This project has been a long time coming. Not just in that I cut it out a full month ago, made it two weeks ago and am just blogging it now, but in that I bought this pattern and fabric literally years ago with this exact project in mind, and it took me until now(ish) to get around to it. When the Slapdash Sewist pointed out this waffley athletic fabric on FFC back in 2011 (egad!), I immediately ordered a yard with a bike jersey in mind. I had no pattern ideas until I stumbled across Jalie 2682 – I thought the zipper version would make a perfect bike jersey. And then I did nothing about it for a long time. I even made up the regular shirt version of the pattern in the meantime. But I was finally spurred into action (very leisurely action) by Cation Design’s Vibrant Color Stashbusting Challenge last month. And was just getting warm enough for sleeveless bike jerseys! And then… April happened. And the jersey didn’t. But, better late than never, right? It’s still old stash, and it’s certainly a vibrant color. It’s just a little late.
And the verdict? Well, what I learned here was that the reason I haven’t made a previous foray into self-stitched bike-wear is a good one: the fabrics kinda suck. This is Poly with a capital P fabric, and the waffle weave that’s supposed to be cooling and wicking (I assume) in fact just makes the fabric thicker and poufier, not exactly traits you want in close-fitting athletic wear. It also pulls off that great double trick of cheap knits in that it manages to feel thick and at the same time still cling and show every lump and bump. In my test ride with the jersey, the word that sprung to mind was “cozy”, which, again, is not my ideal workout shirt descriptor. But I guess that means it will make a good winter jersey with one of my boleros! (Seriously, these bike boleros are maybe the best bike clothes invention ever. They don’t slip down like armwarmers and they California-winterize a sleeveless jersey perfectly. I have like three.)
But as for the pattern itself? I do think I was right that it’s a good candidate for a bike jersey. It has a sporty look about it to start with (this bothered me on the shirt version, and I think I’ve figured out what makes it that way – no bust gathers. If the bodice were gathered a little into a midriff band I think I would like it better. That’s totally my next hack of this pattern. But I digress) that works well for a jersey, and it has a somewhat looser fit through the torso, something that you sometimes want in a jersey, actually (or at least one that’s made from insulating waffle polyester). And it already has a zipper, obviously. So I didn’t really make any mods to the basic pattern. The only change I made was lengthening it in the center back about an inch to create the curved back hem all my favorite jerseys have. This is a pretty long top, though, so I ended up actually taking off an inch all around before hemming, still preserving the curved back edge. I like my jerseys long, but not that long. (I also managed to sew a dreadful meandering hem. Oops.) The only other adjustment I’d consider making to the pattern if I attempt bike clothes again would be to try to figure out how to reduce the amount of fabric at the back neckline. I like a little collar on my jerseys, but this is a little too tall.
The main way I jerseyed it up, though, was to add pockets to the back. Back pockets are an absolute necessity for me, because I need a place to put my phone and any food I might need for the ride. I sort of drafted a pocket piece off an existing jersey, but it was really just a very slight trapezoid shape that was about 6 inches narrower than the back piece. I zigzagged elastic across the top edge of the pocket piece, turned it down and twin needled (all my jersey pockets are elasticized across the top). I attached it to the lower back piece by flipping the pocket piece upside down and sewing along the bottom, right sides together, then flipping it right side up and topstitching along the bottom for security. Then I topstitched along the side edges and up the middle in two places to create the pockets. I did this before I sewed the side seams of the jersey to make it easier. I placed the pocket piece about two inches from the bottom edge, but I find the pockets a bit low. Next time I’ll attach the pocket piece an inch and a half higher at least, so the stuff in the pockets will sit in the small of my back.
So, would I try this again? Honestly, it all depends on the fabric. If I ever stumble across a nice, real athletic knit that’s breathable and has good recovery (something this fabric definitely doesn’t have, hence the wibbly zipper), I would totally go for it. But I’m not committed to the idea enough to order dozens of swatches online in a quest for the ever elusive fabric-as-nice-as-RTW. And frankly, I seriously doubt I can find a fabric for sale anywhere that lives up to the awesome proprietary performance fabrics my RTW jerseys are made of. I mean, really, have you ever found yardage that you’ve touched and thought, hey, I could sweat in this for 100 miles? I know I haven’t. If something perfect does just walk into my stash, though, I have lots of ideas to real-jersey-up this pattern – reflective piping along the underbust seam, back pockets finished with contrast fold-over elastic, grippy paint along the inside bottom hem… But as it is I will wear this jersey occasionally, I think. And it’ll just motivate me to ride faster, so no one will be able to see all the terribly wonky topstitching!
On one last bike-related note, I can pass off at least a little of the delay of this post (just a little, mostly it was just my traditional procrastination) on the fact that I spent last Saturday riding the Tour of Long Beach Cruz Gran Fondo, a pretty flat 100 miles going down the coast and back. It was my third century and by far my fastest at 7 hours 20 minutes, mostly because it had almost no hills. (Though needless to say, I still did not wear this jersey.) I was very happy with my time, and even more happy about the craft beer garden at the finish! That, and the fact that when we rode past the Pageant of the Masters sign in Laguna Beach I totally yelled “There are dozens of us! Dozens!” Yeah there are.