I’ve recently started working out again. It’s been quite some time since I got any exercise and I’m starting to “grow out” of some of my dresses. Not good.
I joined the local gym and I’ve figured out ways of tricking myself into going on a semi-regular basis. Not even trying to get into the insanely crowded free parking lot helps, as does trying to make sure I’m in the gym and on a cardio machine before 4:45 pm. If I show up any later than that, street parking is impossible, I have to wait for equipment, and the stretching area is jam-packed. Trying to get out of work in time can be pretty annoying, but forcing myself to go is far better than feeling fat.
I've discovered that I like to sweat a bit and the attitude adjustment I get from working out is priceless. I haven’t lost any weight yet, but I am enjoying it. Just going to the gym makes me feel slim, so I figure its just a matter of time.
The only thing is, I’m wearing a bunch of really old workout gear from back when I was slim so its all a little snug. I should probably buy new stuff that fits but I'm not crazy about the standard workout clothes that you can find in stores. Ideally I’d like something like this 1940s gymsuit (from Vintage Martini)
I love it! This is something I’d love to have for wandering around Fogville on (our one or two per year) warm days. I don’t think I’d buy a vintage gymsuit for working out, though. I'm not sure that old fabric, thread, and elastic could stand up to repeated workouts and washings. Plus, I think there’s an advantage to more modern (stretchy!) fabrics for workout wear.
The interwebs didn't have much to offer me in the way of modern gym clothes that look vintage. So, I decided to try and make something. I ended up buying some black sweatshirt fleece and this pattern:
Cutting was kind of horrible. Sweatshirt fleece is stretchy and wiggly. It moves around when you try to cut it. I ended up with some pretty odd cut lines.
Assembly was kind of sucky too. ANY mistake was a major problem because I found it to be nearly impossible to unpick the stitching. The thread becomes totally invisible against the fleece, despite the fact that you can clearly see the seam line. Ugh!
The sleeve instructions made no sense so I just rolled the fabric over and tacked it down. I made a second seam near the raw edge of the fleece to keep it from rolling. I think it works fine.
I didn't bother with the waistline stay in the seat back. I need it to be able to really stretch as I move. Instead, I finished to top edge of the drop seat the same as the sleeve edges: I rolled it over and made two lines of (narrow zig-zag)stitching. This seems to hold everything together and looks pretty good.
The instructions for the ties confused me as well, so they were ignored. I folded the ties in half, right sides together, stitched along the edge and then turned them right side out. There is a small un-stitched gap between the ties and the drop seat, but because it's on the inside it doesn't really matter. I don't expect the fleece to ravel. (Fingers crossed!)
Along the neck edge, I stitched the neck facing down too far and then couldn’t pick it out again. This prevented me from putting the zipper in at the right height and the neckline ended up a bit low. I put in some hook-and-eyes so that I can close the neck but it looks a little weird.
I had to stitch down the outer edge of all of the neck facings because the fleece was rolling so badly. While stitching down the left facing, I created a bubble that pulls that side of the garment in a strange way. I can’t unpick it so I guess I just have to live with it. At least the bubble is mostly covered by the giant collar.
The collar doesn’t want to stay in place either. I discovered that ironing fleece is pretty damn near pointless so I stitched the collar points to the body with a decorative button. This helps keep the collars from flapping up into my face, but it looks weird too.
I put some elastic in the leg edge to prevent the shorts from riding up when I’m stretching. I think I should have used slightly longer lengths of elastic though. The legs are a bit bloomery.
The finished garment in no way looks like the pattern envelope. I ended up with something a little more like a (ill-fitting) 1920s bathing suit than I’d intended. I think I need more practice with knit fabric. Taking care that I’m actually following the instructions couldn’t hurt either.
Here are the pix. Thanks to bad lighting and the fact that black photgraphs poorly, you can't see many of the (crappy) details in the photos. Sorry! In fact, these snaps make the jumper look pretty good. You’ll have to take my word: it looks a lot goofier in person. At least it’s just for the gym.
Oh, and I forgot to pre-wash my fabric! We’ll see if it fits after the first washing. Yikes!
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For more information on vintage gym wear for women, as well as vintage workout routines, please see this article from Fuzzy Lizzy, and this post on The Painted Woman.