Old and bright and late – Jalie 2682 as bike jersey

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.

Jalie 2682 as jersey

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.

Jalie jersey backThe 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.

Jalie jersey pocketsSo, 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.

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14 comments
  1. Deb said:

    I can;t say I understand the issues and concerns about finding a good bike jersey- I haven’t ridden a bike since I was about 5 years old- but this does look sporty and like something you’d wear for athletic activities. I love the bright green color too!

  2. that looks great but I understand the difficulties of sewing athletic wear fabrics. but it came out great.

  3. I’m on the hunt for that elusive fabric as well. I think it was suggested to check out http://www.seattlefabrics.com/ they seem to have a good selection of inexpensive samples that might be able to get you close. I haven’t ordered from there yet because I’m afraid I won’t finish my current project if I do….

  4. grtescp said:

    oh wow, my favourite shade of green, and you know I love this pattern, but I agree it is so difficult finding decent fabric for making sports wear – I made some capri tights for teaching hot yoga last week, wore them on Tuesday and for the first 10 minutes, once I had gotten over the stress of whether they would fall down, sweltered, the thin lycra felt really hot… after about 10 minutes I was just hot and they were actually fine!
    And congratulations on your century… it has been a couple of years since I rode that far and I miss it, I need to get out more, but I find it hard in the northern climate!

  5. I really like your blog Aleah and all the things you make. Love this top – the color is so wonderful!!!

  6. I’ve had my eye on that and one other Jalie pattern for bike tops too but it’s the lack of decently fabric that’s stopped me from buying them. I’d love to give it a go and make the perfect top but ugh, I wish we could get our hands on the great sports/performance fabrics the big name manufactures get hold of. Your top looks really well made though and I love the colour, fresh and most importantly visible.

  7. Tracey said:

    I wonder about swimwear fabrics also… I could just see me sewing a swimsuit and it getting all pulled out of shape, and it just being a complete nightmare. Your shirt turned out nice, I can see that it would be frustrating, I can barely find any off the rack athletic shirts to even fit correctly and feel comfortable. I love the color. Maybe someone out there has an idea for a great place to get fabric for athletic wear.???

  8. Jenny said:

    I think if ‘you go to Jalie’s blog they have some suggestions where they buy their athletic wear. It’s probably in Canada though. I am Canadian and absolutely love Jalie patterns, but haven’t got to athletic wear yet.

  9. Congratulations on your fastest century! Under 8 hours sounds so awesomely fast.

    I like the idea of making cycling jerseys, particularly because I’ve found that many women’s jerseys have much smaller pockets than their male counterparts, so it would be nice to get a well fitting jersey with big pockets. But, as you say, finding the right fabric would be key.

    Also, I have one of those Terry Boleros and it is WONDERFUL.

  10. Kelly said:

    This shirt is awesome! I have this pattern and I desperately need new bike tops. Thanks for a great review.

  11. Katherine said:

    I was looking for online advice on sewing lycra – I’m making a swim suit!!! – and it occurred to me that I hadn’t checked your blog in FOREVER! Mistakes. They have been made. I’m mostly only commenting because I was compelled to after the Arrested Development reference. But yeah, the jersey looks great! Too bad it feels icky for summer. Love you!

    • aleah said:

      Aaah, yes, swimsuit! I am also planning on swimsuit-making this summer, but I probably won’t get around to it til July… in the meantime, there is a ton of swim-sewing happening all over the interwebs.
      A good, detailed sewalong can be found here: http://dixiediy.blogspot.com/search/label/Swimsuit%20Sew-along
      Another with lots of info: http://threedresses.org/2013/05/01/swimalong-2013-welcome/
      And this sewalong is just starting: http://closetcasefiles.blogspot.ca/p/bombshell-swimsuit-sewalong.html
      It’s for her own pattern, which I’m sorry I’ve showed you because now you’ll want to make it, as I do.
      Man, I wish you were here and we could make swimsuits together! Miss you tons!

      • Katherine said:

        AH you are SO HELPFUL! The one I’m making myself has the same top as the Bombshell in red (tiny boobs, just need some fabric…) but I’m not going to do any shirring I think. I’m modeling it after a pair of high waisted undies I really like, but adding butt coverage and taking the center placket (the seams on the undies are like at the front of my thighs so the whole butt piece wraps around the hips) up to just under the bust. The butt piece will stop at my waist and I’ll connect the boob pieces to the butt piece with two side-ties basically that will start under my boobs and tie behind my back.
        …I’ll send you a pic. Maybe you can tell me if anything looks too weird or hard?

        After reading like ten stretchy fabric tutorials online, I cut out a pair of underwear from my practice fabric and found that my machine has a zip zag triple stitch that basically removes the need for a serger or overlock machine until I win the lottery. Also two stretch needles! By feeding the fabric through with tissue paper or leftover pattern on both sides, I have almost eliminated the teeth problem but it makes it much harder sewing curves. I feel like I’ve learned so much from this project already!

        I miss you tooooo! I’ll send you process photos!
        🙂

  12. Ann W said:

    Hi Aleah, I just came across your blog while looking at this Jalie pattern and also was considering it for a bike jersey. So hard to find any cute fitting bike jersey patterns. So far, I have found Jalies discontinued bike jersey pattern to be the best, but it is cut pretty straight up and down (for men and children). I love what you did with this pattern, but agree that the neck may be a bit bulky. I have been buying my wicking Lycra fabric from fabricline.com. They will sell by the yard and have a fairly large selection, reasonably priced. Sometimes they give a great description of the fabric, and sometimes not so much. For the most part, I have been very pleased with the quality and wicking capabilities (even through centurys). I do love being able to make jerseys in bright colors without being an advertising billboard for Bike companies. If you find a good bolero pattern, I would love to know. I agree they are better than arm warmers, especially in CA, where sleeveless jerseys can be worn through half the year. Maybe if enough people request it, Jalie would put out a jersey and bolero pattern specifically for women. I think I will email them again right now 🙂

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