Me Made May 2014

I’ve been making quite a few running tops and skirts over the last few months, and have recently moved onto everyday clothing.  It’s been years since I worked with woven fabrics AND sewed something for myself.  *grin*

Last year I saw a lot of posts going around called “Me Made May”, so this year I’ve decided to join in.  The idea is that you make a commitment on So Zo blog as to how you’re going to challenge yourself to wear clothing that you make yourself during the month of May.  It’s very versatile, and each person gets to choose for themselves.  You can read more about it here Me Made May 2014

I’ve made a commitment to wear one Made By Me garment each day during May.  Originally I was thinking that would be a huge challenge, then realised that since it can be any garment it’s not that bad – most days when I’m running I wear one of my XYT tops, or around the house I wear a Jalie jumper that I made.  Obviously I want to wear more than these, however it does mean that I’m not having to wear something new every single day.  In fact, I could just make a pair of pyjamas and wear them every night…  LOL

I do need to do a lot more sewing, and while I’m not going to panic sew to have a whole new wardrobe before May I do plan to sew several tops and pants before then.

If you’re a sewer, why not come and join in?  You don’t have to commit to wearing a handmade garment every day, just once or twice a week if that is a challenge for you.

Fehrtrade XYT Top and PB Jam Leggings patterns

Melissa over at FehrTrade has just released her first patterns and they are AMAZING!  Ok, I need to clarify that at this point I have not made the leggings patterns, only the top.  *grin* The XYT running top pattern is amazing, and so I am assuming that the PB Jam leggings pattern is the same high quality.  :-)  Both patterns are downloadable from the FehrTrade Etsy Shop, and come in sizes XXS to XL.  The patterns are on the larger size for this size range, and ideal for the taller or curvier of us.



Melissa asked me to be one of her pattern testers, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  We’re about to move to a much hotter region, where the winter temps are what we currently call a warm day!  So a lot of cool running tops are going to be needed.  This is also part of the reason I didn’t make the leggings – I was short on time and I’m unlikely to need more leggings.

So far I’ve made four of these tops, and the only thing that stopped me making more is that I had to pack all my sewing gear away for our interstate move.  So here they are, all three iterations of the FehrTrade XYT Running Top.

From the front, the XYT Top looks like a basic tank.  What makes it so great though is that there are three different back variations.  The top also features a built in shelf bra, which apparently works great for A-B cup ladies.  As I’m a DD-E girl, depending on the bra brand, I didn’t include the inbuilt bra in any of the versions that I made.

X Back

This is probably my favourite one.  This version is made in Iris Supplex and Swarovski Hot Fix crystals for added bling.




This top is really comfortable, almost covers my sports bra, and is pretty.  It’s also a great workout top, although I wouldn’t wear this particular one for anything that could damage the crystals.  They’re pretty tough, however I don’t think they would survive a Tough Mudder for example!  Here’s a close up of the front of this top, showing the crystal decoration:

I bought the crystals several years ago from Fire Mountain Gems in the US, via mail order.  There are around four hundred 4.8mm crystals on this top (I know, it doesn’t look like that many).  These are the ‘Forest’ colourway pack.  To apply them, I laid the top out flat on the ironing board and tipped four packets of crystals over the lower front, turned them all upright and arranged them randomly.  Placed a soft cloth over the top and, with the iron on the Cotton setting, very gently and carefully ironed them in place.  Once they had been stuck on I turned the top inside out and ironed them even harder from the inside.

purple-sparklesThe manufacturer does not recommend any heat being used on Supplex, and definitely not ironing.  If you choose this method of embellishment you do so at your own risk.  I strongly recommend testing a scrap piece of your supplex with an iron and the crystals before attempting this on a garment.  This worked for me on this particular supplex, it may not work for you, your supplex and/or your iron.

Y Back

The Y Back was next.  This iteration is made from Flamingo Space Dyed Supplex.



T Back

This T back is made from Neon Green Supplex, with reflective tape trim sewn on the front, back and used for the T.  The beauty of this top is that the T on the back can be made from pretty much anything, as long as it doesn’t chafe and is the correct length.  (shown here with one of my skirts made from the  Jalie Running Skirt pattern)



This top is actually a lot brighter than the photos show.  The Neon Green is a high-vis colour, and the reflective tape, bought from Spotlight, is quite reflective.  I’m not sure how reflective it will be after several washes, however the neon green colour will stay hi-vis!  For this version I cut the T strip according to the pattern piece , bound both sides and ironed the tape down the centre.  The strips on the front and back were ironed in place after the top was constructed and hemmed, and I then satin stitched over the top and bottom edges for stability and to prevent fraying.

And another X back top

This was actually the very first top I made to test the fit of the pattern, before cutting into the expensive supplexes.  And it turned out great!  I’ve worn this top out to lunch, to a business planning day, to church and just around the house.  The fabric is not sports fabric, so not for running, it’s just a cheap polyester knit from Spotlight.  Bad selfie photo…



Garment Details

Garment: XYT tops – four versions

Fabric:  Space-dyed Supplex, plain supplex in Iris and Neon Green, cheap floral polyester

Pattern: XYT Top from FehrTrade

Machines, Stitches and Techniques used: 

Coverlock machine for binding and hemming.

