Sewing Activewear: Self-Drafted Active Jacket

I have purchased all materials, patterns, workshops, etc. myself. All opinions are my own.

I go for runs several times a week and from autumn to spring, I usually wear a soft shell jacket. My current jacket is almost 10 years old and due to frequent washings has become a bit threadbare. Because of this and because I love sewing activewear, I had been planning to make myself a new sports jacket for a while now.

A new frontier in my activewear sewing: a softshell jacket I'll use for different sports.
Active Jacket in action! I’m rediscovering inline skating as a hobby

I couldn’t find a fabric I liked for a long time. Finally, I came across a light, unlined soft shell fabric at a visiting fabric market that came to town.

I wanted to sew the Active Jacket from the book Sew Your Own Activewear by Melissa Fehr. The book is really special. Instead of completed sewing patterns, it includes instructions for how to adapt basic blocks into the various garments shown in the book. You can either use your own custom blocks or use the ones provided in the book. It is a valuable resource when sewing activewear.

Pattern Drafting

I took this as an opportunity to draft my own torso block and then draft the pattern for the jacket based on it. To draft my block, I used the instructions from the book Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong. In contrast to the more well-known book series by Winifred Aldrich, I find the method used in this book much more thorough and to produce better results. Joseph-Armstrong uses many more actual measurements instead of relying on heuristics and industry standards.

First, I created a bodice block (from the waist up). It fit me remarkably well from the start, so I expanded it with a hip block to create a torso block. This also fit me well enough. It was a bit tight in the shoulders once I added the sleeves. But since the soft shell fabric has some stretch, I decided to ignore this problem for now. Joseph-Armstrong’s book also includes instructions for modifying patterns for stable knit fabrics. I followed the instructions somewhat, but decided to keep the bust and sleeve darts for a better fit.

Drafting my own torso block from scratch for sewing activewear. A woman wearing a test garment made out of muslin.
A muslin of the torso block before adding on the sleeves.

In a third step, I created my Active Jacket pattern using the detailed instructions in Sew Your Own Activewear. Additionally, I drafted a standing collar and cuffs with thumb holes. Both are just simple rectangles that are folded in half. I made the cuffs according to The Last Stitch’s tutorial.

Construction and Conclusion

The construction was pretty straight-forward. I used a standard four-thread overlock stitch to put most everything together. For the front zipper, pocket openings and darts, I used my sewing machine with a microtex needle. I basted the zipper shield in by hand to ensure a nice finish. I’m really starting to enjoy hand sewing and basting more and more every time I do it! I also added my reflective piping between the yoke and pink pattern pieces. This reflictive piping is getting a lot of use in my activewear sewing.

A sleeve is shown bunched up behind a sports watch. I need to find a better activewear sewing solution for accessing my watch!

I’m pretty happy with the jacket. I’m a bit annoyed by the fact that I can’t see/use my watch while running unless I roll up my sleeve. I think I’ve seen RTW clothes with little windows for watch access and that’s definitely something I will investigate next time I’m sewing activewear with long sleeves.

I also didn’t give myself enough of a hem allowance. Once I put in the grommets for the draw string, there wasn’t enough fabric to coverstitch the hem in that area, so I had to finish it by hand.

Give Away

I bought the book Sew Your Own Activewear last year and then participated in a workshop taught by Melissa Fehr. In this workshop, I received a signed copy of the book! So now I have two copies of it.

This could be yours!

Because I love this book so much and find it very inspiring, I want to give away that first copy I bought so that it may find good use and bring someone else as much joy as it has me. I did look through the book, but it’s fully intact.

If you want to participate in the give away, just leave a comment on this post letting me know which of the projects in the book excites you the most (and use a valid email address so I can get in touch if you win). I will randomly pick a winner on 05 May 2019 from all comments on this blog post and the corresponding Instagram post.

The winner of the give-away is Malou, who commented on the German version of this blog post.

This give away is not sponsored by or affiliated with Melissa Fehr or anyone else. The give away is open to anyone living inside the EU (due to shipping costs).

By Bettina

After years of knitting, embroidering and general crafting, I started sewing in April 2018. I mostly sew clothes for myself, but every now and then I'll make something for my husband or sew bags.

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