Friday, December 27, 2013

Fehr Trade XYT Workout Tops & a Fait Main Top (Plus A Discount Code!!)

The days are short and the weather is cold.  Blech!  I'm a more temperate climate sort of girl (I called San Diego home for about a year... WHY did I leave, it was near perfect?!!)  I've been out running hardly at all because there isn't enough daylight in the evening.  MAYBE I will join the gym around the corner in a few days for the rest of the winter until the amazing Spring days show up here in Baltimore again.  But none of this is stopping me from sewing more activewear! 

I was absolutely thrilled to be one of the pattern testers for Melissa of Fehr Trade's two new activewear patterns.  I LOVE this first pattern I have here, the XYT Top-- a running top with a REAL built in compression bra.  (I also tested the PB Jam Leggings, too... but you'll have to wait and see those on another post... they are so cool looking and most importantly functional, too.) **UPDATE: I've blogged about my PB Jam Leggings RIGHT HERE.

I made the "T" back version with a nylon/spandex print.  I got all of my materials (excluding the elastic) from a factory warehouse sale a few month back and paid sbout $1 or 2 for the yardage.  I was fresh from a 5K run on a blustery and cold day for all my photos here.  (I was wearing more layers over the top when I was outside!)

Fehr Trade XYT Workout Top
I first made a muslin based exactly on my measurements but I wanted to make a few tweaks to make it my very own.  The pattern has 10% negative ease, meaning it was comfortably snug, but I realized all of my other activewear tops are maybe 0-5% negative.  I like the top to basically be exactly my measurements.  I went up a 1/2 size and it worked out perfectly!

This wacky rainbow zebra top is a small in the bust, a medium in the waist and large in the hip.  I used a black athletic mesh with sewn in elastic on the edges for the back t-strap.  I lengthened the hem by 3" (7.6 cm).  I just like a longer top.  I shortened the front straps by 1" (2.5 cm) and increased the edge of the front arm opening by going up a size.  I found in my muslin that the front was a bit narrow for my chest and cause mild boob spillage and this corrected the issue.

I am in love with the built in compression bra!!  For reference, I normally buy a 36B/38A in RTW bra (U.S. sizing) depending on the style/brand/fabric.  Melissa has reported that other pattern testers with larger busts have had great success with this compression bra, too.  These photos below are actually a muslin but it looks identical to my finished one I'm wearing.  I did increase the width of the compression bra inside.  The fabric seemed to have much less stretch then what Melissa suggests in the pattern.  The first bra muslin (not pictured) was so tight I couldn't breath.  How much stretch a fabric has is very important when making a compression bra.  I've made a number of Jalie 2563  bras in one size--- some hold the girls down beautifully then a couple I have are useless because the fabric is waaaaaaaaaay to stretchy.

I've worn my XYT top several times for running and it has been perfect.  I use it to completely replace my usual running bra.  It's sort of a long-line sports bra for winter... it's a perfect extra layer.  And it's going to be fantastic in summer worn alone on top!! 

I love this top sooo much that I even made one for my 12 year old niece for Christmas.  She dances, runs and does lots of other fun, active things.  I wasn't sure what sort of compression she likes for her bras so I just left the bra out for her and simply made the "Y" version.  I made her polka dot top between a size XS and a S.  I totally forgot to get any photos of her wearing it on Christmas!  Glad I got a few on my mannequin here before I wrapped it... I had to make it the tiniest size to get the shirt on her!

I picked up this polka dot fabric from the Fabric Fairy this summer.  It's a nylon/spandex... I used the same black athletic mesh for the back.  I want one of my own like this.  I opted to stray a tad from the pattern here.  I made my own bindings for the neck and sleeve edges, serged them on, then used my twin needle to top stitch them.  Melissa gives perfect directions to finish your edges if you have a coverstitch machine or if you have a regular machine.  I have a serger and a regular sewing machine.  My bindings do add some width on the edges but that was okay with me.

The inside is just as cute.  I happen to have a spool of black and white polka dot ribbon for the back tag.  It was meant to be!

