I’ve had the idea of this top in my head for quite a while, and the fabric in my stash for even longer. I really wanted to show how versatile a design the Raglan Tee in my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book can really be, and that you can still introduce a back pocket into it even if the invisible zipper technique shown in the book is a bit too tricky.
Happy Friday everyone! The weather is so drab and grey here in London that I thought it was worth posting about this little ray of sunshine I made myself last winter. Normally I can track down when I’ve made something by the odd in-progress photo on my phone, but I must’ve whipped this one up very quickly last year because there’s no trace of anything in progress! But, to be fair, I used the Raglan Tee design from my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book, which is a very quick make indeed!
I designed the Split Shorts in my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book to have the greatest mobility possible to minimise the chance of the inseams riding up while running (a really common issue with running shorts!). These shorts do show a bit of thigh, but the back of the shorts stay close to the body, and the inseams really do stay put. In fact, they can be mistaken for a skort or running skirt while you’re in motion, and they look really feminine!
But some of you may find that the Split Shorts as drafted in the book are a little more revealing than you’d like, and the good news is that there are two easy ways to adjust for this! Note that by making these less revealing, though, you are limiting the mobility of the leg, so be sure to make incremental steps and sew and test your muslins along the way to make sure you can still move effectively in them. But if you’re planning to wear these for an activity that doesn’t require the extreme amount of forward leg motion needed for running, then modesty may be more important to you than the range of motion anyway!
Today I want to give you a little pattern hack that can help if you find that the opening edge of your Active Jacket (or Cycling Top) from my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book is a bit too snug. This can especially be an issue for the smaller sizes, or if your fabric has very little crosswise stretch.
This is a really easy adjustment to make, either after you’ve drafted the collar according to the instructions on page 80 (or page 58 for the Cycling Top), or after you’ve already got your finished pieces cut out.
One of my favourite things about the block-based approach to the designs in my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book is that you can use just about any block patterns as your starting point – not just the ones I’ve included in the book.
As I say on page 16, “The included blocks are designed for women in the sizes shown in these size charts, but if you’re not a woman or your body doesn’t match any of the measurements in the size charts, using your own block means that these designs could work for children, men, disabled people, trans people and non-binary folks, those who prefer modest clothing and those whose measurements are beyond the size range here. There really is no limit: if you’ve got a body, you can exercise, and if you can sew, you can make activewear.”
It’s one thing for me to say all of this, but it’s another entirely for me to show you. So today I’m going to show you how to take my men’s leggings pattern, the Lightspeed Leggings, and use them as the starting point for the Active Leggings in my book. (Scroll down for a discount code for the Lightspeed Leggings, too!!)
I absolutely love the Winter Base Layer for cold weather exercising – I’ve both run and cycled in mine and I get so many compliments whenever I wear them! But with a few simple steps you can also change both the sleeves and neck to make it even more versatile.
Today I’ll be showing you how you can use the hand mitts from the Surf to Summit Top pattern instead of the included thumb cuffs, and also how to extend the neckline into a turtleneck (aka polo neck) if you’d prefer.
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.
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!
Today I’d like to show you how you can change up the look of your “Sew Your Own Activewear” Vest Top by simply changing the way you finish off the neckline and armhole edges. Elastic edges are super important in activewear as they hold the fabric close to the body, reducing the risk of chafing, but also making it less likely to get caught on things (a real safety risk when climbing!), or exposing yourself accidentally (hello downward dog!), and also to keep contents from falling out of your pockets, too.
These methods are great ones to have in your sewing skillset as you can also use them on the Crop Top (which we’ll be looking at more next week!) as well as my XYT Workout Top pattern. All three of these methods can be done on your basic sewing machine, and once you get the hang of them, you’ll find all sorts of uses!