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3 Secret Steps for Sewing Your Own High Performance Leggings

by Polina K

Psstt – want to know the secret of high-performance leggings? It’s all about choosing the right fabric (well, almost). Of course, sewing skills are a pretty major factor in sewing activewear, too, and the sewing pattern you opt for will make a big difference, but none of that matters if you don’t have the right fabric.

Luckily for everyone, we’ve done the squat-proof fabric checks already – and the results are in! Feel like a bonafide #gymboss in leggings that are sewn to last with our pick of sustainable sports fabric. We’ve also added plenty of sewing tips and pattern ideas to kickstart the season of sewing gym gear and ensure you’re ready for a year of personal bests. 

1. Know What You Need From Your Sports Fabric

Choosing the right sports fabric for high-performance leggings all starts with full-proof coverage. Your lycra fabric choice needs to have plenty of stretch without becoming see-through (hence the squat-proof checks we’ve been doing). No one wants to feel like everything’s on show when lifting weights or riding a bike, and your leggings should give you the confidence you need to focus on your workout. 

We also recommend choosing a sustainable sports fabric that’s dyed through rather than printed. Why? Well, with printed fabrics, the colour is only present on the surface of the material. Beneath the print is a plain white base. This isn’t a bad thing until the fabric is stretched, at which point the white shows through and the print loses its oomph. 

Now it’s time to think about sweat. Which colours are going to highlight your perspiration patches and which will hide them? Lighter colours, like grey, tend to make sweat more visible, while darker leggings, like black or dark blue, keep wet fabric on the down low so that you can workout without worrying. If you’re not sure whether your colour choice will be good or bad for sweat patches, add a little water to the material to see how it changes. 

Last but certainly not least, we have stretch. When sewing leggings, we recommend a sustainable sports lycra fabric with 70% stretch and good recovery. Tick both of these boxes and you’ll have figure-hugging leggings that bounce back to their original shape for long-lasting gym gear.

2. Our Top Choice: Econyl Sports Fabric

*Drumroll, please* Our top pick for sewing activewear is… Econyl sports fabric

econyl sports fabric in 4 different colours

At Good Fabric, we’re massive fans of Econyl fabric. There are actually 3 different types of Econyl stocked in the Good Fabric shop, which are:

The first two (Power and Light) are very similar, with the main difference simply being the thickness of Power compared to the thinner Light fabric. You’ll also find different colours available in Econyl Light, whereas we tend to only stock Econyl Power in black (ideal for hiding those pesky sweat patches).

Econyl Power is hands down the BEST fabric choice for sewing leggings, with a nice weight and squat-proof thickness that makes our sewists’ hearts sing. We do have a soft spot for Econyl Light, too, and the amazing range of colours is definitely a perk. Generally, we think this is better suited to patterns that need two layers of fabric, like swimwear, as doubling it up will give you the thickness you need.

3. Pick Your Sewing Pattern.

Now that you’ve got your trusty metres of Econyl lycra ready to go, the only thing left to do is find the right pattern to put your sustainable sports fabric to use. If you haven’t already got yours picked out, take a peek at our recommendations and find the sewing pattern that’s perfect for you.

Best Leggings Sewing Pattern for Beginners

avery leggings sewing pattern by Helens Closet - back view

When brushing up on your skills as a newer sewist, give the Avery Leggings Pattern from Helen’s Closet a go. This is also the ideal, basic pair of leggings for anyone looking for a quick project that can be whipped up in no time. 

In a simple but practical design, they’re the no-frills option for sewing activewear. The lack of outer leg seg gives them a smooth finish so they won’t be bulky if you’re planning on layering them under tracksuit bottoms on chilly morning runs. Smooth, slim, and with an elasticated waistband, they’re a versatile option for your workouts. Our taller sewists will also be happy to hear that View B comes with extra-long legs and an ultra-high waist.

Check them out on Instagram.

Best Sewing Pattern for Triathlons

triathlon suit by fehr trade

For our ultra-accomplished sewists out there, this is the pattern for you.

