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How To Add Bust Support to the Vest Top

Earlier this week I introduced you to the Vest Top design from my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book, and today I’d like to show you how you can add some bust support to it so that you can wear it without a separate sports bra if you wish. The Crop Top design uses some of the same pieces as the Vest Top but includes two layers of power mesh to add support for low- to medium-impact activities, so we’re going to use portions of both designs to create a Vest Top with support inside but the same appearance outside.

A quick tip for topstitching activewear seams

I’m sure some of you may know this tip already, but if you’re someone who prefers to topstitch down all your seams for your activewear makes, get yourself a roll of Prym Wonder Tape, stat. I’ve known about this stuff before, as I’ve seen other people use it for basting zippers in place, but I hadn’t realised exactly how great it could be for topstitching until I decided to give it a try on a pair of Steeplechase Leggings I’m sewing for Cambridge Half next weekend.

Wonder Tape is essential double-sided, sticky, washaway stabiliser, and it comes in a narrow 6mm (1/4in) tape roll. You stick one side, peel off the backing, stick something to the other, and that’s it. No need to heat up the iron or anything and it comes out in the wash, leaving you with perfect topstitching. When I’d topstitched my seams before, I’d usually use pins (and always my trusty walking foot!), but pins can make things lumpy and you’ve still got to constantly feel for the seam allowance underneath if you’re stitching around curves (like on the Steeplechase’s curved yoke yokes). This stuff just made it easy.

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.

Adjusting the Duathlon Shorts pockets for bigger phones

My Duathlon Shorts pattern has been one of my best selling designs, and for good reasons – it’s easy to sew, has a bunch of length options, and suits a wide variety of activities. It’s also got two pockets integrated into the side panels, great for stashing your stuff. But when I made this pattern back in 2014, the iPhone 4 and 5 were the standard size phone, and phones have gotten so much bigger over the past few years! I’ve had a few requests asking how to enlarge the pockets to suit an iPhone 6, and it’s really easy to do!

I’ve drawn out the changes into the below diagram, but essentially you need to add both width and depth to the pocket for bigger phones.

Yoga-style PB Jam Leggings – a tutorial by Lolita Patterns

Sewing Indie Month is back again so you can look forward to a whole month of fun interviews, tutorials, pattern sales, and sewing contests (with a ton of prizes!) throughout the month of September. Just like last year, when I interviewed Hannah from Sinbad & Sailor and you got a great tutorial from Heath Lou hacking my XYT Workout Top into a maxi dress, you’ll get to read some great, different content from my usual sort, starting off with this fabulous tutorial by Amity of Lolita Patterns. You may recall that I pattern tested her Sugar Plum dress a few years ago (and I still wear it!), plus we got to meet up when she visited London a while back, too. So read on and see how she adapted my PB Jam Leggings pattern to have wider legs and a yoga-style waistband, too! – melissa

I was so lucky to get paired with Melissa for the tutorial post for SIM. While my life before baby was filled with court visits (I was an attorney) and professional wear, my new mom life incorporates a LOT of yoga pants. Casual wear is my life now! So it was unbelievably perfect to get paired with Fehr Trade patterns.

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For my tutorial I turned her very stylish PB Jam Leggings into yoga pants! This required a different and thicker waistband, and a widening of the legs. Can I just tell you that my pants turned out amazing?!? I was going to just go black pants with the gray houndstooth contrast but at the last second remembered I had some orange stretch piping I had bought for a project but had since bought a different shade of orange. This piping made the pants. Literally. The piping looks so amazing I have worn these pants 4 times already and I’ve only had them made for a week!

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I’m here to share pictures and a tutorial on how I transformed the PB Jam leggings into yoga pants. To do this, I used a pair of yoga pants I loved to see how wide I wanted each part of the leg.

Wide leg alteration

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Excuse the dog hair—such is the life with three dogs 🙂

The bottom of the leg was 10 inches.

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In between the knee and the hem was 8 7/8, and the knee was 8 5/8. I took these measurements and wrote them on the diagram so I could compare and make sure I didn’t forget them. I also measured the inseam and how far down the knee began from the waist. These are all helpful measurements when altering the pattern to match the yoga pants we are copying from.

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Now keep in mind, these are all just one side of the leg (so the entire circumference would be twice the measurement) and also do not include seam allowances. But this measurement is perfect because the pattern pieces work this way.

Two Weekend Reads

There are many, many great articles on the web right now for activewear inspiration, and I am desperately overdue in showcasing all the amazing versions of my patterns that you guys have made over the past few months, but I wanted to bring two articles in particular to your attention…

The first is a fantastic tutorial Maria (Velosewer) posted on how to create a secure, zippered pocket for insertion into the back pocket of my Surf to Summit Top pattern. It works equally well with the men’s or ladies’ versions, and only requires a little extra bit of fabric and an invisible zipper. It’s all kinds of genius, and I’m totally going to try it out myself on my next cycling version!

