I’ve been toying with the idea of making my own active wear for some time now. I made a few swimming successful attempts, had a couple of disasters and quietly shelved the idea at the back of last year.
I think the thing I find hardest is getting hold of the kind of fabrics I see being used by the sportswear retailers. It’s ok saying it’s Lycra, but quite often it’s a certain weight (sturdier for the leggings I like, super drapey for tops) or it’s more breathable than what I’ve bought online… anyway, it’s an area where I don’t feel I know what I’m looking for so I get scared.
But at the start of lockdown, I realised that I really needed something to get me out of the house and keep me sane, to burn off some of that excess energy that was accruing from the stress of rising early, starting work before I’m usually out of bed, taking over childcare at lunchtime, attempting to homeschool the children, prevent the house from looking too horrific for the sake of all our sanity, worry about relatives we weren’t seeing…… yeah. So I decided that I would finally give Couch to 5k a go. Because if I can’t find time to do it when the husband is permanently at home and can keep an eye on the kids, when can I?
I’ve surprised myself by actually getting to the end of the programme, running 5k and feeling so much better about myself and life generally. And, of course, as I realised I was enjoying it, my thoughts turned to making some tops.
I like a less fitted top for running: I don’t want to be tugging a tight top down over my belly on the go, thank you! So when the Made It Patterns Rest Vest popped up on Instagram, I was sold.
The pattern’s great: a really lovely neckline and then just enough ease to skim rather than cling! The instructions are great and there are so few pattern pieces. And colour blocking is encouraged, meaning this is a fab pattern for using up random bits of fabric. Win all round!
I used some black Lycra from myfabrics.co.uk, paired with some activewear jersey from Stoff & Stil. It came together really easily, and fits really well.
The only down with this is I find the black Lycra quite heavy when I’m running, which makes it a little sweaty! So my search resumes for better activewear fabric.
I had been dithering over the Made It Strip Tee pattern for a while, and just as I was about to buy it, it turned up as the free pattern in Simply Sewing. Which is always a good thing! Then a well timed Instagram post from Sue Young pointed me towards Frumble fabric and I picked up some blue and black breatheable activewear jersey.
The fabric is great, just what I was looking for; lightweight, drapey, breatheable – I love it! My machine wasn’t quite so keen on seeing the hem on it, with many skipped stitches: I changed needles a few times and slowed the speed right down and we eventually got there!
The strip tee pattern has an optional contrast strip down the back, and it occurred to me that some reflective tape might look good down there. I ordered some from Stoff & Stil and when it came, it turned out to be a narrower than the pattern called for (yes, I know I could have read the pattern properly in advance!). Thankfully the pattern has option cut lines for both with and without the contrast strip, so I cut the back on the fold and then stitched the length of tape down the centre back before assembling the top.
If anything, this was an even speedier sew! Shoulder seams. Side seams, neckband, hems. Done. If I hadn’t had such a nightmare with my machine and the fabric, this would have been finished in well under an hour.
Having tested it this morning (apologies, I should have taken photos before my run, not after!) I can confirm that it’s exactly what I was after. And I love the style: I think I may have missed the boat for this summer, but I’ll be making these in a viscose jersey to wear with jeans next year!
So it seems my luck with activewear is finally changing! I’m really happy with both these styles and will definitely be making them again. So let’s hope they keep me running!