Designed specifically for triathlons, the Triumph Suit Pattern by Fehr Trade is made to work with your body. This is a complete outfit that’ll take you from the starting line to the winner’s podium, with a pair of cycling shorts rather than full-length leggings and a zip-up top with floating front. There are also 6 pockets (we love to see it!) giving you plenty of storage space for energy drinks and snacks. 

Do note that this is one of the trickier activewear patterns. Not only do you have to be used to working with Econyl fabric or Lycra sports fabric, but you also need a good grasp of complex patterns and some more advanced techniques. But, if you can handle it, the payoff is well worth the effort. 

Get inspired for triathlon sewing on Instagram

Best Sewing Pattern for Post-Gym Brunch

romper b y gracie steel

There’s nothing wrong with looking good while you work out. From yoga to the gym to spin class, give your workout wardrobe a stylish upgrade with the Roving Romper by Gracie Steel. This is a pattern that wouldn’t look out of place on an influencer’s Insta feed or at a post-gym brunch if you’re feeling bougie. Go from athletics to avocado on toast and keep it stylish 24/7. 

The sewing pattern includes two variations so that you can suit your romper to your wardrobe. The first incorporates a scoop back and spaghetti straps for a flattering fit, while the second switches things up with a high neck and wider straps for a practical, warmer choice. Both are curve-hugging and designed to make you look as good as you feel no matter what you’re doing. 

Explore the Roving Romper on Instagram.

Best Flare Leggings Sewing Pattern

Flare leggings by greenstyle

Did somebody say flares? You heard right; the iconic ’70s staple are back in fashion!

When it comes to sewing activewear, flares are a great choice for dancers or yoga enthusiasts, giving you the comfort to move and stretch without restriction. We particularly love Green Style’s Flare Leggings pattern which incorporates plenty of versatile design options so that you can make them your own. Choose from 4 waistband options (including a fold-over yoga band) as well as different length options. You can also pick from standard, petite, or tall lengths.

These aren’t the trickiest pattern to sew, either. As long as you’ve got some confidence and know-how, you should be able to bring your flares to life without trouble. Chill out, get comfy, and let your body move in your new favourite leggings. 

Best Legging Sewing Pattern for Men

mens leggings sewing pattern by fehr trade

We’re all for gender inclusivity and think that a lot of the legging patterns we’ve already mentioned would look great on active fellas. But, we also know that sometimes different body types need different looks – it’s all about options. That’s where the fabulous Lightspeed Leggings by Fehr Trade come in, designed specifically for men who want to look good while getting sweaty. 

With a roomy front pouch, comfy rear panel, and elasticated waistband, they’ve got everything our Good Fabric lads need for hitting the gym. You can also add a zippered pocket to your leggings and turn them from long-length to cycling shorts, giving plenty of options for personalised activewear. 

See them in action on Instagram

Best Skort Sewing Pattern

skort sewing pattern

One of the perks of sewing activewear is that you can make exactly what you need for your wardrobe. For our team, that means skorts – and lots of them. Super cute but with tons of practicality (and hidden pockets – hello?!), we love the LouLuxe Skort from Jalie which is just made for looking your best on the tennis court. 

This sporty skirt sewing pattern incorporates a pair of short-length leggings that hide beneath the outer flouncy fabric. With a lined inseam panel and enclosed seams, they’re made to keep pesky chafing at bay and have an optional phone pocket or leg band, depending on how you like to exercise. A wide waistband keeps your skort secure and comfy for one of the most flattering activewear looks. 

Find Sustainable Sports Fabric

That’s all you need to know to get cracking, folks. If you’ve been inspired by our 3 Secret Steps for Sewing High-Performance Leggings, be sure to take a look at our range of Econyl sports fabric to pair with your favourite indie sewing pattern. When it comes to sewing leggings, you can’t beat a few lengths of trusty Econyl. 

econyl sports fabric in 3 colours

We’d love to see our sewing secrets in action. Share your leggings with us on Instagram @good_fabric_store and join our community of super stylish sewists.

by Polina K

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