Sew your own activewear - loose fitting tee

Okay, I will admit that I don't look like I'm about to do anything too active in this outfit.  The ugg boots sort of give it away :).  I had just finished sewing this t-shirt, which is designed for more active pursuits, when this photo was taken.

I made the sweatpants in this photo a couple of weeks ago, and have been living in them ever since.  The pattern is a Burda / Jalie mash up.  The fabric is a beautiful french terry from Maai Designs.  I have the another French terry in the same colour as this t-shirt.  I like to use a lighterweight fabric for the pocket bags.  This t-shirt fabric is a perfect match, but I needed to make the t-shirt so I could use the scraps for the pocket bags.  Sometimes there are a lotta steps to sew the garment you want.

Back to the t-shirt.  I wanted to copy a Lululemon t-shirt that I bought for travelling / trekking last year.  After reviewing all of my t-shirt patterns, I decided that the best place to start would be the loose fitting block in "Sew your own Activewear" by Melissa Fehr.  I was lucky enough to be one of the pattern testers for this book.  I tested a shorts pattern, then drafted a cycling t-shirt.  I got a massive migraine before sewing up the shirt, that lasted several days, and missed the deadline for feedback.  I didn't get back to the shirt for a while and then decided that cycling was causing me more injury than good, so never have sewn up that draft.

Now that I have sewn up the t-shirt, I am disappointed that I waited so long to try this pattern.  Normally I make a whole heap of fitting changes, including square shoulder, forward shoulder, protruding front shoulder joint, hollow chest etc etc.  The only change I made to this pattern was to grade out from an XS in the bust to a M in the hips.  When Melissa was writing this book, she spent a lot of time on the fit of the blocks, using the Alvanon fitting mannequins.  (The cycling and triathlon clothes I buy my husband are made by dhb, who also use Alvanon, and he has been happy with the fit.  I think a triathlon suit would be pretty tricky to get the fit right, which is why I have decided not to spend my sewing time creating one for him).

So back to the t-shirt.  I copied the length, hemline and neckline of the Lululemon t-shirt.  I also noted that the shirt did not have a traditional side seam.   Instead,  the seam under the arm starts  further back behind the sleeve seam and angles to the front.  I guess that the main benefit of this is that you do not have several seams intersecting where the sleeve side seam meets the body side seam, which reduces the possibility of chafe in this area.  Here is a photo of my pattern pieces.

If you look closely, you can see this angled side seam in the photo below.

The sleeve head is not symmetrical.  It is flatter at the back and fuller at the front.  You can see that the sleeve fits nicely when my arm is by my side.  The sleeve has quite a steep sleeve cap.  The photo below shows what happens when I lift my arm.  If the sleeve cap was flatter, it would allow more movement when your arm was lifted up, but it would stick out from the body more when your arm was by your side (like the Basic InstincT in my earlier post).  To make a t-shirt for active wear, it would be good to know the intended use of the shirt before choosing what sort of sleeve to use.  For running, when your arms are by your side, this sleeve is great.  If you were going to swing your arms a lot (tennis, golf, netball), I would choose a t-shirt with a much flatter sleeve cap.

I never got around to posting the shorts I made when testing for this book.  I tested the "Split Shorts".  It was so long ago that I dug out my feed back form to see what I thought back then. 

Initially, I was a bit skeptical when I realised that the patterns would all have to be drafted from the blocks.  I thought it would be too involved for many home sewers to contemplate.  I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the drafting instructions were.  The instructions and diagrams were clear and easy to follow. 

I followed the drafting instructions and made a pattern for the split shorts, with some changes (I lowered the rise, and swapped which front piece sat on top, and I curved the front panel to meet the back yoke).  I constructed the shorts and took them for a test run.  They were very comfortable and I ran my second fastest ever 5 km time in them….possibly because I was wearing shorts in the middle of winter!  My phone stayed in place in the back pocket for the duration of the run.

Here is my first version. 

I thought that the fit could be improved, so I followed the diagrams in the book to diagnose and correct the fit.  I had enough fabric to make a second version.

Better, but not perfect.

Anyway, now that I have got the book out, I can see that there are lots of other projects I'd like to try.  Next though, I think will be some pretty plain long-sleeved close fit tees, to help me cope with the cooler weather here. 

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