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Getting Excited about Activewear Again…

If you’ve spent more than 5 seconds on my blog, you’ll have noticed that I have a penchant for sewing activewear. Some might even call it an obsession, and I’m frequently asked, with some amazement, how many pairs of leggings/sports bras/tanks I actually own.

I haven’t counted, but I’d guess its over 20 of each- which might seem low, but that’s only because I’m constantly “refreshing” my collection with new prints and patterns. I used to think I’d never tire of sewing new athletic outfits, but lately I’ve felt a bit bored with the process, to be completely honest. I don’t know if it’s the start of the school year doldrums, the scorching hot weather, or the viruses that have already knocked several of us on our butts (thank you preschool), but I’ve had a 3 foot tall pile of gorgeous athletic fabric staring at me ever since we got home, and have had very little desire to tackle and tame it into something I can wear on the trail.

I knew I needed a kick in the pants to get out of my funk, so I did what I always do- I joined a pattern test to “force” myself to start sewing and blogging again. And, like the Type A person I truly am, having a set deadline and a little bit of accountability was exactly the impetus I needed to get stitchin’.

Of course, I didn’t just select any pattern test- I chose to test the Greenstyle Elevate Crop and Overlay, knowing Angelyn’s excellent drafting and the dynamic and supportive culture of her testing group would make the process not just doable, but fun (part of the reason I’ve been quiet lately is that I have seriously considered quitting blogging in the wake of some especially rude comments that were made to me about my size recently. I won’t lie and say I’m not still deeply hurt, but I’ve decided to ignore the negativity, and focus on the supportive and encouraging voices in the sewing community, of which there are so many).

Once I got started sewing though….I couldn’t stop. These new patterns were that good- and just the breath of fresh air I needed to get excited about sewing my old favorites as well. In fact, I had such a big stack of Elevate Crops and Overalays that I only got around to photographing half of them, so you’re sure to see even more crop (haha see what I did there?) up around here soon.

My first two crops are still coming out of the wash (I loved them so much I broke my cardinal rule of not wearing before photos), so I’ll introduce you to my third- this little lemony number, made out of AOS fabric from Bow Button Fabrics.

Apparently, the hashtag #posewithproduce is a big thing on Instagram lately, and while I didn’t have any lemons on hand, I think I made up for it with the number of lemon-print items I’m wearing here!

The front of the crop (high neck view) is lined with a lightweight mesh from the Fabric Fairy, for a bit more coverage, and I stacked the pieces as I sewed them so that all the seams would be hidden, much like you would on a bathing suit if you were doing a front-only lining.

I bound the edges using my favorite technique (I’m putting the video for this below), and also found that if I added a bit of extra tension around the curve of the chest and the back of the neck, I achieved a better result, than if I evenly distributed the tension throughout the top.


I couldn’t resist adding a pair of Inspire tights (SewAlong here, zipper hack here) with a bright yellow zipper for my essentials- and a bonus Power Bra (SewAlong here) for those high impact workouts.

Personally, I feel like the crop, if lined (especially with tech sheen or powermesh) is supportive enough for low/medium impact activities on its own, but for high impact (like running), I still prefer a bra underneath.

This is the racerback version of the crop, and it covers nearly all of the power bra straps- so if you want your power bra to show, you might want to do the U back version instead.

With the addition of cups (and maybe a bit of swim elastic around the neck/arms) the crop would also make an excellent fuller coverage bikini! The deep green accent fabric is from a So Sew English fabrics bundle- I actually had this in the “donate” pile, since I wasn’t sure I would look great in this color green, but it got rescued because it was the perfect shade to bring out the color on the lemon leaves.

While the crop is what originally caught my eye, the overlay became the real star of the sewing room this past week- I think I’m up to 5 of them! I’m wearing the sleeveless, front-scoop in these photos, but I also love how truly reversible it is.

Every other top I’ve sewn that’s been advertised as “reversible” has been a lie- but this one is really comfortable both ways! In fact, today on my way to work, I started out riding with the crossover in front, but found that caught the wind too much, so I switched it around and enjoyed the breeze on my back!

The fabric on this one is a crepe knit from Surge Fabrics- I ordered a bunch of this during a pre-order a while back, and the lightweight texture is ideal for this pattern- so much so, that I’m making this same top in salmon and oatmeal.

