Sunday 26 July 2015

I totes made activewear!

I totes feel compelled to use words like "totes" even though I am comfortably into my 40's. Whatevs! I totally made technical tights!

Tights of technical prowess. Lycra even! Python print and stretch floral lace! A second skin!

And let it be said they are goooooood.

Your gonna get photobombed... I'm sorry.

About a month ago Julia from Pitt Trading was in touch to let me know the mother lode of mother lode drops of swimwear lycra (from a local designer) had arrived. Delicious, scrumptious, totally divine printed lycra. Julia was interested in showcasing other garments that can be made out of what might generally only be considered for swimwear.

I was flummoxed at first. I mean I'm not known for sewing with knits and I certainly hadn't thought of myself as someone who wears lycra out of water.

What the....???? I spend four days out of seven in lycra and sometimes on the days in between. For those who don't know, my day job is as an Exercise Physiologist. I work in musculoskeletal rehabilitation within a combined Physiotherapy and clinical Pilates practice.

I wear lycra. Everyday.

And when I'm not working I'm often training (running usually, but my knees are giving me grief) and wearing lycra.

My thoughts turned to making a pair of technical tights. Not casual, simple leggings, but tights the likes of Nike or Running Bare. Tights I might like to wear at work in the clinic as well as out on the road.

And who better to ask for advice than the gorgeous Maria of How Good Is That? I've long admired Maria. The woman has some serious skillz. And when it comes to making one's own activewear, there really is no one other than Maria. Check. Her. Out

Maria was so very encouraging and promised to hold my hand if I needed. I nearly wept with relief. Lycra gives me the willies. Slippery, slithery, stretchy lycra. The last time I worked with you was in my 20's and you were made into a long line, side ruched boob tube. Oh yes you were. And I looked good (give me a break, it was the 90's).

Maria sews with a lot of Pitt Trading fabrics and so we decided to do a joint project - making garments from lycra our own ways, to be revealed on our blogs at about the same time.

Maria made a gorgeous dress and a technical workout tee with her fabrics. Seriously, I just want to climb inside Maria's wardrobe and learn EVERYTHING.

I hit upon Jalie 3462 Cora Running Tights and Shorts. My idea of perfect technical tights - crotch gusset (ensuring no *ahem* camel toe *ahem*), no inseam (nasty chafing, you), multi-paneled for perfect fit, and a functional pocket big enough for an iPhone or decent set of keys. Jackpot!

I picked out this awesome python printed lycra for the main, and wanted to soften the look somehow. The lovely Susan of Measure Twice Cut Once (and Pitt Trading worker on the side) suggested stretch lace on the calf - I wasn't sold. But hello, clever, forward thinking Susan - check out her genius!!


I picked my size based on my full hip measurement as specified in the patterns notes and they fit beautifully. I made no alterations at all. I would suggest sizing down one size if you prefer a super tight fit and the lycra is soft-ish.

The pattern pieces all came together like a perfectly planned jigsaw making construction a total joy. I used my overlocker/serger with a 4 thread stitch for pretty much the entire garment. My overlocker adored the lycra and I made no changes to tension or differential feed!

I changed to the lightening bolt stitch on my regular sewing machine to sew in the crotch gusset (to improve precision) and the waistband to its facing. I topstitched the gusset seams with a twin needle (stitch length 3.5mm) and woolly nylon in the bobbin. The woolly nylon helps to preserve a stretchy seam. I used the same method for hemming the legs.

I used a regular zigzag stitch to topstitch the pocket and waistband elastic.
Perfect, comfy waistband - no accidental undies on show. iPhone hiding in the pocket.
Such soft, but nicely form-fitting lycra. It feels the perfect weight and divinely soft. This is actually my second pair and I prefer the fit. Even though I cut the one size for both, this lycra has a lovely stretch that makes me feel slightly less like an over-stuffed sausage.

Enter stage right... The Talaria Tights! (thank you for the name Sarah).

May I run like the wind in my winged/feathered tights of the Gods! Fabric is Amethyst Feather.

