comments on my new Steeplechase Leggings pattern! The response has been phenomenal, so thank you!
In case you missed the initial announcement, here’s the description:
These leggings have no inseams! Instead, a curved, outer seam runs from the back of the ankle up to the centre front, where it joins a separate yoke piece. There’s an optional, hidden back pocket, elasticated waistband, and your choice of three lengths: biker short, capri, or full length leggings.
During the development process, I made so many samples pairs of these – beyond the initial early ones (not fit to be shown!), I made a whopping SIX pairs for myself, plus two more for my athlete-model niece, too.
Rather than overwhelm you with all the versions at once, I thought I’d start with the two pairs of full-length leggings I made in solid colours, as you can see the seamlines a bit more easily in these.
This first pair may be my favourite pair ever – made up in citron ex-New Balance supplex from FabricMart (now sold out) with a rainbow spaced-dyed supplex yoke. I’ve got enough of the citron left for another garment, but I’ve made so much with the rainbow before that I mostly just fit the yoke out of the scraps.
(it pairs so nicely with my ombre-print Fehrtrade x Laurie King VNA Top!)
These are just so comfortable, and you know how I love bright colours! I’ve done quite a few test runs in these, and they really help to liven up the cold, dark wintry nights.read more >>
I’ve had a few people ask me, “When are you going to release a sports bra pattern?” And to be honest, the short answer is that I have no plans to. My aim has always been to create exercise patterns for designs that aren’t already available, and in my opinion, there’s already a great compression sports bra pattern* out there, Jalie 2563, hiding in the guise of a “Sports top”.
I recently found out that my favourite sports bra pattern is being discontinued (Moving Comfort’s “Phoebe”, boo!), so this was the push I needed to sew up a few more of my own, ready for the next few months of marathon training. I was already cutting into my lycra scraps to create Running armband pockets to fundraise for Argentina, so I cut out some sports bra pieces at the same time when I saw I could fit them in.
The result is two sports bras, one made with Funkifabrics Triathlon (Aqua) print lycra and UK Fabrics navy blue nylon lycra shoulder straps, and one made from UK Fabrics Leopard print nylon lycra topped with aqua nylon lycra (also from UK Fabrics but long sold out). You may remember these fabrics from a bunch of former projects – my triathlon print leggings, my ladies’ cycling Surf to Summit version, my cheetah print leggings, my men’s running Surf to Summit, and my aqua & yellow piping Surf to Summit. Never let it be said I don’t get my money’s worth!
These two were made assembly-line style, so as I sewed the seams on one, I’d do the other at the same time. Happily the colours are similar enough that I could do this without having to rethread all the time.read more >>
If you’re a member of Pattern Review, you may have already noticed that they’ve announced the contests for this year, one of which is an Activewear sewing contest! This is super exciting because it’s not only a great acknowledgment of the importance and popularity of sewing exercise wear, but also a fantastic introduction for anyone who hasn’t yet started themselves.
The contest started yesterday and runs through to 15 February, so you’ve got one month to sew some activewear, post a review, and you might win some prizes – gift certificates from Mood Fabrics are up for grabs this time! I’ve entered some of the PR contests myself over the years and found them to be hugely motivating to focus my attention and actually sew within a timeframe. Seeing what other people are making in the contest gallery always sparks ideas of my own, too.
I’m not affiliated with Pattern Review in any way (I’ve just been a regular ol’ user for years), nor with this contest. As a “professional” I don’t feel right about entering this one, so I’m just going to advise people when I see questions I can answer, and hopefully some of you may choose to sew up some of my patterns, too!
In fact, to help sway your pattern decision-making my way, I’ve created a special discount “PRACTIVEWEAR” code for 10% off all my patterns, through to the end of the contest, 15 February! This is the first time I’ve ever done a discount outside of a new pattern release, and it’s just my way of lending support for more people to know the joy of sewing up their own activewear.read more >>
There are many, many great articles on the web right now for activewear inspiration, and I am desperately overdue in showcasing all the amazing versions of my patterns that you guys have made over the past few months, but I wanted to bring two articles in particular to your attention…
The first is a fantastic tutorial Maria (Velosewer) posted on how to create a secure, zippered pocket for insertion into the back pocket of my Surf to Summit Top pattern. It works equally well with the men’s or ladies’ versions, and only requires a little extra bit of fabric and an invisible zipper. It’s all kinds of genius, and I’m totally going to try it out myself on my next cycling version!
The other exciting read is that my first article for Seamwork magazine is out now, A Guide to Activewear Fabrics. I talk about how to shop for different tech fabrics, what names they can be found under, why cotton is terrible, and how to avoid that horrible smell after repeated washings.read more >>
Phew! It’s been one heck of a few weeks! I’ve shown you all of the many different versions of the Surf to Summit Top pattern that I’ve made not only for myself, but also my athlete-models. So far you’ve seen versions for snowboarding and cycling, and surfing, but today’s versions are all for winter running.
One of the great things about this design are all the opportunities for colourblocking, and I wanted to play around on this version so you can really see the seamlines – plus I added an extra seam of my own on the shoulders! On the Front and Back, I used some forest green UA Cold Gear fabric (now long gone) from my stash. On the Side panels, I used some reflective fabric from The Rain Shed. A note about this fabric, though – I really like it, but it is not lycra as stated in the description – it’s much, much closer to the sort of textured fabric you find in technical race tees (like DriFit). For the sleeves I used some leopard-print lycra from UK Fabrics, but I didn’t have quite enough leftover from my leggings to fit the entire sleeve in, so I introduced a curved seamline and used some reflective fabric at the shoulder instead.
But let me introduce my athlete-model, Daniel. I’ve probably run more training miles with Daniel than anyone else on earth and he’s a great friend of mine, in additional to being a truly inspiring runner. Dan only started running a few years ago, and has truly embraced endurance running, going from running his ever first race (a 10k) to running his first 100km ultra this year, with a bunch of marathons thrown in for good measure. He’s even run the grueling Mont Blanc Marathon, and regularly passes runners half his age on Tuesday nights.
I made this men’s version of the Surf to Summit Top at the very end of the testing process, so it’s identical to the version you buy, and I especially like how this fits Dan in the waist and hips – this is exactly how I intended the men’s version to fit. It’s slim-fitting without being loose, but isn’t skin-tight, either. If you prefer your tops to fit differently, I’ve included instructions on how to alter the pattern to get the fit you want, as I discovered in testing that men are really polarised on how they like their exercise tops!read more >>
Continuing on with our journey through all the different ways you can wear my latest Surf to Summit Top patterns, we’ve already seen it ready for snowboarding and cycling, but today’s version is for the swimmers and surfers! Aussies, you’re particularly going to love this one as it’s perfect for summer swimming without getting burnt to a crisp.
If you’re making a rashguard (aka “rashie”), you’ve got quite a few options to choose from. At first I was a bit confused by all the different variations of rashguards available online, but Katherine really helped me to better understand the cultural context of them in Australia. If you’re sewing for a hardcore surfers, then you’ll probably want to for the long sleeves and not use the half-zip, as it would press against the board while you’re lying on your chest paddling.
But rashies have become so ubiquitous in Australia over the last few decades that the younger generation wear them when swimming as a fashion statement, so you often see versions with long or short sleeves, half zips, and lots of colourblocking in funky swimsuit lycra prints. You can also choose to use either the standard straight hem, or use the dipped hem to protect that little bit of skin above your bikini bottoms! Many teens and twenty-somethings have been wearing rashguards their whole lives, as parents dress their children in them to protect from sunburn, and it’s now caught on with the population at large. All of this may be common sense to Aussies now, but I’ve had loads of Americans and Europeans ask me what a rashguard is, so you’re ahead of the trend here!
My athlete-model, Emily, is a keen surfer, but also a runner, snowboarder, cyclist, and skateboarder(!), so she requested that hers be made in some zebra-print nylon lycra from UK Fabrics, and feature a half zip and sleeve mitts, so she can cleverly use it for winter running and surfing. All of the same options are available on the men’s version of the Surf to Summit Top pattern, too!read more >>
I’ve got quite a few different versions of my latest Surf to Summit Top pattern to show to you! It’s such a versatile pattern with so many different options, which meant that I had to sew samples of all the different features over the past few months. Today I want to focus on the cycling features of this pattern, for both the men and ladies.
Let’s look at the ladies’ version first, which is again modeled by my friend and multi-talented athlete, Emily, whom you met earlier this week. I made this version using some navy wicking nylon from UK Fabrics in the body, and some “triathlon” printed lycra from FunkiFabrics in the sleeves. The 1.25m I bought of the latter was enough to make leggings for myself and have enough over for the short sleeves here, and probably a sports bra, too! I finished off this top with some turquoise FOE bought on eBay around the hem and back pocket.
This top was one of the very last samples I made of the pattern, a few days before its release, and it uses the exact same version that you buy – it was sewn up to test that the final changes to the pattern were good. I’m pleased to say that the improvements I made to the half zip, facing, and zip underlay in particular are ones I’m particularly proud of – this came together really smoothly!read more >>
Wow, thank you all so so much for your enthusiasm on the launch of my latest patterns! More than one person went and bought all seven of my patterns in one go, too, which is just crazy wonderful! Can you imagine the fun weekends of sewing them all up?? I’ve been totally bowled over by your comments, encouragement, and enthusiasm, and I haven’t even shown you all the great versions I’ve been busily sewing over the past few months yet, either.
I’m going to start with one of the more basic versions, but one that should particularly appeal to those of you experiencing a North American winter right now, as it’s perfect for winter base layers. I sewed this one up in a freaking fantastic merino jersey which has a wicking backing fused onto it. It came from Mill Yardage in America, and I also bought the mustard colourway, too, which I actually love even more than the teal! I highly recommend grabbing 2yds of this if you’d like your own version (I have no affiliation whatsoever!).
Let me first take a minute to introduce Emily, my athlete-model for the ladies’ version of the pattern. Emily runs with me every week at Run Dem Crew, but we also ran the Copenhagen marathon together a few years ago, too. But Emily is a truly talented, multisport athlete – she’s not just a runner, but an avid Cornish surfer, snowboarder, and skateboarder, too. She also cycles just about everywhere in London, so she was the perfect choice to show the versatility of the Surf to Summit Top pattern!read more >>
It’s finally here! After months of hard work, dozens of pattern revisions, ten sewn samples, three athlete-models, and meters upon meters of spandex, the Surf to Summit Top is on sale now!
Both the men’s and ladies’ versions feature princess seams, side panels (so no side seams!), your choice of long or short raglan sleeves, optional sleeve mitts for keeping your hands warm without fiddling for gloves, a tall integral collar to keep your neck covered, and your choice of two hem lengths. An optional half zip and back cycling-style pocket are also included.
This pattern truly does cover all seasons and a multitude of sports – everything from a rashguard for surfing, to a winter base layer for skiing! Plus you can make a traditional cycling jersey with it, and I absolutely love it for winter running.read more >>
I’ve been a fan of FunkiFabrics for a long time (ie: before it was cool!), having made a sports bra, shorts, and leggings from their digital print lycra back in 2013. I’ve been meaning to get some more to use for myself, but it always felt like I was buying it on request for clients and students and never for me!
But recently I decided enough was enough ad I splurged on some luuuuuuuuuscious Funki Fabrics lycra in the “triathlon” print (bought with my own money). This fabric could not be more me – geometric print with turquoise and purples?! (It also comes in a red/orange/pink colourway).
I teamed it up with the basic, one-piece Kwik Sew leggings pattern that I’d recently altered in strange places to suit my runner’s legs, so I knew that the pattern would work well on the run and not bother me by shifting around! I’d made these with an eye to wear at the Three Molehills race, but the old adage “Nothing new on race day” lives deep within my psyche, so I took them out for a test run through Hampstead Heath (and the infamous Swains Lane) the weekend before:
It was only a short loop round the Heath, but long enough for me to tell they were going to be great (and that the mud washed out of them just fine on a cold sports wash!).
When I got home and put a sweatshirt on to warm up, I realised how well the print teamed with royal blue as well as purple! It’s a definite bonus for me when I can pair leggings with a number of tops in my running wardrobe…
So when the morning of the Three Molehills race arrived, I wasn’t even all that concerned that the forecast was for heavy downpours the entire day – at least I had fun leggings to wear round the super hilly, 16 mile
My Fun Sewing Weekend was going so well after I made my galaxy sweatshirt and black travel skirt that I decided to tweak the fit on my Kwik Sew one-piece leggings pattern and test it out on some unsuspecting cheetah-print nylon lycra from UK Fabrics (well, they call it leopard, but I say cheetah!).
I’d made this pattern a few times for myself and many times in classes, but I noticed when I made my crazy cat lady leggings recently that the fit was a bit too loose in places. I totally blame this on my training firming me up further, since the leggings were loose around the hips, upper thighs, and ankles. And perfectly fine at my runner’s calves and quads!
So I shaved off a good centimeter from the front & back crotch curves (meaning 4cm overall), another 1.5cm wedge from the inner thigh on both sides, and then a hefty 3cm wedge from both sides at the ankles. I have tiny, bird-like ankles, and the standard ankle width was just flapping in the breeze… So now my pattern is something like Size Small/XS in the waist and hips & upper thigh, Medium in the lower thigh/knee/calf, and XSish in the ankles. Hooray for custom fit!
These literally took me 20 minutes to cut out and sew together, and I wore them out on my Sunday run around Greenwich Park and back home along the river. These felt so much better for the little fitting tweaks – the cat leggings start to fall down after a few kilometers and pool around my quads (a sure sign they’re too loose above that point), but these stayed in place for the whole 20km run!read more >>
I’ve been a bad blogger this week. I’ve been doing lots (as you’ll soon see), but working every weekend for the past three, plus the weeks in between, and some out-of-town trips have all really sapped my enthusiasm to write! So I’m taking the lazy option out and catching you all up with a little roundup – a week’s worth of posts in a day…
Like the Wind workshop
Cult running magazine Like the Wind approached me a few months ago to ask if I’d like to run a “sew your own leggings workshop” at the week-long popup they were throwing together at the end of October. I’d known one half of the husband-and-wife team that run the magazine, but I’d never met Julie before this. Once I found out that she not only owns her own overlocker, but bought it when she sewed her own wedding dress with it(!), I knew we’d get along just fine.
