Sunday, July 28, 2013

Turn a T-shirt into Short Workout Pants

"I really am enjoying my new job. In my first training session, they said that they call us "industrial athletes." This is no joke! My job is to load packages into the back of a truck. The boxes are often heavy and they want you to move them as quickly as you can.

It's extremely physical. Squatting, lunging, lifting, reaching and placing heavy packages at a rapid (aerobic) pace for approximately three hours solid per shift, is quite an enviable workout and had a lot to do with why I chose to apply for this job.

My first night on the dock, I wore a tank top and a pair of jeans. I quickly wished I hadn't! The denim is too hot, too constricting and every time I squatted or lunged, I mooned everyone behind me. My second night on the dock, I wore a pair of running capris and was so thankful that I did. I decided to get a whole wardrobe of workout capris and T-shirts.

The thrift store had a few workout/yoga pants that were in my size, but I had to modify the length. Otherwise, I realized I could make new running capris out of large T-shirts!

Here's what you need:
T-shirt, at least a size large
Sewing machine (hand stitching won't cut it with this project).
Elastic (you can recycle from old clothing)

To begin with, choose the appropriate sized shirt. The size of the shirt you'll need is determined by the size of your hips and backside. Consider the length. Consider what you want to do about a waste band.
My median size is a 10, and a mens size large is enough to make a basic pant for me. The red shirt pictured was a 2XL and there was enough leftover fabric on each side too make a waste band if I wanted. I'll describe that later.

Fold your T-shirt in half down the middle, with the sleeves together.

Take a fair amount of care to smooth it out with your hand as much as possible. Working with knit can be a little tricky, as it stretches and pulls out of shape easily. When we're talking about pre-worn T-shirts, it should be expected that there will be some wonkiness right off the bat. Just go with it and gently hand press it, moving the bulky places out of the way.

You can take your measurements and draw up a pattern if you like, but I just grabbed a pair of knit work out pants that fit me the way I like.

Lay your workout pants (or similar pattern) on top of the T-shirt as this picture shows. It is really important that the portion that is the outside of the legs lines up with the folded side of the T-shirt. That is because you are going to have only one inner seam on the leg of your pants. No need to waste time and thread by adding unnecessary seams! Besides, if you have a logo or design on the front of your shirt, this will simply be placed on the side of your pant and not look too weird. You may notice also as this picture shows, that the bottom of the pant lines up with the bottom of the T-shirt. This means your pants are pre-hemmed! Cool, right? I know!

When you cut, you want to account for your seam allowance. I only wanted a quarter inch seam, so I made sure I cut that far from the outside edge of my (pattern) pants.

You're cutting through four layers of T-shirt, and therefore you are cutting both pieces you need to make your pants. Sewing goes pretty quickly.

Each piece that you have is a pant leg. Fold each one in half vertically, with right sides together. Make sure you match the sides evenly. They should be symmetrical.

Pin up the leg, stopping right when you get to the point that is the crotch.

These pants are meant to fit snuggly, and your seams will take a lot of pulling - especially if you're using them for working out.

The last thing you want is your seam to rip open while you're jogging down the street, in the middle of a yoga session or working the leg press at the gym. I know I don't want to have my co-workers laughing at me endlessly because my pants split open in front of everyone!

Each and every seam is doubled and tripled. Two straight seams, about a millimeter apart, and a zig-zag stitch that is evenly straddling the outside straight stitch. I then very carefully trimmed away the excess fabric, to within two millimeters of the seam.

Once you have your pant legs sewn and threads trimmed, you'll want to turn them right side out. This photo is an error, I started pinning with the pant legs inside out and realized that If I had sewn them that way, the seam that joins them would have been on the outside.

Once the pant legs are inside out, match up the seams at what will become the crotch (I hate that word!)

Pin the two pieces together and just as you did when you sewed the pant legs closed, sew a quarter inch seam using a straight stitch. Sew a second parallel stitch a millimeter apart and then zig-zag down the middle of the outer stitch. Trim off the excess fabric.

After you have the two halves of your pants joined, you want to try them on. If they are too loose, you can take them in. If they don't come up high enough, you can add an extra long waste band.

I recycled elastic from old clothing. On the gray pants that have the logo, I chose to do a waste band because they seemed to be to short and would pull down in the back during squatting. I could have used the scraps leftover from the red shirt, and this would have looked quite nice. However there was an ugly old gray sweatshirt that has been sitting in the recycle pile for a while and I chose to take the waste band off of it because it matched so well. I cut the elastic to the length that I needed, enfolded it into the waste band and sewed it together. I then pinned this band, with right sides together, to my pants and sewed it with a double straight stitch and a zig-zag. Trimming off the excess thread, these pants were done!

The red pants were plenty high in the waste, and I decided that I wouldn't bother with a waste band. I didn't care to have a hem, either. I know that having the elastic showing makes them look like ridiculously long underwear, but I don't mind. My shirt will cover the elastic.

I did want to make the point, however, that they may well function as long underwear! You can have them as leggings in the colder months, wear them under skirts, whatever you like.

These pants were so easy to make, I can see making many of them in the future! Whenever I find myself running short on work-out pants, I can just grab a few big T-shirts from the thrift store or my husbands dresser and whip a few up!

1 comment:

  1. This short workout pant looks stylish. Well I need to buy stylish and pink colored alo yoga pants for my Aerobic class as I can’t spend much time in alterations. I usually attend my class in morning as I am a working women. Please share from where I can buy my workout pants?