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Hints on how to sew activewear

Sewing activewear isn’t as easy as it looks unless you know what you are doing.  It doesn’t have to be hard, but you need to know a few things.  I see lots of people riding bikes and running and sometimes you can’t find the perfect pair of pants or a properly fitting shirt.  So let me give you some tips about sewing activewear.

The most important piece of equipment is the needle. And not just the old needle that has been in your sewing machine for the last ten years.  Buy a ballpoint needle.  These help prevent snags and skipped stitches on two-way knits.  Don’t even think about proceeding without these needles.  If you do, you might never sew again.  Never.

Woolly nylon thread is great because it helps make seams softer, stronger, and more elastic.  Superfine pins should be used on firmly woven nylon, outerwear fabrics, and two-way stretch knits to prevent snagging and pulling. Weights can be used instead of pins to hold a pattern in place for cutting.

SHARP shears or a rotary cutter.  Yes, SHARP.  If you have been using the scissors to cut paper, get a new pair of scissors.  And when you are cutting, you will want to wipe the blades often with a cloth dampened with alcohol to remove lint buildup.

I hope you have already had a few a-ha moments so far.

Elastics can differ and since you are sewing activewear, elastic is important.  Elastics differ in their stretch and recovery characteristics, as well as their suitability for a sewing method.  Braided elastic narrows when stretched so it is most often used in a casing.  Knitted and woven elastics retain their original width when stretched.  Those made from cotton and rubber are the most durable.  Stitch through them for a direct application to fabric.  Felt-back or lingerie elastic is comfortable when worn next to the skin.  Wide elastic for activewear pants and shorts has drawstring for adjustable waistline.

The hardware you use it equally important.  To make ties, belts, and straps adjustable use metal D-rings or plastic sliders.  An alternative fastener for belts and straps is an interlocking buckle.

Preshrink most fabrics, tapes, trims and similar notions, using the laundering method recommended by the fabric manufacturer.  Machine wash activewear knits with warm water and detergent to relax the fabric and remove resins, which may cause skipped stitches.  Although activewear does not shrink, prewashing will return it to its true size.  It may have stretched when it was rolled on the bolt.

Next week I will write about the pattern layout.  If you remember only one thing in this article, it is the ballpoint needles.  I can’t stress that enough.


About Sally Cowan (51 Articles)
After Keeping You in Stitches for over 45 years, Sally enjoys her memories of events that happened on her way to retirement. Author of 6 books, lectures, teaching, and TV host on PBS and now has time for her many cats and Snuggles, the dog. She also loves playing trumpet in the Anastasia Baptist Church orchestra.

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