Where to buy exercise fabric – a global list

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!).

Ask Melissa – activewear fabric and larger busts

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?

I’ve compiled a big ol’ list of suppliers (which I do my best to keep maintained!) over here!

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!

Introducing… FehrTrade x Laurie King fabric designs!

By far the single biggest question I get with my exercise sewing patterns is “Where do I buy good fabric?”. Despite compiling a list of global stockists of exercise fabric, I totally get your frustration – it’s getting a lot easier to buy nice colours and quality wicking lycra, but prints are still difficult to get a hold of, and when you can, it’s often costly and difficult to match colours.

But what if you could buy just one yard of fabric and be able to sew up one garment with coordinating colours and stylish prints, and mix and match to make outfits that coordinate together, too?

I’m super pleased to announce that this is exactly what I and illustrator Laurie King have made happen! Laurie is an avid cyclist and dad to two small boys, and I’ve been a massive fan of his hand-drawn style since before he made that amazing couch on ITV’s The Cycle Show!

I’ve had this idea brewing for about 6 months now, but it took a design session with Laurie before the idea really came to life. Since I know the exact size and shape of all the pieces for my sewing patterns, I’ve created “zones” of print and colour on one yard of fabric using two of his prints in three different colourways. These prints are exclusively for your fabrics, too!! So there’s very little chance you’ll be exercising and catch someone across the room wearing the same thing!

The first collection is comprised of two prints – “Zigzag” and “Maps”, using three different colourways – “citrine/black”, “purple/citrine/teal”, and an “earthy” mix of forest green, slate blue, and muted red, which should be perfect for Fall and Winter. The idea is that we’ll be changing these up and releasing different designs a few times a year, too, so we’re open to ideas on colour combinations you’re loving!

The “Sew Your Own Activewear” Active Leggings

I’ve been waiting for weeks to share this particular design from my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book with you, and now seems as good as any! This week I’ll be talking about one of my favourite designs in the book, the Active Leggings! These started as a bit of a design progression from my super-popular Duathlon Shorts pattern, but as much as they may look similar, under the hood there are plenty of differences going on! For starters, the Active Leggings have much wider pockets (as phones have grown SO much bigger since I released the Duathlons in 2014) that are constructed differently, too, and feature a full-length leg that’s got lower leg visual interest.

The “Sew Your Own Activewear” Crop Top

I briefly mentioned the Crop Top design last week when I showed you how to add bust support into the Vest Top, but this week is all about the Crop Top design from my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book! On first glance you might be mistaken for thinking it’s just a shortened version of the Vest Top, but it’s got a lot of unique features of its own.

Sewing Bee Activewear week! (and Flash Sale!)

Before you read any further, if you haven’t watched the latest Sewing Bee episode yet, I just want to inform you that there are screenshots from the challenges in this post, but I don’t reveal who won or who lost any of the challenges, so you’re safe to read on!

This week’s episode was all about activewear, and I’ve been SO excited ever since the theme was revealed in last week’s preview. I mean, how could I not be excited! The pattern challenge this week was to sew a men’s cycling top, and it was revealed that none of the contestants had much experience with sewing lycra, either!

“Perfect”, I thought, “what a great opportunity to show the 3 million viewers that sewing activewear can be really accessible, even on your first try!” But Patrick and Esme had other ideas, pretty much talking nonstop about how difficult and fraught with peril sewing activewear is. Umm, guys, it’s really not that hard! I’ve taught loads of people to sew their first leggings and they practically dance out of the room!

Coming soon: The Surf to Summit Top pattern

My next sewing pattern is very nearly ready to release, so it’s high time I gave you a pre-release look at what I’ve been slaving over the past few months, right? I’ve been dropping hints all over, but this pattern will be released simultaneously for women and men for the first time ever! I’ve been wanting to release menswear patterns since the very beginning and I’m super proud that my first is such a versatile one, too.

My official description is:
A top with long or short raglan sleeves with optional sleeve mitts, tall integral collar to keep your neck covered, princess seams with side panel, and your choice of two hem lengths. An optional half zip and back cycling-style pocket are also included.


Click any image to make it bigger!

This one’s called “Surf to Summit” because with all the optional extras, you really can wear it for surfing, running, cycling, and skiing or snowboarding, as well as just as a regular casualwear base layer, too.

The men’s version has the same style lines and optional extras, but has a completely separate draft, with a straighter cut which a lot of men tend to favour over the ultra slim-fitting fitness tops.