So these were my toile. I loved them when I first put them on. But on making my second, python pair I'm aware of some problems. I had to cut the fabric on the crossgrain to ensure the print ran the "right" way. This particular lycra stretched less on the crossgrain so these tights are tighter.

I used a stretch mesh on the calf in these and it's very comfy.

You can certainly see the seamlines of the panels on this version... which is nice...

But I might add that the lycra when stretched fully (think, ass when bending over or down) is slightly less opaque than I'd like. Not indecent, but I'd have to consider what undies I was wearing...

Sightly too tight waistband elastic
And the base lycra fabric is white. When the seams stretch open, as they naturally do on wearing a pair of tights, the white shows through making it looked a bit like the tights are too tight...

Tight waistband!
But I'll wear them! Even if it's just because they allow me to do this.

 I totes made technical tights!

*Thanks go to Pitt Trading who provided my choice of fabric and notions free of charge for this project in exchange for images of my completed make for their use. Opinions are all my own.


  1. Totes amaze balls! Looking good.. Love the second pair,especially with the lace nice contrast in fabrics. I Go you...

  2. Very Nice! thanks for suggesting this pattern. I've been looking for something like this and have had good luck with Jalie in the past...

  3. You are TOTES awesome!! And I also want to crawl inside Maria's wardrobe, or at least her sewing brain! Brilliant use of networking esp. with the lace panel, and I love both pairs.
    - thanks so much for all the pattern details, I might have to add some technical tights to my yoga wardrobe, it's much less daunting when I can read from the intrepid adventurers who've gone ahead of me ;)

  4. Oh, thank you Nic. I actually realised I left out some details on this post as it was getting so long. If you want some more info on what else I did or changed check out my review on xxx

  5. Thanks! I actually went back after you read this post (I think) and added some more technical details as I realised I left them out! I added yet more on my review at if you want more info. I can highly recommend them :)

  6. Thank you Steff! I have to say I got some help from the lovely Susan at Measure Twice Cut Once. It certainly helped :)

  7. Really great and so nice that your overlocker wasn't a PiTA! It really is a clothing type where DIY will save some cashola too! Let us know what your patients think of your rockin' tights (and I'll let you know how I go on the hunt for Galaxy fabric!).

  8. Love these. I'm a big fan of Jalie too. I've never thought of making my own running tights. You might have just inspired me. Totally awesome make.

  9. Thanks to Maria (for activewear ideas) and Dawn (of ) I'm learning to love Jalie. I've used the Cora pattern to make the shorts so far (it's summer here) and loved, loved, loved the comfort with the gusset and the generous pocket (though I did add a second pocket on the side of the thigh for quicker phone access). I'm very inspired by your print choices and mesh/lace inserts...they look marvelous!!! I've never had much success sewing with swimsuit lycra for activewear, though. I find it much too hot and sweaty to run or bike do you like the breathability of your "Totes Technical Tights"?

  10. My overlocker excelled all my expectations!! And yes, it's a huge money saver - under $30 a pair. I think my clients will be a bit freaked out - I wear black, always, at work :)

  11. Even working out at home deserves some cool workout clothing! It'll make you feel the part. Get outta those pyjamas and into some Cora tights :)

  12. Thank you Debbie! I'm really loving them and see more in my future - probably capri length for spring/autumn. They are getting their first wear today so I'll let you know how they go xx

  13. Thanks so much Kelli! It has to be said, though, that I made these specifically for low impact activities because I don't expect them to be terribly breathable or wicking. My work in the studio makes this fabric a pretty good choice, but I doubt I'd wear them running. I'd consider some more technical wicking fabrics for that as I am quite the sweater :) Love your extra pocket! I find pockets in RTW tights and shorts ridiculously small and useless!

  14. Totes amazeballs! I love both versions but the lace accent is so inspired. I'm really keen to make some of these. Poor me though I don't have an overlocker :( can I ask what your overlocker is? I have no idea what I'm looking for

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