It’s my turn on the Sew Your Own Activewear blog tour and I’m super excited to share my thoughts on the new book from the ever-amazing Melissa Fehr of Fehr Trade sewing patterns and blog.

You might remember that I made her brilliant XYT workout top in week 6 of The Great British Sewing Bee. I’m secretly amazed she doesn’t hate me for having a bit of a disaster with it on national TV (an ill-planned combination of too-thick lycra and trying to make binding in a rush) and hasn’t banned me from touching her products again. But I’m not complaining! And I’ll tell you why: Melissa is hands down, *THE* activewear sewing guru. There is surprisingly little information out there for sewing activewear and 99.9% of that you’ll probably find on Melissa’s site. And with activewear being so popular it’s time the sewing world played catch up…Thats where Sew Your Own Activewear comes in…

Sew Your Own Activewear

Sizing it up

 (£16.99 paperback here ; ebook here). The physical copy comes with the pull out patterns for the 4 pattern blocks and the ebook comes with the blocks in both Print at Home and Copy Shop versions (both are layered pdfs- which are a dream compared to standard PDFs).

There are four basic blocks (two tops and two bottoms) which are then used to make 13 different patterns in the book (8 tops and 5 bottoms). And I say 13 because technically there are 13 different patterns in the book, but the way the book works you can basically make any pattern, ever. Melissa’s taken a different approach to sewing books and instead of giving pre-made patterns she’s giving you the tools to make it your own- the shapes/adjustments/activewear hacks. But more on that later…

The book is split into three main sections: Activewear sewing skills, Tops and Bottoms.

Activewear sewing skills

This is basically the activewear sewing bible. It goes through the different seams, hems and edges, as well as how to do these with a sewing machine or an overlocker. Edging is something I really struggle with (painful memories of that top from The Great British Sewing Bee) but the explanations and photos are really helpful and clear.

Then fabric choice-this has got to be one of the make or break parts of sewing active wear. I can’t think of anything worse than making an outfit and then finding it super uncomfortable after a set of burpees! But Melissa goes through all the different factors you probably never thought of: stretch, stretch recovery, fibre types, wicking and LAUNDERING. I know my appreciation of this might seem ridiculous but we’re quite particular about laundering in our household- after loosing too many clothes to ignoring the labels (don’t judge me!) so the tips on how to wash your activewear are a great addition to make sure your hard made clothes last.

As well as the standard sizes/measurements bits of a sewing book another special feature is the sport-specific design considerations chapter. Again this chapter is full of knowledge which has come from someone who just knows their stuff- like adding pockets to garments and where to place them depending on the movements you make (plus we all know a me-made outfit without pockets is just plain craziness…)

Tops + Bottoms

These are the two other main sections which I’ve grouped together. Each starts with a run through of the basic blocks- a close fitting top and bottoms (leggings) and loose fitting top and bottoms (yay for modest wear!) but because the rest of the patterns are based off a basic block- in Melissa’s words:

“There really is no limit: if you’ve got a body, you can exercise, and if you can sew, you can make activewear”

This is my favourite part of the book because it goes through common fit issues and how to adjust the block. This is super helpful and I can see myself coming back to this section for my day-to-day sewing fit issues. Each fit issue is illustrated really clearly with the pattern fix along side it.

When it comes to the patterns themselves (all 13!), again there are step-by-step instructions on how to adjust the block pattern pieces/create new pieces and then construct the garment. The adjusting the pattern bit is the part you probably want to do after you’ve had your morning coffee. Each step is outlined carefully with step-by-step diagrams


If you’re looking for a trace-and-make pattern book this isn’t the book for you. But even though it might seem a bit daunting to take on activewear, my favourite part of this book is that by the end you learn a lot more about sewing and pattern drafting in general. It takes a little more effort and brainwork (so is probably not for the absolute sewing newbie) but you’ll be gaining a whole load more skills than you would have from your standard sewing book.

I can’t wait to get stuck into this book once I’m post-partum: I can see myself using it as the carrot on the stick! We all know theres nothing more motivating than having some brand new clothes to do exercise in! Generally my workouts tend to be at home where I wear the standard leggings and sports bra, but I’m looking forward to doing more with friends outdoors so will need to have some more modest (and non-frumpy) activewear (which FYI doesn’t really exist in RTW).

Click on the link below for a sneak peek of the book!

And don’t forget to check out these amazing projects from just a few of the other bloggers on the blogging tour!

@selfassemblyrequired ; @angelinemurphydesign; @sewrendipity; @randomly_happy;



Many thanks to Melissa and her team for sending me a copy and inviting me to give my honest opinion.

5 replies on “Book review: Sew Your Own Activewear

  1. Unfortunately those links no longer exist that you have in your story and neither does the download link written in the book. Have been trying to get a working link for close to 1 year but no one will respond.

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