Despite the fact I wear a lot of leggings and sweatshirts these days, and not a whole lot of anything else, I've not dipped my toe into making my own workout wear yet. Part of this is that I really enjoy making special things, like a fancy dress to wear to a wedding (not that I've done that in a long time), and part of it is that I have very much a hate-love-hate relationship with my serger. I've had a Juno 3434D serger for years now, and it works fairly well, but it's a pain to thread (like most sergers) and the blade sometimes decides to eat my fabric. I once ran over a pin with it, and I thought I had replaced it, but it's been acting up again. I also got a Pfaff Coverlock 4.0 a couple of years ago, which is a combo serger/coverstitch machine that is much higher up the line in terms of quality and capabilities, but it's always been pretty finicky for me, and I would spend forever trying to get it to work right and then just go back to my Juno, until it would eat my fabric or I would need to switch thread colors, and then I would just go to my zig-zag stitch on my regular machine. Not ideal (hence the two hates to the one love in the relationship description).
Two Saturdays ago I determined to use some athletic fabric I had purchased a few months back and make myself a couple of sets of the Axis Tank by Sophie Hines and the Avery Leggings by Helen's Closet. I started with a fun tone-on-tone black animal print knit, and started with the leggings. While the original pattern has a super sleek design with a single pattern piece per leg (no side seam), I'm a huge fan of pockets, because I like to take my phone with me on runs. Luckily, Helen includes a handy tutorial on her website for hacking a side pocket. I followed along in slicing and dicing the leg piece, and wrote in big bold letters "ADD SEAM ALLOWANCE" on the pieces. Did I remember to do so when cutting out my leggings? No. That, plus my Juno eating up the fabric a bit meant they were a tad too snug, but they actually ended up pretty wearable. I attempted to also make a matching Axis tank, but that turned out to be a mess, also due to serger woes.
My first Avery Leggings
During the following week, hubby convinced me to finally pull the trigger on buying a new serger that I've been eyeing for years - one of the Baby Lock machines with the air threading (aka magic), which I got this past Saturday. You literally put the threads near a hole, push a button, and whoosh, it's threaded with automatic tension that's perfect every time. I'm seriously over the moon about it. I was also going back and forth between getting just a serger or the combo serger/coverstitch machine, and I decided to splurge and get the combo (Baby Lock Accolade) - this machine should last me forever, and it's worth it in the long run. I like to sew to produce garments, not fight with machines!
Side note - typically you have to buy sewing machines from a dealer. There is a Baby Lock dealer very close to me, but I haven't been crazy about their service (I've taken my machines in there several times). The next closest one was in Delaware, Hayes Sewing Machine Company, and they were awesome! It's a family-run business, and very personal - I emailed several times during the week, and spent way more time in there than John enjoyed, I'm sure, but they showed me the ropes of multiple machines and helped me figure out what was best, and took my Pfaff in as trade, plus offer on-going support. I highly recommend them for your next sewing machine purchase!
After playing around a bit on Saturday, I sat down to business on Sunday, and learned the ins and outs and started getting serious about workout wear. I made another pair of Avery leggings, but this time I left the legs as a single piece, and changed up the waistband construction. I did a single fold-over piece (front and back), and added a pocket on the inside front of the waistband. I got to learn how to use my new elastic attaching foot in the process, which was fun too. I sewed a matching Axis tank as well, both in a fun ombre foil knit from JoAnn Fabrics.
What I really need are a bunch of new workout tanks though, so I had bought some light-weight knits from JoAnn's the night before (first fabric purchase of 2021!), and set about modifying the Axis tank pattern. While it's super cute as is, I'm not a huge fan of cropped tops, as I just don't find them comfortable given my jiggle around the middle (personal preference only). I lengthened the tank, and changed the armholes/neckline slightly to match better with one of my favorite RTW tanks, but keeping again the single pattern piece, which eliminates side-seams. I tried it in the black animal print again, but I hate sewing in bands in the round, so I attempted to do it flat and do the shoulder seams after the bands were in - that was a mistake. The fabric was too bulky and it was a mess. Other than that though, it was super cute - I have more of the fabric, so I'm definitely trying it again.
I switched over to a lightweight knit and it came out great - this pattern is awesome, and super quick to sew! I did the bands in the round, and they are a tad too short, as there is a bit of puckering, but I hate it when the are too loose and flop around. I wrote "Add 1" for lightweight knit" on the band pattern pieces, but do you think I'll remember? Me either.
None of these pieces are what I would deem perfect, but I'm super happy with my progress, and I'm working on perfecting my patterns. I basically just want to whip up several of the same pattern seasonally and be set for a while, instead of spending an arm and a leg seasonally at places like Lululemon and Athleta! (We're not going to count the cost of my serger in that equation, for obvious reasons :P)