Overlocker (Serger) for seaming

Normal Sewing machine for stitching the top of back pieces (the X, Y, or T) to the back of the actual top

Size made:  According to the measurements I was a Size S.  However I like my tops to be loose fitting so I graded out to an M over the hips.

Additions or alterations:  there were a couple:

– I added one inche (2.5cm) in length in the hip area.  I like long tops.  This extra length is only shown on the neon green and floral polyester tops – I re-traced the pattern for the other two and forgot to add the length.  I plan to add another inch for a total of 5cm when I trace it again to add the length.

– When attaching the shaped back piece to the main back, Melissa suggests pinning in place before sewing.  I used Dritz Washaway Wonder Tape instead as I wasn’t confident in the pins holding it absolutely in place.  It worked very well and washed away completely.  I buy mine from Addicted To Fabric, my local fabric/sewing shop.

– The instructions say to stitch the back piece in place by stitching two parallel lines over the binding stitches on the back piece.  I did that on the first one and didn’t particularly like it as I couldn’t sew the lines straight enought to be on top of the earlier stitching.  So I decided to use a three step zig zag instead, and I’m quite happy with the effect, as shown here:



I suggest trying both methods and deciding which one you prefer.

Comments: This is a fantastic top pattern and I can see me making several more of these.

Both the XYT Top and PB Jam leggings are available for download from the FehrTrade Etsy Shop, and you can read more about these patterns on Melissa’s blog.

Ooh La Leggings for Sydney City2Surf

With less than one day to go before we left home to drive to Sydney for the 2013 City2Surf race, I decided it would be a good time to sew up a new pair of leggings.  Never mind that we were going to be out all evening and leaving mid-morning the next day, there’s always time to sew, right?

These leggings are made from Supplex French Terry, with an insert of a dance lycra fabric (not sold here) on the outside of the legs.  This time around, I added a back zip pocket to the leggings.  It was quite simple to do and very useful.  The only thing I did wrong was to insert the pocket too low.  You can see in the photo below that it’s just above my derierre,  rather than on my back.  As long as I’m only carrying flat items such a driver’s license, Parkrun barcode or money notes it will be fine.  If I want to carry keys or even my phone it’s going to look strange and feel even stranger.

I’ve already altered my pattern pieces and template for future pockets, so the zip will sit just under the waist elastic.  Live and learn.

The Papercut Ooh La Leggings pattern is actually a fashion garment, that lends itself brilliantly to sportswear.  I’ve made four pairs of these leggings now and wear them in preference to any of my purchased leggings.  They can be made on an ordinary sewing machine, although I did use an overlocker for the seaming on these.

Garment Details

Garment:  Ooh La Leggings

Fabric:  Main fabric – Supplex French Terry

Inserts – Dance lycra

Pattern: Papercut Ooh La Leggings

Machines, Stitches and Techniques used:

Overlocker – used to sew seams, although you could easily use a stretch stitch on a sewing machine

Sewing machine – Lightning stitch used to topstitch the seams down and provide detailing and interest

Sewing machine – three step zig zag used for hemming the ankles

Overlocker and sewing machine used to insert the waist elastic as per the Fehrtrade Better Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Additions or alterations: Zip pocket in the centre back

Pattern Reviews: – Ooh La Leggings

Comments: These leggings were amazingly comfortable to walk/run in and extremely warm.  Need to insert the zip pocket higher next time.


Quickie Race Report – due to a Grade 2 Calf Tear in my left leg six weeks ago, my physio has forbade me from running but said I could walk the City2Surf.  All 14km of it.  So I walked it in 2 hours, 6 minutes and 10 seconds.  Ok, I did run a little bit – the last 700 metres of the race.  I was feeling quite good at that point, nothing was hurting, so I decided to run a short distance.  I had intended it to be only 200 metres, but misjudged the location of the Finish.  Below is one of my official finish photo’s, I find it amusing that the only photo’s of me in this race are of the very last run at the end!

Crossing the City2Surf  Finish Line

Running Leggings

The first pair of running leggings that I’ve ever made and I’m feeling pretty proud of them!

They’re made from Papercut Ooh-La Leggings pattern, which is a fashion leggings pattern, not a sportswear pattern.  I first saw this pattern used as running leggings on KBenko’s blog back in August 2012.  This seemed like a wonderful idea, so I bought the pattern.  And let it sit in the cupboard to age sufficiently until I got up the nerve to make them….

The reason I was so hesitant to make them up is that there is so little sizing information in the pattern package.  There is a list of sizes with measurements for bust, waist, hips, but that’s it.  No finished measurements, no list of required fabric other than “merino knit”.  Having had a lot of fitting disasters issues in the past, I was hesitant to have another one.  However since it’s coming into winter, and I badly needed another pair of full length leggings (I have one expensive pair of Lorna Jane compression leggings already) I realised that buying another pair wasn’t actually on the cards.  Not when I had both pattern and fabric here.

