Sewing Adventures – activewear

By Susan | Comments: 4 | October 10, 2016

Lately we have been spending our Sundays out walking.


Taking in the amazing city we live in. It’s great exercise and the views are breathtaking.


I seriously never thought the day would come where I would sew activewear. It was not on my radar, I was perfectly happy with what I already had in the wardrobe.

Then one day we were getting ready to head out and I realised my run tights were showing more of my bottom than I am comfortable with. They were wearing out and going see through!

In the stash there was some black lycra. Super special stuff that was firm, moisture wicking, anti microbial, anti bacterial and originally designed for high end cycling kit. It would be perfect for tights for walking and running.

To save time and energy I cut an existing pair of tights up, traced them using a tracing wheel and added seam allowance back in. The only change I made was to eliminate the side seam in the upper panel.

I cut the upper in my sports lycra, the back knee from some mesh and the coloured panels are lycra from Pitt Trading.


To construct I overlocked all the seams to the outside and then topstitched them down using a zig zag stitch. This was hugely labour intensive but the closest I could come to replicating a flat lock stitch with my own machines. It looks quite slick on the outside and it’s super nice to be seam free on the inside.


The only glitch I had in construction was that in eliminating the side seam I made the upper back panel a nightmare to insert. I got there in the end but it was not easy to get it into that shape.

For the waistband I overlocked a piece of elastic to the outside of the garment, flipped it to the inside and topstitched in place.

Hems I did last by turning up and zig zagging.


When I tried them on they felt compressive! Very pulled in feeling but not tight feeling, just incredibly firm.

I wore them out on a walk from Taronga Zoo to Balmoral beach. It’s a mix of boardwalk, bush track, sand stone and some stairs.


I was a little worried the thicker fabric would feel hot but it didn’t, also had the added benefit of being such high spec fabric that the moisture wicking component is fabulous and you never feel sweaty despite how hard I had to work in some sections (short legs and tall stairs are not easy!). They held up incredibly well and only need a few minor alterations before I make some more.


Safe to say I’ve caught the activewear sewing bug.

Fabric: Black sport lycra from my stash. Black mesh and coloured Lycra from Pitt Trading.

Trims: waist elastic from the stash

Pattern: made my own from RTW tights

Alterations for next time: Add side seams to make putting in rear panel easier, add 1cm extra through hip to allow for slightly less compressive feeling. Waistband tended to fold over a bit while walking. Perhaps use a drawstring but it needs a better solution than just the elastic.



  • Kristy
    October 10, 2016

    What a brilliant idea to put the overlocking seam on the outside – it definitely looks like a flatlocked seam and I’m sure it’s way more comfortable sewn this way. Love that Balmoral Beach walk too, it’s amazing that such beautiful bush and beach walks are so close to the city

    • Susan Goodwin
      October 10, 2016

      It’s one of things I read somewhere and filed away for future use. Am hoping it works well with wear and washing.

  • Rosie
    October 10, 2016

    Way to go Susan! Self made activewear makes a lot of sense, these look great. I get that elastic waistband rolling over too, I row & I thought the repeated bending over meant that’s unavoidable, do you think there’s a way to eliminate it?

    • Susan Goodwin
      October 10, 2016

      The waistband roll can be eliminated a few ways.
      Use a drawstring/elastic combo so the elastic isn’t taking the strain
      Increase the width of the waistband thus taking it up above the pudgy areas
      Swap elastic for a folded self fabric band that is shaped. This works brilliantly in cycling gear as the body is placed in a variety of positions on the bike that are wildly different from standing in the kit.
      I’ll give them a try and see what I come up with.

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Hi, I'm Susan. A designer living in Sydney, Australia.

Here I share tales of my sewing, my pattern collection and insights into what it's like to work as a professional fashion designer.

Other recurring themes include cat photos and an ever changing hair style.



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