Threading Lightly

Adventures in amateur sewing

crossing the finish line

Run for it! A reflection on running as I sew with spandex


Pattern: Fehr Trade Duathlon Shorts (3-quarter length)Fehr Trade Duathlon Shorts pattern

Skills acquired:

  • PDF patterns

I’ve never considered myself a runner.  When I was in middle school, we were forced to run a mile and a half in gym class and it was always a day I dreaded.  The gym teacher made fun of the way I swung my arms when I ran.  “You look like this,” she said, while she made some exaggerated movements.  She called me a retard.  She said I was un-athletic.  This would turn anyone off from running.

I didn’t really pick up running, except for the odd jog around the neighborhood, until I started having some real life problems.  Lack of control in my life situations created major anxiety.  I was not myself, I was just a walking bundle of nerves and hurt feelings.  I wasn’t sleeping properly and so I slowly introduced a running routine to “tire me out” during the day.  It also relieved some of those anxious feelings:

Oh you have to move – run 5 miles to feel better
Grad school is getting to you – see if you can make it to 6 miles
You didn’t get that job – run 3 miles faster than you have before

Everything would play through my head during these runs, and I started to add more and more distance to work out all my problems.  It became a kind of therapy, a time to be alone with my thoughts. Eventually I figured I would try to run a half-marathon.  Then, things started getting better in my life – I got a new job, got into a better routine, started making some better friendship choices, fell in love.  I knew I would never be the fastest runner, but I could always finish the race and I wouldn’t be the last one lagging behind worrying about swinging my arms too much.  Last fall, I joined a running club and have met some wonderful people.  I get a chance to run with others without the pressure of being the best and the weekly runs motivate me and keep me in check.

I have always wanted to combine my two hobbies – sewing and running.  I’ve made a few leggings that I do run in, but haven’t really embraced making my own active wear.  I wanted to try out this pattern, which I bought probably a year ago, but have put it off because it’s a *gasp* pdf pattern.  I’ve never really used one before because the printing and taping together was really overwhelming to me.  I finally went for it – I had actually printed this out months ago.

pdf pattern map

Okay so taping this together wasn’t that hard, I’m not sure why I resisted it so much.  I decided it was better to trace the pattern pieces with some tracing paper so they were more manageable and also so I only had to work with one size.  The only real issue with this pattern is I’m not sure how to store it compactly.  I rolled it up since folding it seemed difficult and messy.  I’m thinking after seeing the monstrous roll, I may need to tape it up further and figure out a way to fold it.  As is, it fits nowhere.

With other leggings I made in the past, I used a cotton knit blend.  This time I was going pure spandex all the way, so the obviously weapon of choice would be my serger.  You start this pattern with the side stripes so it makes a nice diagonal.Side stripe strips  I just went for it on the serger which was a huge mistake.  Even though the seam was short and I had it sufficiently held together, when the spandex hits the blade it shifts a lot.  It’s just so slippery and the stretchy nature of the fabric pulls too much to keep the two pieces together smoothly. I tried to cut the pieces apart and try again, but it just got weirder.

side stripe mistake

This was obviously not right.  After some failed attempts, I ended up cutting new stripes out and decided to baste them together on my machine using long stitches.  Then I went to the serger.  Result!

side stripe on pants

That’s more like it!  This worked so much better I decided not to take any chances and sewed everything up this way – baste first, serge second.

One Leg done on pants

One leg done…I labeled the front on these as I worked as recommended on the pattern.

This all sewed up fairly easy after I figured it out.  I used a reinforced stretch stitch on my machine for the hem and waist.


It also comes with handy side pockets in the stripes, perfect to fit a small phone or keys.  I did a test run of these a few weeks ago and I ended up breaking my previous 5K record!  Can’t beat pants like that – although the rain may have had a bigger factor in this.

running pants - final

Running my running club’s weekly 5K in my new pants

They are a little baggy in the legs – next time I should taper the bottom legs to the Medium instead of cutting the whole pant as Large.  Always tough with my hips.  And the fact that I’ve lost a few pounds this month due to other stresses.

These worked so well, I decided to wear these for the half-marathon I ran this past weekend.  I have been training all through this difficult time of unemployment and hustling for a new job.  I figured it would inspire me to wear something I made to remind myself I can get over mistakes and difficulties and I can create something of value.  And they worked again – I beat my own personal record for a half-marathon by over 2 minutes!

And hey, does this also count for Me Made May ’16?  I think so!

I may never be the runner who pulls in prizes and amazes people, but I still have my own wins and challenges to overcome.  Running and sewing have meant so much to me during my most difficult times, I’m glad I am able to share both on this blog.

crossing the finish line

Author: qplourde

I'm not sure why I have to describe myself so much.

10 thoughts on “Run for it! A reflection on running as I sew with spandex

  1. Great idea! I would love to try making my own jogging pants.


  2. I can’t believe your teacher said that to you! What a horrible teacher. I like your tights, but more so, I like your thought that sewing these tights, something solid, reminded you that you could create something of value during a time of stress, such as being out of work, which is something that I recently experienced.


    • Teachers were meaner in my day :o) Sorry to hear you are going through a job loss too. It doesn’t feel good, I hope you are able find time to do something enjoyable too.


  3. Congratulations! And in a lovely running outfit too!


  4. Woah – so much of this resounded with me. I always hated running at school, but found out a couple of years ago that I do in fact like it – though in my case its a matter of I hate running races – I need to run by myself. And yes a good run is a great way to clear the head. I love the running pants, well done on getting the serger to work – I do the same thing, baste on the sewing machine first. Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment! It’s so true. Racing for me is okay when I remember that I am essentially running the race against myself and not worried about beating others. I can always try to beat my own records, which puts less pressure on me. Thanks for reading!


  5. Way to go on these! I like the solution you came up with for keeping the fabric in place. I also understand what you mean by exercise helping with stress. It has really helped me when I struggle with anxiety as well. I think your way of thinking about your sewing encouraging you is brilliant. I hope you find a new and really wonderful job soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So proud of you! Love that you take up both the challenge of running and making your own athletic wear. Awesome job Monique. Keep it up. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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