Shopping for RTW activewear can be a minefield for curvy women. The garments promise so much – waterproof, windproof, wicking, mosquito repellent – but often seem designed to fit only a small minority of women: those with a “sporty” shape. For me, it’s almost impossible to find trousers or jackets which fit my waist as well as my hips and thighs – if the ranges even go up to my thigh size. For others, it’s the assumption that anyone who wants to be active must have a small bust that’s the problem.
Having said that, it wasn’t necessity that led me to the Sewaholic Pacific Leggings. As soon as I saw the colour-block version of the leggings on the Sewaholic blog I knew that I wanted to make them. The curved seam just looks fantastic.
I bought a metre each of grey and teal nylon lycra from Funkifabrics and downloaded the PDF pattern. The pattern was straightforward to print out, join and cut out. I cut the 16, which is for an 89cm (35”) waist and 119cm (47”) hips. The sizing goes up to 99cm (39”) waist and 130cm (51”) hips. I’m a definite pear shape with wide hips and thighs and a smaller waist, and Sewaholic drafts for this shape. Having had a look at the pictures of Sewaholic’s Tasia in her Pacific Leggings on the Sewaholic blog, I suspected that the rise would be too low for me as it usually is in both RTW and patterns, so I added 6cm to the top of the trousers just by sketching it in chalk above the pattern pieces once they were laid out. The idea was to pin-fit and use this as an extra-wide seam allowance, but in the event I ended up using all of it. I also shortened the legs by 15cm at the shorten/lengthen line. I’m 158cm (5’ 2”) tall with legs that are even shorter than that implies, with an inside leg of around 65cm (25-26”).
The pattern pieces fitted together beautifully with all notches lining up. The instructions made perfect sense to me as a beginner sewist (having done a very small amount of sewing in my youth I dusted off the sewing machine in September), with the exception of a missing step 5. This was the bit in which the zip is added to the pocket/back waistband pieces and I was able to use the Sewaholic blog to work out how it was supposed to go. I’ve emailed the company about the missing instructions but not had any response as yet (it’s closed for Christmas). The gusset was somewhat fiddly but very doable.The elastic is very cunningly fitted to the seam allowance of the waistband to keep the waistband flat. This works well, but after trying the trousers on and running up and down the stairs a couple of times I decided I wasn’t confident that the waistband wouldn’t wiggle down when running. I did consider redoing the elastic to make it tighter, but eventually decided to put in a drawstring instead: I threaded an old bootlace through the tiny holes I’d accidentally left at the top of the pocket seams round to slits that I cut in the inside of the waistband at the front. This has really solved the waist issues. I don’t know if I could have ever got the elastic to be the length at which it was comfortable but wouldn’t slip down, especially if I had my phone in the pocket; I did size up from my actual waist measurement (86cm) rather than down. Maybe in this pattern it would be better to go down.
I love the finished leggings, which are really comfortable and really functional, as well as looking great. The curved seam adds to the running aesthetic. The cuffs are a fantastic detail which I’d never be able to have on RTW leggings because my legs are just too short! The leggings aren’t particularly tight around the calves and ankles; this may be because in shortening the legs I basically got rid of all of the narrow bit in the lower leg. For my shape of leg a second lengthen/shorten line higher up might have helped matters, but it would be complicated to incorporate the curved seam. In any case, this isn’t something that bothers me. I had been concerned about the seams rubbing my skin when running, but they don’t.The fabric is a great match to the pattern. I had been concerned that it would slip around when I tried to cut and sew it, but in fact it clings to itself so that wasn’t a problem. Other knits I’ve sewn with tend to bunch up when I try to backstitch the beginning and end of seams, but this didn’t. The leggings stay warm even when damp with sweat and they dry quickly.
I’ll definitely make this pattern again; on the Sewaholic blog Tasia demonstrates a version in which the seams are topstitched in a contrasting colour as a fake flat-fell and I’d love to have a go at that for the next pair.
Size range – 4 – it’s a reasonable size range and Sewaholic have recently added another two sizes at the top end, but it could go larger.
Instructions – 4 – this would be a 5 if it wasn’t for the missing step 5.
Construction process – 5
Final fit – 4 – a point knocked off for the slightly too large waist; however, this probably wouldn’t be a problem if I intended to use the leggings for cycling or yoga for example rather than running.
Overall rating – 4 – although I absolutely loved the pattern, I can’t give it a 5 without hearing back about the missing step 5. The end result is a definite 5 though!