We had five runners who’d only done a small amount of sewing before, but had never touched an overlocker before, and certainly not a coverstitch either! They each picked their own fabric from FunkFabrics’ range, and walked home in some very stylish leggings at the end of the afternoon!
Georgina picked a “Gotham” print, so of course she just had to pose with the Batman art in the gallery!
And here’s the finished set! I saw quite a few little “omg I’m so happy in my leggings” dances at the end, which really reminds me why I love teaching so much. Lucy posted a great writeup of the street art tour and my class, too.
There may be another Like the Wind workshop in the new year if we can work out the logistics, but there will definitely be more up at the Thriftystitcher studio in January and February, to be announced very soon! The classes are very similar, so if you’re a runner you can come learn at Thriftystitcher, or non-runners vice-versa at Like the Wind.
But I was so jealous of all their finished leggings that I treated myself to some Funkifabrics lycra this week (it was difficult, but I settled on this geometric aqua number in the end, because it reminded me of a Lamb album cover!).
Random sweatshirt sewing
When I was pulling out supplies to bring along to the workshop, I came across pieces for this sweatshirt that I’d cut out in February when I was trying to deplete random bits of leftover sweatshirting that was taking up too much room in my little sewing cave. The lavender “sacrificial sweatshirt” came out of that same cull, but for some reason I never quite got around to sewing this blue one together at the time. read more >>
I promised you earlier in the week that I had a free pattern on the way, and it’s here!
Please welcome the FREE Running Armband Pocket pattern, a super quick pouch to wear on your arm that takes way under an hour to sew (10-15min for most!) and uses scraps you’ve probably got lying around anyway.
This armband has a pocket on one side with a simple fold-over flap for keeping things like a phone, keys, travelcard, etc tight against your arm while you run. There are no closures – the band just slips over your arm and the stretchiness of the fabric holds it in place.
Now the astute amoungst you are probably thinking “Wait – didn’t she do a tutorial for this already?” and you’d be right. You’d also be correct if you tried to follow said tutorial and found it a little bit confusing! I know I sure did when I went back to it a few months later and struggled to follow what Previous Me was talking about…read more >>
There are some big things happening in my sewing world over the next month or two you should know about (no, not another pattern release just yet though I am working on the next one already!). So get out your calendar and take note of these…
Monday 13 October
Spoonflower have announced another free shipping day (international shipping, too)!. This is a perfect opportunity to try out our Fehr Trade x Laurie King exercise fabrics if you haven’t already. The fabrics coordinate perfectly with my sewing patterns so you only need to buy one yard of wicking fabric to get coordinating colours and prints.
For UK buyers, this means you save $9 on shipping, and if you buy one yard of the Performance Piqué it should fall under the HMRC exemption and you won’t get hit with nasty surprise customs charges.
Thursday 16 October
Next Thursday evening I will be teaching the Slouchy Breton Tee class at the Thriftystitcher studio in Stoke Newington (London), and there’s still space for you to join!
Me in my Purple & green Slouchy Breton Tee
This class uses a pattern drafted exclusively for the class, and has the magic ability of fitting everyone I’ve taught so far without needing an FBA! Magic. Stripey fabric is provided just you just need to turn up and enjoy learning the stretch fabric basics, and go home with your own tee and exclusive pattern.
Tuesday 21 October
OMG, it’s the return of the Great British Sewing Bee, but with a twist! The first of three charity specials for BBC Children in Need airs at 8pm, featuring celebrities who have never sewn before, going through a set of three challenges. Dum dum DAH!
I’m super excited for these to air because, well, I may have spent half my summer working behind-the-scenes on these (there’s a blog post ready for when I’m able to post it!), so I can’t wait to see the finished episodes!
Also, I can confirm that these Pudsey ironing board covers are super cute! Serious bargain at £10 (for charity!), if you ask me.read more >>
Thank you all so much for first your good luck messages, and then your congratulations after this weekend’s Berlin marathon! We had an absolutely wonderful (and gluttonous!) week in Budapest, Vienna, and Prague leading up to the race, and we thoroughly enjoyed Berlin, too!
I promised you all before I left that I believed enough in my Threshold Shorts design that I’d run an entire marathon in them – and I did! They performed great during the race – they didn’t ride up in the thighs at all and the little back pocket kept my final two gels safe and secure right up until 40k when I gobbled down the last salted caramel Gu.
You can read my full race report over on my River Runner site, but the short version is that I loved this race and truly smiled the entire way through, ending on a total high as we ran through Brandenburg Gate. This was my fourth marathon and my most enjoyable to date (as well as my fourth marathon run in me-sewn gear!).
You can also see that I modified my RDC vest a little bit, too – during races I like to only use one headphone, and normally tuck the other earbud under my sportsbra. But for longer races, this has a tendency to both irritate and get salt and sweat in the earbud, so this time I thought ahead and stitched a little piece of elastic onto my vest at the shoulder to wrap the headphone around! It worked a treat and is something I’ll definitely do for future marathon and half-marathon tops.read more >>
I hope you all have been enjoying all the book reviews while I’m away on holiday! I thought I’d end this week with some photos of one of my favourite pairs of Threshold Shorts that I sewed myself. These are made in some turquoise/teal aerated polyester and pale “apple green” FOE, both from Sewing Chest. It’s an unusual colour combination but one that I totally love!
Even better is that I realised that the teal matches the purple/citrine/teal colourway of our Fehr Trade x Laurie King fabric designs really well! I sewed up a sample of my XYT Workout Top pattern in the “Zigzag” pattern to show them off together. It’d be rude not to!
Let’s talk about the top first – as I mentioned with my first, ombré samples, the Spoonflower tech fabrics have no vertical stretch, so you’ve got to add some into the patterns. I chose to demonstrate the super-easy cheat’s way, which was to just draw two horizontal lines (one above the waist and one below), and spread these out when I cut the fabric!
I separated each by 2cm and this seems just about right for me. It also has the bonus of making it easy to stripe match the front and back, as you get a little “window” for the zigzags!
I chose to use the Y back here and I even paid attention and switched coverstitching threads from purple to citrine so they blend in nicely. You can’t see it, but I’ve also used purple power mesh for the built in bra, so it’s a very attractive little running top!read more >>
Thank you all so, so much for your enthusiasm and compliments on the launch of our fabric designs last week! I’ve been swamped with work (which is great!) but managed to squeeze in some time to sew up the first two samples – a VNA Top and Duathlon Shorts (booty length) in the coordinating “Maps” citrine & black colourway.
So if you buy one yard of the “Maps” citrine/black VNA fabric and one yard of the “Maps” citrine/black Duathlon fabric, this is what you get! Cool, eh? There’s more photos of me modelling at the end, but I know loads of you were waiting to see finished versions first before taking the plunge!
Having cut out and sewn both, I took some photos throughout the process, and have a few tips as well. The previous post shows you how to lay out your pieces onto the different zones, but in real life, I know my makeshift cutting table (err, desk!) isn’t big enough to hold the full yardage.
So the first thing I recommend is to cut the fabric apart along the different zones and trim the white borders.
This makes it a lot easier to match up the edges so you can fold the zones in half and cut on the fold (or in the case of the Duathlon shorts, cut two layers at once). It also means I can fit the fabric onto my cutting table!read more >>
Wow, thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and support for the new fabric designs – I’m so glad you all are as excited by the idea as I am!!
Unfortunately, however, I didn’t get a chance to sew them up into samples over the weekend because I was up north in Bolton competing in the British Transplant Games! On Saturday and Sunday I raced in the 3km “mini marathon”, 1500m, 800m, 400m, and 200m (my planned mixed relay race was cancelled due to poor weather).
The bulk of my races were on Sunday (in the sideways rain!), and I’m proud to say that I competed in my own designs – a VNA Top and a pair of Duathlon Shorts, booty length. I must say, this particular combo makes me feel so speedy and confident that I just loved racing in it. Also, if you haven’t tried the booty length, adding silicon “gripper” elastic to the hems makes a world of difference – they don’t budge at all, and were comfortable enough to wear under my team tracksuit all day.read more >>
Last week saw the end of a very good but busy work project, so what do I do when faced with a bit more time and mental energy than usual? Why, I sew of course!*
Liberty, but not as we know it
I received some lovely Liberty gift coins for my birthday, and because Previous Me knows Future Me so well, I had stashed some extra birthday cash along with it in the suede pouch, knowing I’d forget all about it and be pleasantly surprised. Which is precisely what happened!
So now armed with £60 to play with in Liberty, I decided to take advantage of a rainy day and go shopping. Now, I know loads of you go weak at the knees for anything Liberty, but I don’t. I find most of the traditional Liberty prints to be painfully twee and nothing I’d ever, ever wear. So I was thinking I’d see what was on offer in their jerseys, but first I got waylaid by the remnants table, where I scooped up a vaguely-African print silk twill (1m for £25, seen lower left).
The jersey selection was really small and mostly ditzy print (gag), but I kept being drawn to a dreamy, blurry, triangular print that came in a few shades, but only in Tana Lawn. I finally decided that if I kept coming back to this print then I should buy it and figure out a project later. So 1.5m of the palest colourway came home with me (seen upper left above) and brought my grand total to £58. Now that’s budgeting!
Refashioned suede wristlets
A friend had recently given me two skirts which no longer fit her, a suede one and a silk one, and mentioned that I might want them for the fabric. Of course! So I chopped up the suede one on Sunday, making two of the free Cake mini wristlets.read more >>
I showed you a casual version of my new VNA Top pattern a few weeks ago, modeled by my athlete friend Anne, but one of the great things about this pattern is that it works equally well for both exercising and lounging about. Just change the fabrics and go up a size and it’s ready to throw on with jeans!
Since you’ve already seen one casual version, I wanted to show you my favourite workout version – actually, this might be my favourite workout top ever – I just love how the fabrics coordinate together!
If you’ve used any of my patterns before, you know how great they are for using up small pieces of fabric – because sportswear fabric can be expensive and I hate wasting anything, but also because it means you can coordinate tops and bottoms really easily! I made this VNA Top using a Spoonflower print I fell in love with, printed onto their Performance Knit base (though now that they’ve released their Performance Pique, I actually prefer that to the “knit”!), and when it finally arrived, I saw that the teal colour in it coordinated perfectly with the mint space dyed supplex I had leftover from my minty XYT Workout Top, but also with a bunch of mis-printed “Run to the Beat” technical tees I got given for refashioning. I couldn’t believe my luck!!
I cut the Upper Front in the Spoonflower print, the Lower Front & Back from the “hint of mint” supplex, and the Back and Bindings from the refashioned race tee. Three different fabrics in one top, but the shared teal colour mean they look great together!read more >>
The Spring Race Challenge officially came to a close this week, but that’s no reason you should stop sewing your own exercise gear, or challenging yourself! But I had to draw a line somewhere so I could stop and draw a winner from the enormous (and sweaty!) pile of entrants, and I don’t think we can carry on calling this “spring” much longer, or the Aussies really will be into spring!
Everyone made such an effort in their sporty makes, and many of you said that you wouldn’t have pushed yourself to either a) sew exercise clothing nor b) sign up to a race if it wasn’t for this challenge, which is such a boost! Because seeing others exercise is such a big motivation, I want to show you all the entrants so you can see how great me-made exercisewear can be. And that it’s not just bonkers-me doing it!
(Though if you would like to know more about lil-ol-bonkers me, Karen from “Did You Make That?” interviewed me for her own Sporty Summer Sewathon and she asked some great questions!!)
The Sweaty Sewists (in order of submission)read more >>
Wow, thank you all so much for your support and purchases of my new VNA Top pattern! I know many of you like to see how patterns look on a real person so I’ll be sharing the versions I made with you over the next few weeks. As with my Duathlon Shorts, I like to mix things up and use local athletes as models, both so that you’re not always just looking at me (boring!) but also to highlight what total badasses these ladies are!
For this pattern I was totally lucky to bag my friend Anne to model for me! Anne was big into roller derby for a number of years, has competed in triathlons and standalone open water swims, ran her first full marathon last year, and is at yoga and spin classes pretty much every night (seriously – she makes me look lazy!).
Here she’s wearing a VNA Top I made from a purple ponte jersey so you can see how well it works both as casual wear with jeans, but also when it’s made in just one solid colour!read more >>
Hands up if you’ve been motivated by the Spring Race Challenge to sew up some lycra and go out and be active… ooh yes, that’s rather a lot of you!
Well, I’m pleased to report that there’s now another reason to be motivated to enter before 7 July, and that’s because I can finally announce the prizes, which will go to one lucky entrant, chosen by random draw.
Sewing Chest has very kindly supplied a special activewear kit full of goodies to sew at least one workout garment (and likely two, if you’re clever with your cutting)! It contains:
- 1.5m x 170cm wide black wicking supplex
- 40cm x 160cm wide pinky-red wicking supplex (not as hot pink as it appears in my photo, honest!)
- 50cm x 150cm of lightweight black powernet
- 1.5m of 2cm wide black elastic, perfect for waistbands or under bra XYT bands
- 5m of black FOE
It should be enough for you to sew, say, a pair of PB Jam leggings in black with red contrasts, plus a black XYT Workout Top with a red upper back and FOE edges… or a pair of black Duathlon Shorts with red sides and a black VNA Top with red lower front and bindings… Or any other combo you choose, really!
These activewear kits will soon be available to buy from Sewing Chest, too, which should make it super easy to buy all the bits for coordinating sportswear in one go!
