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Very many VNAs (And other FehrTrade Patterns!)

Wow, has it really been over three months since I did the last FehrTrade patterns roundup post? Well, in that time it’s clear that neither you nor I have been taking it easy, because I have so many amazing sporty garments to show you!

Frau Fleur’s triple Duathlons

Fleur Hoare liked her Duathlons so much that she made no less than THREE pairs, including one made up in crazy cat-print lycra (that I am also now the proud crazy cat lady owner of)!

She also gave a great tip about creating a fold at the top of the pockets if you want a bit of extra security, which is totally worth checking out.

Sarai & Kristen’s coordinating cat-print race gear

But if you thought these would be the last cat-printed exercise gear you’d see all day, then friends, prepare to have your expectations exceeded. The Colette Patterns ladies went and sewed an XYT Top, Duathlon Shorts, and RTW-knockoff, all in coordinating cat-print wicking lycra.

And then ran a half marathon in them. BOOM!

Amélie’s star-print VNA & Duathlons

Amélie wrote me the loveliest email recently, telling me that she had once been very fit and active in a variety of sports, but had fallen out of the habit. But when she saw my pattern designs, she was inspired not only to sew them up, but also head out on her first run in years! How amazing is that?!

To start, she made a gorgeous red and grey star-print set using the VNA Top and the Duathlon Shorts, and she’s already got an XYT Top in the works, too!

Common XYT Workout Top bra adjustments

I’ve learned a lot through the release of my four exercise sewing patterns, and even though each is vigorously tested through my crack team of pattern testers, there are still a few things I’d go back and do differently if I had the chance.

On the XYT Workout Top, providing only one level of support and one cup option is definitely something I’d change if I was releasing it now – as printed, the bra lining is awesome if you want high support for running and other high impact sports and you’re a C cup or smaller.

But two of the most common issues I see with people is that they’re totally unaccustomed to how a fully-supportive compression bra actually feels (I see so many women bouncing all over the place when they run, it makes me weep for their future selves), or that they think they can “get away” without doing an FBA even though they’re busty.

Let’s address those two issues!

It’s too tight – I need less support!

Not planning on doing any running or other high impact sports and only want lighter support? Only use one power mesh layer with the crosswise stretch (ie: going around the body) and add room at the side seams. On the Back Lining piece, you can actually just cheat and cut it a cm or so from the fold since it’s just a rectangle, but on the Front Lining, add a bit to the side, then smooth out the curve to the armhole.

In progress reports

I’ve been feverishly working behind the scenes here at FehrTrade Towers (or maybe that should be HMS FehrTrade?), but an awful lot of that isn’t quite ready to be fully shared yet…

Next Pattern samples

Case in point – the samples I’ve been making for my next FehrTrade pattern! Loads of you have been asking when this will be ready, and the answer is, well, it should be up for sale within the next two weeks. This pattern is for a top that can work for workout wear or casualwear, so it means I’ve been sewing even more samples than usual to show off both sides of it. I’m not yet ready to reveal the tech drawing, but you can see how colourful my samples have been so far!

I’m pretty sure the teal-y one in the upper right might be my favourite top EVAR

Anyway, I really do hate to be a tease, but I hate it even more when I see something I really want to buy then have to wait ages (by which point the excitement has worn off), so I’m trying to hold back until I have an exact release date for you guys. The wonderful thing about digital patterns is that I don’t have to wait for any printers to release it!

Workout Inspiration

Speaking of FehrTrade patterns, have you all seen the XYT Workout Top hack Rebecca did for Sew Indie Month? Those of you who prefer a more loose-fitting workout top might be particularly interested in her changes, just saying…

And if you’re looking for inspiration to get more bang for your XYT Workout Top buck, then you may want to consider using this Athleta/Gap “Zahara Tankini” as inspiration – it’s a dead-ringer for the T-Back version!


(Thank you to whomever sent this to me, I’m so sorry but I’ve lost the email!)

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.

XYT Workout top by Closet Case Files-12

Exercise eye candy

It’s been a while since I showed you some of the amazing finished versions of my first two patterns I’ve spotted from around the internet (over a month, in fact!), so I thought I’d show off some of the amazing diversity of workout gear others have achieved.

My own printed PB Jams and mocha T-Back Workout Top

I’ll start off with two versions of my own that you’ve seen peeks of in the pattern photos, but not properly had a look at. This is probably my favourite pair of PB Jam Leggings I’ve made so far – I used some printed lycra from Minerva (sold out now!) teamed up with some neon red wicking lycra from my stash and I swear I get compliments every single time I wear them!

The top is a very early version of the T-Back XYT Workout Top, and one I wasn’t entirely happy with – you can see a lot of pulling around the neckline that I eliminated in later revisions of the pattern, but I wanted to show this one anyway so you could see the contrast coverstitch binding edges and my use of braided trim at the vertical T piece. I’d used the same neon red wicking lycra for the accents so these two coordinate rather nicely when work together – you could easily do the same by using your leggings swirl fabric in your upper back piece on the workout top.

Here you can see the classic (non-invisible) pocket in the centre back, and that it really does keep your phone and gels close enough to not bounce or bulge!

And lastly, I just really like this shot my dad took of me in these leggings while I was running around a frosty park in Virginia last November.

