Friday, 17 August 2012

Papercut Patterns 1004 ooh-la Leggings - running tights

Katherineh drew my attention to these leggings, with her excellent camping leggings, which imediately gave me copyitis, but the running tights versions by Melissa at Fehr Trade were what really convinced me that I needed this pattern. SDC10525
Running tights are not only hideously expensive, but as with most RTW, they do not fit me very well and  in addition, are desperately unflattering, as no matter how I try, my figure remains unathletic. This may be why I generally go running at the crack of dawn and pretend I am invisible whilst exercising.
It is rather cold at the crack of dawn at the moment.
I bought the pattern at The Fabric Store in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, where it cost $22 AUS , and it is available online here for $25 NZ + postage.
It is a very good pattern, accurately drafted, and I am exceedingly pleased with the leggings. I really like the piecing , which makes them easier to fit, and also more visually slimming than regular leggings.
The waist height is comfortable, and prevents belly exposure when exercising.
However, due to this being a new-to-me pattern line, I have  a few things a long list of thoughts about this pattern, both in fitting, instructions and included information.
The pattern is beautifully packaged. My daughter immediately borrowed the box in order to use it as an example in her Yr 12 Graphics assignment.
The pattern is printed on heavy brown paper, in all the sizes from XS to L. There is no crossing of pattern lines
There is no sizing information or fabric requirement, notion requirement information printed on the outside of the package, nor  is the sizing information printed in the instruction book. The bust, waist and hip measurements for each size are printed on the pattern sheet.
 The Fabric Store had a laminated sheet in store including all this information, but I had to ask for it after looking at my pattern box and seeing it totally blank. (The pattern flap is stuck down with a sticker, so you can't open it to find this information without purchasing the pattern, as opening the package damages the box).
Possibly due to this, the sales assistant told me I needed 1,9m of 150cm wide fabric for my leggings, instead of selling me the 1.3m I actually needed, which was rather annoying at $28per metre, but fortunately, the fabric was 30% off,so it wasn't as costly an error as it could have been.
No height information or finished garment measurements were given anywhere that I could find.
The suggested fabric is "merino wool with good elasticity". I happen to know that "merino" when applied to fabric is a New Zealand term assuming merino knits, but I don't know if this is common knowledge outside the sewing or technical clothing community.It also seems a fairly limited choice of fabrics for this pattern. It works rather well in other fabrics too as far as I can see.
No required stretch % or distance for the fabric information was provided. In my experience, merino knits vary widely in both stretch and recovery.
Not having this information might not be a huge issue, but the instruction book seems geared to a raw beginner, including a list of equipment required, ie scissors, pins, thread, and instructions not to cut out any bigger than the pattern and to make sure the fabric is pre washed. The instructions also tell you to cut out the pattern, with seems rather wasteful to me, having leggings wearers of 3 different measurements in my house.
With this sort of very general and basic information considered  sufficiently important for inclusion in the small  11 page booklet of writing and diagrams, I expected a little more help for the novice - maybe suggesting a needle type, tips for sewing with knits such as stitch length or stretching as you sew, but no information of this type was included. I also thought that some of the advice, such as to pintuck the centre front seams of the legs, would be likely to lead to breaking stitches with wear in a tightly fitted knit garment. The instructions also assume you have an overlocker, and I am not sure this is the case for the majority of beginners.
On looking at the website, this pattern is rated 2 blue and one pink bow "skilled". This is not written anywhere on the pattern or envelope.
I used a size75 Schmetz stretch needle, with a 1.5 x1.5 zig zag, on my conventional sewing machine. I did not finish seams by overlocking, but by coverstitching. I used the overlocker to attach the elastic to the waistband only.
I invariably make fitting many fitting changes to purchased patterns. My first version of this garment was in cotton lycra knit, where I made a straight M, although my waist is within the S range. My reason for this choice was that looking at the model photograph, it appeared to me that the leggings were very close fitting, and I often have trouble getting elastic waist garments over my backside if I make them too closely fitting at the waist.
These leggings were rather too large, surprisingly so. The finished garment measurements, with no stretch were waist 88cm (8cm  positive ease over the body measurements given) and  at the hips 102 cm (4 cm negative ease over the body measurements given). I found this odd, and checked the pattern pieces, finding very similar flat measurements, with the front yoke being much wider than the back yoke, suggesting to me that the pattern may be drafted for someone with a bit of a belly.
I adjusted the pattern, to an  XS waist at the front, S at the front, and the hips to a S at the front. This, dear readers, is vanity sizing, as I have an exceedingly generous backside and hip region.I shortened the legs by 11 cm. I have short legs.

The nylon backed merino has the same stretch, but more bulk than the cotton lycra, and the adjusted pattern fit reasonably well , except for an issue described by my teenage fashion panel as "apparent bum droop". 
I took out a fish eye dart from the upper back yoke, and attempted to disguise this with a bit of coverstitching. This, according to the panel, improved the apparent bum droop. My teenage fashion tell me that these are much more concealing in real life than they appear in the photograph. Phew!

My other adjustments to this pattern were intended to make them more suitable for running.
 I reduced bulk, and hopefully chafing issues of the seams by trimming one side of the seam, folding the seam allowance over the seam, then coverstitching from the wrong side so that there is both less thread on the inside and also an emphais of the design lines on the outside.
If these were for longer runs, I would have done this on the outside instead, so that there were no seam allowances to chafe on the inside of the garment.
I added a sacral pocket to the inside back waist. 
I finished the waistband in the same RTW-like manner as Melissa's tutorial, but failed to pin before stretching the elastic, due to laziness which is why the gathering is uneven.

