Finally! My First VNA Top

VNA - 1This is my first Fehrtrade VNA running top. After a bit of un-selfish sewing (these lounge pants for my brother-in-law, who envied his baby son’s purple pants when I made them), and the detail work of finishing off a UFO from before our trip to Switzerland, I needed a quick make last weekend and this one did the trick! It’s a fun, quick make and a great result!VNA - 2

I’d long had this fabric combination in mind, as the colors coordinate so well. The main fabric is an SPF wicking fabric from Seattle Fabrics, and the mesh is a yard I threw in my Fabric Mart basket a while ago, as I recall. I was thinking I might make some Seamster Rose Hip Tights out of it, but this combination caught my fancy when I placed the mesh into the “athletics” basket and they wound up next to each other!

Now I wish I’d thought to place the print more carefully on the back, but at the time I was just thinking in terms of economical fabric use. I still like it, and it’s already quite fancy for running gear! I recognize that it’s pretty silly to combine SPF fabric with completely translucent mesh, but I reckon it’s also not so logical to create a sleeveless top out of SPF either.VNA - 4

The construction was pretty straightforward, with a wonderful technique for creating a nice V at the front. I did find it a bit fiddly at the sides. I’m used to constructing my knitwear entirely on my serger, and I had to do the side seams on my regular machine with a fine zigzag due to the way the binding is applied. I may experiment with applying it differently on the armholes next time, to see if I can come up with an order of construction that doesn’t necessitate using both machines. Is this rational? Probably not, but I feel the drawn to try.VNA2 - 2

I especially want to see what I can do about the rear point, which I did not get smooth and nice. I will try sewing the long seam to connect the bottom section first, then hemming, to see if that helps. VNA - 2

What else to say? I made up a straight size L based on Melissa’s measurement chart, knowing that it was likely to be close-fitting in the bust and loose (as I like it) at the hips. While I do have some drag lines, I actually find the fit as it is very comfortable! I’m not used to being 1. a straight size or 2. potentially a larger size at the bust than the hip. Also a bit surprising to me, I really like the slightly higher hemline on this top. It feels comfortable and I think it flatters me as much as a running top over compression tights can.VNA2 - 1

The top was incredibly airy and light to run in, and I thoroughly enjoyed the first test run in 80-degree sunshine (it was, thank goodness, a low heart-rate run). The only issue I have found is that when I ran in it a second time, with my iPhone armband, I had some abrasion on my side where the armband is a bit scratchy and there’s no coverage from the top. Nothing I can blame the top for! I’ll try it with another armband I have, or maybe I’ll make a Fehrtrade armband from her free pattern!

I really love this top and I may make it with some adjustments for casual wear as well. One thing’s for sure, this is the first of many VNA tops I’ll be making!

Catching Up: Athletic Edition

I’ve moved this blog to a self-hosted WordPress site now and am fixing to get into more regular blogging. I have had MAJOR blockages on taking Finished Object pictures because it involved coordinating with the Lion, but I’m going to try some other ways around that. To wit:

  1. Dressform pictures allowed
  2. iPhone pictures allowed
  3. Try Bluetooth iPhone trigger

But the main thing is that I do love seeing what others share and I really want to participate actively as well. So however funky the pictures may be, I’m going to just do it! And now, for a little catching up . . .

Going WAY back in time we have the jerseys I made for my Lion and myself for our half marathon last November. Not a long distance for some, it was plenty long for us at our slow speeds! We trained for much of 2014 for this race, and we wanted to have special jerseys to wear.

The Lion Prepping to Run
The Lion Prepping to Run

I worked out two patterns for us, a Burdastyle Men’s T-shirt pattern for my husband and the Jalie raglan sleeve top for myself. I made us each a wearable muslin of Robert Kaufman Laguna jersey. It’s super reliable fabric for stable t shirts and the like.

Spoonflower fabric with Lion and Tiger Motif
Spoonflower fabric with Lion and Tiger Motif

I ordered special printed fabric from Spoonflower. Since we have the fun convention of calling ourselves Lion and Tiger, this action-oriented print was a great choice. It was interesting to slice up my tracings of our jersey patterns so that the motif was featured well.

