Blog

Running and Knitting in Iceland

The perils of running a one-woman business alongside an office job and attempting to also have a bit of a social life is that, at times, I have to make some tough decisions regarding my time. So since I’ve been away the past two weekends (prime-time for me to work on FehrTrade), I’ve not had any time to blog since I prioritised my Friday/lunchtimes/evenings to working on the new pattern in development, albeit slowly. But I definitely want to capture the last two weekends away before they fade into memory!

For those of you who have been following my loom knitting journey over the last 18ish months, I’ve actually made something other than socks!

Flatlocked Steeplechase Leggings for Cambridge Half

The other week I shared some activewear topstitching tips and gave you a peek at some Steeplechase Leggings I was working on at the time. Despite running most days of the week, I generally only have 2 or 3 big races every year, and for these I like to make myself something new to race in. This means I get to mark the occasion and make it feel a bit more special, reward myself for the months of training, but also it means that I always think of that race whenever I wear the top/leggings/shorts in training afterwards.

My first big race of the season was Cambridge Half on Sunday. This is my second time running it, and back in 2015 I made my circuitboard Steeplechase Leggings to mark the occasion (and to appeal to the boffins of Cambridge!). Even though I’ve released quite a few patterns between then and now, I still find myself reaching for the Steeplechase when I want a quick sew that I know will work well in a race situation, so rather than use one of the new patterns I’ve got in development (which would also mean I couldn’t share any race photos yet!), I paired my old favourite pattern with some gorgeous blue & lime heathered supplex in my stash that I’d bought at Fabrics Galore last Fall (and as of January, they still have both colourways in stock at their Clapham store – get in touch with them to buy some as it’s LUSCIOUS!)

The making of a Threads article

Thanks so much for all your congratulations on my activewear sewing article in the latest Threads magazine (issue 190). If you haven’t seen it yet, it should be on newsstands very soon – do go and buy it because (as usual!) there are a ton of really interesting articles included. Threads is a magazine I totally and fully respect, and I hold it in the highest esteem possible. When I started sewing, the information and techniques it included was something I was in total awe of, and even now, I learn something new from every single issue. It’s a magazine that doesn’t “dumb down” and is unashamedly not aimed at beginning sewists, which is refreshing in itself!

A visit to the fit studio…

You’ve probably not heard of them (neither had I!), but I was recently introduced to Alvanon, who manufacture a whole host of fitting mannequins for the apparel industry. They’re a family company who work with the biggest retail manufacturers (whom they usually can’t say due to NDAs, but believe me, you definitely have some in your closet!), but they’re really supportive of little indie designers, too, and invited me to come and use their fit studio yesterday afternoon.

Now, being from a science background myself, I freaking love that Alvanon’s are so based in science and data analysis, and founded by a doctor who was seeing a real disconnect between actual bodies and fitting dummies. The measurements for all of their models are all based on body scans of actual women (none of this “we measured women in the 1970s and have been using it ever since” crap!), and they’ve got different forms for European, American, Asian, UK, etc body types, and you can get forms based on specific countries, too. They’ve got squishy lingerie forms with different cup sizes, men’s sizes, pregnancy bellies, various arm configurations, all the kiddies from toddlers up through tweens, and a bunch of Plus-sized forms based, again, on actual women’s bodies.

How to use your Print Club fabric kit

Big, big thanks for all your wonderful comments and enthusiasm over the new Print Club project and especially, Laurie King’s amazing first “Head for the Hills” print! We’ve both been blown away by the demand for the kits, so don’t wait around if you’re tempted – they really are very limited edition…

Today I wanted to give some tips for using the kit, especially for all of you who bought the Steeplechase Leggings pattern alongside it!

Announcing Print Club – limited edition fabric kits!

I am so excited to finally be able to share with you a project that I’ve been building towards for several years – Fehr Trade Print Club is a semi-regular series of collaborations with illustrators, pairing exclusive artwork with activewear patterns in limited edition fabric kits!

We first started the concept of an illustrator/patternmaker collaboration a few years ago with Laurie King, offering designed prints through Spoonflower with differently designed “zones” on the fabric for the different pattern pieces. This was a great learning experience, but ultimately, we wanted a bit more control, even though this means more work and more financial risk on my part. So we’re starting small, and of course I had to ask Laurie back to be the first Print Club collaborator!

