I’ve had the idea of using the Yoga Bottoms from my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book for non-activewear use for some time, but that they can stretch to party wear surprised even me! I included these in my Fall Sewing Plans and even though I’m posting in February, I actually finished them in plenty of time to wear to my office’s Christmas party last year.
Current fashions in activewear are pretty much exclusively for a narrow, close-fitting ankle on leggings, but this wasn’t always the case. Just as in the wider fashion world, activewear follows current trends and what goes up must come down and wider legs will surely come back around again! When I started running in the early 2000s, my first few pairs of running trousers were all bootcut, and I know there are people out there who prefer a wider ankle opening on their activewear, too. After all, do we not sew in order to have our clothing exactly the way we want it?
Luckily, altering the Yoga Bottoms in order to have a straight leg or bootcut is really simple. As this design doesn’t change much from the block below the knee, you can actually make this alteration at any stage before cutting the fabric, but if you’d like to do the same to, say, the Active Leggings, you’ll want to widen the lower legs of you block before following the pattern change instructions from the book.
Let’s all take a moment to talk about gussets – crotch gussets in particular, and what they can and can’t do, because there is just so much misinformation floating around about them. A gusset is a separate piece of fabric sewn into a seam, most commonly seen on underarms (especially in vintage styles) and on the crotch of trousers.
The purpose of a gusset is to increase the range of motion of the limbs nearby – so in the case of the vintage blouse, its because a dolman sleeve doesn’t really allow the arm to raise naturally due to the shape of the bodice/sleeve piece and the limitations on the non-stretch fabric. So a small gusset is added to the underarm will allow the wearer to raise her arms. The same principle applies to crotch gussets – the purpose of a crotch gusset is to increase the range of motion of the legs.
It’s a fresh new week and it’s now the turn to look at the other design featured on the cover of “Sew Your Own Activewear” – the Yoga Bottoms! When I was developing this design I really wanted an easy-to-sew pair of leggings with features specifically designed for yoga and other activities which need a wide range of movement.
One of the biggest misconceptions about sewing your own activewear seems to be that you need to have a serger/overlocker to do so. Even people who don’t sew end up asking me about this immediately after they find out what I do, and it’s just not true! You really can make sturdy and functional activewear even if you just have a regular sewing machine, and there’s no better time to get started than right now!
On my stall at the Great British Sewing Bee Live show last September I had a list of about ten different activewear techniques I was ready to demonstrate to visitors. I showed a fair few how to do the basic three elastic edge finishes, but I pretty just spent all my time showing people how easy to is to sew basic activewear seams using a regular sewing machine – over and over again!