And I FINALLY sewed up a pattern from French sewing magazine Fait Main (coincidentally this Oct 2012 issue was a gift from Melissa when she was in Baltimore earlier this year.)  I adore this little pattern but know it won't be flattering on me because I have fuller hips.  An itty bitty teenage girl could rock this during dance class for sure.  I cut the smallest size and shortened it a little as well.

This is a super stretchy, soft teal fabric.  I'm not sure of the content, but it's likely a poly/nylon/spandex.  It will flow, move and drape nicely. I've had plans to make the sweatshirt pictured here on the magazine page also but haven't gotten around to it.    

And how sweet is it over the XYT Top!?  I am 100% sure I am making the Fehr Trade shirt again for me!!! I usually am a very selfish seamstress so this is oh so nice of me, huh?

Buy the Fehr Trade XYT Top pattern right here in Melissa's shop.  Don't forget to check out the PB Jam Leggings, too (you'll see mine soon!) Here is a lovely discount code you can use until January 2, 2014 for the new Fehr Trade activewear patterns, too!!! 
---Use the code "FEHRTRADEEARLYBIRD" for a 10% discount! ---

P.S. Not sure where to buy activewear or exercise fabrics?  I gotcha covered.  Melissa had a super smart idea and compiled a global list of retailers (both online and brick & mortar shops) who sell all this great technical fabric!  See the GLOBAL LIST OF ACTIVEWEAR FABRIC retailers here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Brand New (really amazing) Activewear Patterns Alert!

I've been sewing quite a bit lately.  But of course it's mostly all Christmas gift sewing so I haven't posted them since I'd like them to be surprises to the recipients!  I'll share when the timing is right.

But until then I HAD to share this exciting announcement about some new activewear sewing patterns from an independent designer.  If you are a regular reader of my blog you've seen me post a number of running garments I've sewn up.  I am coming to realize what works, what doesn't and how many crazy prints and colors one needs to wear while running (or doing yoga, kayaking, hiking, etc.)  They have to be completely functional.  I want a good fit, garments that I do NOT have to think about while I am running-- absolutely NO shifting, bouncing, riding up, etc.

Fellow seamstress and superstar runner (she is the superstar runner... not quite me!)  Melissa of Fehr Trade is releasing two really impressive activewear sewing patterns at the end of December.  Just in time for New Years resolutions!  Plus this is combining my sewing obsession with my need for more running gear.

The first of the two patterns is the XYT Workout Top  Hello-- a REAL built in compression bra!
Fehr Trade XYT Workout Top Technical Drawing

And the second pattern are the PB Jam Leggings.  Time to break out more crazy, fun fabric, people!  
Fehr Trade PB Jam Leggings Technical Drawing

Go over to Fehr Trade for more details and info on Melissa's two new patterns.  And yes, I will be posting photos and sharing all of my versions of these patterns in due time.  (Oh, and here is a really solid list of places to buy activewear/excersice/technical fabric-- did you see Fabric Mart is having a sale on all of their activewear stuff now, too.)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Vogue 8663- A Winter White Dress

I needed a simple, solid dress or top for family holiday photos this morning.  I also had almost no time to work up something that needed tracing, fitting or fussing so I turned to my TNT dress, Vogue 8663.  I first used this pattern about a year ago with a really crazy Missoni print, then this super cute floral sleeveless version in the dead of summer for a trip to Georgia.  I used a heavy weight white ponte I picked up for $2/yard on a trip to Fabric Mart a few weeks back (yes, this dress cost under $6 to make, including the thread in the equation.)

Total time to make this dress from fabric cutting to hemming: well under three hours.  I've been seeing The Lady Skater Dress around the blogs for the past few months, know that it's just my cup of tea and would totally rock that everyday dress... but I have not purchased that pattern because this is almost identical to it-- the main design difference is that this Vogue pattern has the neckline pleating detail.  Also, my pattern here suggests a zipper in back that I have never included.  A zipper is absolutely unnecessary for such stretch knit patterns (even my stable ponte) unless I add a non-stretch lining.