Lion Jersey
My jersey
My jersey

I found the base fabric at B&J in New York about a year ago, and while it breathes, it’s a bit warm. I think I’ll be sticking with Rose City Textiles, a.k.a., for wicking fabrics going forward. But anyhow, it is just fine for a cooler run. We had a fun, entertaining race despite some knee pain. And we sure looked fantastic while we were at it.

I'm ready to Go!
I’m ready to Go!


Sewing Indie–Pattern Hacking a Running Top For the Volume-Lover

Getting in just under the wire, here’s my go at a pattern hack from our beloved indie pattern makers: A running top with the wonderful Y-back from Fehr Trade’s XYT top, but with the drapiness and volume that I prefer. As a woman of prodigious hips and glutes, I find running tops with negative ease have the tendency to shimmy up my torso, revealing my little pot belly to the neighborhood. Not my favorite look!

However, I loved Melissa’s design and instructions for the XYT top, so I’ve known ever since the first (very failed) muslin that I wanted to mix it up with a more capacious body design.

Enter the Dixie DIY Summer Concert T, from Perfect Pattern Parcel #1. I sewed this up a couple of weeks ago, and while I’m not quite sure how to style it (it feels a bit young for my grown up life), I DO find it incredibly comfortable, and keep wearing it around the house.

Me Made May featured the Summer Concert Tee a few times!
Me Made May featured the Summer Concert Tee a few times!

Well, life has definitely been a little busy lately, with the early arrival of my new nephew last Friday, and a quick flight down to Los Angeles for the weekend. So I am basically posting my muslin for this mashup tonight, to make it in under the deadline, and looking forward to tweaking a bit and making more version of this in more fun fabrics.

The first thing I did to create this mashup top was to bring together the back pattern piece from the Summer Concert T (which I just love–the swing, the length!) and the front pattern piece of the XYT:

XYT on top of the Summer Concert Tee
XYT on top of the Summer Concert Tee

Traced the Summer Concert T up to the armpit and the XYT, uh, strap and boob area.

Tracing the two pieces
Tracing the two pieces

I didn’t initially connect the two pieces, but put my knit sloper down for comparison to determine where to draw the . . . um, side-boob. Seriously, there have to be words for this stuff, right? It’s not the armscye, but just below it.

Lined up the top of the strap with the shoulder of my knit sloper for comparison
Lined up the top of the strap with the shoulder of my knit sloper for comparison

I picked a point between the two armscye ends (yeah, that’s what I’ll call them!) and drew a line down to the Summer Concert Tee side seam from there. Smoothed out the armscye a bit.

Then it was time to create the back pattern piece. Well, that was simple*, as the basis for the back of the XYT top is pretty much a cut-off version of the front pattern piece. I traced and then drew a line across. (*As you’ll see, I need to revisit this pattern piece, as it came out voluminous in a way I’m not sure I like.)

Drawing the line across for the back pattern piece
Drawing the line across for the back pattern piece

I had gotten a really cheap and really large technical T for the very purpose of muslining running gear, and I cut that into its various parts. Placing the pattern piece over it, I realized I had to lose a little of that side-swing. Knowing the Summer Concert Tee is REALLY voluminous, I reckoned that wouldn’t hurt.

Folded out a little width on the side seam to fit on the fabric I had available.
Folded out a little width on the side seam to fit on the fabric I had available.

I was even able to cut the Y from the same shirt! In the future I look forward to using non-technical (but awesome) scraps for this piece.

Y-section of the top
Y-section of the top

I constructed the top pretty much per Melissa’s instructions, though since I wasn’t including a self-bra I chose to use a softer, simpler edge finishing. I simply turned and coverstitched the edges.

Pinning the edges of the neckline
Pinning the edges of the neckline

I coverstiched right over my coverstitching to secure the Y-piece to the shirt back.

Pinning the Y-piece for coverstitching on
Pinning the Y-piece for coverstitching on

When all the edges were hemmed, I tried the thing on. And it’s SO comfy! However, I am not really sure whether I got it right. I have a very relaxed shirt at this moment, but I’m not sure whether I’d prefer it if the back were snug to my body. What do you think?

Sorry for the grainy photo--this is the unamended back view
Sorry for the grainy photo–this is the unamended back view
This is the view of what the top would look like with the side seams taken in (they are pinned).
This is the view of what the top would look like with the side seams taken in (they are pinned).

