Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Performance Spandex Dunbar Top and Pacific Leggings

One of my big sewing goals this year was to try sewing my own activewear as it is the one type of clothing that my wardrobe is fairly lacking in and which I do get a fair bit of wear out of yet have never tried to make. Why keep making party dresses which only make it out of the house once or twice when I can make something that I will really put through it's paces and which looks interesting and challenging to sew to boot!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Dunbar Sports Top & Pacific Leggings in Mood Fabrics Max-Dri Wicking Performance Spandex

Towards the end of last year I spotted the new range of Max-Dri Wicking Anti-Microbial Performance Spandex on the Mood Fabrics website and that was just the push I needed to get started. Ambitiously envisioning a handmade mix and match sports wardrobe I ordered substantial lengths of the black and grey and shorter pieces of the neon pink and orange, with the aim of using them as accent colours in the form of panels and trims. I'm glad I went for the smaller quantities of these colours as although I might consider wearing a top in the pink, the orange practically glows! That may suit some for sportswear but it isn't quite 'me'!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Dunbar Sports Top & Pacific Leggings in Mood Fabrics Max-Dri Wicking Performance Spandex

I wasn't sure what to expect when my package arrived as I've never worked with a 'technical' or performance fabric before. They're quite slippery and like a very resilient form of the lycra found in most fabric stores. It's quite shiny on one side and has more of a matt finish on the other which I chose to use as my right side. It's got a good amount of stretch in both directions with great recovery. I had expected it to be slightly thicker but once I'd sewn it up it was the perfect weight for this type of sports garment. I was concerned that for the leggings in particular it might be a bit thin and that it might get a bit see-through when stretched (let's face it, nobody wants that!) but it's totally fine.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Dunbar Sports Top & Pacific Leggings in Mood Fabrics Max-Dri Wicking Performance Spandex

I sewed everything on my machine using a stretch needle and narrow zig zag stitch but finished any visible seam allowances on my overlocker, trimming them down as much as I dared. I used a stretch twin needle to finish both of the hems which worked beautifully. Pressing this type of fabric doesn't have all that much of an effect but I did give each seam a good steam and squash with my hand to help them sit flat and look more professional.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Dunbar Sports Top & Pacific Leggings in Mood Fabrics Max-Dri Wicking Performance Spandex

Around the same time that I spotted these fabrics Sewaholic Patterns released their Vancouver Collection of activewear patterns including the Dunbar Top and Pacific Leggings which are what I have made here. My sportswear is mainly worn for running and a bit of yoga (I'm not a gym kinda girl!) and I'm delighted to say that these patterns are ideal for both. As I've come to expect from any Sewaholic pattern (Tasia has guided me through my first dress, coat and now sportswear!) they are cracking well thought out patterns with professional looking RTW design elements which make you feel so accomplished when you've figured it out and sewn them! What really appealed to me about the top is that it includes a power net shelf bra. It only requires a tiny bit of mesh but I ordered a yard of this Black Shaper Power-Mesh as I had a feeling I'd want to be making more! I'm now tempted to buy some of the nude to make bodice interiors out of on fitted dresses. The construction of the shelf includes openings to insert bra cups or removable padding. I love this feature and it provides enough support for light exercise if you are not particularly large in the bust but for running I'll definitely be wearing a sports bra with it.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Dunbar Sports Top & Pacific Leggings in Mood Fabrics Max-Dri Wicking Performance Spandex

It was certainly tricky to do the binding around the straps of the top in the the slippery spandex but I got there in the end! It required a lot of pins as no amount of pressing would keep this fabric in place. I was actually a bit confused about the binding process and would love to read a bit about this on another blog. I'm not entirely sure I've done it right as the edge doesn't end up bound which seams odd but I've read over the instructions again and again and looked at the sample pictures and it all looks right.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Dunbar Sports Top & Pacific Leggings in Mood Fabrics Max-Dri Wicking Performance Spandex

The bound edges get pretty thick with all those layers of spandex so I got to put my lovely new appliqué scissors from Ernest Wright & Son to good use grading those seam allowances! They were a Christmas present from my Mum and Stepdad and they really do make trimming tight edges so easy. It would be very easy with this binding to snip into the wrong piece but these made it a breeze. I highly recommend adding a pair of these to your scissor collection!

