Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

This is What Happens When…..


A home sewer joins a gym……dscn6568After the flurry of sewing posts in August I fell silent for a few weeks and this is the reason why.

Yes, you heard that right. I looked at my thickening waistline in my not-lost Lea wrap dress and decided to take affirmative action. I’ve joined a gym! (Again). However, this time, it’s different – why? Because I sew……….

1980sclothes_p3tauqI really didn’t want to look like Jane Fonda (actually I did!) or wear the 1980’s aerobic  workout gear with headbands and leg warmers.  I know vintage is fashionable but really, there is a limit….bc7df4e1f23e67fbf3ef826d50d85dc5

It seems to be the style nowadays, at least at my gym, to not look like you try too hard with workout clothes – it doesn’t matter if they don’t match or belong to a ‘set’. It’s the “I just threw this on” look.; “I’m more interested in my workout than my workout clothes”.

I don’t do running and jumping stuff and my chest dimension is moderate so that gives me an opportunity to sew some easy workout gear.

Rhonda wrote a very timely post this week about athleisure clothes and I took some inspiration from this. Thankfully we don’t have to spend $98 for a pair of Lululemon leggings – just 1 metre of lycra fabric at £5 makes up a pair of leggings and a cropped top.

I’m doing lovely posturing exercise classes – Yoga, Pilates, BodyBalance etc and they need flexible leggings and tops that don’t ride up. The gym sessions include rowing, cross trainers and mucking about on weight machines. So I tried to sew a workout wardrobe that encompasses both.

Most fabrics are from Fabworks and as far as I know are not specifically manufactured for working out but so far, they’ve performed very well, unlike myself.

Why sew your own? Well, I suppose it’s the same reason we sew normal everyday clothes: no-one else will be wearing the same thing, I can make whatever length and breadth I like, I can choose my colours, I can add little details like tabs for locker keys or pockets, and the cost!

Mainly sewed in a palette of turquoise and pink with a bit of black and grey and, when combined with some RTW navy, black, grey bottoms, forms a very versatile collection that will take me easily from one week to another.

Some details: I changed the tension in the left needle on the overlocker with a contrast thread for an interesting stitch detail in black and white leggings: sliced up a leggings pattern to include a contrast spiral: drafted top from RTW with shoulder strap bands.

Want some action shots?

Leggings pattern – McCalls  6173 and takes 30 mins to sew6173

Dark pink top – drafted from RTW

Pale pink top – Merchant & Mills Bantam top with hemline band and added shoulder contrast.


Leggings – Vogue 9108 (Marcy Tilton)  with added spirals

Top – drafted from RTW with added side panels


Top – as above in turquoise knit marl.

I have lengthened most of the tops and dipped the back to cover my backside. As the tops are racer-back, I have made cropped tops – essentially half a T-shirt, to wear underneath to cover the bra straps.


And when it’s time to go home, just throw on a Holiday top with added front pouch. Same fabric as top above.


The girl who would only ever wear sleeves is now wearing racer back T-shirts…..


and getting muscles.



47 thoughts on “This is What Happens When…..

  1. Love all the pieces that you put together.
    I think it’s important to feel good about how we look, and your pieces are quite inspirational. So happy that I could add a tiny bit of inspiration 😊

  2. A fabulous collection!

  3. Very lovely, very inspiring.

  4. Love the black and white leggings with the fancy stitching.

  5. What a wonderful collection! Just wanting to wear all those pieces should keep you motivated for going to the gym.

  6. These are gorgeous! You’ll look great while improving how you feel.

  7. Holy smokes, what a great collection!

  8. Love this post, your poses, and your pants! BTW, you look great! Looks like your gym experience is giving you the results you want in order to look and feel your best.

  9. Wow! What an amazing collection with some super colourful fabrics. You never do things by halves Ruth. It must be like a little factory at your place.

    I too go to the gym everyday but I am in the “don’t care what I look like” camp with some very old items that still do the job so I won’t replace them. I did make a few items as part of Karen’s Sporty Summer Sewathon a year or two ago and these items are in rotation.

    • I just like to use up all the fabric Kate and I’m too lazy to change the thread in the machine!
      One session in the gym is rewarded with a session at the sewing machine. Thank you.

  10. Wonderful job! I love making my own workout wear as I feel it is one time I am saving lots of money by sewing rather than buying. I also love my unique pieces that no one else at the gym has.

  11. I rarely feel tempted to make workout gwar and look pretty ratty in my old stuff. You are tempting me although I think I am being seduced by the idea of your productivity. I especially like the tights with blue swirls.

    • Thanks Stephanie. When I joined up the only things I had were two pairs of old training trousers and a couple of my husband’s T-shirts. I looked like I had just got out of bed!

  12. I reckon you’ll be making a new collection in about 6 months when this lot will be much too big for you!
    Well done. I fancy making some for myself. Love racer backs.
    Meanwhile I’m off to the jam instead of the gym. Have a glut of plums I have to deal with first!

  13. Wow! Everything looks great and what a great motivator.

  14. You look so positive and body confident in your new workout gear! It’s lovely to read about you taking some time for your health :^)

  15. Wow! What a great collection, and you look marvellous in every pose!

  16. I am in old clothes, I am in a cardiac rehab group, a bunch of oldies. I do have some failed experiments. After seeing your lovely creations, I will give exercise gear another try.

  17. Incredibly impressed, apart from walking the dogs I do nothing, and I think one of the most noticeable changes is actually my drooping bum! I have a bit of a yen for making a swimming costume, though I haven’t swum for ages ….. Maybe I could make my sewing obsession inspire me to exercise. Love your collection, that blue is fab! X

  18. You go girl!! looking great…

  19. My goodness, you’ve been busy! These all look brilliant, I’d never even thought about making gym stuff – just buy it in a shop I can’t remember the name of on the Boucher Road. It’s all reduced prices, but even then it’s still not cheap. This may be something that I have to investigate!!

  20. Good for you, Ruth! And what a great workout wardrobe!

  21. Brilliant! I love all of them. I especially love that you’re showing off your arms now. Love that beautiful self. Embrace you. So glad that you made all your fun pieces. Doesn’t that inspire you to get out and get moving – the moment you open the drawer or closet and see that handmade piece you know you already look good in… yeah, I’m ready to work out now too! Making a ton of dancewear and using some new tech fabrics. SO fun!

  22. I love your prints! And they mix and match too. You look like a million bucks. I’m always keen when something can sew up in under an hour!

  23. I really must start making my own gym gear! Daring prints and great design lines. Your own lines are looking svelte these days.

  24. Well done Ruth, and a great warrior pose. I have started to really enjoy making my own workout gear. You need to check out Funkifabrics. Make coffee before you start. Your wardrobe is impressive. E-mail to follow.

  25. Be careful hanging all those wonderful outfits on the washing line…your neighbors will think you are in full production mode! They are all just lovely and starting with a perfect body also helps! My exercise regime is mostly sitting and pinning on the floor but I call it sewing yoga and my older clients say they could never do what I do. Of course the hardest part is getting up off the floor after 90 minutes…haha. After all this serging/overlocking be sure to give your machine a good cleaning!

  26. Most impressive! i get tired just staring at that washing line…

  27. Oh my goodness! Your sewing skills inspire, and now your gym routine. And your amazing workout duds. Wow! I’ve thought of starting with yoga again since I’m so out of shape, perhaps the time has come. There’s a studio right around the corner. Sigh.

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