Not sure how about you, but I used to be afraid of making sportswear - sewing stretchy fabrics can be intimidating, and sewing performance sportswear can be very intimidating.
I slowly worked past my fear of stretch fabrics through lots of trials and errors, and now I can proudly wear my own created clothes to the gym, knowing that they will perform flawlessly.
Today I would like to share with you 4 simple tips that you can easily apply when sewing activewear and improve your results.
Before we start, I would like to thank Coats & Clark for collaboration on this post and inspiring the creation of this gym outfit you see today!
Without any further ado, let’s start sewing activewear tips:
Tip #1: Pick the right fabric.
When it comes to picking fabrics for sportswear, I usually go for fabrics that have best stretch recovery - it gives movement flexibility, prevents clothing from stretching out and losing its form. I like to test a few different fabrics in store by stretching them out and seeing which one performs best.
Tip #2: Pre-treat your fabric before cutting.
Once you have your fabric picked out, it’s time time pre-treat it: wash, dry and iron it, all before cutting the pattern out. Preparation is key to success and I pay extra attention to pre-treating stretchy fabrics, as they can give some surprising shrinkage after first wash (talking from own experience over here!). My rule is simple - the stretchier the fabric, the more carefully I have to pre-treat it!
Tip #3: Pick the right thread.
In sportswear, choosing a right thread is even more important than choosing fabric: if the thread is incorrect and will not give seam enough stretch, it will break during performance, causing clothing malfunction.
With this project, I wanted to test Coats & Clark Eloflex Stretchable Thread - a thread that is designed to be used for making all things stretchy: Leotards, Gym Clothing, Cosplay, Swimwear, Knit Sportswear, Stretch Denim.
Eloflex is a stretchy thread, which means you don’t have to use any special stitches to create a stretchable seam - simply put it to top and bobbin thread and you are good to go. I have never worked with a thread like this before (see how different it looks from standard thread in the photo below?) and so I was curious to see how it will hold up.
I used Coats & Clark Eloflex as my main thread for this project and I was pleasantly surprised how securely it holds a seam, yet makes it super stretchy - I even did color blocking on gym pants and didn't worry about seams popping, how about that! It’s a great thread to use in sportswear and I highly recommend checking it out.
For finishing raw edges, I chose Coats & Clark Surelock Serging Thread - fine and strong, this thread performed flawlessly and gave even more durability to my seams, without adding any additional bulk.
Tip #4: Use correct seams.
Now that you have your fabrics and threads ready, it’s time to choose correct seams. I usually recommend using elastic seams, but if you’re using a stretchable thread like Coats & Clark Eloflex you can use regular straight stitch (yes, this thread is that stretchable).
I tested a few different seam options with this project and I was most satisfied with this seam combination: (1) straight stitch using Coats & Clark Eloflex thread and (2) finished edges with 4-thread overlock, using Coats & Clark Eloflex as 1 and 2 threads (the ones that go through needles) and Coats & Clark Surelock Serging Thread as 3 and 4 threads (the ones that form loops). This combination created a super durable and stretchy seam, that will definitely hold up all my sports activities.
Extra tip: if you want even more flexibility, try switching all 4 threads to Coats & Clark Eloflex!
To sum up all these tips, I would say that preparation is key to success when sewing sportswear: take your time to pick the right fabric and threads, carefully do fabric pre-treatment and test out a few different seam options until you find the best one for your project. Activewear is all about performance and if you follow these 4 simple tips, you are on a path to success!
Now if you don’t mind I would like to share a few photos of my new gym set, made using Coats & Clark threads - how cute is this look?!
Both blouse and pants are made using self-drafted patterns and I am extremely proud how they turned out - comfortable and stylish, I couldn't ask for more!
Thank you for reading these tips and I hope you found something new! I use these tips everytime I sew activewear (include gym set you see in these photos) and can honestly tell they are game changing!
Happy sewing and productive week ahead!