My grey supplex leggings are super comfy and go with EVERYTHING but I really fancied something a little more exciting and well when you’re running more than a couple of times a week through mud (blame the weather and my obsession with trail running!) then having more than two pairs of running tights is quite frankly a bonus.
If you’re into sewing ‘activewear’ then I’m sure you’ll already have seen Melissa from Fehrtrade‘s new line of activewear patterns. When they first came out, I was really taken by them but hesitated as the smallest size was a few inches outside own measurements but then Melissa really listened to what her readers were saying and added a new XXS size. It was close enough for me to put my hand in my pocket and buy the digital PB Jam leggings pattern.
I have to say that it’s a great pattern. Like many Indie designers there is a lot of attention to detail and the instructions are clear and well thought out. Melissa does label this as an intermediate pattern and I’d agree. I’m not vastly experienced at sewing with knit fabrics (2 tees and 3 pairs of leggings is my total experience!) and me and my overlocker have a bit of a love/hate relationship going on but nevertheless, I got there in the end.
Now first off I made a few flat pattern alterations. I’m short (5′ 1′ to be precise) so as there is a back knee ‘patch’ I needed to try and get it hitting in the right place. Helpfully Melissa’s pattern marks the hip and knee line. Essentially, I taped all the leg and swoosh pieces together, overlapping the seam allowances, then took out my tape measure and decided how long the legs needed to be. I then divided the amount to be taken out into two and took a portion out above the knee (to get it into the right place) and a portion out below the knee. Melissa had already told me that there was no shaping in the swooshes, which was handy as I had to slightly re-draw the front swoosh as my slash line went partially through it.
In the end, I decided that I wouldn’t use the back knee patch and fortunately because of my short legs still managed to cut my pieces out of one piece of main fabric.
NOTE: if you need the full leg length and decide go without the back knee patch you will need more fabric.
I was a little unsure of the fit as the hip measurement was slightly larger than my own and the waist measurement a little smaller. But I decided to sew up and fit as I went along. Knits are pretty forgiving in the fit department.
Now, here’s where we come to the bit where my overlocker and I don’t get along! Sewing in a straight line is fine but curves are another matter and I have no seam allowance gauge so it’s all a bit of guesswork!! Thanks to Winnie at Scruffy Badger Time and her timely blog post I found a much more efficient way to rip out overlocked seams that didn’t require the entire lounge to be vacuumed each time. It was also super quick. I confess it took me a few attempts until I was happy with my swooshes.
I then used the basting stitch on my sewing machine to sew the in and out leg seams before trying on to check the fit.
I took a bit out of the side seams and the centre seams – probably about an inch overall – and I slightly altered the crotch curve. I also found for some reason that I needed to take a chunk out at the centre back, my bum is clearly not that large!!
Once I was happy with my basted fit, I marked the seam line with a trusty felt tip pen (washable of course :) ), unpicked my stitching and sewed my seams with the overlocker. Before sewing however, I had to realign my front and back swooshes. I could get them spot on with pins but as soon as they went through the sewing machine or overlocker they moved.
I doubt this was helped by the navy and red fabrics being different thicknesses. The red was much lighter and stretchier and moved around a lot. Despite basting my swooshes together, I struggled to get the overlocked seams to match up perfectly and they were stretching about under the presser foot (maybe I should have adjusted the pressure of the foot?). I unpicked a number of times and well one of them is pretty much spot on, the other side less so – oh well!
I was really impressed with the fit once I had them all together.
The waistband went on fine and then I just had to hem them. It was such a gloriously sunny day when I was making them that I couldn’t help but turn them into capris. I actually think given my height it helps to balance out the swooshes for my shape. I just marked how long I wanted them, added on 3cm hem allowance and stitched them using a twin needle on my sewing machine.
I always overlock the edges first and make sure that I remember to stretch as I go – otherwise you tend to find that you go to put your foot through and it’s a bit of squeeze and you end up with broken stitches.
Since sewing the hem and waistband with a twin needle on my sewing machine, I’ve since found some alternative settings on my sewing machine that work better and give me more even stitching and no skipped stitches. The only other change I would make, would be to give myself a little more room in the waist ;)
My capris had a long test run out the other Sunday and have since been through the wash and in the dryer. They’re brilliant and I’m amazed each time I put them on that *I* made them.
Of course I had to make a top to go with them – this is Maria Denmark’s Birgitte Basic T. I’ll save the details for next time.
For this time of year, I find this outfit a great compromise. I don’t find it quite warm enough for a short sleeved tee and yet I get a bit warm in leggings and long sleeves.
If you fancy sewing capris without pattern alterations then you won’t have to wait long! Melissa will be launching her third pattern next week – the Dualthon!
I think I’m ready for the ‘Booty Shorts’. How about you? I think they’re going to be just perfect for racing in and for taking on the Spring Race Challenge. Now just to find a race?!