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!
As for the sewing patterns you can make, well, I’ve created specialised yardages for my XYT Workout Top, my VNA Top, and my Duathlon Shorts – I’m afraid there was no way I could fit my PB Jam Leggings into one yard (or the Duathlon capri length, either), so that’s something I’ll have to work on for the future.
Right now, the designs are only available through Spoonflower, though I’m working on getting a UK distributor, too (UK shoppers, you can order one yard of Performance Piqué from Spoonflower and still be under HMRC’s customs exemptions value!). Having felt and worn both of Spoonflower’s performance fabrics, I recommend buying their “Performance Piqué” because it’s got more crosswise stretch, a nicer cottony handfeel, and I think it’s closer to what most people think exercise fabric should be. The only caveat here is that the recovery and dark colour saturation are not 100% perfect, so if you’re interested in a design with large swathes of black, you might want to choose their “Performance Knit” instead. Neither have any lengthwise stretch, so you may need to add a bit of length if you’re used to four-way stretch fabrics.
How to use the fabric
When you order the fabric, it just comes as one big yardage, and you’ll need to look at my guides below to see how the pattern pieces are intended to fit. I highly recommend you cut your fabric in a single layer (ie: not on the fold) so that everything lines up in the zones properly. I’ve checked the layouts digitally against all sizes, XXS-XL and they should all fit, and I’ve given as much extra room as possible to allow for common alterations like FBAs and lengthening. If you have altered your patterns to be significantly larger or longer, they may not fit, however, so buy at your own risk (in future, I may provide a tiled pdf just showing the outline of the zones which you can print out to double check first).
All the pattern piece outlines shown below are size XL.
For the XYT Workout Top patterns, lay out your pieces like this:
Since you’ll only be making one of the upper back views, they can all fit inside the upper left zone. Note that you’ll need to cut the full front and full back, so either flip the pattern pieces, trace them to have the full width, or print a second copy and tape together.
For the VNA Top patterns, lay out your pieces like this:
For two of the designs, there are vertical zigzags which should be centred along the Upper Front or Back pieces. Again, you’ll need to cut the full width of the pieces rather than along the fold.
For the Duathlon Shorts patterns, lay out your pieces like this:
Note that you’ll need to fit the Back piece upside down (as none of these are directional prints, that’s fine!) and that you’ll need to flip the pattern pieces over for everything on the right half as shown above.
I’ll be posting more photos (and maybe even a video!) as I make up my own samples to help you out.
What they’ll look like sewn up
I’ve applied the prints and colours to the tech drawings for my patterns and put them together according to colourway and print family so you can see what they look like sewn up, but also worn together. Because the colours are all the same across the colour families, you could even decide to wear the earthy “Maps” Duathlon shorts with the earthy “Zigzag” XYT Top and it’d still look good! This means that for $40 (plus shipping), you can have a matching, wicking exercise outfit!
It’s taken nearly a month for me to get my fabrics through from my order this time (It’s usually 2-3 weeks, with most of that as shipping time) and I’m so excited I wanted to share this with you right away! I’ll be making up my own samples over the next few weeks, so I’ll be sharing any tips and tracks as well as photos along the way. That being said, it’s possible that there might be some issues with the prints – they’ve all been checked and rechecked digitally, but I have only checked the fabrics themselves as swatches, apart from four I’ve chosen to get printed as full yardages. I’d love to buy them all, but I can’t afford to buy 36 yards x $20!
If I do discover any issues, I can change and upload the designs right away, but this won’t help you if you’ve already bought. So if you want to be extra-extra careful, wait a few weeks for me to iron out any unforeseen issues. Or if you’re too excited like me, just go shopping!!
Also, if anyone wants to buy these designs ready-made into sportwear, I do sew custom work, so get in touch!