Posted on Saturday the 24th August 2019 by Wanderstitch
Sarah from Wanderstitch here again, and this time I'm bringing you something completely different - activewear!
Even though I do actually go to the gym, I've not made any activewear before - it just seemed so... scary. You need technical fabrics, different seams that stretch along with the fabric - the whole thing just seemed a little bit daunting. Now that I've dipped my toe, I can definitely say it's nowhere near as scary as I thought it was!
When I saw that Minerva were stocking activewear fabrics from Modelo, I thought that now was the time I should get over my fear and make some gym leggings. I chose a fern pattern that's lovely and bright.
(There's also some leopard print which I've definitely got my eye on too!)
There's actually quite a choice of activewear sewing patterns out there - the big pattern brands all have several patterns (check out Minerva's range here), and there are some activewear-specific brands such as Greenstyle Creations and Fehr Trade. I went with the Avery Leggings from Helen's closet - not a specific activewear pattern per se, but one that many people have used for workout leggings.
What appealed to me about this pattern is the high waist - all my running tights and gym wear absolutely HAS to have a high waist, which I find most comfortable. You can make the Averys out of regular cotton jersey too, for everyday wear - you don't have to use activewear fabrics.
You can get these leggings out of just over a metre of fabric, and you don't need loads of buttons or zips or anything - just a metre or so of elastic for the waistband and you're good to go. Prep time is minimal - there are only four pattern pieces (leg, gusset, front waistband and back waistband) which means you can get sewing quickly!
I'd recommend getting a stretch (or jersey) needle to sew these with so that you don't split the fibres of the fabric. This will also help to avoid 'skipped stitches' as well. Regular thread can be used to sew with, but Seraflock Thread is also available which is a bit softer against the skin - perhaps a good shout if you're using these leggings for running, or spin, or other high-friction activities.
You can complete the leggings pretty quickly, so they're good as a quick-win - I was snatching a few minutes here and there but if you sat down with an afternoon to spare, you'd definitely get these finished.
I have an hourglass shape, and according to the measurement charts, I hit a size medium at the waist, and a large at the hip. I used a curved ruler to trace a line between the two sizes, cutting a medium in the waistbands and top of the leg, increasing to a large for the hip.
The instructions are written with the assumption that you don't have an overlocker - the main seams of the leggings are stretch stitch, with some zigzag stitching on the waistband. You can, of course, finish the edges of the seam allowances with an overlocker to keep them nice and tidy, but this isn't a requirement. I used a coverstitch machine to hem the legs, but you also could use a zig zag stitch (as the pattern instructs) and it would do the job just as well.
I feel that the leggings are drafted for a slim-ish leg, so if like me you've got quite solid thighs I'd recommend going up a size. I think for the next pair, I will go up a size all over, making a large at the waist and an extra-large on the legs, because the seams are straining a fair bit, and I'm a little bit nervous that they might break if I pushed them too far.
The fabric is really good quality and print - it doesn't go all white when you stretch it like some fabrics too, and crucially if you're using these for gym wear they don't go see-through if you bend down either! I'd definitely use more from the Modelo range based on this experience. I'm very happy with my Avery leggings, and I can absolutely say that the high waist makes them the comfiest leggings I've ever worn in my life! The negative ease in the pattern also ensures that the leggings stay put - not once while wearing them did I have to pull up the waistband as I do with store-bought leggings.
You can get many activewear patterns that take advantage of colour blocking, and these would be perfect to use with the Modelo solid colours of activewear fabric available - in fact, I think this might be the next step in my activewear journey! They're so comfy that I'll be making some pairs from cotton jersey for the winter, for sure.
If you've been on the fence thinking about sewing yourself some gym leggings - I can honestly say GO FOR IT! It's easier than you think :)
Sarah // Wanderstitch