December 13, 2015

Pattern development

Last week, I made yet another piece of sportswear. Another climbing top to be precise. 
I had hoped to illustrate it with some nice action pictures (like last time) but we had a change of plans today so we didn't go to the climbing hall after all. Hopefully, I'll get another chance in the coming week. 

I have written about the issues of Y-back sports tops and climbing (and other sports which lead to muscle development in the upper body) before so it will come as no surprise that I decided to stick with a design with shoulder straps (even though I should really order some bra sliders to make those straps actually adjustable). Those give more freedom of movement and are easier to change if I need more length at the shoulder in a few months.
This type of design would probably not provide enough bust support for sports like running but, as a climber, I don't have to factor in repeated bouncing so it is fine. 

On the topic of bust support, I did decide to try and incorporate a shelf bra in this top. My first one. I basically just made lining pieces for the top front and back of the garment. I made those pattern pieces the same size as those for the outside but cut them entirely from the least stretchy lycra I am using for this top. At the bottom of the "bra" there is a piece of wide, soft elastic.

Other changes to the design were basically just cosmetic. Instead of the old wide scoop neck, I now made a V. Slightly lower in the middle, higher above each breast. Nicely finishing a V in materials like this is a bit tricky but I think I really like the look. 

I also really wanted to improve on that arrow shape on the back. The earlier version didn't quite work and I think it could be such a fun design feature for a climbing top. This time, I made a seam between the tip and the shaft of the arrow so those could be at a right angle, making it look more arrow-like than the curved edge top the previous top. I also make the center back section higher and introduced side back pieces so the tip of the arrow could end lower than the edge of the top. 

The other design lines were basically drawn to accommodate for those. With an added bonus: I could remove the upper side seam! Of course construction would have been easier if I had not done that and in the future, I may curve those pieces at the bottom. Sewing corners in lycra is not the best idea.  

The material I used for the shelf bra, the bust pieces and the arrow is quite interesting. It may look dark grey in these pictures but it is actually a soft black mesh over a silvery background (which you can see in the picture of the back inside). If it catches the light in a certain way, it really reflects it. The black and the brown/red are materials I used for sports tops before. 

I'm looking forward to really putting it to the test. I'm trying to develop a design which works well for me but which would also work for others. First of all for a friend I often climb with. Of course, there would always have to be changes for body shape and personal taste but if I can get a full enough understanding of all the functional details and how they relate to this sport and the kind of bodies it creates, that would be great.
On that topic, I have also been wondering about fabrics. So far, I have been using lycra-ish materials. Especially the blue and the mesh-and-silver stuff are fairly thick and really intended for sportswear rather than lingerie or swimsuits. RTW tops all seem to be made from a more beefy fabric though. A nylon-spandex blend, according to the one legible tag I found. That stuff is matte and softer to the touch. 
So far, I have just bought fabrics I came across which seemed appropriate but I may have to look up Melissa's where-to-buy list for sportswear fabrics. 


  1. I think you are looking for the material we know as Supplex in Canada.

  2. Really like the arrow design, and even though the brownish inserts are there to accommodate the arrow, I think they look very cool!
    As for fabrics, I recommend looking into extremtextil. They are based in Germany, so shipping to holland is probably reasonable. They have a good selection, and they have been very helpful every time I ordered there!

  3. I have had mixed results with misused brand named athletic fabrics. Get sample swatches first. Even though Supplex and such are trade names, many sales outlets misuse the terms.

  4. Love the design lines on this, especially from the front! I'm also picturing it as a swimsuit... could be very cute!

  5. Love the design lines on this, especially from the front! I'm also picturing it as a swimsuit... could be very cute!