The glaring exception to my Look Cute Every Day philosophy is gym clothes. I spend a lot of time in the gym, and all of my gym clothes are horrible. The worst of the pants is exhibited on the left (but were they really the worst?). Seriously, is there anything worse than a sagging crotch? The waist on these stays up with a drawstring, just a regular drawstring and not an elasticated one. The little shoelace drawstring came through small eyelets so I couldn't really add elastic to it. As I worked out the waist and crotch would droop lower and lower, exposing my belly. Also, they have side seam hip-height pockets. Because when you're doing squats what you're really hoping for is gaping pockets to widen your hips (I stitched the pockets closed). The pants at right were not quite so ugly, but I had worn them to DEATH as you can see by the fuzziness. I also had a pair of Kardashian-esque black drawstring pants with white stripes down the side that were clearly not actual athletic wear but fashion athletic wear (shudder). With a saggy crotch.
I have been planning to make new gym clothes for, like, two years. My failure to do so was a combination of procrastination and letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. I bought some heavyweight cotton-poly knit from Spandex House in March 2008. I traced a pattern from my one pair of non-horrible gym pants about 4 months ago. But then I was like, "Well, that cotton-poly knit is not really a technical fiber. And shouldn't I try to find/draft a pattern with a crotch gusset?" But really, what could possibly be worse than the horrible pants I kept wearing week after week? I will answer that question: nothing. Piecing together strips of rags and just tying them around myself would have been better than the horrible pants I was wearing.
But still, I kept putting off this boring, non-cute sewing until finally the day arrived that I could not face wearing horrible saggy-crotch gym pants for one more workout. So I pulled out my non-technical fiber and my non-gusseted rubbed off pattern (they don't ride up into the lady area and have all the movement I need so I don't know why I got hung up on the gusset issue) and got to work. I liked the wide, tall waistband of the original (Danskins purchased at WalMart while visiting my parents last holiday season) because no matter how much I raise my arms my shirt doesn't ride up above it and show my belly. I also like the little bit of color contrast at the waistband but I don't care for the volume-adding ruching.
I did one pair of pants as a construction test, and it worked well with the minor tweak of needing to add 3/4" to the top of the colored contrast inside waistband so I went ahead and cut out the other three pairs.
I probably should have waited until I actually did a workout in them because having done so now I should have used shorter elastic in the waist as they can slump down a little during vigorous cardio. And not being versed in the ways of pants, I can't tell if those arrows on the front mean that I need more room in the front crotch or need to shorten the front crotch (input appreciated) but whatever. Nothing could be worse than my old gym pants!
Note: I constructed these almost entirely by serger. I used the sewing machine only to zigzag the elastic in place and to twin needle the hem.
1. Cut out. Add 3/4" inch to the top of the inside waistband (or take 3/4" from the top of the outer waistband if you prefer a lower waistline).
5. Waistband side seams.
6. Cut a piece of elastic to fit very snugly around your waist (will stretch out a little when applied).
7. Place waistbands right sides together, with the inner waistband on the inside. Line up upper edge. Pin elastic through both layers about 1/2 inch below the upper edge, stretching elastic. Zigzag elastic in place along the upper edge.
8. Trim the upper edge seam allowances so it extends about 3/8 inch above the elastic. That extension above the elastic is what will cause the colored inner waistband to peek out at the top. I used the serger to trim out of laziness, though I really shouldn't as it stretched and mis-shaped the waistbands. Again, whatever.
9. Turn pants right side out. Fold inner waistband over the elastic, so the waistbands are right sides together. Line up lower edges of waistbands. Pin both layers of waistband to pants, outer side of waistband to right side of pants. Serge.
Once the pants are cut out, it takes just about half an hour to sew them. Really, what took me so long?
Here's the catalog shot of all four pairs. The different colored waistbands are mostly so I can try to rotate them evenly, and because I like to have some color on anything I wear but black is the only practical color for gym pants due to the embarrassing sweat location issue.
My gym tops are similarly old but slightly less horrible than the pants so I'm not pressed to replace them now. And for the tops, I think I actually do need technical fabrics. I am lucky to have a fairly high tipping point for sweating, but once I reach it I am a faucet. Cotton poly is not good with faucet sweat. Also, I'd like to get a good supportive mesh for built-in bras. Of course, this means I will continue to wear my up to 8 year old horrible gym tops in perpetuity.
You can see in the side view why I get so frustrated about my belly. I have a four pack and a curving line of muscle alongside it and then...a five-month-pregnant-looking belly. It's not for lack of trying (although laying off the sugar would trim it down a little, I know).
The back fit is good, and the waistband goes up high enough that I never feel like I'm going to expose my bum. And it is quite a bum. In yoga when we're in Warrior II the instructor is always saying, "If your bum is sticking out in this pose, tuck in your pelvis" and I feel like he is looking directly at me. I'm like, "Seriously, unless I can tuck my pelvis into the next county, my bum is going to stick out." I think he thinks I'm not trying. In fairness, I should add the I love the instructor, he is awesome and kind and gives a great yoga class. But, like so many male gym teachers, he has no concept that the architecture of the female body is quite different from the male body, especially in the pelvicular area (how I love making up words).
While making these I kept singing "Gym Pants, Gym Pants, I need gym pants!" to the tune of Sex Bomb by Tom Jones (link goes to video--mildly unsafe for work). I was practically giddy to get rid of the old pants. I don't think I have quite achieved Look Cute Every Day with these pants, but I am content to have moved up a notch from Look Horrible In Saggy-Crotch Pants Every Day. Now that I know how quick they are to make hopefully I won't put off replacing this set once they reach their expiration date! Although I would like to alter the pattern for those front crotch arrows--suggestions welcome.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.