I’m back in the game – and wearing Cashmerette leggings!

You might not know it, but I haven’t taken blog pictures in two months. Over the course of the fall I started having sciatic pain in my legs, and by November it was full-blown back pain! Thankfully, it’s all been sorted out now (my nerve was being pinched by sitting on plastic school chairs and driving), and I’m now back to normal.

Being immobilised by pain really threw me for a loop though. Who am I if I can’t do my job (which involves a LOT of sitting) and I can’t sew? I’ve already lived with tendonitis in my arms for a decade, and I felt stupid for having developed another repetitive stress injury. I spent a lot of time in physiotherapy, massage and with my chiropractor, which all required a workout wardrobe that I just don’t own.

(BTW, we did a post on the Sewcialists recently about being a sewist with chronic health issues, and it is worth a read!) 


Faced with the idea of going shopping and trying things on in a dressing room while in pain, I decided that it was faster and smarter just to sew my own. So through November and December, I speed-sewed myself a mini-wardrobe of super-high-rise leggings and big loose tops. I’d already agreed to test Cashmerette’s new athletic patterns, so the timing was perfect!

PicMonkey Collage

There are the Belmont leggings, sewn in size 18 with a 1″ petite adjustment at the shorten line, and 1″ slashed and spread to the back rise. There is an optional gusset, which I included in this version, but probably don’t need in the future. I’m just not that flexible that a gusset ever comes into play! There is a seam on the inner and outer leg, and the elastic is encased in fabric. On me, they come up above my belly button.

One thing you’ll notice when looking at my pictures is that there are some wrinkles at the upper thigh, knee and crotch. I’ll tweak the fit slightly next time, but I’m also going to heed the advice of Heather Lou and accept good enough without going down a rabbit hole of fitting! These fit better than any RTW, and almost as well as my darling Espressos. I wore them all day yesterday, for errands, pictures, yoga, and lounging, and I never once had to yank them up in place!


The fabric is some kind of wicking polyester from my local Len’s Mills store, which has good 4-way stretch and great bounce-back. I got comments on my athletic gear every time I wore it – I guess everyone else was wearing a lot of black, but that’s just not me!

The fabric from the top is from Len’s Mills, too, and it’s the most beautiful thick rayon/poly blend, with just a hint of melange. I loved it so much that I bought it in 4 colours! If you are from Ontario and happen to live near a Len’s Mills, it’s worth going to search for this knit! The pattern is the Tessuti Isla, which against all odds has become my current favourite TNT top. It’s perfect for yoga/physio/etc because it’s loose enough to hide the waistband of your high, tight leggings, but has no gaping at waist or neckline, even when you are upside down or twisted in a pretzel!


I meant to sew the Cashmerette Cedar dolman top too, but as my back got worse, I just couldn’t handle it. I do have the pattern all printed together though, and I can attest that there is some great side shaping in the larger cup versions! I predict it’s going to be a favourite of mine for summer, with and without the cute ties. I’m also wondering about putting little dropped-shoulder sleeves on it for winter, so watch this space!


Now that I’m back in good health, I’m getting back to what makes me feel good. Blogging is one of those things, even if it means timer selfies on my iPhone, like these! (My wet hair was literally freezing into icy chunks while I took these, but it was easier to shoot outside than to clean my house!) I’m also easing myself into building my core strength to avoid future back problems by doing some “Yoga With Adriene” a few times a week. I loved Cashmerette’s post yesterday about being body-positive in the new year, and I’m trying to invest in what makes me feel happy and healthy in the long term!



37 thoughts on “I’m back in the game – and wearing Cashmerette leggings!

  1. Well done! And thanks for realistic photos that show the pattern and the fabric in the way they’re supposed to be used! I have a chronic illness so I sympathise with your health issues and will check out that article. Bending to trace and cut patterns and fabric is always bad for my back. Oh for a cutting table at proper height 🙂


    1. Lol – picture me on the freezing porch while the timer counts down thinking, “What the hell does exercise look like?” 😛 I taped and cut this pattern while doing a wide legged stance like a rock star – at least it kept my back straight! maybe you could get risers for your table?


      1. Ha! That mental image cheered me up 😀. I’m thinking of Joey in Friends lunging!
        Nerve pain is some of the worst as most painkillers won’t work (ask me how I know 😕). So glad you’re feeling better. If it happens again, a TENs machine can help with nerve pain and my physio suggested ‘training’ your body by using it for a period a couple of times a day, even if it doesn’t hurt at the time. I love my TENs but don’t use it enough.


  2. Very cute outfit! Unfortunately, I know all about sciatica! So glad to hear you’re feeling better. My back has been achy lately, and while I don’t have a pinched nerve (yet!), I am still taking daily pain meds, which I despise. I was thinking yesterday that I need to remind my husband about the frame I want him to build to put under my cutting table, raising it up to a comfortable height for me! I really enjoy your blog, and will have to check out the Sewcialist as well. Happy new year!! 🙂


    1. Get that table made for you!!! A good height table makes a lot of difference (I know, because mine is definitely not the right height!) I hope your back improves soon!