Beaute’ J’Adore’s Reebok-inspired PB Jams

I love this idea – Nikki had the opportunity to design her own pair of Reebok trainers, so of course she took it one step further and made her own leggings to match!

How amazing is it that this is the first activewear she’s sewn, too?! (Seriously, go back and look at her DIY makes – I’d steal her entire wardrobe if I could!)

Winnie's Junglicious X-back Workout Top

I’ve got a bit of a backlogue of fabulous pattern makes to show you, but I had to drop everything to purr over Winnie’s workout top! She’s managed to combine both Jungle January and the X-back version of my XYT Workout Top pattern in a single, glorious, specimen of exercisability.

But lo! the jungle print and secret crazy bra lining weren’t enough, because Winnie also finished the edges with FOE (fold over elastic) for yet even more colour! Pow! Take that, grey, drizzly January!

I’m even more proud of how awesome Winnie’s top turned out because she had difficulties in sewing the pattern early on in the testing process before I had the illustrated instructions, so for her to be able to come back to the finished version and sew this one up lickity-split makes me really pleased! Usually when I have problems with a pattern I get frustrated and want to dump it, but not Winnie!

Read more about her versions over on her site, Scruffy Badger Time

Mint X Back Workout Top

I hope you’re not too sick of seeing all these versions of my workout patterns yet, as I’ve got a few more yet to show you and I’m saving some of my favourites for last!

I’m also very pleased to report that I’ve been able to go back and fit in an XXS size (84B 63W 90H) into both patterns – the leggings files are totally done and the top only needs some elastic calculations and that’s done, too! I’ll be updating the files within my Etsy shop later this week, and I’ll make an announcement when they’re up, too. All previous customers will be able to download the updated files should they wish (but there’s no real change to the other sizes so there’s no point in re-printing and re-taping if you’re not an XXS, really).

But enough of the housekeeping, let’s see the sewing!

For this version I chose to make the X-back version in some highly treasured and amaaaaaazing “space dyed” Hint of Mint supplex from RunnersFabrics (on hiatus til the end of the month due to a Canberra -> Perth move!). I browsed through my Bag O’ Lycra and found I had an old race tee that was the exact same colour as the supplex, so I used that for the upper back portion. I’m still chuffed about how well these fabrics match every time I put it on!

For the shelf bra here, I used nude power mesh I’d picked up at Kantje Boord when I ran the Amsterdam marathon back in 2012. It’s a bit too cold here to wear the top on its own on my runs, so I’ve been wearing it underneath jackets and loving the support – it’s plenty enough even for my long, 2+ hour runs at the weekends.


(Seen here paired with my mesh-insertion leggings I made last spring!)

Kathy's Purple & Polka Dot Workout Tops

The version of my patterns I want to share with you today is special because Kathy is the only one of my pattern testers whom I’ve met in real life! Not only did we meet when I was over in Baltimore last year, but we actually went for a run together in activewear we’d sewn ourselves, too!

Kathy’s no stranger to sewing activewear (and she’s got almost as big a lycra stash as I do!), and I love that she chose to make the T-back version for herself, because I really think it’s the most versatile version! She’s used some black athletic mesh for the vertical portion, but you can pretty much use any fancy trim you have on hand – lace, sequins, fishnet, or just contrast fabric like she’s done.

This wasn’t enough though, as she’s gone and selflessly made a polka dot version for her niece, too! I totally freaking adore the polka dot fabric, and I love that she’s paired it with black mesh for the Y back, and then finished the edges tee-shirt style for a bit of contrast.

Read more about her versions on her site, Kathy Sews!

Ms McCall's blue, black, and ikat print running gear

I’m so excited to show you this next set of exercise gear from my amazing pattern testers because I know a lot of you out there who are more endowed than I have been wondering if the built-in bra could possibly work for you… Well, Ms McCall is proof positive that it can work – the built-in bra on both her X and Y versions is enough to keep her DDs from shifting while running! She’s got some great tips about selecting power mesh, altering the lining if you need a bit more room, and even a great new contrast edge finish, too. Read more about her tops here.

She also made the PB Jam leggings and came up with a clever way to keep the hidden back pockets 100% hidden with no exterior topstitching, plus shows how to layout the swirl pieces if you want your contrast fabric print to be 100% continuous along the side seams, too. You can see her tips on the leggings here.

Velosewer's Silver, Check, and Purple Swirls workout gear

In case you think that maybe my patterns that only work for my body, I’m going to be sharing some of the versions that my amazing team of pattern testers have made over the past few months. When selecting testers, I wanted sewists who had made their own workout gear before, partially so I knew they’d be familiar with both sewing stretch fabrics and also what works for them when workout out, but also so they could help compare my designs to previous workout gear they’d made.

First up is Maria, aka Velosewer, who made no less than three versions of my XYT Workout Top and a pair of PB Jam Leggings, too in the short amount of time since I sent the patterns! Apparently the ladies at her gym were so enthusiastic about the tops that they were disappointed they couldn’t just buy them at a store!

Maria is particularly fond of the built-in bra in the XYT Workout Top, so much so that she’s started franken-patterning it into other dresses to get built-in bras everywhere! I love this, as it’s something I never even imagined!

Read more about her versions over on her site, How Good Is That?