I will admit, I feel pretty darned cool having made my own exercise gear.
I’ve been gently pondering making my own exercise gear for a while now. I’ve seen the odd pattern I thought I could use, but nothing really grabbed me. I also have to admit, I haven’t been doing that much exercise in the last couple of years (basically since I graduated and became a full time doctor). But really, the fabric was a real issue – it’s so hard to find good fabric for running in! I’ve kept an eye out and asked in lots of shops, but noone has it. Tried calling a couple of places in Australia and Auckland, but nothing too helpful. Then, last month a few things happened:
- Melissa from Fehr Trade released the Steeplechase Leggings pattern. I WANTED IT and so I decided I had to start looking harder
- I finally thought to call Levana and ask if they had technical fabric – turns out yes, they do.
- And last but not least, I was contacted by Funki Fabrics and offered some fabric to try out in exchange for reviewing it.
Talk about good timing!
Let’s talk about the leggings first. The pattern is designed with some pretty clever seaming that not only give you some damn weird pattern pieces, but also mean that the leggings have no inseams – I never thought they were a problem, but it’s surprising how nice it is to not have them when your legs rub together when you run! It has a separate yoke piece, and an optional pocket, meaning it has only three pattern pieces. This makes them pretty quick to sew up, so long as you match up your notches correctly! I did use contrast fabric (black) for the yokes, but I don’t think you can see it in any of the photos because I prefer a longer top.
I made these in the capri version, but there’s also a “biker” length and a full length. I almost always go with capri for running – shorts never fit well (because my legs don’t go “in” above the knee) and I get too hot in full length. Yep, even in winter – I get hot really quickly! I’ve been known to bike in capri’s and a singlet top in the middle of winter, snow on the ground, because I overheat in any kind of long sleeves.
I made these in the XL as per my measurements, but I think I might try the L next time with an adjustment to make it bigger in the bum – these are a bit big in the waist and the legs. For reference they hit just below my belly button, which is 2″ below my natural waist.
Now the top: after making the cheetah print leggings, I realised I really needed another running top! None of the ones I had would do (I have a leopard print on, some that are horrible to run in, and my two trial tops). So I used one of my new fabrics from Levana (a knit nylon) to make a matching XYT top.
I made the “Y” version, in a size M at the bust graded to size XL at the hips. I prefer my tops to be firm in the top and loose around the hips – so I have almost got the fit right, but not quite. It REALLY annoys me how you can see the leggings yoke seam poking through, especially because my lower abdomen is the part of my body I’m most self-conscious about. The hem is also really dodgy. The buldge in the center of my back there is a plastic bag in the pocket, for the dog.
Rather than use regular elastic as per the pattern (which is what I did for the first two versions), and because I didn’t have any fold-over-elastic, I used strips of leftover cheetah fabric to make binding. This was pretty easy to do and looks pretty awesome, in my opinion, even if it may be a little over-the-top.
Now lets talk fabric. It’s important to note that the Funki Fabric stuff is not moisture wicking, but also that it didn’t seem to matter too much, at least for the leggings. It’s a medium-heavy weight fabric easily suited for leggings, but not too heavy for a top, I don’t think. The digital printing is pretty darned vibrant – and while it’s only printed on one side, it doesn’t go see-through when you pull like some do.
The feel is a bit odd. It’s a bit shiny, and the fabric grabs at your hand a bit when you stroke over it in one direction. I’m not sure quite how to describe it! I want to say it’s what I think “figure skating outfits” would be made out of. My overlocker cut and sewed through it easily.
Given the high quality and crazy amount of prints, I’d definitely recommend it for exercising in even though it’s not moisture wicking. Trust me, I sweat when I exercise and I was not uncomfortable – you may notice it was raining in some of these photos and the fabric stayed dry.
Most of the fabrics are about 18 GBP, which is equal to about $35 NZD right now. The shipping is about the same to get to NZ. If you’re wanting to use a mail-forwarding service like YouShop, 1m of the fabric weighs about 350g (so it would be $12 NZD on top of whatever it costs to get to the depot).
I was lucky enough to get four different fabrics from Funki Fabrics which I’ll post about in the new few weeks. They were provided to me for free but, really, I would be happy paying for them (especially when you consider a pair of black running pants that don’t fit me well cost at least $60 NZD). If you have any questions about it, please let me know!
The top fabric, as mentioned, is a nylon knit from Levana – so it’s made in NZ. It cost $8/m (can’t remember if that included GST or not, sorry!). I also got a cotton-elastane ($10/m) and a supplex (yesss locally made supplex! $25/m), both in black, which I’ll be making and trialling soon. Again, the nylon isn’t moisture wicking but it stayed dry. It’s light weight (would be too thin for leggings), has good four way stretch, and is slightly shiny on one side.
So. Do you make your own exercise gear, or do you prefer to buy it (if you exercise at all)? I finally bought a new running bra so I’m feeling good about all the new gear – I’m no longer running in 5-7 year old gear! Now I’m just on the look out for light-up sneakers… you know the ones that light up when you take a step?
Fabrics: 80% Polyester 20% Elastane, provided free; and nylon knit from Levana, $8/m
Notions: Thread (stash) and elastic from Cordall, 50c
The first lot of photos were taken at the dog beach at low tide; the extra fellow is our friend Mike, who came up to visit. The other photos were taken at the Pupu Springs Hydro Walk – I ran but it was so steep I was no more than 50m ahead of the boys who were walking, so they were able to take photos for me.