Sunday 6 April 2014

Fehr Trade Duathalon shorts

I have long been an admirer of Melissa's wonderful sewing at Fehr Trade , but I was quite surprised (and pleased) to be asked to take part in her pattern testing. My rather cynical impression of blogger pattern testing is that it is primarily offered to blogs with high readership and most often, no doubt for wise marketing reasons, to those including a cute young model guaranteed to look terrific in a hessian sack. Melissa, let me tell you, is standing by her writings on diversity by including not only those with wonderful athletic shapes, but such mature and trouser resistant figures as myself. She is a very brave woman!
Duathalon Shorts .
To be fair to Melissa's excellent pattern, first let me show you these visually appealing and useful shorts on one of my very own cute young models.


These are the booty shorts, quickly made up for an initial trial in cotton/lycra with wicking poly for the side insert, with inbuilt pocket.
No adjustments were required for this version, other than a little tighter elastic for the slimmer waist of the model.

We did find that it is vital to use 50% stretch fabric as described in the pattern. The wicking polyester, at 20% stretch, does not have sufficient stretch to accept a smart phone in the perfectly placed side pocket.

 I have made a lot of athletic gear.  It is unusual to find a shorts pattern with so much thought to the details. This side pocket placement works beautifully for both running and cycling, whereas the sacral pockets seen in much cycling gear can cause problems whilst running (perspiration into the pocket and also upward push on the contents of the pocket) and the inner waistband shallow pockets that work well in running are quite uncomfortable when pressed against the waist in a forward cycling position.


The shorts are shown worn with one of Melissa's XYT tops (I will get around to writing about these when I have some better photos) to give you an idea of how these garments work so well as an exercise outfit - no front gaping!

Melissa has included an increased back rise in the shorts to allow for full back coverage whilst leaning forward on the bike. This early version does not include the increased back rise.

In the interests of truth in advertising. Here are the first version of the shorts I made for myself, (the official released pattern) which would unfortunately have to be described as stage one of a journey in fitting I do not feel quite up to at the moment. This is not the fault of the pattern. The pattern is excellent - well drafted, with very sensible and practical inclusions for athletic use and beautifully detailed instructions that the novice seamstresses in my house felt would be easy to follow.

I am quite keen to make these shorts work, as they will be very useful. Twice a week I ride to a friend's house on my mountain bike (shown), as she lives on a dirt road, and then we run. I've been wearing Ottobre exercise capris, but am not entirely happy with them on the bike, although they work well for running.
If you've read my blog very much you would know that I always have a lot of trouble with trousers until I work out the adjustments for any particular block.

Melissa and I are not the same shape, so I need to make a lot of adjustments to wear the shorts that fit her perfectly. I also used a different fabric from the cotton/lycra shown in my daughter's version - a poly compression fabric, which has a greater stretch.
I found that for this fabric, I should have decreased a size all over, in addition to making my usual myriad of adjustments for trousers.
Fitting so far
1. Shorten biker length by 6cm to fit my shorter legs (that means I chopped off the hem and did it again, there was nothing so accurate as measuring here).
2. Increase curve of front crotch as there was some weird wrinkling most unsuitable for sitting on a bike (again, note there was none of this wrinkling in my daughter's pair)
3. Take in waist
4. Take in side seams by 3cm at the front and 2 cm at the back - hence the narrowing side strip, and the shorts are still too big.
5. Decide I should make something else for the sake of my mojo and post the horrid-so far version to get the monkey off my back.
6. For the sake of my vanity assure all readers that the enormous stomach in the photo is actually my loose top swinging forward.
Here is an unauthorised photo of how I prefer to think I look on the bike. Note, that would be small and far away ;)



Mary Nanna said...

I laughed a lot as I read your review - and ALL models look great !

So true about independent pattern makers targeting their "niche" blog market by asking high traffic blogs to "test" their garment. They know that most bloggers are too nice to say anything mean publicly and of course libel laws must help that sentiment along a bit. And if you do get a blogger with a high profile saying something unflattering about an independent pattern maker it just looks so mean and personal rather than an honest opinion.

So good on Melissa for seeking a variety of views - and if she really wanted true honest feedback she should ask some sewers without a blog. Then they could really tell her like it is without an agenda.

PS am very impressed with your exercise regime.

Lyndle said...

Your posts always make me laugh too. And I agree with MaryAnna, all models look great! Are the shorts as made comfortable on you or do the fitting issues override that? I am impressed with the pocket placement too. I've never found those sacral ones much good either.

I muslined the fehr trade XYT top in one of Melissa's larger sizes, but it's still in progress (ha... euphemism for 'in a pile') because after all that careful arithmetic on the powermesh, it came out not nearly tight enough - I can grab at least 5cm at the centre back. And you can't tell with powermesh till you've sewn up the whole thing, so there is some unpicking to be done. I fully suspect user error so I haven't fed this back to her, but if/ when I get it going, I might. I also suspect that the more bouncy ones body parts, the firmer the powermesh has to be - ie a 100cm circumference around toned chest muscle accepts (and requires) rather less squashing than the same circumference around squishy squashy bits.

Love your pithy critique on blogger testing! I thought that you were in the 'look good in everything' category, so I am impressed to find that (apparently) this is the result of your superior pattern choice skills.

velosews said...

I've been waiting for your write up. Well done.

My duathlon shorts will certainly show my tummy rolls. They're the same tummy rolls as my leggings:)

Melissa is definitely making patterns that any shape can use.

Sounds like you could be in training for a duathlon. If not, you should be.

Sharon said...

Great review and I am very interested in these shorts so appreciate reading the about the two versions.

Sue said...

You shouldn't have admitted it was your daughter in those first shots - before I read your post, I was very impressed with your legs! Mind you, you look great in your photos too! Thanks for reviewing this as I am thinking of getting this pattern. I look forward to your review of the top.

Carolyn said...

I think both your versions look pretty fantastic! Did you do some colour blocking on the side panels of your own version? looks terrific, really sporty chic :)

Gail said...

You guys look ready for anything in those shorts. Great work.

fabric epiphanies said...

I really like the booty shorts. Yours are pretty cool as well. I love the phone pocket, I would soo use that.

Kathy {Kathy Sews} said...

These look sooo fantastic! I HAVE to make the biker length. Yes, I absolutely have to say kudos to Melissa's choice for having loads of various folks testing the pattern. I'm not a size 2 that can model skin tight clothes perfectly nor does my blog get crazy traffic. I appreciate that I can see different people actually making and wearing these patters.