So what’s different this time around? Well, for starters, the designs are printed onto Funkifabric’s “Titan” technical spandex base. This stuff is super high quality – beefy, matte, completely opaque, and no white “show through” when stretched. I ran London marathon in this base fabric in 2015 and it’s freaking fantastic (also the colours haven’t faded a bit since then either).

How to add side pockets to your Steeplechase Leggings

I’ve got a little something different for you all today, compliments of fellow reader and runner Elaine Klein, who emailed me to show off a fantastic modification she did to add side pockets to her Steeplechase shorts.

The Steeplechase Leggings pattern includes a hidden back waistband pockets, but, if like Elaine, you too prefer to keep your keys or lip balm on your leg instead, then read on and see how she added these. Thanks so much, Elaine! -melissa

When my running buddy suggested that we celebrate our favorite trail run by wearing watermelon patterned shorts, your patterns helped us realize that kinda silly dream. Our matching melony shorts were quite a hit! Thank you.

More remarkably, as I dialed in the steeplechase pattern to suit me perfectly (having learned from your blogs and community that this is possible and preferable to wearing ill fitting running shorts) I grew confident enough to tinker a little, so I added pockets to my shorts. I tried the pouch pocket, but I prefer side pockets – I usually tuck an ID or gel or tissue or lip balm in these, but they are large enough to hold my smartphone (though not secure enough to do so comfortably for a long run). They’re also a fun decorative accent.

Transylvanian Bear Steeplechase Shorts

I mentioned last week that I quickly made a pair of bear shorts to wear in time for the Transylvanian Bear Race at the weekend, and I can share the full details now that I’ve run the race!

I’d bought a few fat quarters of Spoonflower’s Sport Lycra base fabric a few months ago, but recently I realised that combining two fat quarters would soooo not be enough fabric for a pair of shorts. So I frantically ordered another full yard of the “geometric grizzly bear” print fabric to be the body of a Biker length pair of my Steeplechase Leggings pattern, with the fat quarter of the mint green “geometric bear” print bear fabric being enough for the shorts yoke.

Long weekend progress update

For all of you in the US and UK who enjoyed a lovely long weekend, I salute you! I made the decision to devote the bulk of my four days to upgrading/migrating this site over to a new backend, and it was exactly as painful as I was expecting (and it’s not done yet). I’ve been wanting to for quite a few months now, but I just kept putting it off for all sorts of tech headache reasons, and I was right to! It took no less than 3 server moves with my web host to find a server that could support both the old and new platforms simultaneously during the transition period, then a bunch of setting conflicts, frantic forum searching, and then finally data munging all 1,036 posts, over 10,000 images, and a ridiculous amount of tags over in a way that broke the least amount of stuff. Which meant that I didn’t get to the actual appearance of it until late on Sunday, and it still needs a few more days work before I can start the fun 403 redirect process, yay! So until then you’ll still see the old site, and I’m going to do my best to redirect all the RSS for those of you who subscribe in your favourite reader, too!

This meant that I was mostly behind the computer (or a barbecue!) this weekend without much happening in my sewing room. But I’d been awaiting the arrival of a re-up on bear fabric (which I honestly didn’t think would arrive in time, but it did!!), so I whipped up a pair of bear shorts for the Transylvanian Bear Race on Friday while a large ftp process occupied my computer. I used my Steeplechase Leggings pattern (Biker short length), using two different Spoonflower bear prints for the body and yoke. I’ll do a full post on these after the race, but here’s a sneak peek from my test run in them on Sunday (because Nothing New On Race Day, folks!)

A thermo colourblocked Tessellate Tee hoodie

Thanks for all your patience, enthusiasm, and congratulations on the full digital release of the Tessellate Tee pattern this weekend! It’s great to finally enable anyone around the world to sew it now, and like the Surf to Summit top pattern, it’s one where you can mix and match a lot of the options to get the look you’re after.

I thought I’d start with the version shown on the pattern cover – it’s made in Funkifabrics’ “thermo” fleece-lined lycra in Plum, Yellow, and Turq and uses all the optional add-ons – thumb cuffs, zippered back pocket, and ponytail hood.