Saturday 11 October 2014

Threshold shorts

Melissa was very apologetic about sending all her pattern testers a running shorts pattern to try out in September, but it worked out just fine for my family. Sometimes it is a benefit to be in the southern hemisphere. This pattern was released a few weeks ago, Threshold Shorts.

I wanted to write about these shorts previously, but although I've made several pairs already, they have hardly been out of the laundry for photos.

Here they are running past.
See, I almost caught them (That's an XYT top, also from Fehr Trade)

This, you might notice, is the first pair belonging to Daughter the second, who trains most days, and competes in middle and long distance running and triathalon at regional and state level (school athletics). She likes these shorts, and compares them favourably to her many pairs of RTW running shorts including those from high end brands. (She might be a bit spoilt with athletic gear). Her only request for successive pairs is that I include a drawstring at the waist in addition to the the elastic.
This is easy to add - you just need to make buttonholes in the cut on waistband before sewing it down as a casing with a gap, (you don't use Melissa's elastic application instructions) and you thread through both the elastic and drawstrings through the gap in the casing, then sew the elastic to fit).
Fabric: woven nylon supplex (2oz) from The Rainshed (2009 or so), piping and binding from prepackaged polycotton bias binding.
Most of the other versions I've seen on blogs are in stretch fabrics, so I am pleased to have tried them in the woven so I can let you know that they work very well in this fabric too.
These are a lot of fun to sew, with beautiful curving seams that just cry out for piping. I could not resist this even in the test pair.


I also really like the binding and the shaping of the bottom of the leg.
I embellished this with some machine embroidery for sewing amusement.

Personally I find it very exciting to have a utilitarian garment, tested in the activity for which it is intended by multiple end users, that is actually interesting to sew.


I am very impressed by Melissa's dedication to making a pattern work for everybody. She sends out an already really good pattern, then graciously listens and responds to all the whinging about very minor issues and personal sewing difficulties, then changes the pattern to accommodate lots of tweaks and expand the already comprehensive instructions-for-the spatially challenged (my words, not hers), and also to include a variety of fitting tips. If it were my precious pattern I'd spent months making, I know I would be feeling rather protective about it.

I love new patterns, and have quite the addiction to them, so I quite enjoy testing patterns, but I am quite ruthless about them. I have tested things for another new pattern company, and not blogged about it, as it is not my intention to provide pseudo advertising in addition to making up a "free" pattern with my own fabric and in my precious sewing time (see, I am a nasty cynical person).  I didn't blog about the other pattern company because a) I had nothing particularly nice to say about the very simple pattern and b) I thought there were major faults in the pattern, and noted that there were no changes at all to the finished product - making me think that the pattern "testing"  of this other new business was a lie. I won't be wasting my time or stash testing for that particular company again.


 Melissa has an unusual ability to listen to her testers, and it seems to me, that she is dedicated to providing patterns that not only look like up to date athletic RTW, but are ideal technical garments for vigorous activity. I have multiple garments in 3 of the patterns I have from her line, and will continue to use them for our exercise gear. Had I bought them, they would be some of my most value-for-money patterns (I have A Lot of patterns) due to the number of times they have been used already. Please note, this is unsolicited admiration. Melissa provides a pattern pdf to those who test, but no conditions are attached to receipt of this pattern other than a request to test it and to provide feedback.

Here is my second pair for me, in which I tried out all the pockets. For me, the pockets need to be deepened - instructions for this are in the final pattern.

 Unfortunately, this pair is not yet up to vigorous activity.
I lengthened these a tad (instructions for lengthening in the pattern), for middle aged legs, but made no fitting adjustments as yet (I did also increase the waist height, prefering a wider elastic here). As is usual with my trouser-resistant-figure, there are some fitting changes needed to make these practical for running - notably a front thigh expansion adjustment, which Melissa has now included in her pattern. Surprisingly, I do not need to change the back crotch depth, which I usually do for my generosity of backside, but this may be due to the large amount of ease at the waist - controlled by elastic and drawstring.

These however, after additional lengthening for my personal preference for leg coverage, have proved very useful to wear over my swimmers during a sedate walk to the local swimming pool - and also as board shorts at the beach, so quite useful after all.

Stashbusting statistics about 2 m of remanants, nylon supplex The Rainshed, 2009 (3pr shorts)


Sew, Jean Margaret said...

Very stylish running shorts. I love the piping added to highlight the interesting seam lines and the machine embroidery on the binding is a lovely touch.

velosews said...

You are so right about Melissa.
She's dedicated to creating patterns that you can keep using. And she really does listen.
Your time is valuable as is your sewing knowledge. Actually your sewing knowledge is priceless.
Great shorts for both of you too. The weather is just perfect for finally making a pair or two for moi.

Melinda said...

Great shorts, love the piping on them!

I totally agree with everything you said about Melissa and her patterns. She's amazing at receiving feedback and incorporating it. I have made multiples of everything except the duathlon shorts, and that's simply because I don't need more shorts at present. I think I'm up to about seven XYT tops....

Sharon said...

Very RTW running shorts for both you and your daughter. Love the use of the piping to highlight the seams.

Anonymous said...

oooh I like these. I could see myself actually wearing them. Not for running, I think I'm allergic to it, makes my face all red and I break out in a sweat in the presence of it. But for walking along the beach. Mmm definitely for walking along the beach.

I really appreciate your explanation about where you stand as a pattern tester for Melissa's patterns. I've sadly become extremely cynical about the whole Indie pattern thing, which is a pity because I want to support independent designers, but without total honesty and transparency with the testing process, it's not a level playing field and I don't have enough $$$ to spend on a pattern dud just because it was well marketed.

Melissa Fehr Trade said...

Awwww, you guys! :) Honestly though, I can't imagine why a patternmaker WOULDN'T listen to feedback from testers! That's the whole point of testing! Blows my mind. I am so touched that you genuinely love the pattern so much that you've made it multiple times. Proof is in the numbers, as far as I'm concerned! :)

Carolyn said...

These look great, and I too really love the piping detail. Though my favourite bit is the embroidery that you did for fun!
I have to admit, I'm extremely curious about the other company you mentioned. I've had all good experiences, but received recently a "testing request" for a pattern which seems to be already on the market!

Unknown said...

These look awesome. I can't wait to make mine - my fabric is washed and ready!

Also, I really appreciate you sharing your point of view on the pattern testing process. Fascinating that you have had two totally different experiences. I'm really pleased to hear that working with Melissa is worthwhile. Her patterns are great to sew, and I'm sure plenty of credit is due to the testers :-)

Gail said...

I really like the saddle effect of the piping. I think I'm a dag when it comes to exercise gear.

Anonymous said...

This is such a revealing post about the pattern testing process.

In general I have stuck with the Big 4, (preferably second hand/vintage offerings), as I assume they have been tested properly first. Also they will have been created by professional designers and pattern cutters. As someone who can knock up a simple pattern myself (to my own measurements) in an evening I would not pay good money for a "top" or "pyjama pants".

However the big 4 do not cater for niche markets like serious running, and this is where I think independent designers like Melissa score highly.

I love the piping and colourways of your shorts too. Nice job!

fabric epiphanies said...

These are fantastic. I love the seam detail. I am slowly getting more and more tempted by These patterns. There may be an XYT top by summers end.