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

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

  1. Pingback: Take two for 2022: Bicycle shorts made from bicycles (fabric) – Threading Lightly

  2. Pingback: Take Two for 2022: The problem with pants pt. 1 – Threading Lightly

  3. Freshly Sewn

    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.


    1. 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.


  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

    1. 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

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