Pattern Review’s Sewing Bee round 3 – activewear

Well that was a massive surprise! I was absolutely convinced that round 2 would be as far as I could get. I really was not expecting to see my name on the list of people getting through to round 3, but here I am – well, was. I won’t draw it out but I’m not through to round 4. I’m 100% ok with that. It was getting hard work! I am still delighted with how far I’ve come though so I’ll tell you all about my round 3 project…

The brief was to sew an activewear outfit. What activity you do doesn’t matter. The point of the challenge was that it was to fit around your life. So, if your activity is to chase your children around all day then you could come up with an outfit specifically for that.

When this challenge was announced I knew that this was exactly what I needed. I’ve been running regularly for about 5 years now, and until I injured my calf last month, I was running 4 or 5 days a week. After I hurt my calf, I got a cold from hell and then I hurt my ribs and then the weather was really bad and then I just really couldn’t be bothered! I’m hoping that making this outfit will motivate me to get back out there before I undo all my hard work.

My activewear outfit consists of two garments, both from the book Sew Your Own Activewear. I’ve had this book for about two years now, so it seemed silly not to use it for this challenge. There are four simple ‘blocks’ in the book. The close-fitting top, the loose-fitting top, the close-fitting bottoms and the loose-fitting bottoms. All the garments in the book come from ‘hacking’ the simpler blocks. I used the close-fitting top block as a simple t-shirt for my round 1 entry.

Patterns taken from the book Sew Your Own Activewear

Whilst I waited on my fabric delivery, I got to work changing the basic blocks into the ‘raglan t-shirt’ pattern (adapted from the loose fitting top block) and the active leggings pattern (adapted from the close fitting bottoms block). The raglan t-shirt was a more complicated hack than the leggings. The pattern pieces I ended up with looked very different to the starting point.

I didn’t have any suitable fabric in my stash, or so I thought! Looking through my wardrobe (and my husband’s wardrobe too) I realised that we had so many t-shirts that we’ve got from participating in our local 10K, and no-one would mind me repurposing them for this challenge. The t-shirts were a great source of technical fabrics in some interesting colours. I also liked the idea that the t-shirts had stylised images of my local area (Scarborough, North Yorkshire) and I wanted to incorporate them into my garment. The Yorkshire coast 10K is a very popular race around these parts, and when I’m running around the sea front, I’m always seeing other runners in their free race t shirts. I’m looking forward to them doing a double take because there’s no doubt where the fabric to make my top came from!

Someone can’t count – spot the mistake!

The t-shirts were nowhere near enough fabric though, so I also risked an online purchase. I heard a lot of good things about Italian Matte Lycra so I
bought some from Fabworks. It’s great quality but the ‘raisin’ colour was a lot browner than I was expecting. This did cause me to re-think my colour scheme because I was originally going to chop up a blue t shirt, but it looked awful!

This outfit (the leggings in particular) will fill a genuine need in my wardrobe. Despite it being the middle of winter, the running leggings (shop bought I’m afraid) I usually wear come just below the knee. I tried some long leggings and as soon as I start running, they fall down! I’m convinced it’s because they’re far too tight around my calves and that’s what’s causing the issue. If I roll them up, I don’t have the problem. This was the perfect opportunity to get some seasonally appropriate leggings that actually fit me.

I sewed a size S for both garments, although for the top I did make some style line changes. Because I had two sleeves made from two different contrast fabrics, I wanted some extra panels of colour at the back for balance so I pieced these together with the main fabric.

left image is the front, right image is the back

The raglan t shirt has a concealed pocket in the back. It’s not that concealed really as it makes the fabric hang slightly differently. However, I’m very pleased with how the invisible zip went in for this – the first time I’ve ever put one in knit fabric!


This garment took the whole of my day off for me to complete. It’s never taken so long sewing a t-shirt! Thankfully the leggings came together much more quickly.

For the bottoms I made things a little simpler by removing the lower leg panels suggested in the book. I didn’t think this would look right in the colours I chose, and I’m not sure I had enough fabric to do this anyway. I sewed a size S, but I did a 1cm full calf adjustment. This adjustment gave me the room I needed in the calf but it was too baggy in the knee and the ankle, so I had to adjust for that after the garment was made.

The panel on the left hand side are made into pockets (there’s two) and the top pocket is big enough to hold my phone. In fact, the top pocket width and depth was based on the size of my phone. I followed the instructions in the book to do this. The right side panel is simply seamed – didn’t think I needed any more pockets!

Wonky photo – this is what happens when your 11 year takes an ‘artistic’ photo.

I’m so happy with the fit of both of these garments. I don’t like garments that are too tight. They make me feel self concious and restricted. The fit on these are perfect for me. I’m really looking forward to trying them out – the picture below doesn’t count!

3 thoughts on “Pattern Review’s Sewing Bee round 3 – activewear

  1. Pingback: Meet the Blogger – Appleby Makes | Simple Sew Blog

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