I will try running in this top and then see how it feels. I kind of like the very loose back, but I may try with some color- (or pattern-) blocking elements in the Y piece and a snug band at the upper back, with the main back piece gathered in. I think this is going to be great fun!

Let's have fun with this!
Let’s have fun with this!


Sweat’n’Sew—Spring 5k in Wild Espresso “Capris”

PB Jam Muslin

As y’all may have seen, I decided to participate in Melissa’s Spring Race Challenge this year. Having already muslined her PB Jam leggings and made my first (rather stymied) attempt to muslin the XYT Top, I was enthusiastic about sewing my own running gear. AND I’m really going for it this year with my running, really training, really getting faster, and working up to a half marathon in November. So this challenge was a perfect one for me!

That’s me with the “Hotmail Box!”

I wound up wearing something else in my race, a little local 5k held at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View. I was on an indie pattern kick in

Seamster Rose Hip Tights
Seamster Rose Hip Tights

February, and I downloaded Cake Patterns’ Espresso leggings pattern as well as Seamster Patterns’ Rose Hip Tights, thinking this crazywonderful swimsuit fabric I had picked up at Fabric Outlet during one of their 40% off sales would be awesome for both of them. And being really impatient to try new things, I traced out the Espresso (based on my measurements) and cut the fabric at knee to make shorter (duh) pants for running in warmer weather, which we have most of the time here.

Key Pocket!

I did add a key pocket inside the back waist, which given my swayback is a great place for me to store things. I learned that it’s great for keys, but not my ID, which tried very hard to slide up and out of my leggings while we were racing! I guess I’ll have to develop a zippered pocket. 🙂

New waistband for the PB Jams
After this run I knew the rise was waaaay too long. Thanks, lengthwise stretch!

I also found that after running in these the first time that the stretch of the fabric is more lengthwise than across the grain, so unpicked the waistband, cut it down, and sewed it back together. This seems to be a theme for me, as it happened with my PB Jams as well. However with those I didn’t have the heart to unpick, so I cut off the waistband and fashioned a new one in the manner of my favorite store-bought running leggings: a two-piece shaped waistband with the elastic sewn in the top. It works better with my, shall we say prodigious curves?

Anyhow, now all I need are nude-colored wicking undies, and I can wear these capris all through the summer! For now, I get to wear them once a laundry cycle, as I have only one pair of skivvies that don’t shine through them like a beacon. Oh well, not all fabric choices can be practical. 😉

Fehr Trade Spring Race Challenge

Hi all!

I have an impossible backlog of blog photos to take, and hope I will have laundry, husband and weather aligned tomorrow to do so, but in the mean time, know this:

I’m in taking part in the Fehr Trade Spring Race ChallengeFehr Trade Spring Race Challenge

I’ll be running a 5k on April 5th, wearing some me-sewn running gear and learning for the first time in over a decade what my 5k time is. This is a great kick in the pants for me, as I’m aiming for a November half marathon, and therefore it’s time to start getting a sense of my race speeds. I’ve been getting speedier (for me) in training, so I hope that I can break 30 minutes in the 5k race. Yes, I’m that slow. But I don’t care! I love running in our beautiful California environment, and if I’m slow, it’s just that much more enjoyment. 😉

We’ll see what I have ready to wear at that time, as my Fehr Trade PBJam Leggings are too warm already for most days, but I will at least have some (as yet unblogged) running SewingCake Espresso capris, and hopefully a Fehr Trade XYT Top to show off!

Fehrtrade PB Jam Leggings: Wearable Muslin AND a New Serger!

When I heard that Melissa of Fehr Trade was putting out digital patterns for running gear, I couldn’t have been more excited! One of my favorite sewing bloggers, Melissa is also an inspiration to me in the running realm. Through her generous blogging and twitter feed, I’ve been able to watch as she’s gotten faster and changed her running style, and generally accomplished great things. So when I had the chance to up my fangirl-dom to support her new venture into patternmaking, I jumped at it.

After a Run

Of course, this was also an opportunity to finally get some exciting spandex, supplex and powermesh (I am currently working on my first draft of the XYT top as well), and I was excited when the supplies arrived. I ordered functional but not as exciting fabrics for the first version of each, and more fun fabrics for the second. And I’m certain there will be far more than two versions—I see no reason to buy running pants at a minimum of $60 a pair when I can make more exciting ones for about $20!