I’ll also be throwing in a bumper prize pack of all four of my sewing patterns (if you haven’t got them already!) to the lucky winner so she can have some new patterns to go with the new fabric, too.read more >>
You heard all about the electronic components earlier this week, but the sewing of the jacket itself was in no straightforward, either! If you missed the video of the LEDs in action, have another look:
You might think, that, as a pattern designer for exercise wear, I might view other exercise patterns as competition. On the contrary – when I first saw the StyleArc Steffi jacket, my first thought was “Brilliant! Now I don’t have to draft it myself!”. I’ve got enough ideas in my head for patterns already, so I’d rather refer folks to other good patterns if I can rather than constantly reinvent the wheel.
This pattern was a birthday gift from my inlaws, and I was initially concerned because they’d bought me a size 10 instead of the 12 I’d asked for, but as it turned out this fits me really well anyway. It’s a smidge too tight in the chest for me to run in (my trainer has me focus on pulling my shoulder blades back to open up my chest for better breathing), but is utterly perfect as a warm-up, cool-down jacket, so hurrah for happy accidents!
I chose to do my colourblocking like it’s shown in the technical drawing – I used a grey/black sportshell as the main body, then I used the black reverse of this black/grey “budget” sportshell as the contrast panels. The main sportshell is really nice – a soft, technical jersey with a thin layer of fleece bonded to the inside – it feels really RTW and high quality. The budget one, well, lived up to its name. The grey side looks a bit naff, there’s no fleece, and the black side is just smooth like the other fabric’s grey exterior. So it was fine for my purposes here, but I wouldn’t recommend skimping if you want a similar jacket – go for the more expensive option and you won’t regret it.read more >>
This is an epic jacket, and something I’ve been wanting to do for, ooh, 6-7 years at least. You see, I really liked the idea of wearable electronics, and clothes that do something and interact with their environment, so I started buying LilyPad components many years ago with the hopes of making something.
Then I realised that I know nothing about circuits and electronics, and it all seemed really confusing every time I tried to sit down and learn about it. Finally, I decided that I’d bring my suitcase of tricks (no really, I have a little yellow plastic “suitcase” with all my beginning circuitry stuff in it!) along to France on holiday and I’d sit down and teach myself how to do it then. And I actually did!
LilyPad is the sewable line of Arduino products, made especially for folks like us. They’re easy to attach onto clothes, and (apart from the batteries) are machine washable, too. For this jacket I used a LilyPad battery pack (I started with the Coin Cell one but it wasn’t quite enough power), a Lily Twinkle controller, a bunch of LEDs, and a spool of conductive thread.
I used a mix of the regular LilyPad LEDs and the Micro LEDs because that’s what I had – the micro green ones were much brighter than the bigger purple ones, but you can really only get about four loops of thread around each terminal of the micro ones, so if you need to connect it to more than two lines, go for a bigger one. The Twinkle controller is really just a tiny board with four connection spots for LEDs and makes them fade in and out randomly (though you can connect more than one LED to each spot & they’ll twinkle in unison). I wanted to make things easy for myself this time around so I left out any input sensors, though I do have an accelerometer in my stash…
I’d thought to bring along this “Fashioning Technology” book and between that and this Lilypad Twinkle tutorial, I pretty much taught myself how to make a simple circuit to do what I wanted. When I go to do my next project, I’ll need to read a few different chapters and watch some more tutorials, I’m sure!read more >>
You’ve already seen my first athlete-model, Claudia, rocking the Booty Short length, plus a ton of different versions from around the sew-o-sphere, but I wanted to show you a pair of my Duathlon Shorts pattern I made in the Capri length for my friend, hero, and inspiration, Angel Dee!
Angel’s not only a super fit runner (she just ran London marathon, too!), but she’s also finishing her personal trainer certification after years of dreaming and working office jobs. Sometimes it’s all too easy to assume that super-fit people have always been that way (I know I’m guilty of that, too), or just “have great genes” or something, but Angel works hard – not only is she a mum to a teenage boy(!), but she’s overcome her fair share of serious health problems, too, which makes her enviable abs even more laudable! (Seriously, check out the #AbsLikeAngel hashtag on Twitter!)read more >>
Thank you all so, so much for your well wishes, support, and donations for Sunday’s London Marathon!
If you’re interested in my full race report, please head over to my RiverRunner site, but the short version is that it was super tough in the hot sun, but I managed to finish in 3:30:37, which is a new PB for me, an automatic Good For Age place in next year’s race, and a Boston Qualifier as well!
My rainbow Duathlon Shorts were the perfect choice, too – super comfortable with no tugging or chafing whatsoever, and the pockets were big enough for me to cram in four gels and a pack of Shot Bloks and not have them bouncing around everywhere.read more >>
Tomorrow I run the London Marathon.
(Actually, I’m way more excited than that sounds. Add in a “Weeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!”)
I will be running in my newest Duathlon shorts, so I’ll be sure to share some photos of myself in them for the Spring Race Challenge! Remember that if you’re entering the prize draw, you need to link to your photo in the comments of that post – I’ve seen some great photos already but they need to be added there so I don’t lose any.
If you’d like to track me during the race tomorrow (it starts at 10am BST), I’ve detailed three different ways you can do so over on my Riverrunner site. I’ll especially need comments after 2.5 hours in, so that’s about 12:30ish local time (or 7:30 EDT).read more >>
I recently placed a small order at Spoonflower for the first time in three years since they now do “performance knit” as a base fabric option! I mostly wanted to see how it compares against other wicking lycras and also FunkiFabrics’ digitally printed (non-wicking) lycra, as it could potentially be a great source of wild running prints for me.
I had stopped ordering from Spoonflower because their international shipping was taking an excessively long amount of time (over a month!!) and getting lost fairly frequently. I also stopped because, at the time, the only knit fabric they had was the organic cotton interlock, which both faded in the first wash and had zero recovery, and was pretty much useless for my purposes. But in the past three years, they’ve added a bunch more knits to their range and sorted out their international shipping, so I tentatively made a small order to try them out again.
I ended up getting three samples and a fat quarter, all of the performance knit (plus a swatch book), and I’m really impressed. Spoonflower’s performance knit is a smooth lycra base with about 40% widthwise stretch and no lengthwise stretch. They print onto white base lycra, and although the weight is thinner than FunkiFabrics’ base lycra (which has four-way stretch), I’d still feel fine using it for actvewear, though you’d want a busy print to distract from any lumps and bumps.
I’m also relieved to report that they’ve sorted out their international shipping – I ordered on 13 March, they shipped it on 17 March, and it arrived on 31 March. Much improved!
Now, the price. I always expect that I’m going to get shafted on shipping fabric from the States (and I’m usually right!), but the shipping on my above order was only $7, which I found wholly reasonable. In fact, I started getting curious so I actually worked out a price comparison for having digitally printed lycra shipped to me in the UK:read more >>
Argh I’ve done that thing again where I get really busy in my sewing cave (and elsewhere!), ignore my laptop altogether, and end up accumulating a full week’s worth of posts that I can’t face writing. This usually bogs me down mentally for a few days until I realise I have to face the laptop at some point, and I work a “computer day” (I much prefer “sewing days”!) to clear the slate.
But a-ha! I gotcha, “internet day”, because I’m going to cram together all the updates I really should write about in one big go. Didn’t see that coming, didja?!? (frollicks off to the sewing cave…)
Thank you again so much for all your compliments on my galaxy print birthday dress last week! I’m not sure what I did right, but I ended up getting an awful lot of lovely sewing gifts this year…
Clockwise from upper left:
- An amazing, handmade pressing ham and stand from Claire (protip: she’s selling these right now in custom fabrics so get in touch with her!). The ham is a funny shape because she’s cleverly designed it to mimic a crotch curve so you can really get in there and press it well, and the stand essentially acts and a hands-free for it! She also got me some royal blue ponte knit that was just so me that I cut it out the same day (seen in the upper right and below…)
- From my friend Jennie, Liberty gift coins! They’re like gift cards, but because Liberty are so damned classy, you get a gorgeous purple suede bag with special coins instead. Mmmm, shopping!
- From James, a Marfy dress pattern I’ve been lusting after for ages (Marfy 2935)
- From my inlaws, the Style Arc Steffi Jacket (and March freebie pattern, Nancy) and Clover fork pins (which hold silks in place better than anything else, apparently!). I’m particularly pleased with the Steffi jacket as I love the design and it saves me the trouble of drafting it myself!
- From James and my parents, an Eva Dress reproduction of a 1933 Katherine Hepburn jacket that I’ve literally had on my WishList for 3+ years (hurrah!), and a brand new Men’s drafting book that came recommended from Fashion Incubator and has better, modern designs included than anything I’ve seen actual patterns for. So I’ve got high hopes for that, even though it doesn’t contain a tight-fitting stretch block.
- Tissu aka “In Fashion Fabrics” – Supplex in a limited range of colours, but by far the cheapest in the UK
- Rainbow Jersey – Great array of supplex colours, but phone orders only and they’ll only ship within the UK (price is about £12/m with no minimum)
- UK Fabrics – Scruffy Badger has used their “Mock Eyelet” for running gear and recommends it!
- 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)
- 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.
- Style Arc Ivy tee in mustard & charcoal viscose jersey (I’m currently sewing this now!)
- Burda March 2013 #107 cardigan, in brown merino wool jersey (LOL English summer AM I RITE?)
- One dart lace bra (copied from RTW/self-drafted from Shin) using an aqua lace I bought from Danglez.
- Burda Jan 2012 #122 trousers in leftover hot pink cotton sateen (so it’s a merging of my pink party dress and my grey trousers!)
- I drew in my waistline just under the pattern’s torso double line
- I marked the knees on front & back, and also where the curve of my bum lies (helpful for placing design lines later!)
- I took out some excess in the ankle (no cankles here!) and about 4 inches off the length (the legs are reeeeeeeeally long – maybe to cover skates?)
- And then, finally, I drew in some curved design lines where I thought they might look nice around my thighs and calves
(I also got a bunch of books and running stuff, too, but I do attempt to keep this blog on topic!)
On my birthday itself, I decided I wanted to do some “fun sewing” and not “work sewing” (you make this distinction when you start doing this for a living, I’ve found), so I actually ended up cutting out Marfy 2935 in the blue ponte knit – surely a new record for both pattern and fabric to be used in less than 24hrs!
The first snag was that there was no pattern piece included for the horizontal waist drape on the green version – I emailed Marfy saying it was missing, but that I presumed it was just a gathered rectangle and could I please have the dimensions. Several days later, I got a vague and partial reply saying that I was correct and it was important that it’s cut on the bias. That’s it – no “yes, you should’ve received that piece” or “here’s the dimensions”, oddly.
But I had already carried on with my dress using guestimated dimensions for that piece, and got to a try-on stage with basted side seams:read more >>
Two big and exciting things are happening next week, and I wanted to give you a tiny peek at both of them so that you’re as excited as I am!
First – it’s my birthday on Tuesday, and I’m sewing myself something special, like I do every year. This year it’s going to be in the form of that Derek Lam-inspired knit sheath from the January 2014 Manequim magazine combined with the most amazing galaxy print ponte jersey which is pretty much the only selfish Me Fabric I’ve bought in six months.
Oh, and I happened to find this perfect zipper in my stash, so it’s going to be exposed in the back!
The second exciting thing is that my next pattern is ready for a launch next week!!
Please welcome the Duathlon shorts into your life! They come in three lengths: Booty Shorts, Biker Shorts, or Capris, and feature contrast side panels with integrated pockets (perfect for your phone, gels, or keys). There’s also optional crotch padding to make cycling more comfortable, and they’re perfect for cycle commuters who prefer to wear skirts but still want some padding (and modesty!), but also for runners, dancers, lifters, and yoga-heads, too.read more >>
Everybody could use a bit more motivation to exercise, right? In my opinion, spring time is the absolute best time to start exercising if you haven’t been doing as much as you’d like, and what better way to motivate yourself than with some pretty new exercise gear that fits you perfectly?
The Spring Race Challenge is simple – sew up some exercise gear, and sign up to a race.
It doesn’t matter whether the sewing is self-drafted, from one of my patterns, or from another pattern company. The important bit is that you’ve sewn it yourself!
It doesn’t matter what sport you’re into – running, cycling, swimming, karate, gymnastic, cross fit, whatever! You do not have to be speedy. This isn’t about beating your competition, or getting a new PB, or signing up to some lofty challenge – this is all about picking a goal and motivating yourself to work towards it. If running is your thing, I highly recommend checking out your local Parkrun – they’re free, timed 5km runs every Saturday around the world.
How to take part!
Step 1: Place the Spring Race Challenge badge somewhere on your blog (if you have one – if not, tell a friend or tweet it with #SweatAndSew or post it to Facebook!).
read more >>
You may have already read Winnie’s post about our weekend (‘cos she’s well faster than me at writing!), but it’s just too big not to post, however late, because…
….I finally got to meet Winnie (aka Scruffy Badger)! Look, we’re on the same couch and everything!
When I was looking at half marathons to run before London Marathon, Winnie stepped up to campaign for Bath, and won me over with her offer of a comfortable bed, carb-loaded dinner, and pre-race breakfast. And all I had to do was show her a few coverstitch tricks. Bargain!
To top it off, she gifted me some of her adorable shoe bows, too, with signature Winnie elephants!
Winnie runs the Bath Half every year, so this was her 5th(!) time running it, but a first for me so I was grateful for a local to get me to the start line on time. And I finally got to race in the PB Jam Leggings I made from the rainbow space-dyed supplex, too.read more >>
A few months ago Rosie (aka DIY Couture) gifted me this crazy, mind-melting lycra when she was moving house, saying it looked like something I’d like! It definitely falls into the “fabric I’d run in” category rather than my normal wardrobe, I’m sure you’ll agree, so I knew I’d make leggings from it!
