Sewing Adventures: Racer Back Singlet – Activewear editionBy Susan | Comments: 11 | September 9, 2015
So I’ve made my first piece of activewear. Honestly I never thought I would. I’m more than happy with the kit I already use and I know the high performance fabrics available within the industry are far superior to what is available for home sewing purposes. So why then did I make the leap into making my own?
I love Panda’s and when Spoonflower had free shipping on offer I ordered up some activewear fabric and some of their cotton (not yet made). The pandas are designed by Andrea Lauren. I thought the pandas would look cute and it also references one of my favourite cycling moments when Dan Martin was racing Leige Bastogne Leige 2013 and as he came into the final few hundred meters a fan dressed as a panda was chasing him down. It was hilarious to watch and quickly spawned the tag of #pandapower. It also had the incredibly cool effect of the team then partnering with the WWF to help bring the plight of endangered species to a bigger audience.
Overall I was super excited to be getting activewear fabric with pandas, it seemed to combine many of my favourite things. Then the fabrics arrived and it was well childlike? I was so disappointed. The scale is way too big for adults clothing and just looks juvenile and clunky. Perhaps ok if it was for a top or skirt but not the look I was hoping for with activewear. It was packed up and shoved in the stash and left for more than a year.
Despite the fact I genuinely enjoy exercise I’m neither as fit as I’d like to be, nor look as fit as I want to be. Thus I try, always trying. At the moment I’m trying to be more consistent with my running and want to add in some more things along the way to help be fitter and stronger so general day to day things like walking stairs and carrying groceries are easy (when you don’t own a car you realise how much the ability to carry your groceries home is really important).
I had finished some work, had a bit of time spare and spied the panda fabric. I grabbed it and my racer back singlet pattern. The original pattern is designed for a fabric with more stretch so I measured my favourite RTW run top and adjusted the pattern. I cut a size 16 bust and out to an 18 at the hip to allow for the lack of stretch. I also added 4cm to the hem length to keep my top long as I didn’t want it riding up while running. Cutting out, proved to be the longest part of the process. Due to the oversize nature of the print I was in massive danger of having panda boob, something I seriously wanted to avoid. The only way I could manage it was to not centre the print. That way the pandas fell on the sides and not directly over my boobs. Cut, overlocked and lightning bolt stitch down the neck, armholes, hem and I was done before The Englishman was home and it was time to run. Stitching wise it went through the overlocker with ease but the lightning bolt stitch was laboured. It really felt like the needle was having trouble piercing the fabric and it’s nowhere near as neat as I’d like it to be. It really disliked the twin needle too. Perhaps I should’ve cut a band or bind and finished it that way for a really nice finish?
Photos taken pre running (just outside the Art Gallery). I’m hanging onto my running jacket as these were really some quick snaps.
I was super curious as to how the fabric was going to perform? It was ok. I didn’t feel any dampness so the moisture wicking was decent but I could feel the heat building up in my lower back (below bra above waist) which suggests the fabric isn’t as able to handle warmer climate performance? It wasn’t super bad but I could feel it and normally I don’t feel that at all. The night was warm feeling but there was a cold wind. Just to be sure I checked the data against some other runs. The time of night was pretty much the same as my regular running time, the temperature was close to what I’ve been running in during the current season, my pace/intervals and heart rate was very close too. The only difference was my top. Obviously one run isn’t enough data to say for sure what is happening but the first impression is that the fabric is good for cold climates and cool weather running but I’m skeptical to how it would work in comparison to my RTW pieces in the heat and humidity of a Sydney Summer. I’m going to chart my runs with the top so I can report back with a more informed result later in the summer.
Overall I like the length and size of the singlet, it performed moderately well to good, but it still feels super novelty and while that’s ok I’m not entirely sure it’s the look I want from my activewear?
Fabric: Panda fabric from Spoonflower
Top Pattern: Measure Twice Cut Once Racer Back Singlet
Alterations: Adjusted sizing for stretch difference cut 16 bust to 18 hip, added 4cm to hem length.
I tried to link to information about the actual performance fabric from the Spoonflower site. It’s really difficult to find and after a few minutes of searching I stopped looking. ** It’s too hard to find the exact specifications on their fabrics and then when you do find them they are nowhere near comprehensive enough and merely say “performance”or “active”. I see this way too often in fabric for home sewing and frankly it’s just not good enough. What makes it performance? is it moisture wicking? what are it’s exact fabric components? is the moisture wicking on the construction of the fabric or a finish that has been added? how many washes will it last if it’s an additive? what washing instructions are needed to keep the life of the performance fabric. It’s this lack of information on the specifics of performance fabrics offered by many within the fabric industry for sewers that frustrate me so when it comes to active fabrics. I want the details as one fabric and one set of performance criteria does not suit all sports. Perhaps one day I’ll write a series of blog posts on active fabrics and sportswear from an industry perspective so I can rant away about details and specifics then. Till then, happy running.
** With thanks to Robyn in the comments she found the page I was looking for and here is the link http://www.spoonflower.com/spoonflower_fabrics#view_fabric it does indeed contain the information I was looking for, including things like washing instructions. Very happy that someone was able to find it and point me in the right direction for the information I had thought was lacking but is indeed supplied. Many thanks to Robyn and Spoonflower for providing me with the details.