Sew Your Own Activewear – Book Review

sew your own active wear melissa fehr

Tonight at 8pm the BBC airs The Truth About Getting Fit. As a Fitbit addict, I shall be watching. My own exercise regimes have changed over the years. I used to cycle a lot; now the bike languishes in the shed. I ran half marathons, then stopped running. I bought an energetic dog and found that three walks a day were mandatory. I left my corporate job and started running again. I swear by custom made orthotics. I have dreadful stiffness in my joints and every day berate myself for not doing more yoga or any yoga. I spend long amounts of time sat at a desk.

Any of this sound familiar?!

I have opinions on active wear for women and the unisex shops that sell them. A few top of my head thoughts:

  • Try to find a female member of staff.
  • Take a quick look at the floor space devoted to men’s activewear. Then walk down into the gloomy basement to find the women’s section, crammed in a corner behind a pillar.
  • What is it with bubble gum pink?
  • Sizing range. Close to non-existent. Extra-large is my go-to and I don’t think I’m extra large.
  • Decent fabrics and seam finishes count. I know all about chafing and sweating.

how to sew active wear

So, I’ve been very interested to follow Melissa Fehr‘s journey in writing Sew Your Own Activewear. Melissa is hugely inspiring with her own marathon-worthy exercise regime and has encouraged me in my own erratic journeys around fitness. She was even kind enough to teach my mum how to sew fitness jerseys at The Great British Sewing Bee Live!

fehr trade

The book uses four basic blocks to supply patterns for 15 items . I’m most interested in the raglan tee for running (or sleepwear), the yoga pants, and I fancy sewing running pants with actual pockets. The winter base layer is really cute and all the photos are fab – is that Hampstead Heath I spy?

how to exercise in hampstead heath

There are great tips on needles, hems, seams and fitness fabrics. And I don’t think I spied a single shade of bubble gum pink in the entire book.

The #thisgirlcan campaign has been brilliant for showing that anyone can exercise, and now this book shows that anyone can sew their own active wear.

Both exercise and sewing are brilliant for a person’s mental health. If you want to feel really good about yourself, why not do both?

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15 Responses to Sew Your Own Activewear – Book Review

  1. morecheerful says:

    I have several pairs of orthotics (not custom made) and find that they make my shoes too tight. Do you still have that issue with custom ones?

  2. Beth Duffus says:

    Splendid post – I’ve just ordered the book! I make quite a lot of t-shirts but I’ve avoided using stretch fabrics for anything else as it’s tricky to get the ‘negative ease’ thing right. I also get aches if I’m inactive for too long. Yoga and walking definitely work but they’ve slipped out of my routine recently. Perhaps some new kit will do the trick. I’ve worn custom orthotics for years. They literally stopped the chronic hip pain I’d had in four days. I really enjoy your blog Karen – and you’re definitely not an extra-large.

  3. I made a couple of Tees last year (J. Stern designs which I highly recommend!) for pilates and love them – I can reach around without having to yank them back into place again – they stay put because of my fba 🙂 I also bought Johanna’s book on activewear which is great – The Last Stitch Johanna from Sweden. I agree with you that making your own activewear is where it’s at 🙂

  4. JenL says:

    Mostly I have used Jalie patterns, but after taking the leap a few years ago, I rarely ever buy RTW activewear. It’s a small thing, but being able to customize the rise and length of my running shorts has made them much more comfortable (plus, pockets). I made my first activewear on a regular sewing machine, it isn’t hard, and no one should be afraid to try it. I would say that the challenge is finding good fabric, but that is getting better these days. Melissa’s book looks like it has a nice variety of all the necessary parts of a exercise wardrobe.

  5. So timely! I have patterns and fabric for activewear for myself & DH. I have heard Melissa Fehr’s name over and over again so that must mean it’s time for me to look for her book.

  6. RT says:

    I wonder if this is a cultural difference. In the US we have a HUGE range of women’s fitness stuff. Sometimes it’s pink, but not all the time. Way too much black imo. I love shopping in the fitness department, but rarely buy anything. Mostly because I have such a stash of stuff at home already!

  7. Siona says:

    Do you know I’ve been too intimidated to make fitness wear with all the potentially weird and wonderful fabrics, and stretchiness in weird places – the last place I want a seam to go is mid downward dog…. eek! – but the more I see of Melissas book the more I’m tempted. Im sure i could tackle some yoga pants…

  8. Kath says:

    I’ve thought about making my own fitness gear for ages as being a size 16/18 not a lot of companies make for that size, or if they do they are way too small and too short for me. To put pockets in that actually fit my phone and where they are more useful is a boon. I bought the book on pre order and it’s just been delivered and what to make first is very hard to decide. And what colours to use. I’ve got a day off tomorrow so am off out fabric shopping. 🙂

    • didyoumakethat says:

      Good luck! Yes, I get so frustrated by the limited sizing. I mean, these companies are cutting off their noses to spite their faces, surely.

  9. This is such a timely post. Sprogzilla is was talking about going to the gym over dinner. I have really struggled finding activewear that would actually fit her as she is a size 16 and over 6″ tall and would wear pink if it was the last thing in the world. Might be time to give fitness gear a go. Thanks for your review. Xx

  10. Karen says:

    Love all you posts Karen! They always put a smile on my face – it’s great to have such a variety of topics. That fact that you write so beautifully adds to the enjoyment and has kept me reading for years! (I’m a scientist – my writing is factual at best!)
    Diverging completely… I spend a long time “sitting”. I’m hearing “sat” more and more. I must be getting old, because it jars every time! As a writer you probably know better than most. Shall I just get over it once and for all?! X

  11. Learningnewtricks says:

    I still do the bike thing, but quit running years ago, due to knee strain. I’ve been rebounding for the past 8 years and LOVE it! I used to use a mini trampoline (went through 3 of them in one year), then my husband bought me a Needak Rebounder back in 2009. It’s the best piece of exercise — you can rebound in your home (5 minutes equals 15 minutes of running).

    Have you checked out the new Avery leggings pattern from Helen’s Closet? It just came out and looks great! I have enjoyed following your blog for years!

  12. Pingback: Sew Your own Activewear Blog Hop | SewandSo

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