Exercise gear

I’ve been doing quite a lot of exercise lately and found that the loose t-shirts I’ve been wearing just don’t cut it, particularly when I’m upside down. I decided to address this problem and dragged a top out of my drawer that I never wear but really like the design.

This top was designed and made by a woman that I used to do hard-core SAS training with back in the 1980s (yes, that’s how long I’ve had it!) and the little label on the back has the initials SAS on it as her husband was the trainer and ex-SAS. I love the fact that it’s very fitted and I like the design of the back.


However I never wore it much because it’s made from lycra and I hate exercising in it. It’s also a bit short (possibly because I’m a bit wider now) and whenever I lift my arms up an alarming expanse of skin is exposed. Teamed with my Helen’s Closet Avery leggings it’s not too bad because the leggings have a nice wide waistband, but it’s still a problem for me.IMG_3705

So I did what all self-respecting sewists do – I copied it! I used the rubbing off method and took particular note of the method of construction. I used a piece of fabric in my stash that had once been a rather prissy pink cotton knit from Knitwit and which I dyed blue and then overdyed with a triangular shibori pattern. I was going to make underwear from the result, but the pattern was just too big, and actually rather ugly, and I couldn’t get my head round wearing something made from this fabric so it has been in the stash since 2015.


Happily it showed itself to me when I was considering this top and it is the perfect fabric. I was treating this make as a bit of a toile so wasn’t overly fussed about pattern matching, but what do you know, it worked out fairly perfectly!


I can stretch and bend and it doesn’t ride up at all.IMG_3621

and I am really happy that I captured the style lines of the back.


The Helen’s Closet Avery leggings have been absolutely fabulous; that little triangle makes an astonishing difference, and as I had plenty of fabric left, I thought I’d make a pair to match my top. This also fits into the Sewalongs and Sewing Contests challenge on Facebook,  which is “Matchy May”. Well this is pretty matchy!


I thought I’d include an action shot, but the problem with action shots is that they go out of focus. I’d like to say that it’s because I was skipping fast, but don’t think that’s the reason.


Speaking of leggings, I made a pair quite a few years ago that I never wore. I loved the soft cotton fabric, but couldn’t face this design on my legs. I didn’t get a photo of me wearing them, but here is one side now deconstructed.


In a moment of pure inspiration, I wondered whether my new top would fit on to the fabric, and did a bit of pattern tetris. Thanks to the small pattern pieces and lots of seams, I managed to get the top cut out. I put elastic in the neckline and armholes for this one, but I don’t think it made any difference to the fit. I won’t do that again, it so wasn’t worth the effort.


I made yet another pair of black cotton knit Avery leggings and added the leftover waistband so that the two items kind of matched.DSC00616

when I lift my arms up there is just a tiny peek of waistband (and skin). I am very happy with this set, but have to say that I could have done with a deeper waistband or more fabric to make a longer top. DSC00611I had thought to show all the photos as action shots, but as I’m rather hopeless I got a large number of images like this one below. I thought it might be fun to use one of them though!

DSC00350So I now have two completely new sets of exercise gear in addition to the Averys I’ve already made. I think a few more of these tops might be in order when I get small pieces of cotton knit left over.

I’m currently in Tasmania, so have written this post in absentia.



28 thoughts on “Exercise gear

  1. What a super sportswear collection you have now Sue. The pieces all fit and move well.
    Question: I’ve heard you mention the ‘rubbing off’ method for copying RTW…I have to say that I’ve always winged it when doing copies so am intrigued by this method you speak of. Do you have a link to somewhere for it?

      1. Yes pls Sue – I would also appreciate a post on the methods of copying RTW

  2. That is two great sets of active wear! The top pattern is pretty and was worth the effort copying it. The fabrics both are lovely for exercising. I have to admit that I have made mine of lycra because it has such a give. I have made inserted bras which I can recommend because it is so useful.

  3. Your active wear sets look perfect on your perfect silhouette! So, you managed to lose every single grams you said you had put on in NYC! I admire your willpower as much as your sewing skills, my dear!

  4. Your ability to rework and remake fabric into something lovely and useful is remarkable. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. The blue one is sensational Sue. I am also in awe of your fitness (I say this while watching dockers play, feet up in my seat – with an Achilles issue). Super pleasing to exercise in such funky fab self made outfits!

  6. Haha, that last picture is just great 😀 it is good to know that those things do not only happen to me 🙂 I love your sets! The top really is something, the cut out makes it look very professional and the fabrics work really well 🙂
    Have a great time in Tasmania 🙂

  7. Fabulous pattern Sue! Both outfits are perfect for exercising and have to say I love your action shots!!! That top is an awesome design/pattern!! Fits beautifully both front and back with a flattering fit, and that back cut-out is super cute without showing too much skin. Agree about cute exercise outfits helping with the motivation and am finding that is what I am making…. need to make more of….. right now too. Would also be interested if you should post about how you rub off your patterns. 🙂

  8. What fantastic workout gear Sue! they all look pretty fabulous to me and I love the design at the back of that top. Very practical and well designed. It’s so fab that you got them out of otherwise unwanted fabric too! xxx

  9. I love this post, so inspiring!! You really have mastered the art of creating amazing pieces! I am very jealous of your activewear collection!!! Keep rocking it!!x

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