As it happens, I needed to test out KwikSew 3636 for a leggings class I’ll be teaching soon (yay!) so I thought I’d whip up a quick pair with this lycra, which I’ve decided is an acid trip in lycra form. In reality like it’s even more loud than the print itself though – because it’s actually wet look, too!
I mean – who looked at this fabric and though “Nah, not enough. How can we make it CRAZIER? I know – add some wet look shimmer!”?
If you’re a regular reader, you know I don’t often sew with Big Four or envelope patterns much these days (and especially not for something I draft myself, like leggings) but credit where credit’s due – I was impressed by this pattern, actually! It’s a one-piece pattern with two different fit options – one at 100% of body measurement, and the other with negative ease. Clearly I went for the negative ease one!
I was also impressed that they finish the waistband in my preferred method, which I’ve never, ever seen on a pattern before!
Cutting out the pattern made for some stomach-churning moments – don’t stare directly at the fabric! Lucky for me I only had to cut out one piece, and the construction was so quick I was wearing them in well under an hour.
During the photoshoot, James asked why I was “going all Sasha Fierce”, ahahahah! Blame it on my acid leggings, I suppose!read more >>
Real life is starting to run away from the documented garments on this site, so it’s definitely time for a little roundup of projects which I’ve been working on, yet haven’t quite done a full photoshoot for yet…
The Sherlock coat
The Sherlock coat is 90% done – I’ve attached the lining and flipped it all right side out, but there’s still some hand-stitching to be done. However, this is currently “parked” while James is waiting for the Etsy lady to put up more replica buttons for sale (yes, someone makes buttons that look just like the ones on Cumberbatch’s coat!). When those arrive, I’ll finish the handstitching, sew them on, and make a gajillion keyhole buttonholes with my vintage Singer attachment.
The Rainbow PB Jam Leggings
I used some of my most precious, imported Space Dyed “confetti” supplex to make a pair of my PB Jam Leggings to wear to the Bath Half marathon next weekend, and possibly run London marathon in, too, depending on the weather. These are totally finished and road-tested at Run dem Crew last week (to rapturous compliments!) but I’m waiting until next weekend to do a photoshoot in the race environment.
You saw these in my invisible pocket tutorial, remember?
(Actually, now that I think of it, I still need to show you all my last set of PB Jams and XYT Tops from my big pre-release photoshoot, too!)
The Brasilia Dress
I’ve been wanting to make Rachel’s free Brasilia Dress pattern since she released it on Christmas Day, and I finally got the kick I needed, in the form of a big opportunity – I’ve been asked to speak at the House of Commons on Monday about a new stem cell bill! Omg!! So of course I needed a new dress, and I figured the red cotton sateen in my stash would be perfect, both for confidence and the connotation with blood. Even though it was a rush job, I still made enough time to sew up a muslin first, and the finished dress is now finished, too. I’ll try to do a photoshoot this weekend and the grab a few photos in the Houses of Parliament itself next week! read more >>
When was the last time you actually LOLed at a sewing blog? Because I just did, twice, reading Dawn’s (aka “cabinbaby”) post about her PB Jam Leggings. Seriously! She totally nails the self-defeating runner inner dialogue there, too…
You all know I’m partial to super loud patterns and bright colours when I make my own leggings, but look – I have a fellow kindred spirit! Rainbow colours and psychedlic swirls weren’t enough for Dawn, no, no – she even used rainbow variegated thread, people! I totally applaud the use of the gymnastic poses in showing off all the finer points of the leggings, too.
One thing Dawn talks about in her post is using your serger/overlocker to make a mock-flatlock stitch, like you see on a lot of RTW sportswear. I haven’t found the regular overlocked seams to be a chafing problem for me, but I know a lot of people are more sensitive to it, and you can do your own flatlock stitching at home with just a few tension adjustments…read more >>
I hope you’re not too sick of seeing all these versions of my workout patterns yet, as I’ve got a few more yet to show you and I’m saving some of my favourites for last!
I’m also very pleased to report that I’ve been able to go back and fit in an XXS size (84B 63W 90H) into both patterns – the leggings files are totally done and the top only needs some elastic calculations and that’s done, too! I’ll be updating the files within my Etsy shop later this week, and I’ll make an announcement when they’re up, too. All previous customers will be able to download the updated files should they wish (but there’s no real change to the other sizes so there’s no point in re-printing and re-taping if you’re not an XXS, really).
But enough of the housekeeping, let’s see the sewing!
For this version I chose to make the X-back version in some highly treasured and amaaaaaazing “space dyed” Hint of Mint supplex from RunnersFabrics (on hiatus til the end of the month due to a Canberra -> Perth move!). I browsed through my Bag O’ Lycra and found I had an old race tee that was the exact same colour as the supplex, so I used that for the upper back portion. I’m still chuffed about how well these fabrics match every time I put it on!
For the shelf bra here, I used nude power mesh I’d picked up at Kantje Boord when I ran the Amsterdam marathon back in 2012. It’s a bit too cold here to wear the top on its own on my runs, so I’ve been wearing it underneath jackets and loving the support – it’s plenty enough even for my long, 2+ hour runs at the weekends.
(Seen here paired with my mesh-insertion leggings I made last spring!)
The version of my patterns I want to share with you today is special because Kathy is the only one of my pattern testers whom I’ve met in real life! Not only did we meet when I was over in Baltimore last year, but we actually went for a run together in activewear we’d sewn ourselves, too!
Kathy’s no stranger to sewing activewear (and she’s got almost as big a lycra stash as I do!), and I love that she chose to make the T-back version for herself, because I really think it’s the most versatile version! She’s used some black athletic mesh for the vertical portion, but you can pretty much use any fancy trim you have on hand – lace, sequins, fishnet, or just contrast fabric like she’s done.
This wasn’t enough though, as she’s gone and selflessly made a polka dot version for her niece, too! I totally freaking adore the polka dot fabric, and I love that she’s paired it with black mesh for the Y back, and then finished the edges tee-shirt style for a bit of contrast.read more >>
Thanks so much to everyone for your support with my new patterns! I have actually been doing a bit of non-exercise sewing over New Year’s (which I’ll show you later this week), but first I wanted to show off one of the pairs of PB Jam Leggings I made during the development of the pattern.
This pair was made from two different green colours of Under Armor Cold Gear fabric that were gifted to me by Cidell a while back. Last winter I made a pair of Ooh La Leggings in the forest green Cold Gear and they were seriously the warmest leggings I’ve ever worn, even keeping me warmer than heavy coats on my upper body! I knew I’d need at least one more pair to get me through this winter, so I alternated leftovers of the forest green for the swirl and back knee pieces with the sage green Cold Gear for the main body pieces.
Here you can see that hidden back pocket in action – it can easily store an iPhone 5 or bigger, plus a gel (shown here with Gu Peanut Butter, but their Salted Caramel is also splendid!) or keys, The waistband keeps it all contained and from bouncing around while you move, too. For this pair, since the Cold Gear is quite thick, I actually used a thinner lycra for the pocket piece, and this worked really well!read more >>
I’m so excited to show you this next set of exercise gear from my amazing pattern testers because I know a lot of you out there who are more endowed than I have been wondering if the built-in bra could possibly work for you… Well, Ms McCall is proof positive that it can work – the built-in bra on both her X and Y versions is enough to keep her DDs from shifting while running! She’s got some great tips about selecting power mesh, altering the lining if you need a bit more room, and even a great new contrast edge finish, too. Read more about her tops here.
She also made the PB Jam leggings and came up with a clever way to keep the hidden back pockets 100% hidden with no exterior topstitching, plus shows how to layout the swirl pieces if you want your contrast fabric print to be 100% continuous along the side seams, too. You can see her tips on the leggings here.read more >>
I’ve come to that point near the end of the year where I want to gather together a bunch of little projects I’ve made recently, but yet didn’t quite seem big enough for their own post… You’ll see my traditional, year-end roundup tomorrow (I hope! I haven’t actually started it yet, eep!), but before then, let’s finish off the last little bits of the year…
The most exciting of these are undoubtably the Cake Patterns Red Velvet Mini Clutches I made for James’s twin, teenaged nieces. They’ve pretty much only wanted cash or gift cards for a few years now, but this year I fancied giving them a little something extra to hold their gift.
The Cake Red Velvet Mini Clutch is a smaller version of the full pattern without the illustrated instructions, but on the plus side it’s free, super cute, and easy to whip up in a few hours with scraps. Here I used satin scraps leftover from my Matthew Williamson birthday dress and my swirl sheath dress and a bit of floral lining leftover from the former, too.
These are big enough to hold your average mobile phone, keys, lippy, and credit card, but not much else, but most of the times I want a little bag to match a dress this is all I really need to carry anyway. These were certainly one of those gifts I’d have liked to have kept for myself, especially since they match my dresses!
Bolster pillow covers
I’m totally less excited by home dec sewing, but we really wanted some bolster pillows for lounging in our big, new bedroom on the boat – now that I’m working from home, I especially need one under my knees while I work on my laptop! When we bought our bedding from IKEA, the duvet cover sets came with four pillowcases, and since we only use one regular pillow each, the others were just sat on a shelf. read more >>
You can understand why I need a bit of a breather now after sewing so much workout gear, right? I sewed a lot of samples for the development and testing of my two patterns, and then once I finished those, the only real hole in my wardrobe was for long sleeved running tops, so I found myself back in the lycra pile anyway!
Just like the mocha running top you saw a few weeks ago, this one is again the Christine Jonson “Travel Trio Three” Raglan top pattern with a half-height collar and some hand mitts of my own devising.
I only had a bit of the printed lycra from Minerva leftover after already making leggings and a workout top from the 2m I bought, so I cut the front and back body and the collar in the printed lycra, then used some purple “silk touch” lycra from Tissu that I found in my stash for the sleeves and hand mitts.
Forgive me for not doing a proper photoshoot on this – I was a bit photoshooted out at this point so you just get some action shots and selfies instead!read more >>
In case you think that maybe my patterns that only work for my body, I’m going to be sharing some of the versions that my amazing team of pattern testers have made over the past few months. When selecting testers, I wanted sewists who had made their own workout gear before, partially so I knew they’d be familiar with both sewing stretch fabrics and also what works for them when workout out, but also so they could help compare my designs to previous workout gear they’d made.
First up is Maria, aka Velosewer, who made no less than three versions of my XYT Workout Top and a pair of PB Jam Leggings, too in the short amount of time since I sent the patterns! Apparently the ladies at her gym were so enthusiastic about the tops that they were disappointed they couldn’t just buy them at a store!
Maria is particularly fond of the built-in bra in the XYT Workout Top, so much so that she’s started franken-patterning it into other dresses to get built-in bras everywhere! I love this, as it’s something I never even imagined!read more >>
Thank you all so much for your support, enthusiasm, and early bird sales of my debut sewing patterns! I’ve got lots of versions of both to show you, but I thought I’d start off with my most recent version of the top since it reflects the pattern as you buy it (I’ll show you some earlier versions with a few small issues I corrected in the final pattern!).
This is the “Y Back” version of my XYT Workout Top Pattern which I made with this amazing printed lycra from Minerva. I liked it so much that I made two tops and a pair of PB Jam Leggings from the 2 metres I bought (plus I went back and bought another metre of it and its blueish-colourway sister!)
This is definitely one of my favourite versions of this pattern! Earlier ones had some pulling issues around the front straps, but a small adjustment to the front lining piece fixed that here, as you can see! The built-in bra is perfect for keeping me bounce-free on even my long runs – no need for me to wear an additional sports bra. The instructions also show you how to encase the underbust elastic nicely to reduce the chance of chafing, too.read more >>
I promised you all a big announcement this week, and my big news is that I’m releasing my first sewing patterns at the end of this month! I’m focusing on exercise gear, and the first two patterns are super versatile!
The xyt Workout Top
This is a pattern for a close-fitting, sleeveless workout top with front scoop neck, and choice of three upper back designs. An optional built-in bra is included, and neck and armhole edges can either be finished with hidden elastic or bound using a coverstitch binder.
You might see now why I named it the “XYT” – each of the three back variations forms the shape of the letter! The T back in particular has so much scope for variations as the vertical part can be any sort of fancy trim in your stash – lace, sequins, fishnet, fancy elastics, etc…
I absolutely love the built-in compression bra I’ve developed here, too – I’ve never had a RTW one work for me, but these are supportive enough for my B cups to run in, and some of my pattern testers with larger busts have had equal success with only a small FBA!
The pb Jam Leggings
This is a pattern for close-fitting, workout leggings with contrast swirl design on the upper front thigh leading to the upper back. There’s a hidden pocket inside at the upper centre back, perfect for gels, keys, or your phone, and contrast panels at the back of you knees are perfect for mesh fabrics. An elasticated, high-rise waistband means they won’t shift around as you move, either!
You may recognise these from my mocha running top photos earlier this week – these have become my favourite leggings ever in a very short amount of time, and when I wore them to my running crew I had several people begging to buy them off my body, no less! The design lines carry around the sides so you look good from all angles, and the hidden pocket in the centre back is sized so you can stash your phone, gel, or keys without having to carry anything.read more >>
I don’t stop running just because it’s cold. Last winter I tended to run in jackets over top of my sleeveless vest tops, but my weight loss over the summer means that my running jackets are all a bit baggy and stuff in my pockets tends to bounce as a result. I’m also too cheap to spend £60+ each on several new jackets!
So I’ve been favouring running in the only two long sleeved running tops in my stash – the purple one I made last December, and also the one I won at Bacchus in September. Two tops is clearly not enough for the 5-6 times a week I’m running now in preparation for London Marathon in April, so I decided to make a clone of my purple running top, this time in mocha.