I did make a couple fit adjustments to the overlay, to get it just right for my body- taking in the arms 1/2″ and shortening the front and back 2″ at the lengthen/shorten lines included on the pattern. Being petite, these adjustments help keep the crossover from being too open, and also helped me avoid showing any bra, when I’m wearing it with a tank (like the Staple Tank) instead of the Elevate crop.

My next crop is the U-back version, and involves a few (very simple) hacks- and some really fun fabric!

This marble print is an athletic brushed poly from Zenith and Quasar, that I’ve had the privilege of sewing as part of their current preorder.

I’ve never ordered ABP from them before, and I was really happy to find that the weight of this fabric is not only ideal for leggings, but also for tops. The back is made from a mesh scrap I had in my stash- but this laser cut mesh from Greenstyle would be perfect!

I made another pair of Super G’s (sewalong here), and then cut 2″ off the bottom of the crop and added a decorative elastic band by overlapping the band with the front of the top, and cover stitching it down.

The nerdy homeschooling mom in me has decided this outfit is exactly what we need as we begin our study of geology in homeschool this year- I feel a little like a (more athletic) version of Ms. Frizzle in this outfit!

My next overlay started out as a hack, adn then got incorporated into the final pattern- and it’s so easy to make! By using “two fronts”, you can produce a really cute drop shouldered tank.

I’ve been hoarding this bamboo panel print from Smoogie for far too long, just waiting for the right pattern to come along- and I’m delighted to say I’ve finally stitched it up!

This bamboo is divine, and will be giving me happy beach vibes year round, regardless of how far we are from the real ocean!

The last overlay I have to share with you today is a fun striped number- this time from the Fabric Fairy. This striped rayon knit is a really nice weight- on the thicker side, like a french terry, but with a drape that’s to die for. I used it on my Nikita dress (blogged here), and had just enough leftover to whip up into this top, for whenever the weather decides to cool down a bit.

Because I think things look more flattering on me when they’re fitted somewhere, I slimmed the arms a bit on this version, and cropped it an extra inch (for a total of 3″ off- keep in mind, I’m 5″ shorter than the pattern is drafted for, so this makes sense for me). I decided to add the back strap on this one, since I’m planning on wearing the crossover in the back, and it feels nicely secure on my shoulders. And yes, I’m wearing it with a RTW bra. I don’t have many left in my stash, but this has remained because it’s a class black- and a good reminder that I need to keep sewing more basics!

Well, that’s it for now- go ahead and snap up this pattern, because it’s a keeper! And if you’ve read this far, many thanks to you for your support and encouragement over the past two years- I really hope my blog can continue to be a place to connect, inspire and support all sewists, of all sizes, shapes, orientations and opinions.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. The money from these gets recycled directly into sewing and blogging, and gives me a little encouragement knowing I’ve helped someone connect with a pattern (or fabric) that they’ll enjoy, and that will hopefully help them feel good about themselves!

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27 Comments

  1. Jennie Lindstrom on September 4, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing your sewing with us! I hate that people feel like they can say whatever they want on the internet. I know how much it can hurt when people say harmful things, but I hope you know that you are inspiring to many people.

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:16 am

      Thank you Jennie. I really appreciate that- and I’m going to try to take it as a lesson in being kind to others, because you’re right- its so easy to hurt feelings on the internet! I always enjoy seeing your posts, and appreciate your kind words.

  2. Debbie smith on September 4, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Fabulous closet. Love them all!

  3. Anna Marie on September 4, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    I love everything I hope I can be as good with my active wear endeavors. I’m starting up make active wear because finding good fit in store hasn’t gone well and the quality sucks
    I’ll be back to watch your videos
    When I start.
    Sorry to hear about the negative comments, that’s one downside of social media is keyboard bullies
    As a thicker women I’ve had my share of nasty comments.

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:15 am

      Thank you Anna! I think the key is just to remember that the comments can only get to us if we LET them- so I’m going to try not to!

  4. Alison on September 4, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    I would be sad if you stopped blogging. I love your posts and your style. Athletic clothes are my favourite things to wear and sew. You look great, as usual. Keep up the good work.

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:15 am

      Thank you Alison! I agree- sewing athletics is so much fun!