So this past friday I bit the bullet and made a pair.  The pattern is quite nice, packaged beautifully and printed on brown paper.  All the sizes are there, without overlapping lines so very easy to trace.  The instructions say to cut out the appropriate size, but I traced it onto vilene.  Partly because I prefer not to cut patterns, particularly if I’m unsure of the sizing and may want another size, and partly because there’s two of us here who wear leggings and I’ll definitely need more than one size for both of us.

I chose my size off just my hip measurement of 103cm.  The hip size for S is 100cm, and 106cm for size M.  Since I’m working with stretchy fabric I went with the smaller size.  Dark printing on brown paper, while it looks good, is awkward to trace.  It’s hard to see the dark lines on the dark paper so tracing took longer than usual.  There were also more pattern pieces than I’m used to for leggings, with three pieces per leg and a front and back (five pattern pieces in total).  I was ecstatic to discover that I can get a pair of full length leggings out of a single metre of fabric!

The first pair, to check sizing, was in an ugly green t-shirt fabric that I dragged out of stash.  Surprisingly, they fitted first go.  A couple of other people have mentioned that the legs are quite long and I have to agree.  I took 10cm (4″) off the bottom of the leg to make them ankle length.  You can see in the below photo (a) how ugly the fabric is and (b) one leg trimmed and one still all scrunched up.

The fabric I used for my good leggings is a darkish blue Supplex, bought from Addicted to Fabric.  It’s the only supplex I’ve ever seen there, except for one other that was labelled supplex but was in fact lycra.  This supplex is nice and thick, with almost a loopy back on it.  I read somewhere that supplex is wind resistant, and I have to say I was very skeptical.  Warm yes, but wind resistant is asking a lot from a fabric.

To smarten up the leggings I embroidered the top of one of the leg inserts with an ink style tiger.  And here’s where I made one of the stupidest sewing mistakes ever.

In order to embroider on knit fabric (or any for that matter) you have to stabilise the fabric.  When working with knits, I often use wash away stabiliser, which I did for these.  I embroidered the leg piece before construction, and to ensure that it wasn’t stretched while putting it in the embroidery frame, I used temporary adhesive on the wash-away, and adhered the fabric to it.  The embroidery, in a soft gold metallic thread, went beautifully.  Then I went to put the leg piece onto the main body.

The order of construction for these leggings has you sew the front and back together at the side seams, then the outside leg pieces, one of which was now embroidered, then the rest of the legs, finishing by stitching the inside leg seams.  So I had done the side seams, stitched in the plain leg piece and went to sew in the embroidered piece.

Did I mention I’d used temporary adhesive to glue the fabric to the stabiliser?  Then removed it from the hoop and cut away the excess stabiliser?  Sounds pretty normal so far…. right up until I went to sew the seam.  I sat at my overlocker, looked at the fabric and thought “This is still a bit sticky, I wonder if it will catch as it feeds through?”  AND THEN I FED IT THROUGH THE OVERLOCKER.  Well, I tried to.  It did stick on the feed dogs, and the fabric twisted and the overlocker blade cut a hunk out of both the leg piece and the main body piece.  I said some very bad words.  How stupid is it to think about a problem, and then go and do it anyway?

Luckily I had more fabric, and was able to cut out another pair.  This time I thought about it a lot more, and did the embroidery with the leggings almost fully constructed, just without the inside leg seams done.  So it didn’t matter about excess adhesive as there were not seams to be done in the area.

I did the second embroidery in a rayon embroidery thread, as I realised the metallic thread would chafe during a run.  If I were doing this again I’d put the tiger on the other leg, or flip the embroidery, so it’s more towards the front.  But it looks good and smartens up a plain pair of leggings.  I’m not sure how durable this embroidery is going to be when washed constantly, after completing it I realised that a permanent layer of stabiliser might have been a good idea.  Too late now, only time will tell.

All the seams are first overlocked then topstitched so they lie flat, using a stretch stitch that looks like a straight stitch.  It took quite a while to sew them up, they’re definitely nowhere near as fast as sewing a pair of normal leggings.  The ankles are hemmed using three step zig zag, again so it lies flat and stretches.  The waist I did using the Better Elastic Waistband tutorial from Fehr Trade.  I’ve used this waistband method on a couple of garments and it’s simple and very effective, plus non-irritating against your skin.

I wore these for three runs on Saturday, a total of 12.7km and they were great.  They felt good, I love that they are waist height as I usually spend a lot of time pulling up my medium rise leggings which feel as if they’re constantly falling down.  Even better, this supplex really IS wind resistant.  :-)  Saturday was a cold, windy day and my legs were lovely and cosy.  Couldn’t say the same for my top half!

I will definitely be making more of these.  I have enough blue supplex left to make another two pairs (I think, hadn’t counted on having to recut these ones) and also lycra that would make some bright fun leggings.  More of these will be great for running in those sub-freezing winter mornings that are coming very soon.

My next running sewing endeavour will be a running skirt.  I’ve had the Jalie running skirt pattern here for about a year, even longer than the leggings pattern, and haven’t even opened the package.