This week we’ll be talking about one of the most popular designs in my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book (that is, if your initial To Sew list intentions are anything to go by!), the Active Jacket! I was so lucky that my publisher gave me absolute creative control with the contents and designs for this book, and I knew from the first conversations that I wanted to include a jacket of some sort. They’re the sort of garment I wear all the time, whether it’s on my cycle commute, marathon training, or just to wear after a race, but for some reason I never quite found the time to release a pattern for one. So the Active Jacket was born!
We’ve had sub-zero temperatures and constant snow all week here in London (either one of which would’ve been a rarity – we usually only get a dusting once a winter and people still get excited to see snow falling) – so what better week to talk about the Warm Up Bottoms from my book!
I originally wanted to include some sort of tracksuit trousers with ankle zips that could be thrown on for warmups when I compete in my track races, but then I had trouble finding the right fabric to meet my exacting standards, and the more I looked at my tech drawing, the more it said ski-wear to me, so these morphed into cold weather gear instead. The great thing about sewing is that sometimes you can totally change a garment’s use just by changing the fabric, so of course you can still make these for the track if you find the right fabric!
I had more trouble naming this design than possibly any others in the book though – I had to keep all the names so that they’d work in both UK and US English, so that took out “pants” (as these mean underwear in the UK) and “trousers” (as these mean dressy pants in the US). And since these use the Loose Fitting block, I couldn’t really call them “leggings”, either! So I settled on Warm Up Bottoms since the name works both for warming up before a track race, and keeping warm on the slopes. And “bottoms” might make you giggle, but it’s unambiguous in all the English language variants as far as I know!
Thanks for all the love on the Active Leggings posts from earlier this week – I’ve been getting such lovely comments on the inclusive aims of the book and the tutorial to make these for the men in your life, too. Unfortunately I’ve come down with the flu this week so apologies that this post is a bit later than I’d planned and if I’m quiet next week – I’d planned to showcase a design a week but I may have to take a week off and push everything back if my body doesn’t allow it…
But I really wanted to show off a bunch of versions of the Active Leggings that I’ve made for myself, but also two made by others, too, as it’s just such a great design and one that works for so many different activities, too!
One of my favourite things about the block-based approach to the designs in my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book is that you can use just about any block patterns as your starting point – not just the ones I’ve included in the book.
As I say on page 16, “The included blocks are designed for women in the sizes shown in these size charts, but if you’re not a woman or your body doesn’t match any of the measurements in the size charts, using your own block means that these designs could work for children, men, disabled people, trans people and non-binary folks, those who prefer modest clothing and those whose measurements are beyond the size range here. There really is no limit: if you’ve got a body, you can exercise, and if you can sew, you can make activewear.”
It’s one thing for me to say all of this, but it’s another entirely for me to show you. So today I’m going to show you how to take my men’s leggings pattern, the Lightspeed Leggings, and use them as the starting point for the Active Leggings in my book. (Scroll down for a discount code for the Lightspeed Leggings, too!!)
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.
Since the Raglan Tee design from my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book is a particularly quick one to sew up AND it works well for activewear and casualwear, I ended up making three for myself over the past year (though I had even more planned in my head!!)
I kinda jumped the gun and showed you my kitties & bunnies version last year because I was too in love with this Stoff & Stil fabric to wait for the book to come out!
This week I’d like to focus on the Raglan Tee – one of the most versatile designs in my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book and a great one to sew up if you’re more comfortable in looser-fitting workout tops. This pairs really nicely not only with the Split Shorts (as seen on my athlete-model Sanchia in the book), but also with the Yoga Bottoms or Active Leggings, too.
One of the downsides of having such a tight writing deadline was that after I finished writing, designing, and illustrating each of the chapters in the book, all I’d want to do was sew up a MILLION versions of that design for myself – but I’d have to move on to the next design right away… And once I finished writing and sewing all the samples for my athlete models to wear in the photoshoots, I was a bit burnt out on activewear sewing in general for a few months, so I didn’t start to get excited about the designs again until late last summer. But luckily Fall is a great time to be sewing up some of the transitional designs in the book, and the Hoodie is a great one for layering over your kit to get back and forth to the gym (or running group, or climbing wall, or dojo, etc!).
This week we’re going to talk about the Hoodie design from my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book! It’s great to hear from so many of you in the UK who’ve been getting in touch to say how much you love the book, and it’s great to see you building up your To Sew lists from it already, too. As a designer it’s really interesting to me to see which designs immediately jump out at people, and the Hoodie has been appearing on quite a few lists – though I’m sure the chilly UK weather might have something to do with it, too!
When I was thinking about the sports I wanted to design for in the early stages of writing the book, I knew I wanted to somehow cover swimming, and I initially wanted to include a traditional swimsuit. But when it got down to the drafting instructions, it would’ve been tricky to construct using just the included blocks, or it’d mean I’d need to include a whole separate panty block just for the swimsuit so instead I took inspiration from my friend, Emily, who is an avid Cornish surfer as well as being a runner, climber, cyclist, and all-around advocate for natural movement (and indeed, the athlete model for this design in the book!).