I didn't want to see any top stitching on my neckline so I made bindings and serged them on.  I often will top stitch this sort of binding with a twin needle but really didn't want that here.

I cut a size 16 here and added 1" (2.5 cm) to the bodice length.  My last version I went down a size  to a 14 because that pretty floral cotton had more stretch.  I should have cut the back on the fold and got rid of the seam down the back... but I was moving along pretty quickly and completely forgot to.  I sewed that last night before going to bed.  I also added bindings to the sleeves. 

I had fun with our family photos this morning.  We go to a big box mall department store for them each year in a sort of ironic way (and partially serious, too... it's fun to get official annual photos to see how straight my hair gets each year.)  Last year we rocked a matching sweater theme, this year I wore all white and the boys wore white shirts.  We are precious, I know.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kathy Takes The Bronze In The Fabricista Fashion Challenge!

The results are in... time for the crowns and sashes to be distributed!  Who won the winning title for the Fabricista Fashion Challenge?! That would be the talented Shannon of Shanni Loves.  Congratulations, lady!! And the silver medal goes to the amazing Diane of Gator Bunny Sews.  Excellent work, chica!! And I take third place!  How exciting is that?!

Thank you to every single vote you all cast for me!  You guys are the best... you all helped me to the top!  The support, the positive comments, the overall good spirits you all sent to me during the past weeks made me so happy to be a part of the challenge.

Thank you so much to Kaitlin at Fabric Mart... she is the lovely lady who ran the entire competition.  She put up with all of the contestants questions, got all of our photos and blurbs together and did a load of other behind the scenes work to make this entire challenge happen.  And she also happens to be a highly talented seamstress and designer herself.  Thank you to the whole staff at Fabric Mart for helping to make this first Fabricista Fashion Challenge that helped to further feed my sewing obsession.  I was able to make my very first trip to Fabric Mart the week after I won the first challenge (it was a coincidence in timing... I had planned a trip to their shop in Pennsylvania for sometime before knowing I was going to be a contestant.)  It was pretty cool to meet so many of the staff and see how the store is run.  If you ever go... I do recommend to pre-feed yourself, you will be there for a while. There is even a helpful post on their blog for visitors.

I thought I would put together a gallery of all the work I produced over the eight challenges.  You can click on the images to take you to the original blog post where I review the patterns I used, have loads of photos and share my process for each garment.  I also wanted to reflect on some of my favorite and not so favorite things of the challenge.

Week 1: The Recycled Challenge
Week 2: The Salme Pattern Re-Make
Week 3: The Fabric Bundle Challenge

Week 4: The LBD

Week 5: Vintage Patterns
Week 6: Fabric Mart's Fabric Choice
Week 7: Mixing Prints
Week 8: The Pantone Challenge

My goal was to just make it pat Week 1!

Which week was my favorite to sew?  Shockingly enough 1970s inspired dress from Week 6, the one with the wacky chiffon all of us contestants (including myself) may have not really cared for.  It came together much easier then I expected and I ended up loving this dress and its odd color palette and print.

What garment has gotten the most use?  That would be the knit dress from Week 2, the Salme Pattern Challenge.  But I've been living in the ponte blazer since I made it for this week's Pantone Challenge.  If you see me around town, you'll likely see me in any of the knit things because they are easy to wear and wash.

Which garment was the most difficult to sew?  The skirt and blazer for the Pantone Challenge.  They are deceptively simple looking but I was ready to throw them both in the bin during the sewing process.  I had ZERO directions to work with for the skirt that had a pile of weird and confusing pieces (the directions were in Portuguese, a language I don't read.)  The directions for the blazer were awful and I had to go it on my own about 90% of the way... the technical drawing was inaccurate and the pattern layout was wrong.

What garment will likely get the LEAST wear?  The LBD.  I am sure of it.  I'm a stay at home crafty mom who doesn't have too many formal affairs on her calendar.

Which one is my favorite of the bunch?  From a functional standpoint-- the ponte knit blazer from the last challenge.  I need even more of these in my life.  From a purely aesthetic standpoint-- the reverse side of my LBD.  It's so sassy!  I love the bold print and the fit is spot on.