Making the version of the leggings with the zip pocket in the rear of the waistband was an easy choice for me, it's an essential when I run and this pocket is a great size for phone or keys although I haven't actually tested it with my phone in yet to see how it holds up to the weight in there. I will absolutely be making a pair without the pocket though for yoga as I love how comfortably they fit and the way they are cut to sit on the body. They do seem slightly long for a cropped variation but let's face it I don't have the longest legs and this fabric does have a healthy amount of stretch in both directions. As Sewaholic Patterns are drafted for a pear shape and I'm more of an hourglass I cut the size 4 leggings but the size 6 top. I feel like the top has turned out a little large; I prefer quite tight fitting activewear, at least in this style. Next time I think I will go down a size but this will absolutely do for now; the shelf bra still gives a decent amount of support.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Dunbar Sports Top & Pacific Leggings in Mood Fabrics Max-Dri Wicking Performance Spandex

I deliberated for some time over whether to use a pink zip or contrast black. In the end I couldn't find a pink zip bright enough to match the spandex so I went with the contrast black which was definitely the right choice as I feel like it ties the garment together and looks quite ready to wear. I almost regretted my choice when it came to inserting the zip though as trying to keep nice, clean and straight edges and topstitching in this slippery spandex was not particularly fun! The finished result isn't perfect but considering it was my first try at sewing this sort of garment and working with this type of fabric I'm satisfied. The fusible web that's required to stabilise the edges where the zip is inserted is definitely essential to provide some stability. I was worried that I had stretched out these seams and those crossing the ends of the zip as I sewed and that that would mean that this piece would not match up with the interior waistband piece but it all turned out fine.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Dunbar Sports Top & Pacific Leggings in Mood Fabrics Max-Dri Wicking Performance Spandex

For a garment which looks so simple when worn there is actually quite a bit involved in the construction of them even without the pocket. Reading the instructions for the gusset caused a lot of head scratching but it was a case of them not making sense until I had those parts of the garment in front of me and ready to pin or sew. I'm not sure I did it quite right as a couple of the notches seemed to be slightly redundant...but it worked! The pattern also has you ease a piece of narrow elastic along the seam allowance of the top edge of the waistband which means that this section sits really comfortably and snuggly across the hips.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Dunbar Sports Top & Pacific Leggings in Mood Fabrics Max-Dri Wicking Performance Spandex

Sewing up these garments in a slippery spandex or lycra definitely requires you to have a knack with handling fabric so I'd say they were an intermediate project. The leggings could probably be tackled by a confident beginner if you omitted the pocket and used fabric with a softer/grippier texture. I had some trouble with pieces shifting around which you can see in the pink section of the top where things are twisting out of shape slightly. I'll take some more time over the basting step next time. Perhaps engaging my walking foot would have been useful.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Sewaholic Dunbar Sports Top & Pacific Leggings in Mood Fabrics Max-Dri Wicking Performance Spandex

Despite neither item being quite perfect I couldn't be prouder of them for a first attempt and know they are going to get a lot of wear. I've got plenty of each of the colours left so now I know a little more about what I'm doing with them I can't wait to get stuck into making more activewear. I'm definitely planning a cropped version of the top and at least one full length pair of the leggings, perhaps with neon orange accents this time! Has anyone got any other sportswear patterns they have tried and would recommend?


27 comments:

  1. These look so professional! Well done!!

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    1. Thanks Sonja! Not sure they look all that professional up close but still pretty happy!

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  2. Your so brave sewing active wear! the idea of that much stretch just makes nervous! Looks fabulous!
    frankie
    http://www.knitwits-owls.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. It made me nervous too Frankie! But actually once I'd played around with it a bit it was totally fine! Thank you!

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  3. I am so impressed with how neat your stitching is, inside and out. Very professional. I love the entire outfit.

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    1. Thank you very much! There was quite a bit of unpicking involved to get it looking tidy but I'm pleased I persevered! Thank you

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  4. It looks great! Definitely appears store bought. And I'm not just saying that because I'm new to sewing. :)
    I ordered a swatch from Mood of the black anti-micro fabric (Item #308547) Is this the one you used? I have it in front of me and it just seems so thin and see-through. But looking at your pictures it doesn't appear that way at all. That's why I never went through with ordering it.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! Sorry not to reply to your question sooner! I actually thought the same thing when I arrived and I was worried that it would get very sheer when stretched out but it's seen up beautifully and I'm not worried about it at all now. The recovery is great so I would definitely recommend it

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  5. That looks great! And you've got me thinking "maybe I should make that?", as if I have the need for yet another project in my heap of should haves.
    But anyway - very professional looking, with the matching pink accents and all. :)

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    1. Ah I think that's the best compliment! When someone wants to make something similar! I hope you get time to give it a try, great pattern! Thank you very much

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  6. Great review Fiona, Love the detail you have included and such a good result too!

