A long time ago I had this idea for a pair of work-out style tights for Sofiona. But it took Trish suggesting that we work on a small activewear collection for the new year that forced me to actually focus attention on them properly. Of course, a year later a few other ideas have altered my original draft, but I hope you like what I came up with. Continue reading to see what we found during testing about fabric, the rise, the waistband and possible topstitching ideas for active wear (with and without cover stitch machines).
I do want to say that I consider all our patterns a collaboration of sorts with our testers, but I think Tamarack might be the most affected by excellent feedback so far. I feel like what you have is a great collection of ideas and thoughts. This pattern was truly elevated by a great team.
First, the pattern details:
- 2 lengths - the long cropped (also known as 7/8 length) and the shorts
- 2 waistband heights
- 2 upper leg options - a full upper leg and a pieced upper leg with a curve going over the hip
- 2 ankle piecing options - one full , curved ankle section and a 2-piece curved option that is great for mesh or stretch lace detailing
- optional gusset
I'll point out that throughout this post you'll see the Cattail tank top paired with many of these Tamaracks. The Cattail is another new release and is available in the tank options you see here as well as a dress. Worth going to check out!
Fabrics: My original thought for Tamarack was to focus on athletic knits. We were thinking about dance class and gymnastics. What I totally missed was how particular kids can be about their clothes and for the most part, they do not like compression and what we adults love for holding us in nice and snug, they just consider "too tight"! So when choosing fabrics for this pattern you'll want to keep that in mind. If you have an athletic knit that is particularly compressive it is recommended to size up in the width of your pattern if you think the wearer might not like it.
Overall you want to choose fabric with good recovery so they maintain their shape and you want 50-70% stretch so that they go on. This pattern has a good amount of negative ease so anything less than 50% stretch might not come up comfortably over those hips/fuller bottoms. As is typical with knits, there are so many different kinds! 4 knits of seemingly similar weights and content will have a completely different feel when it's in your hands. For those that are not as used to sewing with knits, just relax and know that learning the qualities of knit fabric is not learned in one day. Each sewing project with knit fabric will likely teach you a little more about how it behaves and what kinds you like/don't like.
Elastic waistband: As the testers tried out the pattern on a variety of fabrics, it became very evident that the elastic in the waistband can be left out in certain cases. When you choose a fabric with great recovery, that may just be all you need. And with shorts you have even less fabric to pull or weigh them down which also makes the elastic more of an option and less of a need. Use your own judgement based on the fabric you are using for the waistband.
Rise: The full height waistband is drafted to come up to the belly button. Some testers found this perfect while others had kids that preferred a lower waistline. The vertical stretch of fabric also plays very much into just how much the tights will pull up. I purposefully left the rise on the pants higher for best coverage, but if you prefer something lower you can use the shorter waistband and/or adjust the pattern piece itself to remove some height from the rise, bringing the waistband down lower. This will be a hack that you can play with and I strongly suggest not using your most expensive fabric if making adjustments that you haven't done before. Or, live on the edge! LOL I've done it.
Topstitching: There is no real need to topstitch the Tamaracks, but sometimes it's fun making them look like something you bought at some fancy store. I've compiled a few pictures from our testers on the ways that they chose to topstitch. They used sergers, cover stitch machines and regular sewing machines with decorative stitch options. I'm hoping that by adding these pictures some of you might be inspired to test out some new ideas and have some fun. Remember, always test your topstitching on a scrap fabric that is the same as your final garment!! Not all machines behave the same and sometimes it will take some trial and error to get it right. You do NOT want to be picking those stitches out of your final make if you can at all help it!!
Here's an example of decorative stitching with a sewing machine....
... and here's a look at a twin needle finish also on a regular sewing machine. Check your sewing machine manual to see if your machine is compatible with these needles.
Amanda gave us some pictures to show a few different options on a regular sewing machine. The most basic would be a zig zag or 3-part zig zag stitch that is available on most (all?) regular sewing machines. The others are decorative stitches without a straight stitch running throughout which would restrict movement. When choosing a decorative stitch you want to make sure that you can still stretch the fabric. Very important.
Here's an example of Erica's stitches that she used for her daughter's Tamaracks. She included a pic of some of her sewing machine stitch options. You can see that there are a few different options that will give you a decorative look while still maintaining the ability to stretch. Not all of those will work, but a number of them will.
Some people use a serger and a regular sewing machine. By placing the pattern pieces WRONG sides together instead of the typical right sides together, that serged edge remains on the outside of the garment. It's then pressed down and topstitched (with a stretch stitch still!!) in place. Sometimes this take a bit of training your brain to think opposite since the inside of your garment is going to have the finish that is typically on the outside. You probably don't want to rush this method unless you're all good with maybe needing to rip seams.