Which is my least favorite of the bunch?  The outfit from Week 3, the Bundle Challenge.  But why?! I don't like the actual feel of the fabric of the skirt, it has a weird, dry hand to it.  The quality of the fabric isn't that great-- the threads in the material started to break and fray in the pre-wash.  And I got so annoyed with the jacket fabric after pre-washing, too.  The background was a crisp, bright white-- the colors ran and it turned a dingy gray.  But as far as quality of sewing, it was one of my best with soooo much hand sewing and attention to quality details.

What was my favorite thing about the whole challenge?  Hands down seeing every single seamstress's work from week to week.  I was so impressed by every single thing they made.  Thank you for all your weekly inspiration Audrey, Meghan, Nicole, Peg, Shannon, Shams, Tanya, Tina and Diane.  Congrats to us all!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Papercut Ooh La Leggings

I finally have made my first pait of Papercut's Ooh La Leggings!  After some shipping issues and then having to finish up all my sewing for the Fabricista Fashion Challenge... I busted this pattern out to make some cold weather running gear.  How much fun is the design with the panels and interesting seaming?!  I have a small collection of fun and colorful activewear knits but opted for a simple gray and black. You can go crazy with your fabrics with tights... as one really should when sewing activewear!    
This pattern is quite easy to sew up.  It took me well under two hours from looking at the untouched/uncut pattern in the envelope to having a complete pair of leggings.  I am sure it will take under an hour now that I have the pattern cut/traced out to my size.  

I have a pretty full bottom half, mostly the butt/thighs.  I made a medium waist and graded to a large below that.  In Burda patterns I make a 42 waist and 46 hips/bum.  I bet I could make a nice pair of compression shorts or tights one size smaller yet.  These pants are form fitting but not so tight they constrict.  They are meant for taller then average folks, which is great!  I'm 5'8" (1.72 m) tall but still had to cut off about 4" (10 cm) on the leg length.  The waistline hits my natural waist, too.  I would think that a shorter figure would need to reduce the rise height.

I took a bunch of back side photos-- then realized I used the super, crazy shiny side of the gray on the back... which is the wrong side of the fabric I intended to use because it HIGHLIGHTS every single last imperfection a girl has, and may add a few extra.  I intentionally never photoshop my images to look slimmer or remove any less then perfect spots, so here is the best butt shot the internet is getting.  I usually don't mind imperfections at all but there may have also been some major wedgie-like shots :) Ya'll don't need that burned into your retinas.  

I used my serger to join all the seams.  The seaming is pretty dang cool.  The pattern suggests to only top stitch the top seams around the hips but I went ahead and top stitched with my twin needle down the front and back legs, too.

I'm quite happy with the serged then twin-needled seams... they create a faux flat-locked seam that I really like in my RTW activewear.  One day I will get an overlocker so I can create all of these terrific professional seams with one easy pass of the needle.   

Inside completed seams
Outside completed seams
I didn't use the suggested waistband application.  She wants you to insert the elastic into a tunnel.  I used the same technique I used on this other pair of running tights I made.  I serged the elastic right onto the fabric and then top stitched with a twin needle.

Outside of waistband
Inside of the waistband

I have thoroughly neglected running while I've been participating in the Fabric Mart sewing competition, I can't lie.  I now want to re-commit to running three times a week if possible.  I desperately need cold weather shirts... I only have ONE official long sleeved running top.  What?!  Time to amend the situation. 

These leggings are pretty nice.  I want to make a few pairs for everyday wear... under skirts, dresses, or jeans on a super cold day. 

--UPDATE!! Nov 23, 2013--

I have officially worn these on a cold, blustery day for my standard 5k run through the city.  Two thumbs way up for these.  They stayed in place, they don't pull or slowly fall down and best of all, they cover my ankles!  I have issues with RTW running tights being just a tad too short and they cold breeze getting to my skin.  So guess who is making more of these in a variety of colors and prints.