  5. Jamie McManus on September 4, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    I love them all! Haters gonna hate, do t let them get you down! I specifically look for your pics/makes and adore the combination of fabric and patterns you use. I also find you sew-a-long videos very helpful and easy to follow.

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:15 am

      Thank you so much Jamie! Your comments boosted my spirit and I look forward to making more videos someday!

  6. Julia on September 4, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    I miss your smile and your “talky” posts when you go away! Although, I totally sympathize with both the need to step away from the computer when you’re on family vacation AND the need to distance yourself from negative comments; it’s way too easy for people to say things online that they would never think is appropriate, let alone polite or respectful, to someone’s face.

    But I’ll be honest, even though I have never sewed workout clothes and don’t see myself doing so anytime soon, I actually LOVE reading your posts. I suppose it’s partially because of how enthusiastic you are about working out and having good gear to do it in, but also because I get a kick out of seeing other people do the stuff that I won’t do. I suppose I’m working out and sewing workout gear vicariously through you. =)

    Sending you much love and support – keep on doing what feels right and makes you smile! <3

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:14 am

      Thank you Julia! You made me smile, and I am so glad you enjoy the posts! I’m going to keep on blogging, and if there’s a style you’d like to see, I always like to give new things a try, so let me know!

  7. Deb Scheid on September 5, 2019 at 6:00 am

    Please keep blogging. I really enjoy your take on workout wear. You have impeccable taste and you keep it classy. I love all the details that you incorporate into your sewing and how you explain it. You have so many great ideas. I think you are gorgeous just the way you are!

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:13 am

      Thank you so much Deb! Your comments warmed my heart, and I’m really happy that you’ve enjoyed my blog!

  8. Beth on September 5, 2019 at 10:21 am

    I love your blog! I’m sorry you got rude comments. I wasn’t going to buy this pattern- I thought it was cute but didn’t think I needed it…. until I saw your grey striped overlay with jeans.

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:13 am

      Thank you Beth! I love how versatile this pattern is!

  9. Karen on September 5, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    I love your posts and would be very sad also if you stopped blogging.
    You inspired me to sew my first workout bra. I love all your makes and loved your family vacation.
    Don’t let the meanies get to you. Unfortunately there are some bad apples everywhere.

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:12 am

      Thank you Karen! That’s very true- I’m trying to let it roll of my back and keep sewing!

  10. Debbie Murri on September 5, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you for the binding tutorial. It is very helpful! This is the first time I’ve visited your blog, but will be coming back. You make beautiful clothes!

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:12 am

      Thank you Debbie! I’m so glad it was helpful!

  11. Sheila Moller on September 5, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    Glad you are blogging again…….always look forward to your posts……I actually sewed my first athletic piece, the power bra, because you convinced me to give it a try. I imagine blogging is a hugh investment of time and self….thanks a bunch!!!

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:12 am

      Thank you Sheila! It is a lot of work, but it sure is worth it when I read comments like yours!

  12. Stephanie Chapman on September 7, 2019 at 6:09 am

    You inspired me to start sewing athletic wear. And it makes me so happy doing it! Thank you for all your help

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:11 am

      You’re so welcome! Welcome to the fun world of athletic sewing!

  13. margie padron on September 9, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    Sarah, you have inspired me to try my hand sewing athletic wear… I’m actually receiving my brand new cover stitch machine today. I’m sew excited!!! I love the overlay and also the hack using two fronts. I’ll be watching several of your sewing tutorials and sew alongs in the very near future. Thanks for sharing all of your knowledge!

    • Sarah on September 13, 2019 at 9:10 am

      I’m so glad the tutorials and sewalongs have been helpful to you! Sewing athletic wear is so fun and rewarding, and I’m glad you’ve given it a try!

  14. Sew Long Summer Blog Tour on September 11, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    […] here), I saw a beautiful RTW sports bra that Sarah Connell wore under her Elevate (you can see that here, and make sure to check out her other posts too) and her RTW bra reminded me of the screenshot I […]

  15. Eileen on September 16, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Hi sarah, I also hope you don’t stop blogging- I love your creations, your fabric choices… they’re all great. And I think you look marvelous!!!’

    Sew… where do I go to buy your patterns? I’m ready to jump in and try the super Gs. Just Donny know where to find the pAttens. Please advise.

    And keep blogging…. please!!!

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