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.

Two announcements

Just a quick update this week, but I’ve got two bits of news that I wanted to share with you all…

First up is that the first FehrTrade Print Club fabric design – the “Head for the Hills” Laurie King print is now available to print from Digital Fabrics AU! Thank you all for your patience, as it took a while to get it set up, but future Print Clubs should be available without nearly as much delay. Honestly, I hadn’t forgotten about you, Australia!!

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).

Turquoise Threshold Shorts and a Purple Zigzag XYT

I hope you all have been enjoying all the book reviews while I’m away on holiday! I thought I’d end this week with some photos of one of my favourite pairs of Threshold Shorts that I sewed myself. These are made in some turquoise/teal aerated polyester and pale “apple green” FOE, both from Sewing Chest. It’s an unusual colour combination but one that I totally love!

Even better is that I realised that the teal matches the purple/citrine/teal colourway of our Fehr Trade x Laurie King fabric designs really well! I sewed up a sample of my XYT Workout Top pattern in the “Zigzag” pattern to show them off together. It’d be rude not to!

Let’s talk about the top first – as I mentioned with my first, ombré samples, the Spoonflower tech fabrics have no vertical stretch, so you’ve got to add some into the patterns. I chose to demonstrate the super-easy cheat’s way, which was to just draw two horizontal lines (one above the waist and one below), and spread these out when I cut the fabric!

I separated each by 2cm and this seems just about right for me. It also has the bonus of making it easy to stripe match the front and back, as you get a little “window” for the zigzags!

I chose to use the Y back here and I even paid attention and switched coverstitching threads from purple to citrine so they blend in nicely. You can’t see it, but I’ve also used purple power mesh for the built in bra, so it’s a very attractive little running top!

Fehr Trade x Laurie King fabric – first samples

Thank you all so, so much for your enthusiasm and compliments on the launch of our fabric designs last week! I’ve been swamped with work (which is great!) but managed to squeeze in some time to sew up the first two samples – a VNA Top and Duathlon Shorts (booty length) in the coordinating “Maps” citrine & black colourway.

So if you buy one yard of the “Maps” citrine/black VNA fabric and one yard of the “Maps” citrine/black Duathlon fabric, this is what you get! Cool, eh? There’s more photos of me modelling at the end, but I know loads of you were waiting to see finished versions first before taking the plunge!

Having cut out and sewn both, I took some photos throughout the process, and have a few tips as well. The previous post shows you how to lay out your pieces onto the different zones, but in real life, I know my makeshift cutting table (err, desk!) isn’t big enough to hold the full yardage.

So the first thing I recommend is to cut the fabric apart along the different zones and trim the white borders.

This makes it a lot easier to match up the edges so you can fold the zones in half and cut on the fold (or in the case of the Duathlon shorts, cut two layers at once). It also means I can fit the fabric onto my cutting table!

Introducing… FehrTrade x Laurie King fabric designs!

By far the single biggest question I get with my exercise sewing patterns is “Where do I buy good fabric?”. Despite compiling a list of global stockists of exercise fabric, I totally get your frustration – it’s getting a lot easier to buy nice colours and quality wicking lycra, but prints are still difficult to get a hold of, and when you can, it’s often costly and difficult to match colours.

But what if you could buy just one yard of fabric and be able to sew up one garment with coordinating colours and stylish prints, and mix and match to make outfits that coordinate together, too?

I’m super pleased to announce that this is exactly what I and illustrator Laurie King have made happen! Laurie is an avid cyclist and dad to two small boys, and I’ve been a massive fan of his hand-drawn style since before he made that amazing couch on ITV’s The Cycle Show!

I’ve had this idea brewing for about 6 months now, but it took a design session with Laurie before the idea really came to life. Since I know the exact size and shape of all the pieces for my sewing patterns, I’ve created “zones” of print and colour on one yard of fabric using two of his prints in three different colourways. These prints are exclusively for your fabrics, too!! So there’s very little chance you’ll be exercising and catch someone across the room wearing the same thing!

The first collection is comprised of two prints – “Zigzag” and “Maps”, using three different colourways – “citrine/black”, “purple/citrine/teal”, and an “earthy” mix of forest green, slate blue, and muted red, which should be perfect for Fall and Winter. The idea is that we’ll be changing these up and releasing different designs a few times a year, too, so we’re open to ideas on colour combinations you’re loving!