Warm on top, disco down below…

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!

It being winter in England, the course was muddy. Actually, muddy is an understatement – this was boggy, with the entire length of the course in ankle-deep mud with large amounts of standing water. It was similar to running in deep sand, only with very wet and cold feet on top of the added effort with each step. I saw the Under 15s leaving as I was arriving and they had mud splatters up over their foreheads, and the men were sliding down the hill on their backs even with cross country spikes on!

This is the hardest race I have EVER run, marathon included. There was extensive, deep mud on the entire course and the two hills were brutal (each run twice). I’m ashamed to admit I walked up the big hill on both laps and I’ve NEVER walked in a race before ever! I think this taught me that a) I’m so not fully recovered from my 3 weeks of flu yet, b) mid foot striking is irrelevant in deep mud, and c) distance on road is not in any way comparable to distance on cross country. I learned a lot!!

But at least my gear didn’t let me down! As with everything I’ve made from Suziplex, the top and leggings both were super comfortable for running – that was the least of my worries!

We didn’t have time for a full photoshoot before (we arrived with minutes to spare before the starting gun!), so you’ll have to amuse yourselves with mud-splattered photos instead.

Here are some shots without my RDC vest so you can see the raglan seaming and fit of the purple top on its own. I’d normally wear this on its own for winter running, but I needed to represent my crew!

The Christine Jonson pattern is intended for regular wear, but is pretty much perfect for winter running as is, with the close fit and minimalist seaming. My only real changes were to decrease the height of the collar (I just used half of the turtleneck pattern piece), and to experiment and add a “sleeve mitt” onto the ends of the sleeves.

This is a feature that I’ve seen on RTW running tops, where the top of the sleeve folds over and creates a little mitt to keep your hands warm while you run, without the need to carry gloves along (gloves are annoying as you usually only need them for the first five minutes until you warm up, then you’re stuck carrying them for the whole run).

First I drew myself a little plan so I could mentally think through how to achieve this. Because a sleeve seam is on the bottom (ie: centre inside wrist), and I needed my seams to be on either side of the wrist (ie: at thumb and pinky fingers), I chopped off the sleeve 12cm from the end, then took the centre 1/2, extended it 12cm again, and then created a normal length underpiece with the other half of the sleeve width.

My method means the wrong side of the fabric shows when the mitt is not in use, but this could easily be changed by introducing a seam at the folded sleeve hem. Also, since my Suziplex is super stretchy, I knew the mitt could easily cover my hands, but if your fabric is more stable, you’ll need to add some length to your sleeve, too.

As you can see in the above detail shots, the Disconium fabric is a black lycra base with regular, foil-printed rectangles made to look like a mirrorball. It’s stretchiness and flashiness make it perfectly suited from flashy sportswear, and I can report that all the mud came out after a pre-rinse in the sink then just my normal 30 degree machine wash cycle!

To sum up the process of making, then wearing these two items, I’m just going to let these last two photos do the talking:

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