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Exercise fabrics/patterns/advice?

Crafty_Manx | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi All

I have finally gotten off my lazy butt and started an exercise routine that I promise to stick to, but I have no good clothes for exercising in!  I don’t want to go out and spend a fortune on clothes so the obvious answer is to sew them myself.  Has anyone done this and does anyone have pattern and/or fabric suggestions?  I need indoor clothes that can move with those high kicks and deep squats, but aren’t going to bunch or pinch in those uncomfortable areas.  I need fabric that will keep me cool and grow (well, shrink) with me.  I am thinking that it’s going to have to be spandex, but I wanted to hear some other suggestions…

Thanks for any help you can give me!!!



  1. LinT76 | | #1

    Cat,  Now it's my turn.  Go buy the book "Body for Life"  We started a few months ago. It works great.  You need to exercise with weights. It really speeds things up.  The secret is the weights and eating 6 times a day.  What you are doing is keeping you metabolism up all day and your body does not go into a starving mode.  Water.....drink.  Do you  have a weight room at college?  We try to walk or do aerobic exercise 3 times a week 20-30 min. and weights 3 times 20-30 minutes.  You will loose inches before you loose weight so don't weigh and get discouraged.  About your exercise clothes.  Girl, get some sweats and t-shirts from Walmart and save your money for all those nice new clothes you're going to need to buy (smaller of course, ha)

    take care,  Lin

    [email protected]     

  2. lin327 | | #2

    Yes, spandex is the fabric of choice for any sport or activity that uses a large range of motion.  kwiksew has several patterns suitable for exersize wear and so does stretchandsew.  Stretch and sew specializes in exercize and sports clothes, I've used them for figure skating costumes.

    Cotton spandex is the easiest to find and for most workouts is suitable.  It washes well, but don't put it in the dryer, it likes to air dry.  Prewash before cutting, some cotton spandexes are stretched when placed on the bolt and need the washing to relax and get the kinks back in. For high intensity workouts fabrics such as polypropolene (Coolmax etc.) are better, but harder to find.

    Spandex should be cut with negative ease, otherwise it looks baggy. measure and subtract at minumum an inch so you get the proper amount of stretch. Cotton spandex should be cut on a large flat surface with nothing hanging over the edge of the table.  Even a little hang can distort the fabric.  I usually sew it with a zig zag stitch only,  this offers the seams the most stretchability.  I fold hems up and also zigzag into place.  Pressing is optional.  If you can lessen the pressure on the presser foot, do that also.  Tension will take some trial and error, so make several test seams.

    On the overall frustration scale, one being none and ten being I'm-tearing-my-hair-out, cotton spandex rates a three.

    1. Crafty_Manx | | #3

      Thanks for the tips!!


  3. carolfresia | | #4

    Cotton spandex would be my choice, too, along with other spandex blends, depending on the intensity of your workout. Some of the wicking polyester blends are supposed to be good, as well as tactel nylon/lycra blends (feels like cotton but dries more quickly).

    All cotton-lycra fabrics are not the same, by the way. Most will work for this purpose, but some are more of a nuisance than others to sew. YOu may find you need a stretch needle with some, to prevent skipped stitches; others will run through the machine quite easily with an ordinary universal needle. A narrow zigzag is the best bet, I think, for seams, unless you have serger, in which case you might try some stretch stitches from that. Flatlocked seams can be more comfortable than a regular serged seam, by the way, since they have less of a defined ridge.

    Check the Kwik Sew website (http://www.kwiksew.com) to see the variety of workout clothes patterns they offer. THey also have a book, which includes many traceable patterns, on sewing activewear and swimwear. I've liked the Kwik Sew patterns I've tried for this type of clothing, and have also heard good things about Stretch and Sew. Another source is Jalie patterns (http://www.jalie.com).

    Take a look at what other people are wearing to exercise, and decide what you think would work best for the type of activity you do, and what you'd be most comfortable in. I'm not a tights-and-leotard type of person, myself, but don't mind yoga pants and a fitted t-shirt. You shouldn't have too much trouble finding a pattern that copies RTW workout clothes, or that can be adapted to do so.

    Good luck, and best wishes with the new exercise routine.


  4. Katz | | #5

    Check out Christine Jonson's yoga/exercise wear - one of her new patterns. She designs all of her patterns to be made in cotton/lycra and it is really a nice fabric.

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