Please pretend you did not see me in my running tights if you meet me later in the day in my proper clothing.
This review seems a bit negative on re-reading, so in conclusion, this is an excellent pattern, but I feel that inclusion of the finished garment measurement information, height/length measurements and more information about the fabric qualities required for the garment would make the leggings much more accessible to people with varying construction experience.
I will definitely be using this pattern line again.


Carolyn said...

Thank you for this extensive and very helpful review. I admit I've been curious about the company since I first heard of them, but I will not be buying their patterns now!
But your leggings look very professionally finished and I like the seaming. The little sacral pocket is a good idea.

Hen said...

Nice leggings! I had not heard of this designer yet, and found there are some interesting patterns on the website. I actually need some merino leggings, to achieve the New Zealand tramper look of shorts over leggings. Also need the shorts...
I don't think I'll choose this pattern, just because I am too lazy for all the dividing seams. Very admirable how much effort you make for your exercise clothing. It does not look like a beginner's pattern at all, but still a shame that some basic information is missing.

Carol said...

I've been eyeing off this pattern, too. I really like the design and I have seriously considered making them. Don't you have a problem with things falling down when you run? I run in Adidas leggings (that are a rip off of Skins) because they have a drawstring. About 5 mins in I find I'm yanking my pants up otherwise. Of course, as there are no fabric stores in Hobart that sells anything I could make these out of, I'll probably never do it!

kbenco said...

Carol, I do have the same problem with RTW running tights, and chose those with a drawstring, as the waist is always too big if the hips/derriere fits.I took in the waist of these tights by 10cm from the body measurement size of my waist as they have a lot of ease at the waist - the fabric is nice and stretchy so that I can still get them on.
Stretchtex has good running tights fabric, and will mail order out of Sydney.

Bernice said...

I really like the design lines in this pattern. Running leggings are so over-priced so I'm glad you've found a pattern that works for you...and looks good too. I think I'll have to give these a go. I think I'll have to go and check out Stretchtex.

MushyWear said...

I really like the final look of these leggings. You did a great job on them and thanks for posting all your thoughts on the pattern.

Mary Nanna said...

Interesting reading - well I guess I can shed a bit more light on some of your observations. My understanding is that the designer is a fashion design graduate and she used to work in Global fabrics (the Fabric store).

This is her first set of patterns. She is currently on maternity leave, but another set will be forth coming according to her website.

Because she approaches pattern drafting and sewing from a commercial perspective, and probably her training was honed on industrial machines, it is likely that she has forgotten what beginners know/don't know, being now too far removed from the experience.

I had an experience of this myself the other night. I am taking a sewing class with Sherry from Pattern, scissors, cloth fame so she could help me fit some trousers, which I can still fit only badly. The other classmates were complete beginners and I was totally shocked. They didn't know anything, not what size to choose, what notches on a pattern mean, final garment measurements, grain lines - all completely knew.

So even me, with my intermediate sewing ability am out of touch with what a beginner knows/doesn't know. This is wear proof readers of all levels become invaluable.

And yes to all your comments about Merino - it can be such an unpredictable beast and not known well outside NZ.

Ruth said...

I'm really impressed - exquisite sewing, detailed reviewing AND running! You'd almost convince me to go jogging...

Janine said...

I wish I looked as good in leggings as you but I suppose that would involved getting up at the crack of dawn to go jogging!
I like the interesting seaming on these leggings and if I ever did make them I would choose something like this.

velosewer said...

The seaming on these are what appeal to me as well. Your review is very well written and I can see why you'll be using this pattern again.
All the best with your running regime too.

Audrey said...

Your workout clothing always looks so great. I really like the style lines of these leggings but I don't run much. I wish I could come up with another occcasion it would be appropriate to wear them.

Scruffybadger said...

Brilliant post, thank you. I've been thinking about it myself, since seeing Melissa 's versions and what you've written has piqued my curiosity further!! They look great on you btw. I don't think leggings are ever worn unselfconsciously, particularly when running up a sweat!!!

Scruffybadger said...

Brilliant post, thank you. I've been thinking about it myself, since seeing Melissa 's versions and what you've written has piqued my curiosity further!! They look great on you btw. I don't think leggings are ever worn unselfconsciously, particularly when running up a sweat!!!

Dian said...

Hi Karen, can these be made without having a coverstitch machine? I've ordered the pattern and then had a panic that I won't be able to use it as I only have a sewing machine and ordinary overlocker.

Melinda said...

Can you make these without a coverstitch machine? I've ordered the pattern and then had a panic because I only have a sewing machine and ordinary overlocker.

Melinda said...

Can you make these without a coverstitch machine? I've ordered the pattern then had a panic as I only have a sewing machine and ordinary overlocker.

kbenco said...

They certainly can. The instructions are for a conventional machine and overlocker to finish the seams. If I had not used the converstitch I would have topstitched with a narrow zigzag to preserve the stretch in the seams.

poppykettle said...

Such a fabulous post on this pattern - thank you! I'm about to sew these up at the moment so am doing the requisite recon, papercut being an unfamiliar pattern company for me. I'm liking your version a lot!

Nnen said...

Thanks for the tip regarding sizing. Yours look great. I made these and despite my generous rear, needed to grade down to an XS. I used a cheapish stretch cotton double knit for my first attempt, mainly due to the lack of reasonably priced, good quality Lycra available to me at the mo. They still look ok, suitable for the gym at least.

Oh, by the way, on my pattern, the finished garment measurements, sizing and fabric requirement details were all posted on the back of the photo of the exceeding slim girl pictured at the front of the package. Not obvious though.