Stitch Your Own Activewear
Posted in Projects on Tuesday the 9th October 2018 by Vicki Ormerod
I often make my own exercise wear, often using patterns I've developed myself. However I had McCall's 7261
and had already made different versions of the top. I hadn't made the leggings, so reviewing this Cotton/Spandex 4 way stretch Fabric
gave me the chance to try them out in two contrasting colours.
I chose 2m of Jade which is a plain colour and 1m of Anthracite Grey which has a marled finish.
Although I'm really happy with the finished product I realised quite quickly that the two pieces weren't exactly the same cloth, although both fit the description. They weighed about the same, approximately 230gsm which is like a thick T shirt material, however their hand was quite different. The grey is much softer and drapes more than the jade which seems thicker and more stable.
This picture shows how both fabrics are high drape, but the grey drapes more than the jade.
The pattern I wanted to make states that it needs 2 way stretch, however that's misleading as it needs to stretch both across the width and down the length. In the UK that's usually referred to as 4 way stretch, these fabrics are described as "stretching in all directions” which is just what I needed.
As I was making very close fitting yoga leggings I decided to test the stretch of both fabrics. There is a stretch guide on the side of the pattern, however you can measure percentage stretch really easily. Its important to fold the fabric, because a cut edge will stretch more than a solid piece.
Measure 10cm of fabric and stretch it so that when you let go it'll still return to it's original size.
The grey fabric stretched an additional 4cm so has 40% stretch, whereas the jade has 60% stretch.
I expect the jade has more spandex/Lycra making it more stretchy and thicker. Both fabrics stretched enough for the pattern I wanted to make.
I'd always planned to use the Jade fabric for the top of the yoga leggings, I think the grey would become see through if stretched over my hips! To be really sure I went for the bib and braces approach cutting the top section twice and sewing as a double layer. This worked really well as it makes the leggings really supportive round my body and thighs!
Having decided how I was going to use the two colours I was ready to experiment with the seams. I usually use a 4 thread overlock stitch for active wear as it's strong and stretchy. However making samples is always worthwhile to check that neither needle thread is going to snap when stretched in use.
What I really wanted to do was use my basic overlock machine to do flatlock seams and hems.
I experimented with different tension and stitch length settings and was really happy with the results using the left needle and both loopers. These seams and especially the hem is really stretchy and I'm happy to exercise in this outfit.
There isn't a short sleeved option on the pattern, so I shortened the sleeve pattern. I had to shorten the leg length quite a lot. I split the amount in two using the marked line on the pattern piece and shortening at the ankle. I also added elastic into the wide waist band for some added security as I don't want the leggings slipping down!
To get a flat join I matched the edges of the elastic together and used a 3 step zig zag onto a length of seam tape. Next I use a small zig zag to stitch one edge of the elastic to the fold of the waist band.
I folded the band over the elastic and machine basted close to the other edge of the elastic. Once this edge is overlocked to the top of the leggings it won't matter if the machine basting snaps!
I'm really pleased with the fabric and what I've made from it. It is very warm so I might have to wait for cooler weather to get loads of use at my regular Monday Zumba class.
This is a great quality fabric and would make heavier quality T shirts or lightweight hoodies and certainly good for leggings. The softer grey fabric would make dresses and tops that need to drape, however I’d find the thicker fabric a bit too solid.
Thanks for reading,