28 May 2011

Activewear for the Trip

My sewjo was finally rejuvenated by an inability to find long-sleeved tops for my trip to The Netherlands. After searching local clothing stores for days, I decided I would make the tops myself. I dug around the stash and found 1.5 yards each of a lavender and red cotton lycra. I also had 1.5 yards of a dark purple cotton double knit. I cut Jalie 965 out of each fabric and sewed them up on my serger. When I tried on the red top, the bicep area was too tight - uncomfortably tight. Faced with one week left before the trip, I had to think quickly about how to fix this. I didn't have enough fabric to cut larger sleeves and I didn't have time to order/find any more fabric. Then it hit me! I read an article (Flatlock for Fashion by Pamela Leggett) in the current issue (#155) of Threads about using the serger to flatlock seams. I sliced the sleeve from hem to sleeve cap and attached a 2-inch strip of fabric using the flatlock stitch. I used regular serger thread in the loopers and a thick wool-like yarn in the left needle.

This adjustment was quick and easy to make. The extra time invested in unpicking the sleeves, cutting the 2" strip of fabric, and making the flat lock stitch was well worth it. The sleeves are now very comfortable and roomy.

I would have followed the same procedure on the lavender cotton knit, but I ran into another, more pressing problem! Upon visiting REI and chatting with one of the associates, I learned that cotton wasn't the best fiber choice for biking and that I should use a synthetic fiber instead. (&$*^@!) My preoccupation with warmth clouded rational judgment about fiber functionality! Cotton does not wick away moisture and thus will feel very wet against the skin. If it's cold outside, then wearing a wet shirt will certainly not help keep me warm. D'oh! This conversation took place on Tuesday afternoon, 3 May and I was scheduled to leave on Friday, 6 May. Sure, REI had a bunch of polyester tops (mostly short-sleeved), but at $30 each, that was not an option. I already dropped $$ on some padded bike shorts and a rain jacket and STILL needed to get rain pants.

I didn't have time to run around town, again, and search for something that I was not likely to find. So after class that day, I rushed home and cut out three short sleeved tops out of some polyester microfiber high performance knit that I had on hand.

While the tops serged up quickly, it took me no less than three attempts on EACH top to get that damn neckband attached decently. On the third attempt of the third top, it finally occurred to me what the problem was. To insert the neckband in the round, you're supposed to divide it into quarters - marking the center front, center back, and shoulders with pins.

Then, stretch the band to fit the neckline at each of these places. This wouldn't have been a problem if the distance between the shoulders along the front was the same as the distance between the shoulders along the back. I kept getting these tight pulls on the front and thus found it extremely difficult to attach the band. So I moved the pins marking the shoulders back about an inch (or so) to allow more length along the front.

To finish the tops, I used my coverstitch machine on the bottom hems and shaped the side seams a bit. I would have coverstitched the sleeves but I didn't have time.

To add to the activewear collection, I also made a pair of yoga pants (Kwik Sew 3115) and a hoodie out of black sweatshirt cotton (Kwik Sew 3667). In all, the tops worked out well. They provided the necessary comfort and function I needed on the trip. Now that I know I can easily and relatively quickly make activewear, I don't think I will ever buy it again!

My May sewing mojo has been in overdrive. So far, I've made activewear, a pair jeans, a woven top (gasp), and am almost finished with a skirt. Details coming soon!



  1. Way to go Lynn, and quite a lot of sewing in such a short time (inspiring). What colorful wardrobe additions, for active and daily wear.

  2. You've sewn sooo much, and even been away! Great work.

  3. Wow, your sewing mojo is on fire!! What a great trip!

  4. p.s. Thanks for the comments on my blog! I redid my living room last year mainly by getting the new red couch and some prints/accessories. The ivory mum pillow on the chair is one I made from a free Amy Butler pattern online. It's the same pattern Peacock Chic used to win a PR contest in Dec 2008. http://vacuumingthelawn.blogspot.com/2009/04/amy-butler-snow-mum-pillow-done.html


Thanks for commenting! I appreciate and read them all - even if I can not personally respond.


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