Hey everyone! I hope y’all have had a great September – I can’t believe it’s over already! Was it just me, or did it seem to fly by particularly fast?
This month for the Mood Sewing Network I decided to do something a little different. Rather than making one garment, I spent each weekend sewing up one article of clothing with the aim of filling in a huge wardrobe gap for me – workout/leisure wear. All these garments were really fast makes, and I approached each as a little experiment. If you’ve ever looked at RTW active wear you know that it’s a wild and wooly world of performance tech fabrics, compression tights, lululemons, celebrity designer collaborations, and $95 dollar leggings. Basically it’s overwhelming. And expensive. Like, so so expensive. So I did what any self respecting sewist would do and I decided to make my own.
I’m certainly not the first person to make my own workout wear, but I have to admit that this was an area of sewing that always intimidated me. Mainly because of the fabrics. You want workout clothes to move when you move, bend when you bend, keep you cool when you’re overheating, and to not become too much of a sweaty, dripping mess. This is an area where manmade fibers are actually far more preferrable to natural fibers, and stretch knits are obviously more comfortable than wovens. And jersey has always been much more of a foreign language to me than wovens. You also want the seams to hold up to a good amount of strain (squats anyone?) which can be tricky when you don’t have access to industrial machines.
But I decided to dive in and I bought a couple different knits – both polyester and natural fibers – in different weights and chose a few really simple patterns to get me started. I should note that since ordering these fabrics I noticed that Mood online now carries a nice little selection of performance fabrics, including moisture wicking spandex and compression jersey. I’ll definitely be ordering some of those in the future!
The first garment I made was a sweatshirt using this Cadet Charcoal & Cream French Terry Knit and the matching Rib Knit. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that the ribbing on this sweatshirt is an exact match! It makes the whole thing feel so professional. These are both really beefy fabrics, so I used my serger with a 4-thread-overlock to sew and finish all the seams in one. The hem looks a bit wavy, but it really doesn’t bother me. The pattern is Grainline’s Linden Sweatshirt view A. It’s a great, modern fit, and in the classic athletic gray it’s already become the item I reach for everyday when I come home from work.
The next item I made were some leggings using this Black/Hollyhock Purple Double-Faced Viscose Jersey. For whatever reason, my camera could not handle the color of these leggings – the color on the Mood website is a far more accurate depiction than this weird magenta color I’m getting here. This fabric is nice and thick, with the purple side being a slightly shiny poly and the black side, which I used as the wrong side, soft and cotton-y feeling (though I’m pretty sure it’s not cotton). It has great two-way stretch and awesome recovery. But what I really love about these poly leggings is that they are awesome at wicking moisture. I’ve worn them to workout in already, and even though I sweated buckets, about 5 minutes after my cooldown and stretch my leggings were nice and dry, and no unsightly color change when you do sweat (which I find particularly gross in pants… looks like you’ve had an accident). I used the Espresso leggings pattern from Cake patterns which is a fun pattern if you’re looking for a good legging pattern. It’s basically a grid and you plot your measurements on it so the pattern is made specifically to your size.
The next item on my ‘to sew’ list was a basic pair of black leggings. For this I used a nice medium weight Black Cotton-Viscose Jersey. I love that this fabric looks and feels like a pair of black leggings you would buy in the store. It’s super soft and has a great 4-way stretch. I used the same Espresso pattern as I did for the purple leggings, but just with the presence of vertical stretch as well as width-wise stretch these leggings ended up much longer than the purple pair. The cotton content means they’re not great for super sweaty activities, but they are perfect for days when I’m just doing some yoga or stretching, or, you know, bumming around the house. For both pairs of leggings I used 1 1/2 inch elastic in the waist because I prefer a wider waistband, and I finished the waist and the ankle hems using my sewing machines triple stretch stitch. This stitch setting was a revelation for me, as it really is so much more stretchy than a zig-zag or twin-needle, which always end up popping for me with wear, and the look is nice and clean and professional.
And finally I made this racerback tank using some Black Heathered Cotton Jersey. This fabric is really interesting as it’s two transparent, tissue-weight jersey’s fused together, black and white, to create the heathered effect. It’s super light and oh-so-soft. I used a self-drafted pattern for this and sewed everything on my serger. The neck and armholes are finished with a self-fabric binding, and I simply overlocked the raw edge for the hem.
And that’s it guys! Have any of you made your own workout wear? Any tips for a newbie?