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    1. Thanks Kerry! There was so much to both of these patterns and new to me about the fabric that I sure had a lot to talk about!

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  7. Wow Fiona this is an amazing set! Congrats - I have worked with some difficult fabrics but never this stuff, I am sure it is super tricky.
    Since I bought my walking foot I practically never take it off - I find it helpful with almost everything - in fact I think the only time I do is for sewing in zips. The only thing that bugs me about it is that it obscures the first seam guide marking:(....

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    1. I think that's the only reason I don't keep mine on the machine the whole time too! I find it easier to be accurate with a normal foot. Will definitely employ it next time I make this though! It was quite tricky...but not the worst I've ever worked with!

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  8. It looks brilliant! I'm still quite new and recently encountered a poly stretch fabric that even stretch needles couldn't seem to pierce consistently. I used a walking foot on reduced foot pressure and a triple zig zag, but it was not much better. It's been consigned to the scrap heap now as I just couldn't wear it, all the fabric gathered up and stretching the seams meant the thread ripped. I might go back another day once I've played around a lot more. This was an inspiring read!

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    1. Ah I hope maybe it's inspired you to give it another go! Some fabrics are inexplicably tricky under the machine. Sometimes it's worth trying other needle types even if they aren't supposed to be right for your fabric, maybe a ballpoint or a different thickness? I also sometimes find that the thread itself can make a real difference with skipped stitches, I have no idea why but maybe try that!

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  9. These are so cute! Great job.

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    1. Thanks Claire, I'm really pleased with this little outfit!

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  10. great post! love your details on the construction as usual! i'm curious, how long did it take to cut out the pieces then sew?

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    1. Oo this is a tricky question! I did my usual trick of sewing in stages so it's hard to judge and I also cut them out at the same time as some other projects...I'd say the top probably took about 6 hours as I had quite a bit of figuring out to do and the leggings about 4...without the pocket much less!

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  11. These look great - you did a wonderful job on them! That top looks like something I'd want to exercise in. Hopefully they're comfortable to run in and hold up over time & use.

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    1. I hope so too! I'll have to report back once they've had a decent bit of wear as that is very important with activewear. They really need to wash well too so I'll keep an eye on that. Thank you for the locket comment! I love the design too

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  12. These are great! Have you found any UK suppliers of performance sports fabric? I'm keen to try active wear but not so keen on the shipping/customs issues of US fabric shops. Any suggestions?

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    1. Thanks Liz! It is tricky in the UK, especially if you are trying to find wicking sportswear fabric. I've heard good things about Funki Fabrics' Matt Lycra...although it hasn't got any specific sportswear performance features. Tia Knight does stock a few colours of supplex which I might try. Sorry for my delayed response! Do let me know if you have any luck with suppliers as I'd love to try more

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    2. Thanks Fiona, I've had a look at Funki Fabrics and Tia Knight, but with a bit of a google found these guys and ordered some of this: http://ukfabricsonline.com/sports-fabric/air-force-blue-mock-eyelet-sportswear-fabric

      This is to make my other half a running top, hence I'm less worried about colour ;-) and I intend to add some of this along seamlines if I can get it mail order: https://www.clothhouse.com/shop_fabric/09020667/

      I will let you know whether the UK Fabrics online lives up to the hype, but the price was good! I have used paypal as their website doesn't use https verification, and will let you know. They have a good range, although colours are a bit limited, but I guess maybe if the main body is made in black wicking fabric you could always add non-performance lycra contrast sections. We'll see!

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  13. Hi Fiona, the leggings and tops are looking beautiful. You are also looking smart and beautiful. Thanks to share superb dress for workout activity. It is really wonderful and amazing. Keep it up to share nice information with us.

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    1. Thanks! This is probably one of the things I've made that I'm most proud of. It's great to be able to make myself practical clothing as well as fun stuff!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!