Again I used the Christine Jonson Travel Trio Three raglan top pattern, altered to have a half-height collar and my own addition of hand mitts on the sleeves. This now makes the fourth garment I’ve made from this pattern across three of the four views (I don’t really need the “Ruana” wrap shawl!) so I consider it to be very good value!
The fabric here is special Under Armor “Cold Gear” fabric Cidell very kindly picked up for me from a shop in Baltimore last year. This UACG fabric is a totally different weight and hand-feel to the green ones with a brushed black reverse I’ve used for leggings, though, even though both bear the “Cold Gear” name. At first I wasn’t sure what to do with it but now I see it’s pretty much perfect for tops as it’s lightweight, warm, silky, and just generally really high quality stuff. It figures I have no way of ever getting more! (Said shop closed down, too)read more >>
First of all, thanks so much for all your kind comments last week! It was a bit week for me, posting two finished garments and a pattern/tutorial so this week might be a little sparse, especially in the leadup to our departure next week.
But I’ve been doing a bunch of little bits over the past month or so – things that aren’t really big enough to post about on their own, or that I’m not quite ready to post about yet, or things that I’m just really keen on. So it’s time for a little roundup post, I reckon!
Refashioned doggy tee
I’ve been so impressed by all the shirts Novita has been making for all her foster dogs over the past few months, so when a friend asked if I could maker her Boston Terrier puppy a Run dem Crew shirt for his cheering duties at a race, I thought it sounded like fun.
With Novita’s advice, I used the free Milla Milla pattern in size Medium (we tried Small initially but it was too tight), and it was really quick to put together apart from the binding. Don’t use their crazy, fiddly binding instructions – next time I’m just serging on a folded binding and topstitching! Done! I used a small RDC shirt as the starting fabric, and tried to place the logos as best I could. Apparently little Stringer Bell was the hit of the cheering station!
The Napkin Project embroidery
I didn’t get as much detail in as I’d hoped, but I did complete a decent design for The Napkin Project before the deadline!
The topic was “home” so I worked in Tower Bridge, boatlife (via a porthole) and the greenery of the gardens. All the embroidered napkins will be used in a nursing home in Bristol to spark memories in dementia patients, so I hope mine is well received! My grandmother is suffering from dementia right now so I’m really proud to be a part of this project and help others like her, even in a small way.
I wasn’t meaning to, but I ended up buying some fabrics from Minerva. Oops.
The crazy print will become perfect running leggings (of course!), there’s some silver-coated denim in there, a cool cutwork mustard jersey that reminds me of camouflage tents, and a few other interesting 1m cuts of jerseys, too.
One fabric I bought but which isn’t pictured above is a large quantity of the cheapest stretch fabric they had, for use in running muslins. As it turns out, the peach poly jersey is actually not too bad – at least it’s a nice middling weight for use in testing tops or bottoms. read more >>
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!).
Know any more UK shops? Tell me in the comments! read more >>
Wow, thank you all so so much for all your hearty congratulations on my double gold medals at the British Transplant Games! It was definitely a confidence boost winning the first one, enough that I had the courage to wear my rather-more-revealing-than-I’m-used-to new running shorts & bra set for the second days’ track races.
I used the Jalie 2563 pattern for both the sports bra with racer back (View A) and the shorts with thigh insert (View C), and there’s also another bra view included in this pattern, too, so it’s great value to get three usable views in one!
I’d made this set after completing the swirl sheath dress, but before the super simple skirt, so I’m glad we waited for a photoshoot to be able to use Sheffield’s amazing Don Valley Stadium as the backdrop, even though it’s scheduled to be demolished next month for lack of maintenance funds (so, so sad!).
Even though I’m wearing these as a set on their own here, I think for regular runs I’m more likely to wear them as separates – a great sports bra to wear under a low-cut vest to let a pop of colour peep through, and a great pair of running (or cycling!) shorts I can pair with a longer top.
Jalie actually call this a “crop top” and not a “sports bra”, but I found it really easy to turn it into a compression-style sports bra that’s actually supportive enough to run in! If you’ve got a larger bust, your mileage may vary, but for me, this is the perfect mix of support, style and comfort.
My first change was to line both the front and back in power mesh. However, when I tried it on (before adding the elastic edges), it didn’t pass my “bounce test”. So I consulted with a sewing/running industry friend, who recommended I try adding a second layer of power mesh lining, with the stretch running in the opposite direction to the first layer (power mesh is stretchy in one direction, but rigid in the other).read more >>
As I mentioned last week, I was up in Sheffield this weekend for my first British Transplant Games competition*, and despite having done specific track training for the past few months, I was absolutely bricking it in the leadup to the first race.
I’ll keep it brief since this isn’t a running site, but the first event was the 3km “Mini Marathon”, which is the longest race run in the games, and my Main Event. It’s good to keep an open mind for this sort of thing, because in the last few moments before the race I discovered that a) my main competitor was out with a stress fracture, b) the race was actually on the roads/trails around the stadium instead of a straightforward track race, and c) there was a fun run occurring at the same time and no separate start area for those of us who were competing in the Games.
Despite all this, I ran really strong (even up the two surprise hills!) and ended up the first female finisher, coming second overall and only about 30 second behind the lead male! I did an unintentional Mo Bot when the commentator told me I came in under 12 minutes!! So this earned me a gold medal for my age group, but also apparently a trophy for the first female for any age (which I’ve not received yet and may just be a rumor?).
Then the next morning was my second race, the women’s 1500m (3.75 laps around the track). This indeed was a true track race, with a gun start and a bell for the final lap! I came out in front in the first 200m and grew the lead over the race, ending up finishing over a full minute ahead of the next finisher! I had to lap a few of the other ladies, which I felt bad about, so I tried to offer encouragement as I went past.read more >>
It’s not quite a “Quick Knit Top” in my eyes, but I wanted to try out one of the running top patterns I selected in my Spring/Summer 2013 Sewing Ideas before I jumped headfirst into sewing another pair of jeans. I pulled out KwikSew 3672, which my mom bought for me a while back in one of the pattern sales you all get in the US. Otherwise KwikSew tend to be pretty expensive over here and I’d probably never got around to trying it!
Despite being a fairly recent pattern, it’s already OOP so act fat if you like the design lines! I’ve only made the top this time, but I think the skirt could be perfect for travelling if made in a hefty jersey. The splatter-print jersey I used here is from Minerva – it’s a bit 80s but I thought it’d do nicely as a test-top as its soft and has a nice weight. For the shelf bra lining I used a lingerie nylon(?) but in future I’d suggest something more supportive yet breathable like power net. Obviously for heavy-duty running I’d use a wicking supplex for the exterior, but for several reasons I’ll go into below, this pattern isn’t suited for running anyway.
I never trust Big 4 sizing any more so even though my measurements matched up perfectly with size Large, I still laid my jersey sloper over the nested pattern and ultimately decided Large was probably the best bet anyway.
Even though my fabric isn’t anywhere near as stretchy as the guide on the pattern envelope (who actually uses those, anyway??), the fit is still very nice, and as far as I can tell, very true to size considering I was smack-dab in the Large measurement range! I’d definitely describe this as close-fitting though, and the length feels just about perfect to me, too. The only fitting issue that surprised me is how high the neckline is in front! This feel seriously matronly to me – I’d normally have this at least 3 or 4 inches lower in a running top!
This pattern has an shelf bra, which contains the bulk of my problems with the pattern: the finishing of the under-bust elastic leaves exposed elastic against the skin (what?), an unfinished (albeit small) top edge inside, and unflattering and bad gathers that neither support nor make for clean finishing.read more >>
Following on from yesterday’s Boston Street Running refashioned top, I thought I’d show you the other refashioned race tee I made from my starting pile, the “BTG” one in the centre:
This one has a whole lot of meaning for me – the urban running crew I’m part of, Run dem Crew, has a bunch of sister crews all over the world with a similar ethos, so when we go to races in other countries, the host crew lays on parties, sightseeing, and pre-race hospitality. When crews get together like this, it’s called “Bridge the Gap”, and the Copenhagen crew even designed special shirts to commemorate the Copenhagen marathon weekend.
But I was a bit late to the Expo, and they ran out of Medium shirts, so I asked to be given the largest size they had, which was XXL! (Why they thought they needed to print any that big for marathon runners is another question entirely!). So this one was ripe for refashioning, and I had a lot of fabric to work with, which was great.
The original shirt had the blue NBRO man on the front, with BTG and the date underneath, and the back had “The Peloton of Awesome” and all the participating crew logos across the shoulders. There were also mesh panels running down the sides, which I used in the Boston Street top instead. Unlike that top, however, here it was absolutely essential that I preserved the original designs.read more >>
One practical aspect of being a sewing runner (or a running sewist) is that I can take all those oversized race tee shirts that seem to accumulate and refashion the nice technical fabric into something more suitable. Oftentimes I just trim down the front and back based on my knit sloper (like I did with my Paris race tee), but this time around I thought I’d change things up and use a Burda pattern instead of my usual sloper, since one presented itself nicely in the form of the “scuba set” in the June 2013 Burda magazine (or you can purchase as a pdf here).
I started by pulling out a pile of race tees I wasn’t 100% happy with (though in reality I only did two of these four)…
This particular shirt was always destined to be refashioned – I visited tons of running shops when I was in Baltimore in April, but my favourite was a small, very friendly shop run by a very enthusiastic runner, Boston Street Running (Baltimorians, it’s down by the big Safeway in Canton). I ended up chatting to him for ages about nutrition, races, running fashion, and he despaired that he only had one of their shirts left, and it was XXL with a printing mistake, as he really wanted to give me one!
I assured him I’d refashion it down, and send him photos of me wearing it in front of Tower Bridge…
One thing I really like about this pattern is that there are no side seams – it uses side panels instead!read more >>
So, I’ve uhh, been a little busy the past week. I know a lot of people say they’re busy, but I’ve seriously been busy. Wanna see exactly how much?
Let’s start at the beginning of last weekend, 17 May, when I flew from London to Copenhagen, so that I could run my second marathon on Sunday morning (19 May). This was months in the making, and something I’d been building up to for a long time. I’ve posted my full race report here if you want to see all the details, but the short version was that it was cold & wet (yay!), friendly (double yay!), but I didn’t get the time I was after (boo!), but I did learn a lot and I’m reasonably happy with my finish of 3:52!
I also ran the race in leggings I sewed myself, from my own leggings draft and two colours of Suziplex. Like in Amsterdam, they were 100% comfortable, stayed in place, and no chafing. They did soak up a fair bit of rain, but then so did the rest of me.
After a whole lot of food, an ice bath, a hot shower, and a fine cup of tea, I rushed back to the airport that night to fly back to London (Flight Number Two, if you’re keeping track).
The next morning (20 May), I flew out to Mimi for a short-notice work trip (that’s Flight Number Three). I got 45 glorious minutes of beach time on Tuesday (which I sorely needed, body and soul!), and the meeting went well.read more >>
Word got round my running crew that I was starting to do some custom drafted leggings for a few people and my friend Lee Ann immediately came up to me and said “I want you to make my leggings for London marathon.” Holy crap – what an honour! It’s her first marathon, and the biggie, and she trusts me to make them for her?! I couldn’t say no to that, so I measured her up right then and there, then drafted out her pattern using the Shin book, and made her a test pair using some cheap thin lycra. She came round the boat and tried them on and amazingly, the fit was perfect, with no alterations needed, woo!
With the fit out of the way, I could then start in on the design lines, which she said she wanted to have a stripe/ribbon that started on her right hip and wrapped around to her right calf, and in navy and red to match her charity vest.
So, as I do, my first step was to draw myself a little plan:
Sorry for the crap quality there, but essentially I drew out the four big pieces (front right, front left, back left, back right) and the rough stripe shape, and realised I’d need 12 pieces in total, and as it’s asymmetric, I’d need to cut everything in single layer.
Organisation was the key, keeping the three pieces for each quarter pinned together on my sewing room clothes line!
I assembled each quarter first (ie: I sewed the front right top to the front right mid, to the front right lower until I had a full leg, and moved on to the front left). The cutting was really the most difficult here, but I managed to just barely squeeze everything out of 1m each of Tissu’s navy blue and red supplex lycras. Assembling it was much easier, but I had to be careful that the seam lines matched up over the left side seam!
I was so chuffed to see them on LeeAnn when she ran past me during the race, and she said they were a dream to wear on the day, too! No tugging, no baggy ankles, no nothing, hurrah!
Don’t they look great on her?? And she’s totally caught the bug, too – already planning her second marathon!read more >>
How great are Style Arc patterns?? One thing I love about them is that each month there’s a free pattern that comes with every order. In February, it was the Ivy tee. With its angled side seams, dropped shoulder, slightly forward shoulder seam, and banded sleeves, it’s so great for colourblocking that I just couldn’t resist! The good news is, like all of their freebies, it’s available to buy after the month is done, so you can go and get your own now, too.
I ordered a size 14 as per usual (I’m a Burda 42, for comparison), since StyleArc patterns are single-sized. This is my 3rd Style Arc pattern and I can totally understand how they’ve gained so many fans so quickly! Each one has come together beautifully, and is as comfortable and enjoyable to wear as it was to sew.
I did have a bit of trauma in the making of this, however. I did something I haven’t done in 9 years of sewing – I lost a pattern piece!! I checked everywhere, but I think the sleeve piece must’ve accidentally gone into the recycling when I threw out the paper scraps. This pattern has a dropped shoulder, otherwise I would’ve just used the knit sleeve off my Marita dress or Marie jacket patterns, so in desperation I emailed Chloe at StyleArc asking if she could possibly send me just the sleeve piece by pdf… and she did, so quickly, saying she knew I’d probably want to work on it at the weekend! How great is that?? Anyway, her scan plus some added measurements worked like a charm, and I have a completed Ivy tee!read more >>
Thank you all so much for your lovely comments on my asymmetric Drape Drape teeshirt! A girl could get used to that level of flattery…
It also marks the start of my sewing short sleeves, which means it must finally be Spring, and hence, time to start thinking about marrying up the patterns and fabrics I’d like to sew for the next few months. I really do these only for my own benefit, and so they’re not a “SWAP” in the sense that everything must coordinate against each other (lord knows I have enough clothes that I don’t have problems putting combinations together!).
