I arrived in the UK from sunny Sydney in January 2011 – seven years ago, my goodness! Initially, I was charmed by the pale wintry sky and the allure of cosy pubs and hot pies (ever heard of the Heathrow injection?). It wasn’t until my second winter here that it hit me – winter is AWFUL. It lasts MONTHS. It is not the cold so much as the never-ending damp, grey darkness. I went to work in the dark, I came home in the dark. Grim indeed (but awfully good for knitting on the couch in pyjamas watching box sets).
Needless to say, my Aussie wardrobe was not exactly prepared for this state of affairs. Sure, I had a warm outer coat and plenty of big thick jumpers. But I couldn’t live in them – I needed to be able to move around, have my arms free to do stuff. And big jumpers and coats are fine on a long country walk but in a heated house they just get stuffy (another thing I wasn’t used to – central heating!).
And then there was the issue of keeping my legs warm. Jeans are fine, but not actually that warm (brrr, cold knees!). And wearing jeans for a solid four months made the dreary winter seem even longer. What about all my colourful dresses and skirts?
That’s where leggings come in! I have thermal wool leggings, normal cotton stretch leggings and fleecy leggings (they are a thing!), in a variety of colours. Sure, in the depths of winter they aren’t going to stand up to snow and ice, but around the edges they work a treat.
And so on to this month’s make – clearly modelled here NOT in layering mode! It is a basic set of leggings – and oh my goodness am I pleased with them. Nothing flashy, nothing exciting – but a workhorse that has me rushing out to make more.
The fabric is a heather charcoal grey cotton/spandex (95%/5%) from Girl Charlee, which feels so soft against the skin. It was a medium weight jersey, and doesn’t have any see-through-ness, which is, ahem, important for leggings. It seems to have good recovery as well – but we’ll see how they go after a season of regular wear.
I used the Seamwork Shelly leggings pattern, cutting size small. Interestingly there is no elastic in the waistband, but it seems to sit really well around the tummy. Next time I make them I’ll add an extra inch to the length (no chilly ankles for me, thank you!). I was initially a little sceptical about the gusset, but having worn these for the last week I’ve realised that it gives a lot of extra movement and avoid the need for an outer leg seam.
Because these leggings will also be used for yoga, I added a back pocket. I drafted a pattern piece and used fold-over elastic for the edges, based on instructions from the fabulous new book by Melissa Fehr, Sew Your Own Activewear. I’m delighted with this little addition! It looks so professional! And I can fit keys and a phone safely in there!
I sewed these all on my sewing machine, but now that I have the pattern sorted I think I will switch over to my overlocker. I will be interested to see how the seams hold up – I tested them fairly rigorously, but of course time in the real world will tell.
As I mentioned last month, I have been participating in the Seamwork Design Your Wardrobe program to help me plan out my sewing. My focus was on sportswear – things to wear running, swimming and for yoga. DYW really helped me focus in on what I needed to sew for my wardrobe. This first project totally fitted the bill – they will be great for yoga, running, and everyday!
Currently I’m wearing this with a big warm long sweater dress, but hopefully as I write this the weather is warming up (will there be snow at Easter?!) and I will be able to transition to shirt-dresses and skirts SOON!
Thanks again Monthly Stitchers, and see you again soon!