The other exciting read is that my first article for Seamwork magazine is out now, A Guide to Activewear Fabrics. I talk about how to shop for different tech fabrics, what names they can be found under, why cotton is terrible, and how to avoid that horrible smell after repeated washings.

Sewing Indie Month: My Buff tutorial and interview

How’s everyone enjoying Sewing Indie Month so far? Has anyone entered the contests yet? There’s still a bit of time left if you haven’t got everything together yet…

Sew a Buff

Last week I wrote a really simple but useful tutorial which appeared on the Seamster Patterns blog – How to sew your own Buff. If you’re not familiar with a Buff, it’s a simple tube of stretchy fabric that can be worn a million different ways…

They’re really popular with a wide variety of active people for both winter and summer wear and literally could not be easier to sew, so head over to the Seamster Patterns site to read how to make your own!

My interview with Yuki

I personally think the best part of Sewing Indie Month has been connecting with other indie designers, and I was tickled to find out I was paired with Yuki from Waffle Patterns, because I’d been admiring her designs on Etsy for ages!

She interviewed me over email recently, and you can read my interview here, which went live yesterday.

Classes and my next pattern

I’ve got quite a few more stretch fabric classes coming up in the next few weeks at the Thrifty Stitcher studio, including a full “Stretchtacular!” day on Sunday 29 June, where you learn to sew leggings in the morning and a Breton tee in the afternoon! If you live outside London this means you only have to travel once to get both classes… Or I’ve also still got some space in this Thursday’s leggings class if you’re more local. These are all suited to beginners who have basic knowledge of a sewing machine, but haven’t necessarily worked with stretch fabrics or overlockers before. You’ll get to take your garment and pattern home with you, and I’ve had many students not only wear theirs home, but turn around and sew more that same week!

The stretch class listings are here.

Sewing Indie Month: An XYT maxi dress tutorial from Closet Case Files

As part of the wonderful Sewing Indie Month celebrations, each of us are collaborating and sharing tutorials throughout the month of May. During the planning phase of the month, I requested to partner with Heather from Closet Case Files as she’s also a fellow stretch fabrics fanatic plus I loved her Bombshell Swimsuit pattern (if only English summers ever got warm enough to swim, eh?).

Well, she’s since gone and released Nettie, a fantastic bodysuit and bodycon dress pattern, and it’s already on my To-Sew list for later this summer. I can never wear RTW ones as my torso is too long, so I’m excited to finally wear some! (That, and her dress looks SO much like Wolford’s £300+ dresses!)

As we were discussing which tutorials to do, Heather was really up for hacking my XYT Workout Top pattern and making it not only something suitable for casualwear, but also a dress! She’s gone and done it, so if you’d like to make your own, read on…

The tutorial

Hello everyone! Heather here from Closet Case Files. I’m on Fehr Trade today to share a tutorial for Sewing Indie Month.

One of the things I love most about the independent pattern community is the way that the unique taste and point of view of each designer shines through in their work. I was really excited to be paired with Melissa for Sewing Indie Month; I have tremendous respect for her skills and knowledge, and love her cool and modern take on active wear. It was a good pairing, since we both love designing for stretch fabrics. For my Fehr Trade tutorial, I thought it would be fun to put a Closet Case spin on the XYT Workout Top.

Since I’m not the jogging type of girl (more of a leisurely bike riding lass), I thought it would be fun to take the great design lines of the XYT and make a summer maxi dress. I loved the racerback option, and thought it could look sexy and sporty in a mix of lycra and powermesh.

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PB Jam Leggings – invisible pocket tutorial

One of the favourite features of my PB Jam Leggings pattern is that there’s a secure, inner pocket at the upper back to keep things like your phone, keys, or gels handy while you’re working out. While I was developing the pattern, I decided to make this pocket one layer, and use the exterior of the leggings as the other side of the pocket, sealing off the bottom with topstitching.

But sometimes you may not want any topstitching visible from the right side, so to do this, you only need one extra piece of fabric and a few short steps. Making the pocket invisible from the outside will only add about 5 minutes max onto your construction time, but if your fabric is thick, definitely consider cutting your pocket from a thinner lycra!

Here’s the finished invisible pocket on my latest “rainbow sherbert” pair I’ve just finished!

Before you start…

When you’re cutting out your fabric, cut two pocket pieces instead of just one.

Step One


Fold down the shorter, curved edge of one of the pocket pieces and topstitch with a twin needle or coverstitch (or, alternatively, finish with narrow elastic or FOE)

Step Two


With right sides together, stitch the longer, curved edge of the two pocket pieces, and flip right side out (note: if you’re zigzagging this seam, you’ll want to trim the seam allowance and/or clip the curves to get a smooth seam)