    1. It’s a fun orchid colour, eh? Although I quickly realised I don’t have many neutral tops that go with bright pants… 😉


  3. So glad to hear your back is doing better. Back pain is truly nothing to joke about indeed. Especially so when the things you love to do require sitting for long periods.
    Loving this workout outfit btw. Those colour leggings are it!!!


  4. Love the leggings! I have been eyeing off that new Cashmerette pattern bundle! Jenny is coming to teach a workshop here in Feb so trying to pick what to make (I think probably the Ames jeans).

    Sorry to hear about your back – that sounds horrible! So frustrating 😦 I do a fair bit of yoga with Adrienne too – her psoas yoga is amazing!

    Here’s to good health, sewing and body positivity in 2018!


    1. I’d say that if sewing activewear appeals to you, then the patterns are worth it! I appreciate that the bundle has a lot of options, and plenty of room for pattern hacking. Making jeans with jenny would be awesome – I bet you’d feel (and look!) like a superstar by the end!


  5. You look great in these , I love the colour. you have my sympathy with back hideous. I love the pictures in the snow, it looks so beautiful. I am melting from the heat and humidity in Sydney.


    1. Much as I complain about the bitter cold and snow, I do like it better than the kind of heat you get! Good luck to you!


    1. I”m getting my tripod back later this week, and then i’ll be back to the big camera… but it’s nice to remember that good enough is sometimes ok! 😉


  6. Happy New Year to you and your loved ones Gillian! So sad to read you’ve been in so much pain though 😦 But look at those gorgeous workout garments that came out of it 🙂 WOW beautiful – of course they are colourful and fit you (I think really well) I’ve joined the 2018 RTW fast this year which has really given me FOCUS I must say. I scrambled to my closet yesterday morning thinking I’d better figure out what I’m going to need this year and get busy. The first thing I realized is that I don’t own a single sleeveless woven top – and they are the coolest for the summer so I’m on it right now with B5891. I have a few other patterns too that will do just fine. Then I realized I only own one long cardi so I’m going to need at least one more of those…the other part of this which I’ve adopted is no patterns or fabric EEK that part will be much harder. I do have an AWFUL lot of patterns and fabric though – ridiculous really. Probably enough to keep me clothed for a lifetime 🙂 In fact, if I’m successful meeting these challenges throughout 2018 I’m going to continue it until my 65th birthday (Nov 2019) I should make a serious dent in my hoard by then 🙂


    1. Oh my goodness! No RTW, no fabric, no patterns… and for almost two years??? YOU ARE HARDCORE!!! But think how ingenious you’ll be by the end – I think it’s a fabulous challenge! I let myself by second-hand clothing when I did a RTW fast, and that helped. I can’t wait to hear how it all goes!!!


  7. New Year….New You! I’m sorry that you had a rough go there for a while Gillian. I’ve been on and off to the chiropractor for a repetitive use injury….my biggest problem is that as soon as I start to feel better, I let up on the exercises I need to be doing.

    And speaking of exercises….I ADORE Adrienne. Oh my gosh…she’s come a long way with her channel. I’m actually doing her 30 day True right now. It just started if you want to keep me company!

    Okay…I hope you feel 150% better! Happy New Year!


  8. These look great! It is a refreshing break from black everything exercise clothes. And I’m glad to hear that your back is starting to feel better. I’ve been in PT for the last 6ish months myself. I started getting hip pain when laying on one side during my first pregnancy when I was too nauseous to do any exercise for the full nine months, and the second one threw me into full blown misalignment despite my sporadic workouts. It’s finally starting to improve, and thankfully never left me unable to sew, but sitting on the floor with the boys/walking up and down stairs was pretty rough (and there’s a lot of stairs in our townhouse!) I’m attempting to work in yoga where I can now, on top of my PT stretches, to try to keep things improving and flexible.


    1. Oh goodness, that all sounds pretty terrible! I hope you can get your hips back in alignment and feeling better soon!


  9. Your workout outfit looks great! Much more fun than black!
    I’m not a very sporty person, but I started doing 15 min of yoga almost every day because of back pain during my pregnancy. It helped a lot and I should really get back into it!

    On a side note, I’m writing my thesis about disease prevention and it’s astonishing how big the impact of regular exercise (even just 30 min of brisk walking per day and a few minutes of core strength exercises) is on health and longevity…!


  10. Hello! So the optional gusset gives bigger range of movement? It’s what I would assume but I can’t find where it says why to choose one or the other…! Thinking of making a pair – or at least printing the pattern ready 🙂


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