When all my supplies were in and washed, I set to assembling and tracing the patterns. I was heartened that my measurements put me in the M slot, as I’m still not over cutting out a 16 in a pattern when my ready-to-wear size is 8 or 10. It’s silly, but it bugs me.

I found the patterns easy to assemble and tracing posed no problem except that I experienced some kind of brain blockage that led me to forget at least 40% of the notches. I later had to go back and trace these onto the pattern pieces, then clip the already-cut fabric.

Piecing the leg fronts and backs was easy. The notches, as soon as I got them on all the pieces as appropriate, were PERFECT. As in standing there pinning and thinking “this doesn’t look like it’s lining up right” and then sewing the seam and seeing that it’s lining up perfectly! Melissa has really thought of all the little details and what happens with a 14” seam allowance in a way that I’m not sure my brain could do.

As I began to assemble the leggings, the issues with my serger started up. I had a lot of trouble with tension, and in the end the needle tension never got to where I wanted it. After struggling with my 8 year old Huskylock 936 for two hours on Saturday, I finally threw up my hands and decided I’d have to take it for servicing the next day. Reading and research ensued, and I wasn’t all that shocked when I seriously depleted my “fun” savings account the next day and came home with a Babylock Evolution.

That’s been a dream to work with! I can switch from coverstitch to overlock several times in an hour (though in longer practice I’m sure I’ll try to group like stitching as I used to with the Huskylock), and every stitch has been perfect. I hope I find over time that this change has been worth it, but I strongly suspect I will. As I branch out into making even my own undies (prototypes coming soon!), the percentage of my own wardrobe that I am sewing is getting close to 80. Without serger struggles to deal with, I will even be able to stop succumbing to the lure of cheap t-shirts from Target.Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 8.07.13 PM

Anyhow, back to the leggings! Once I got the pants together, and before inserting the elastic at the waist, I tried them on. I was amazed! There were several issues, many of which could be chalked up to things other than the pattern:

  1. One never knows what will happen with a particular fabric’s stretch.
  2. Apparently though my middle is Size M, my legs are not. No wonder I like to wear skirts and show them off!
  3. I think, looking at Melissa’s pictures, that I like my leggings tighter than she does.

The only thing that seemed like a possible pattern . . . um, choice? is the length—I removed a good 5 inches and these still bunch at my ankles a bit (I wanted to be conservative). At least for the US I am average-height at 5’ 5.5.” I do, however, like a pretty short inseam at 29” or 30”.

But the issues were easy to remedy! I put the leggings on inside out and pinned up one leg to fit as I wanted. I measured all the pins’ locations and noted them on the pattern instructions, right on the technical drawings. Then I serged off the extra fabric on both inseam and side seam. I experimented with pinning out fabric on the inseam only (so as to preserve the perfection of my hip “swoops”) but the fit felt odd when I did that.

I then used the altered leg and the measurements to pin the other leg, and serged that one too.

Waistband elastic insertion was easy, though I did get two little tucks in the fabric from not stretching enough. I opted to leave that as-is, since I don’t anticipate running without a top that covers the waistband. Coverhemming the bottoms was likewise problem free. And then I had a pair of the loudest pants I’ve had since the early 90’s (remember Hammer time?).  🙂

I wore these to yoga at the office yesterday, which was extra expose-y because our teacher called in sick and I led the class. Before starting I did a quick check and ensured that there was no show-through. All clear! Or opaque, as the case may be.

And today I took them out for a nice 30 minute run! They performed excellently. A little toasty for me in our climate (which is admittedly currently unseasonably warm—sorry everyone else!), but true to Melissa’s word there was no scooching down of the waistband at all! Even though I think I actually cut the elastic a little too loose—what a relief.

So, that’s the story! I can’t WAIT to show you the next pair. I may cut an S or XS with an M hips/bum, depending on how that lines up with my adjusted pair. For as you can see here, truly

So True
But the fit is great, eh?

I hope this post wasn’t too wordy. I’ve had major blog blockage because of not having great pics of the project that came before this, and now I find I’m long-winded. But for the sake of trying to get into some kind of rhythm with this thing, I’m just going to post. Let me know in the comments if you think this level of detail is ridiculous. Thanks!