This is more just a set of ideas towards which I’d like to work, so when I get to the end of a project, I can quickly refer to this image and go “oh yeah, I want to sew that next!”
For the first time I’m also including running/exercise gear in my plans, since I’m wearing lycra as a significant portion of my weekly wardrobe, and I want to contain all of my sewing ideas together. So you’ll find all the running stuff on the bottom row, and the rest of life’s wear on the upper two rows!
I try to show you all my finished garments in the order I make them, but I just can’t wait to show you my wildest running leggings yet! I only finished the hems on Monday night and stuffed them into my running bag to wear to Run dem Crew last night, and WOW, they got a glowing reception!
I made these with Funki Fabrics’ digitally printed lycra in “Tribal white on black”, plus fluorescent yellow lycra from Minerva Fabrics, inserted above the knee (and is WAY brighter than it appears in these photos!).
I liked the design lines of this McCalls leggings pattern, so I adapted my self-drafted leggings pattern to have similar sections above the knee, with angled thigh seams to be a bit more flattering (or, as flattering as you can get in neon yellow, ha!).
I had a friend take these photos after our run last night (a very fast 10km run with the Cheetah group around Victoria Park! Geeky stats here if you’re interested)read more >>
I’ve had the idea of these “Gold Medal Leggings” in my head for months now.
I’d originally envisioned myself swooping through the Paris half wearing them, making Chanel-ed sunglasses tilt down as I sped past in a blur! “Oh my! Who eez zat magnificent femme with ze gold leggings??”
Or something like that. But then I got ridiculously sick with the shingles in January and still couldn’t run it come March, so these got their debut in the East London half on Sunday instead. Not quite as glamorous, but they did cause quite a stir.
I used my leggings draft from the Kristina Shin book again, teamed with Suzie Spandex “Spirographix” lycra in yellow. This makes these sister leggings to my Liberace pair (which were in the comparatively sedate “charcoal” colourway!), which I wear ALL the time. I had Arielle buy this fabric, plus some Suziplex for me when she was in Montreal and they were hand-carried in a series of suitcases across multiple borders, so I’m very glad to make good use of it!
It also appeared that Suzie Spandex cut a very generous length because it was more like 1.4m than the 1m I ordered, woop (so there’s plenty left for accents on Jalie running skirts or tops). Believe it or not, I sewed these up on my jet lag day after our red-eye flight back from the States when I was trying to stay awake until local bedtime!
The leggings certainly got the reception I was after – I’m not exaggerating when I say that my leggings got more cheers on the route than I did, I swear!read more >>
Last week we flew over to the States for a week – not in Pennsylvania where I grew up (no offence, but I’m kinda sick of visiting there!), but to Baltimore, with a day in DC at the end. We got a lot of strange looks from British friends when we said where we were going – “Baltimore? Really? Why??”, and we’ve been mounting our own Baltimore Tourism crusade since we got back, because it was fantastic!
The reason we were over was because James was speaking at a prestigious tech conference, but I took the opportunity to meet up with loads of friends and family, including the chance to finally meet some fellow sewing bloggers!
I’ve been speaking to Cidell & Trena for at least five years now I reckon, and even weirder is that I already knew their voices from their earlier sewing podcasts (please bring them back!), and there was zero awkwardness when we met up for dinner! It really was like we’d known each other for years, which I suppose we have!
Cidell puts me to shame – she posted about our meeting like the same day!! I was also very excited to get more of the Under Armour Cold Gear fabric she’d previously sent, because during the last few months I’d been doing laundry twice a week in order to wear my Cold Gear leggings on both my Tuesday night runs and my Saturday long runs because they’re seriously the warmest leggings I own. Next winter I’ll be much better prepared now!
We both wore running gear we made ourselves – she’s wearing McCalls 6435 adapted for running as her top and the Jalie sports skirt lengthened into leggings, and I’m wearing my disco top and my new self-drafted leggings with that fishnet insertion from Tissu in the front thighs and back calves, which you can see a bit better here:read more >>
Thanks very much for all your birthday wishes! I had a brilliant day, and the dress fared very well indeed at my mystery dinner – the waitress complimented it the second I sat down!
With the dark colour of the dress, I really need daylight for a photoshoot, though, so the first opportunity is tomorrow (Friday). I’ll try to get the post up later that day as I know you’re all waiting patiently to see it on me!
My thoughts are definitely drifting towards the upcoming long Easter Weekend, and what I’d like to sew during it. As usual, I’ve got mental plans for way more than I can possibly get completed in four days, but here’s what I’m hoping to make…
I need to draft up leggings for two friends from my running crew, and sew samples/muslins for each from some cheap lycra I’ve got on hand for the purpose. One of them is popping over late in the weekend so I’ve really got to get hers ready by then!
I’d also really like to sew up two pairs for me based on my own draft, one in black supplex (with the aim of using that fishnet trim on them afterwards), and one in the tribal print from Funki Fabrics.
Once a pattern is set and ready, I can churn out a pair of leggings in a few minutes, though, so I’m not too concerned about fitting these in, it’s the drafting that will take the time (and desk space!).
Style Arc’s Marie Jacket
My main task for the weekend, though, is to make Stye Arc’s new Marie jacket, especially since I’ve gathered all the necessary supplies over the past week or so – some fabulous black and silver heavy jersey from Minerva and a big separating zipper from Our Patterned Hand read more >>
My weekend mostly went like this…
On Saturday morning I got up for a 2hr 45min (16+ mile) run in the rain with my two good friends, Chris and Juell. We got soaked, ran along Regents Canal to Camden and then through the heart of the city and back through Shoreditch to home. We were soaked to the bone, but had a great time and I furthered my knowledge of myself, my glycogen storage capacity, and my stomach’s ability to digest medjool dates as a gel alternative. That, and I feel a bit more confident now that I’ll be able to finish Copenhagen marathon now, having dialled back my expectations after being ill for so long.
The above uses the official photo from when I bought the “Ravissant Duchess Satin Plum” from Fabric.com three years ago, but below you can see the actual colour and exactly how much gorgeous lustre it gives off in the light. On the inside, I’m using a lovely floral lining fabric gifted to me from Veronica when I was in Paris last Spring.read more >>
As I mentioned earlier this week, one of the projects I wanted to work on was refashioning the free (but too large) shirt given out at the Paris half marathon a few weekends ago. Pretty much every race these days gives out a shirt, and usually they’re in nice wicking fabrics, but very rarely are they nicely designed, or vests. I prefer to run in vests instead of teeshirts (even if I’m wearing a jacket over top), so after I finished sewing my mom’s latest chic sweatshirt, I set to work on the race tee.
Here’s a “Before” shot, with my friend Daniel holding up his at the race expo (this is the “Medium”, but it’s massive, like a men’s large!)
I really like the Paris logo, so I wanted to keep that on the front, but I didn’t care about the adidas stripes on the sleeves or “boost” on the upper back (the new shoe they’re promoting). So the first step was to carefully cut along the sides of the shirt and sleeves, so I could lay the shirt out, folded along the centre front and centre back and pin my (self drafted but based on the Kristina Shin sloper) vest pattern pieces down:
I then cut the pieces out, with seam allowances at the sides and shoulders, but none at the neck and arm edges, since I planned to bind those with some of the black technical strips I used with the disco running top.
These were the only bits of the shirt I didn’t use!
First step is to use my little pizza wheel measuring device along the bound edges to work out what length strips I need…read more >>
How much do I love the disco fabric?? It really is the fabric that keeps on giving. This time, I paired the Beta Brand disconium fabric with some black Supplex from Tissu (which is BACK IN STOCK right now! This stuff sells out in days, people!) to make a sweet disco running top to match the disco running leggings I made in December
For this top I did something different and started with the teeshirt sloper from the Patternmaking for Underwear Design book, which I love (thanks for the surprise gift, Mom!!). It’s drafted with 10% negative ease and fits exactly the way I want my running gear to fit. And because knit slopers have no darts, they’re surprisingly quick to whip up, too.
I was super inspired by this kid’s top in the most recent Young Image magazine, so after making one for my niece, I altered my sloper to have a similar back, which was surprisingly easy to do.
Essentially, I just drew two curves so there was a hole in the centre back, traced along one set of curves for the upper back piece (red in the diagram below), and traced along the other for the lower back (blue). At the shoulders, I didn’t want the lower back to peek through, so I made its strap 1cm narrower at the neckline. The back pieces are connected at the shoulders, armscye, and (just barely!) at the side seams, but the rest is free-hanging.read more >>
A month on, and I’m still ravaged by the shingles attack that hit me in mid-January. Absolutely everyone who saw my torso said it was the worst case they’ve ever seen (doctors included), and lucky, lucky me, the little bugger caused nerve damage, which means the pain in my side could continue on for months or possibly a year (again, lucky, lucky me). I’m on four different prescription painkillers until the neural-specific one hopefully starts working soon, so I’ve been stuck at home Resting (I hate resting.). The good news is that the doctor says I can now go do the odd half day at work and very easy run here and there as it’s driving me crazy not to, but I’m not to overdo things. But even that’s better than being chained to a couch!
Anyway, I’ve done as much resting as it’s humanly possible for Melissa to do, which means I’ve been lying flat on my back and sleeping for most of the days, but I managed to squeeze in some sewing, almost entirely in 5 minute segments, followed by 20 minutes of rest. Rinse & repeat… These will have photoshoots and proper posts coming hopefully next week!
The amazingly simple-to-sew Style Arc Marita dress:
A grey wool “chic sweatshirt”:
A quick, gathered raglan merino wool sweater from the February BurdaStyle magazine:
Thank you all for your lovely messages while I was ill. I started to feel slight improvements little by little last week, and when I need a pick-me-up I tend to sew knits, and especially ones I’ve sewn before. So it should come as no surprise that in my flu-addled state, I should sew some more running gear, in ten minute segments while I could sit up without getting dizzy and having to lie down…
There was a reason I wanted some new winter-appropriate running duds, too – my running crew has recently become affiliated with England Athletics and this Saturday was the Met League Alexandra Palace (“Ally Pally”) fixture, where all the Serious Runners from Proper Clubs go to wear their tiny short shorts and club vests in “the off season” (otherwise known as Winter to you and I).
This was the first time we participated in such an event, and the first time I’d ever run cross country, so I wanted to wear something that stood out, and most definitely showed that RDC is not a “Running Club”! First, I needed something long sleeved and warm to layer under my RDC vest, so I chose the Christine Jonson Travel Trio Three Raglan Tee. I’d made the shirred turtleneck version of this before, and remembered how much I liked the first in the body and sleeves and thought it’d do well for running. Bonus points to Previous Me for tracing out the raglan front piece at the same time I traced the shirred version pieces!
The top was sewn in the remains of my muted purple Suziplex (seen in my original purple leggings!), and the leggings used BetaBrand Disconium fabric for the sides (the same fabric used in James’s reversible jacket), and black Suziplex for the remainder. I had plenty of Disconium to do the entire leggings, but I two-toned it as a design choice, rather than because of fabric constraints. Which also means I have plenty leftover for more disco items. bwahahah!
If you’re keeping track, this is the sixth time I’ve sewn the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here)! So far, I’ve got the purple Suziplex pair, the Liberace leggings, the Run Dem Crew Refashioned pair, then my pale grey Suziplex Olympic leggings, and finally, the “Not Jeggings” so I could actually wear one and not run!
So here I am looking fresh-faced and warm before the race, in a sea of short-shorts and club vests, ha!read more >>
What a weekend! I’ve been to Amsterdam several times before, so I felt zero need to see the tourist sites (though I did take a boat tour, more for the hour of sitting than anything else!). For me, this weekend was all about sewing and running, my two favourite pasttimes! I flew in Saturday morning and fellow sewing blogger Lauriana met me at the station to drive to the legendary Kantje Boord.
If you’re not familiar with Kantje Boord (and let’s be fair, their website is appalling), it’s a specialty lingerie haberdashery and fabric store, and is pretty much the only one of its kind in the world as far as I know. But it’s pretty far out of town, well away from the usual public transport, so I was very grateful to be driven there and give my legs a rest!
I’d heard stories about Kantje Boord, and I was not disappointed! It’s a tiny shop, but it’s stacked floor to ceiling with everything lingerie, lace, and elastic you could possibly imagine, and in every colour of the rainbow.
There must’ve been several hundred different kits (with everything you need to make a bra and panties in matching colours), but I decided what I’d rather make is another Ruby Slip, but in camisole length, with matching panties, so I instead focused on the wide laces, of which there must’ve been 3-4 times as many as the kits! Once I settled on a lace, I then crawled around the floor to get matching picot lingerie elastics to match it and my fabric swatches I’d brought from home.
So here’s what I bought! It might’ve been a bit more than I pledged, but I stayed away from the tempting Wall of Crazy Lycra, and only bought pieces that matched what I already owned!read more >>
I did indeed finish my peplum top in time to wear it to Karen’s V&A Ballgowns meetup on Friday, even though it meant sewing the hem over breakfast on Friday morning! You can see a sneak peek of it in the top photo on her site, though the peplum itself is hidden by my knees! Fingers crossed I can get a photoshoot done one evening this week, because my weekend was full of other activities…
As I shared with you last week, part of my preparation/reward for my marathon training was to run the Bacchus half marathon this weekend. It’s a half-trail, half-road, fancy dress (costumed) race through a vineyard in Surrey with wine tasting every 2 miles, plus a free glass of wine and hog roast at the end. See why I signed up??
