I’ve been on the Aussie pattern company StyleArc‘s mailing list for a while now, and I always like to keep an eye on their new patterns, but their fabric options have never really appealed to me, to be honest (I’ve got to really like a fabric to pay for it to be shipped halfway around the world!).
Until March, that is, when they sent round details of their new range of “cut & sew” leggings, printed directly onto activewear knits:
I’ll be honest – I was as intrigued by the concept as I was the prints, and for $60AU (£30) shipped, plus the freebie March pattern (knit top Melinda), I was sold. Quality leggings in great prints go for the £80-90 range in London, so for me, £30 was worth a gamble in the name of research. StyleArc had teamed up with a company called Fifth Element for these leggings, which you can also buy ready-made for about £45.
I ordered the “Lalitha” colourway the very next day, and then waited over 6 weeks for delivery (maybe they printed on demand?), but the kit finally arrived in mid-April. I was kinda hoping that the fabric would be printed all over, or in zones, like my collaboration with Laurie King, but you really only get the outline of the legging, with the rest in plain white.
Before I get into my complaints, let me just say that the fabric quality is fabulous – it’s soft, and stretchy, with great recovery and super vibrant colours, and from handling enough activewear fabrics in my day, I believe the that this is proper wicking fabric. I pre-washed it before cutting out, and everything remained vibrant, too.
Now for my gripes:
- There is pretty much zero room for alterations on these – you can shorten the legs, or shorten the rise, but that’s about it. If you need bigger girth anywhere, or longer crotch curve, more rounded bum curve, anything like that – you’re SOL. And god help you if you span more than one size.
- The seam lines are white. This is totally unnecessary (the instructions already say it’s a quarter inch seam allowance) and meant that even when I used the correct seam allowance, my seams had a line of white showing! This was particularly obvious on the crotch seams, so much so that I went back with my overlocker (serger) and stitched it a bit smaller, just to get rid of the white lines!
- The notches face towards the body, not the seam allowance, so they’re visible in the finished garment (see photo below). Why would someone do this?!?
I wasn’t expecting to have elastic included with the fabric, but quite generously, there was a length of 5cm knitted elastic in the kit, too. When I tried on my leggings mid-construction (and noted the white seamlines), I measured the elastic, too, and took off about two inches from their estimate for Size 12. The elastic as-is would’ve been fine for casualwear, but I like my running leggings a bit more secure. I was concerned that these might be more low-rise with the wider elastic, but they actually sit exactly where I prefer my leggings after the elastic was applied, so kudos for that!
StyleArc printed their logo and sizing info in the back, so it’d be folded down inside when the elastic is attached. This was a nice touch, but I felt I still had to add my FehrTrade label back there for habit’s sake – otherwise it’s quite nice as you can tell the back from the front without any chafing risk.
I may have listed a bunch of negatives here, but in actual fact, I totally dig the finished leggings – they’ve got a great, wild print in colours I adore, and they’ll get me a ton of compliments on my runs, I’m fairly confident! Since I’m a really standard shape, the lack of alteration options wasn’t an issue for me, and they only took something like 20 minutes to sew up, too.
I took these leggings for a spin out at Run dem Crew last night and they felt great on the tempo run along the river, too! It’s always a bit of a gamble the first time, especially with an elastic width I’m not used to, but these get two thumbs up. I also paired them with a new teeshirt draft I’ve been playing around with for myself – I’ll go into it more later, but it’s just a basic tee made from all-over reflective DriFit from The Rain Shed (US) (first three entries are what you want and it’s DriFit, NOT super stretchy, and definitely not suitable for leggings!).
Oh and if you need any more summer activewear inspiration, go have a look at my Run Hackney half marathon race report where you can see a pair of colourblocked Duathlon Shorts (with one extra curved seam!) I made last summer and didn’t really blog about. And they matched the race medal!