Monday, 11 February 2019

actual activewear attempt: Simplicity 8424

I fully intended to make leggings last year, and then I just sort of... didn't. I was not in a great place body image-wise last year and I think I was worried about making bottoms with negative ease. However, this year I'm trying to get back into both weightlifting and dancing, and I probably can't do that with my two pairs of ancient RTW leggings.

I bought Simplicity 8424 because of the version with the leg ribbons, but realised fairly quickly that a) they would be super-annoying for actually working out in and b) shorter leggings would require lower leg hair removal, and it would be WAY too easy for me to say "oh, my legs are hairy, guess I can't go to the gym". So there was never any real question of me making any view other than the full-length version. 

I got this fabric at Abakhan in North Wales and it's AMAZING. I don't think I'd ever come across proper activewear fabric before; everything I'd seen while looking for legging fabric was either bog-standard jersey or shiny swimwear fabric, neither of which seemed like the right thing. Abakhan doesn't sell that much on their website, but when you go to the warehouse they have giant bins of all different types of fabric that they sell by the kilo. I think I have enough left of this piece to make a second pair, and I really wish I'd done a proper forage for some more. It has all the stretch and recovery you'd expect, but also it's incredibly soft. It's somewhere between leggings and jogging bottoms. It also completely coincidentally matches my sports bra exactly, so I can strut around the house being Athleisure Jen. 

The one major problem I had with these leggings is that I stupidly followed the measurement charts and they came up HUGE. I cut an L waist and XL hips and they were enormous and wrinkly and sad. I took the side seams in by about two inches per side (three from above the knee to the ankle) and cut a wedge out of the back waistband. This was not the best solution; the back rise is now way too short at the centre and I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing them without an underlayer, but that waistband was NOT coming back off. Having worn them for a proper high-energy dance class and a weightlifting session, I think they're actually still too big in the legs. I might even have to go down two sizes. 

These took me maybe an hour to make. I had all the pattern pieces but the instructions were nowhere to be found, so I have no idea if I used the recommended construction. It's just a front leg, a back leg, and front and back yokes, so I can't imagine there's really a way to do it wrong. Then I spent another hour taking everything in two or three times. Sigh. 

I will definitely make more leggings, but I haven't yet decided if it's going to be these leggings. I do like how simple and fabric-economical they are, but it's not my ideal fit. Maybe that's all down to my quick-fix resizing, and I may well have another go at these in a smaller size, but I'm also in the market for other patterns. I'm considering the Sewaholic ones, as they're designed for bigger hips and thighs. 

While I was writing this post, I decided to go back and check what I'd written about the wrap top from the same pattern when I made it last spring. Turns out I started writing a draft but never actually posted about it. Oops. 

Here it is, anyway. I made it almost a year ago and I've worn it a ton since then, but never as activewear. Long sleeves, short bodices and fastenings that could become unfastened are dealbreakers for me in workout gear. I usually wear it over short dresses or jumpsuits. It is the most fabulous colour, particularly for my skin tone, and I'll often put it on to perk an outfit up. 

I did make one substantial change to the pattern by adding binding to the whole neckline. I hadn't wanted to do that (I have three Coppelia wraps with wide neckbands and I wanted a different look for this one), but the pattern called for clear elastic and I knew I wouldn't be able to make that look good on this super lightweight jersey. I was a bit annoyed about this at the time, but I barely notice the change anymore. 

(I did also make the vest top out of the same fabric, but it looked hideous on me and I got rid of it a long time ago. I liked the idea of it because the straps were done with fabric bands so I wouldn't need to find a matching colour of fold-over elastic, but I thought it gave the finished top a slightly weird shape and I didn't like the way it looked on me at all. The vest top in these photos is the So Zo free one, which I've made a couple of times now and happily fills all my vest top needs.)

There will definitely be more of this sort of thing coming. I would like to feel as though Exercise Jen is an integral part of my life who deserves the same level of fancy-ass handmade clothing as Regular Jen, rather than an afterthought who'll wear any old shit, so more leggings, more exercise tops, and I'm planning to try making an actual sports bra in spring. I have no idea how that's going to go, so stay tuned!

Simplicity 8424

Fabric: Approx. 1.5m of activewear fabric for the leggings and 2m of viscose jersey for the top
Cost: £13 for the grey (which should give me two pairs) and £10 for the blue
Pattern details: Multiple lengths of pull-on leggings with options for a waist tie or calf/ankle ties; a layered, ruched vest top with fabric bands for the armholes; simple ballet-style wrap cardigan
Size: L waist, XL hips (after alteration probably M waist, L hips or smaller), straight size L for the top
Alterations: Neck binding on top; massive amounts of taking in on the side seams and waist of the leggings
Would make again/Would recommend: Yes/Yes for the leggings, unsure/unsure for the top

Up next: my birthday Trina dress!

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