You’ve probably spotted it already, but the skirt is another Jalie running skirt – this is my third, and this is definitely my go-to for warm weather running bottoms (for cooler weather, you can’t beat the Ooh La Leggings!)
The top/vest/singlet is self drafted from my tweaked knit sloper, plus an added kerchief that I drafted from the sloper’s neckline. The kerchief is double layered, and attached to the neckline by overlocker, with the seam showing on the “right” side, which in this case is hidden under the kerchief. I tacked it down at the shoulders and that was enough to keep the seam hidden. Rather than physically tie a knot on the front ties, I instead made a loop to make it look a bit neater, and the “grabbiness” of the supplex was enough that it didn’t slip at all.read more >>
Lots of things going on at FehrTrade Towers, so it’s time for an update roundup!
After my last post outlining the lining instructions, there will be no points for guessing that this is coming along shortly! I’ve just got to handstitch the hem and the bottom of the lining and it’s finished, hurrah. Perhaps if I’m speedy I can wear it to the V&A Ballgowns exhibit meetup Karen is planning?
Bacchus half marathon costume
As part of my preparation/reward for my marathon training, I signed up to run the Bacchus half marathon this weekend. Not many people are familiar with this race, but it’s been rated exceptionally highly on Runner’s World, and the clue might lie somewhere in the description: a half-trail, half-road, fancy dress (costumed) race through a vineyard in Surrey with wine tasting every 2 miles, plus a free glass of wine and hog roast at the end. See why I signed up??
I’m regularly running much further than half marathon distance in my training runs, so even though this is only my second half marathon, I’m not that concerned about the distance, so instead I concentrated on the costume, making sure it’s entirely wicking and running-friendly!
I’m sure it will surprise none of you that I’ve also made another Jalie running skirt. Or, err, to be precise, two more, since I made another black one in parallel with my Bacchus one and forgot to photograph it! And a top based on my knit sloper (which I’m still tweaking after running in my sequin top for a few months now).read more >>
This is definitely turning into The Year of Lycra for me, and it’s barely halfway finished, so I hope you’re not too bored yet (wonderfully, I’ve even inspired some of you to start running Running has been a part of my life for about 8 or 9 years now, but training for a marathon is now really upping my enthusiasm to sew cute clothes for the approx 5 hours every week I’m actively running (wow that’s a lot!).
I’ve had the Jalie multisports skirt (2796) pattern in my stash for several years now, but English summers are never particularly hot anyway, and I usually run in the early mornings, meaning it’s rarely too warm for running tights. But I’ve got some mid-day races coming up, and sometimes it’s warm in the evenings for Run dem Crew, so while I was ill in the latest bout of hot weather, I made up what will be the first of many running skirts!
There’s lots of mix & match options in this pattern- briefs or compression shorts on their own (with either wide or narrow waistband), or you can have the skirt with either briefs or shorts underneath (again with either a wide or narrow waistband). I do not run in shorts normally (or wear them outside the boat, to be honest) but I went for the shorts under the skirt, with the wide waistband.
I’ve loved every single Jalie pattern I’ve ever sewn, and this is no exception. They’re fantastic to sew, but what keeps me coming back is that these are equally fantastic to wear – Jalie totally “get” exercise gear.
The pattern itself is great – tons of sizes, great instructions (I love that they’re available as pdfs so you can view them on your computer or tablet, though I used Jalie’s excellent iPhone app to read them this time around). They’ve really thought about how they’ll be worn when moving, too – the constructions steps mean that seams that might chafe are concealed as much as possible.read more >>
I’ve got lots of bits and pieces on the go right now, and I’m finding that I’m being inspired by lots of little things – not just from the fantastic last few issues of pattern magazines (hello, August Burda!), but also some supplies which have found their way to me, like this amazing laser-cut eyelet zipper from my friends Alex & Liz, bought at the V&A shop!
Mine’s skirt-length and now I totally want to make a pencil skirt with an exposed zipper just so I can show this off! After I got mine, I’ve since seen that they’re available on etsy in a bunch of different colours, too.
Not long after that, I was approached by the owner of Lots of Buttons asking if I’d like to try their shop for free. My initial reaction was that the prices in dollars surely meant exorbitant shipping to the UK (boo!) BUT as it turns out, all the orders are fulfilled in Hong Kong so the shipping is the same anywhere in the world (great for the Antipodeans, too!).
So I picked out some basic black horn buttons (just like the ones my stash was missing for my black knit trousers the other week), and some gorgeous overlapping metal buttons I thought would go really nicely on a jacket. All in, these would’ve cost me $10 total (with shipping), which is like half the cost I pay to get nice buttons in central London, with a travelcard cost on top of that!
These arrived in 7 days, too, along with a discount code for my next purchase. I also really like that they seal off each button type in its own clear plastic bag, so you can see what’s inside without them all getting jumbled up together. Genius! So I went from being skeptical to totally pleased and very happy to recommend them in the space of about 10 days!read more >>
On Saturday I showed you a sneak peek of my new running leggings and my thoughts on the Opening Ceremony, but here’s your chance to get a better look at them, and those Olympic rings on Tower Bridge!
I’m finally feeling a little better so we took these photos after I ran my usual 10km loop in my official Stella McCartney for Adidas replica Team GB vest (now sold out everywhere now, sorry!) and my leggings.
This is the 4th(!!) time now I’ve sewn the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here), though I’ve actually got a 5th pair on the way, if you can believe it! They’re so well drafted, so stylish, and so comfortable to run in that I just can’t resist making more. That they’re also really quick to sew on my overlocker is just a bonus. Here I made them in the pale grey Suziplex fabric I bought from Suzi Spandex when I was in Montreal in March, and it’s just truly, truly wonderful stuff.
I also used my my elastic waistband tutorial technique for a nice, comfortable finish inside, which, judging by your comments, a lot of you are also using now, hooray! This waistband plus the soft and loopy reverse side of the Suziplex really does make for the most comfortable running gear ever, aeons better than anything I’ve ever bought.read more >>
How amazing was the Olympic opening ceremony last night? It was all the better because no one in London was expecting it to be any good. Sure, absolutely everyone was watching it, but we all expected it to be utterly awful, and to be the topic of mass moaning for the next several years.
But WOW, even the cynicism of the British was cast aside for Danny Boyle’s spectacle, full of heart, charm, eclecticism, great music (and some terrible music, too), and all the things London and the UK are generally very proud of. (Woo NHS!!)
It also helps that I watched it from our outdoor popup cinema on the moorings, so when the fireworks went off on Tower Bridge and David Beckham’s neon speedboat holding the torch raced by, we were right there. And we saw all that 30 minutes before anyone else in the world, since there was a big delay before that part was on tv!
We’d also witnessed the helicopter flying through Tower Bridge a few weeks back – a bunch of neighbours gathered on one of the barges to cheer on the two helipcopters and make a night of it. At the time, the rumour was that it was for a Bond film, but we had no idea how close that would end up becoming!!
Happily, I also started feeling a bit better this week after I posted the last message, so thank you all very much for your thoughts and good will – you did just the trick! I went out this morning for my first run in 17 days, and did so in my official replica Team GB vest and my new grey Ooh La Leggings.read more >>
Apologies for sporadic posting, but if you’re following me on Twitter, you’ll already be aware that I’ve had an awful cold/flu for the past 15 days now. F-i-f-t-e-e-n days! It started with a sore throat, then incredibly running nose and lethargy now for the bulk of it, and it’s just not going away. I’m sleeping 12-13 hours a night and still needing naps, and the hospital say it’s definitely viral and there’s nothing to be done but wait it out. I have no idea how long it’s going to last, as I literally feel no improvement now than when I first picked this up. I’m really just giving you these details because like half of London has it right now, so I’m hoping someone will tell me how long I can expect it to hang around (and also, expect all the Olympic visitors to bring it back home, cheers!).
So in the few hours where I’ve been strong enough to sit upright and not actively be sleeping or working, I’ve finished a few bits of sewing, but I’m in no fit state to model them, so for full photoshoots you’ll need to wait a bit longer:read more >>
This is probably the longest-running project I’ve done since my epic wedding gown refashion, but I’m really proud of the results and the fact that I can finally show them off after much hinting and whispering round these parts. This would’ve never happened at all without the spark from Charlie, the founder of Run dem Crew (the Tuesday night running family that has utterly transformed my life in the past year I’ve been a member). When he found out I sewed, he raised the idea of a refashioning project, then proceeded to gather together all the pieces to make it happen.
The idea was simple – start with 19 pieces of running clothing – some used, some promotional, and some brand new with tags on (including some ££££ Gyakusou designer gear!), and refashion them.
I started this project back in April, but stalled during the 5 weeks our boat was in drydock and I was without access to my overlocker and sewing room. Happily, I got some fantastic help with ideas from fellow RDC runner Jennie, who’s worked for years as a product designer for a well-known clothing company, and came over to sift through the clothes and it really helped for me to bounce ideas off her and vice-versa.
So her reward was some enforced modelling when the project was finished! Ha!
From the initial bag of clothes, I made 8 garments – tops and bottoms for two ladies and two men. I’ve been promised some modelled shots of the men’s clothing coming up soon, but here are the two ladies’ outfits, modelled by Jennie and I….
I had the fore-thought to take images of all the Before clothing, so I was able to do a nice collage like this, showing you what the various pieces turned into:read more >>
A few weeks ago, I was asked if I wouldn’t mind making two prizes for the RDC Mission Impossible event this Saturday, and I knew it’d be the perfect opportunity to try my hand at drafting some arm pouches while helping out my crew at the same time.
Essentially, I reverse-engineered a Y-Fumble I own to figure out how they constructed it (no Y-Fumbles were harmed – I just thought about it hard and made a prototype first!). The only problem is that they’re available in limited colours and the lycra feels quite flimsy to me, so if I can make my own I have a lot more freedom in the fabrics used.
It’s an arm band that has a pocket on one side, with a simple fold-over flap for keeping things like phones, keys, travelcard, etc nicely inside and tight against your arm while your run. There are no closures – the band just slips over your wrist and up your arm and the stretchiness of the fabric holds it in place. I wear mine on my forearm to hold gels for long runs, but you can also put them on your upper arm, too, if you’d rather. Even though the back doesn’t contain a pocket, it’s still double-sided so all the raw edges are nicely contained inside.
For these prize versions, I used leftover red bamboo jersey from my Donna Karan dress so they’re nice and soft, and should resist bad smells, too.
For those of you who are interested in my thought process, here’s the sketch I used when working out what pieces I’d need, and then how I’d construct it all together:read more >>
Viewers of a gentle, tasteful disposition, you best look away now…
My previous pair of purple leggings are my FAVOURITE running running bottoms – so wonderfully comfortable, and the natural waist means they don’t shift around a bit as I run. They’re so comfortable I actually raced in them the other week (and any runner will tell you that if you have any doubts whatsoever about your kit, you don’t wear it on race day!).
So after a full day of finishing up the Run dem Crew refashion challenge, plus finishing up a skirt, I found myself with a few hours and an inexplicable desire to sew up another Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here) in the audacious lycra/foil in my stash:
I bought this crazy-ass fabric at Suzi Spandex when I was in Montreal, 80/20 nylon/lycra mix, which they call “Spirographix” (mine’s the charcoal colourway, though it’s much more teal in real life). The hand of these feels quite “leotard” or “costumey” really, but it’s fine for short bursts of exercise IMHO. Certainly nowhere as nice as the Suziplex I bought, through strangely 50% more expensive. Go figure.read more >>
Way back when I was making my first muslins of my new running gear, I realised that the methods I’d previously used to finish knit necklines (elastic, FOE, serged bindings, etc) were just NOT going to cut it on slippery exercise lycra. The results were awful and sloppy, so I allowed myself to be convinced by Pattern Review that a coverstitch binder was the way forward.
At £80 a pop, they’re not a purchase to be taken lightly, and they’re probably about the most expensive thing you can buy for your sewing room, short of a machine or a dressform! But I wanted to ensure the most hassle-free experience, so I went for a brand-name Janome attachment rather than one of the cheaper, much more hacky eBay jobs. I bought mine from Jaycotts and Janome shipped it directly to me:
Unlike a lot of the eBay binders, this comes with everything you need to get started – the big metal plate, the shorter foot, and a big set of instructions on top of the binder attachment itself. So it’s expensive, but you don’t need to then go and buy all the non-optional bits separately – but I can understand the allure of just buying the binder for your second or third if you’ve already got the plate, foot, and instructions!read more >>
I’m going to break from tradition here and actually post my next two outfits out of sequence from when I made them, mostly because I just shared my elastic waistband tutorial with you, but also because I’m really freaking excited about sewing exercise gear right now. Honestly, it’s starting to become nearly lingerie-levels of hysteria with me – super quick to make, easy to fit, and lots of wild colours and patterns in small doses! But you’ll get to see my “civilian” top and trousers later this week, so no worries if you’re starting to glaze over at all the lycra…
For this set of running gear, I’ve paired up the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here) with my self drafted knit block (from Metric Pattern Cutting). And in the case of the top, I altered the seam lines and armhole shape to suit!
You may remember the ex-Prada sequin trompe l’oeil fabric from a few years ago when I used it to make a cowl top. I wear that all the time, but I only had a small piece leftover in my stash, and it was far too lovely to throw away. But with a bit of creative thinking, it was enough for this! Though I think I’ll lower the curve a bit for my next running vest so the peak is just at my underbust…
As you can see with the leggings (or maybe not, the purple fabric is quite dark!), there are no side seams here! The shaped front and back yokes give some really cool, curved seams, and they merge nicely into front- and back-leg seams instead.read more >>
While I await a photoshoot on my new Papercut Ooh La Leggings, I thought it’d be nice to share with you what’s become my go-to finish for elastic waistbands. Oftentimes pattern instructions will tell you to create a casing, leave an opening, and thread the elastic through it. I totally hate this! You end up with uneven bunching of fabric, plus the waistband tends to fold up and twist and generally get really uncomfortable to wear.
Over the years, I’ve developed this method which a) attaches the elastic directly to the fabric, and b) protects your skin from direct contact with the elastic. I find it’s much more comfortable than the casing method, looks much neater, and also gives you the added option to have greater stretch in the back if you need it (swayback/bootay ladies, listen up!).
Step 1 – Place the elastic around yourself where the waistband will lie, making sure it’s snug, but not tight (you may want to pre-stretch the elastic a bit first). Mark the overlap edges with a pen, and trim so the edges overlap by an inch or so. With your sewing machine, zigzag the crap out of it so it’s not going anywhere!
Step 2 – Make the overlap the Centre Back, and mark the opposite side with a pin as the Centre Front. Mark midway between these two with pins as your side seam marks (or offset towards the CB if you want more stretch in the back). Place your elastic against the inside edge of your waistband, and serge/overlock the elastic in place, taking care to not cut the elastic with your serger blades! If you don’t have a serger, that’s cool, just sew near the top edge of the elastic with a narrow zigzag and very short stitch length. Stretch the elastic as you sew/serge so all your pin markings line up. read more >>
Thank you all so much for your sympathy and condolences and kind thoughts regarding Bosco’s sudden death. Last week was one of the worst of my life and I’m sorry to say that his departure was only one of a long line of awful things which happened to myself and those I love, so please bear with me while I piece things back together. I’m going to be more fragile than usual for a while.
In an attempt to clear the slate and document some blogging-accumulation guilt, here’s a catchup on the sewing-related events over the past fortnight…
I was in Montreal for a few days for work immediately after my birthday, and I managed to shoehorn a very brief visit to Suzi Spandex into my 18 hour work days (in preparation for the launch of Zik.ca – Canadians, go see what I’ve been slaving over for the past 9 months in my day job!).
The shop itself was a bit of a PITA to get to – it doesn’t look far from downtown on the map but was a metro ride + 15-20 minute walk through a really dull neighbourhood, and I’m glad I had the address because the setup was very much like the NYC Garment District – an unmarked, nondescript office building with their premesis several floors up, with a front office and enormous warehouse full of rolls of fabric.
The setting may have been sparse, but I got such a warm welcome and the lady really helped me to choose the best wicking exercise fabric, which by all accounts seems to be their version of supplex, “Suziplex”.
I bought 2m of dark, muted purple and 1m of pale grey Suziplex, and then another metre of some muted turquoise lycra with silver foil swirls.read more >>
It feels like I’ve been talking about sewing my running gear for ages now, but I think that’s just because anything self-drafted and a bit custom tends to take a bit more time and head space than my average project! But I’m happy to report that two out of three of my first pieces are finished now (the sequin vest is awaiting more coverstitch binder practice, but more on that next week).
Both of these pieces are heavily modified (bordering on self drafted) from the originals, but the leggings are based on the Jalie 3135 skinsuit pattern and the top started life as my basic KnipMode long sleeved teeshirt.
You’ve seen a sneak peek of the leggings earlier, but now you can see them paired with my long sleeved top, though the different turquoise shades mean I probably won’t wear them together often in real life.
The long sleeved top needs three different fabrics in order to get a contrast on the upper body and again at the hip pockets. So I’ve used the black supplex for the top and sleeves, leftover turquoise for the lower back (which wraps around to the front hips), and the same turquoise but overlaid with olive green stretch lace for the front body.
The leggings use black supplex and dark turquoise “silk touch” lycra for the contrast panels. You can see my cool seaming on the thighs below, and in getting design lines to match up, I favoured the outer seams matching. It means it’s not quite as cool on the inner thigh seams, but it means I get a nicer overall panelling.read more >>
I’m a bit late with my Paris weekend report, but we didn’t get back til Monday night (thankfully taking the Eurotunnel rather than the very-disrupted Eurostar!), and then I had to fly out to Dublin and back yesterday so things have been crazy! Seriously – three European capitals in three days? I feel like I’m on a Contiki tour!
We had a pretty busy schedule while we were in town, but a trip to Paris just isn’t complete without a visit to the Montmarte fabric shops (For more details on those please see my earlier French road trip & Paris fabric shopping posts!)
I’m so pleased we were able to squeeze in a meetup with Veronica again and have lunch, and since she knew I wasn’t able to go to her local fabric market with her this time around, she gifted me a HUGE bag of fabrics, in exactly the colours and prints I love!
Seriously, wait til you see the goodies she brought for me (photos coming later)!
As a teaser, check out the overflowing Tissues Dreyfus bag of fabric!
But the main
reason excuse for our trip was that I signed up to run the Paris Semi-marathon, which was my first-ever half marathon! I’ve been running for about 7-8 years now, but I’ve only ever run 10ks (with the odd 5k and 8k thrown in there).
Are you bored with lycra yet?
If you recall, I’m sewing three different pieces of running gear – leggings, a vest top, and a long sleeved top. The vest top has stalled while I wait for my new coverstitch binder to arrive, but I was able to finish my leggings this weekend and cut out all the pieces for the long sleeved top.
When I went to look through my stash for fabrics, though, I realised that the long sleeved top needs three different fabrics in order to get a contrast on the upper body, and again at the hip pockets. So I’m using the black supplex for the top and sleeves, leftover turquoise for the lower back and front hips, and the same turquoise but overlaid with olive green stretch lace for the front body. I’m thinking a bit of lace in the running community won’t go amiss.
But now this top is stalled while I await more short, black invisible zips (which should arrive with my binder!) for the pockets and the upper front!
It’s realistically looking like I’ll only have my leggings ready for the Paris half marathon on Sunday, so I needed to take them out for a test run last night prior to the big event.
Be prepared for a totally unflattering, post-hour-long RDC session photo…
(I’m wearing the blue Nike pinny over my jacket ‘cos I’m a group leader!) Overall, I’m really happy with the fit. The ankles are still a bit baggy (even after I took them in a bunch!), but the fit everywhere else was perfect. I was a bit concerned about chafing since I don’t have a flatlock machine so my overlocked seams make small ridges inside, but they were absolutely fine, and the waistband was very comfortable and sat exactly where I wanted it to be with no shifting or tugging. Result! I’ll totally be making more of these from my customised base pattern…read more >>
I love it when different areas of my life start overlapping! I’ve been a runner for about 7-8 years but I’ve only really sewn running gear a few times (mostly because my mom knows what I like and gets good stuff on sale for me!). But I’ve got the itch to sew the lycra again, and so I made the first steps towards making my own running gear designs a reality.
First step was to make quick and dirty muslins to check the fit and mark style lines. The Jalie 3135 skinsuit pattern was my basis for my running leggings (minus the top half and the front zipper opening!). I used the “silk touch” lycra jersey from Tia Knight as my muslin fabric here since it was the cheapest 4-way stretch she had, but it’s surprisingly really nice! It’s got a hand like a silk jersey, but seems a bit too drapey to be ideal in exercise gear, though it should be fine for the occasional accents or panels if I want to.
So I made my muslin, tried it on, and while I was wearing it, drew lot of placement and design lines straight on the fabric with a Sharpie:
The end result looks a bit like a liposuction patient (which is why I’m not modelling it!!), but it definitely served its purpose! read more >>
Housekeeping time! I’ve got lots of little bits to update you on, either with my in-progress project, upcoming things, or small projects I managed to gloss over at the time…
So in no particular order:
My purple coat
Progress is slow on my purple jacket/coat from the Winter 2011 MyImage magazine, not because of anything to do with the coat, but because life keeps getting in the way. I’ve finished the shell and I’m onto the lining now, so I’ve just got to finish constructing the lining, attach the two together, flip, and sew the buttonholes.
I’d prefer to do the buttonholes on my vintage buttonholer attachment, but the templates I have aren’t big enough for my enormous (2.5 inch?) buttons. Anyone know a clean way around this? Can I set the buttonholer to do double-length holes somehow?
In any case, I should be able to finish this coat this weekend and (hopefully) get a photoshoot in. Not long now before I can do evenings photos again – it’s already light out when I go running before work!
My go-to baby gift is to sew a changing mat, with a hand towel on one side, and nice fabric on the other with big, deep pockets and ties to fold it all up. I had two baby boys arrive in January, so both sets of parents got changing mats with this awesome Alexander Henry vintage robot fabric. 1 meter of it wasn’t quite enough to stretch to the pockets, too, so I filled in with some scrap denim.read more >>
Yesterday I ran a 10km running race to celebrate my 2nd rebirthday of my bone marrow transplant (well, it’s a month early but this race is so much nicer than the July one I ran last year!).
The race went really well, and I truly gave it EVERYTHING I had, running the first 4 kilometers at an astonishingly fast 5min per km pace, and then I tailed back to a bit more realistic 5:30/km pace until the last 200 meters, when I gave an all out sprint for the finish!
Like last year, I ran with the memory of my three departed BMT friends firmly in my mind – this was for Vera, Rob, and David, who fought so so hard, and who even today inspire me to push and fight even harder on their behalf.
I wasn’t quite sure how well I did until I viewed the official chip times on the website last night… 51:21!! That’s only 7 seconds off my pre-illness Personal Best! I really was only trying to beat last year’s time of 53:38, and I honestly didn’t think I’d come anywhere close to that magical 51 minute point for me!read more >>
Last Thursday was my one year anniversary of my bone marrow transplant, which others have taken to calling a “rebirthday”. James took me out for lunch and a very chill session at a super posh tea shop, followed by a surprise card and flowers when I got home! I’ve been planning a special celebration of my own for about six months now, when I got it into my head that I should run a 10k for my one year post-transplant.
The British 10K London Run was this morning, and even though I’ve been running around the river for the past 3-4 months to train for this, I had only managed 10km in my last three runs so I was feeling pretty nervous and hoping only to run the whole thing (no walking!) and to maybe finish in under an hour.read more >>
I really really liked this fleece jacket, KnipMode 12/2008 #21, ever since the issue came out, and I’ve been waiting for the right time to grab some bright fleece and make it ever since.
It uses lycra edging tape (which Pennine Outdoor thoughtfully stock in addition to all the right high quality fleeces and chunky zips!) to bind the sleeve and neck edges as well as act like a sort of piping-without-the-pipe along the princess seams and that top yoke edge.read more >>
I had about a half meter of tubular black cotton interlock leftover in my stash, and
Burda WOF 11/2008 #125 looked to be an excellent use for it! It’s in the workout section of this issue, and #124 is a variation of the same shirt with longer sleeves and a triangular neck insert. I was aiming to make the long sleeves minus the insert, but as it turned out, I was really only able to squeeze in the short sleeves with some creative refolding of the fabric after cutting out half the pieces.
I have a surefire way to guarantee you won’t overbuy at your favourite fabric store – run home from there.
Yesterday I took the day off work because we had some important but tedious appointments in the afternoon, but I wanted to squeeze in a quick trip to Goldhawk Road to buy the silk for Pip’s christmas pyjamas, and since I run Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, I needed to work that in somehow, too. So I was whining to Pip about how I couldn’t fit it all in because it was also a low tide day (long story), and she just said “Well, why don’t you just run to the store?”.read more >>
It is an enigma that, while the overwhelming majority of 10k race participants are slim and svelte, race shirts given away to participants are always enormous!
I had two race shirts made out of the nice wicking polyester that were way too big to wear (hanging down to my mid-thigh! And I’m not exactly Tinkerbelle…) but too nice to let rot in my wardrobe, so I cut them up!
I used the same KnipMode pattern as before, but got lazy and just serged all the edges with my white woolly nylon thread and didn’t bother with the elastic. The armpits were a tad too high before, so I lowered those, but otherwise just approached this as a no-nonsense reconstruction to get some wear out of garments I previously wouldn’t touch.read more >>
The culmination of July’s Knit Month was sewing my own swimsuit, but due to motivational difficulties in the photoshoot and photo editing post-production, I’m afraid the photos are a few weeks late!
You might remember when I sewed my muslin suit that I used KnipMode 06/2008 #1 and lengthened the bodice pieces by one inch.
I haven’t worn one piece suits for a few years, but I remember RTW suits from high school always being a bit short in the torso, so I’m not surprised this would be the same, despite my never having to do long-torso alterations for anything else.
I do wish, however, that I’d taken some photos of myself in the muslin suit because you see things in photos that just don’t appear in a full length mirror sometimes.read more >>
Looking at this week’s London weather forecast, it seems for once, rather than being really late to the summer swimsuit party, I’ve actually timed this all rather well. We may actually get some nice summer temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s F (upper 20s C), which will actually feel really hot after the summer we’ve had again!
So I’ve finally been given some impetus from the weather on top of my recent confidence-boosting forway into sports gear to finally tackle one of sewing’s ultimate challenges – swimwear! I’ve been wearing two piece suits since I lost so much weight a few years ago, but I was so smitten with the one piece suit in KnipMode 06/2008 that I just had to try this as my first bathing suit:read more >>
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!read more >>
Since I was buying the microfleece for my coat interlining anyway, I took advantage of the rest of Pennine Outdoor‘s range of outdoor and sports fabrics to replenish my fabric stash. No, really! Even though I bought a veritable orgy of fabric in the States last August, I’ve actually only got about three cuts of that lot left, and I’ve been very restrained in the last year and only bought a few pieces here and there.
So first up is the sports stuff! I want to try my hand at making my own running trousers, since I’m having trouble finding non-capri, bootcut wicking trousers in the shops these days, so I picked up two metres of this black Meryl wicking lycra:read more >>
This past weekend was a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, so technically I got another day though it doesn’t really feel that way! I did manage to get some sewing in amongst the DIY, cleaning, baking, running, and hosting, however. I finally finished James’s linen shirt, and even made myself a new day dress from La Mia Boutique using some of his excess linen/tencel fabric and some raspberry tablecloths…read more >>