Yoga Trews: A Nascent Quest

August 22, 2018

Just in the nick of time, I made these.

My old yoga pants, two of them, were 2 years old and worn to the point of being unrepairable. They weren’t yoga pants specifically, just black cotton/Lycra leggings from a big box store. I’d resewn the inner seam a number of times but the fabric itself had become very thin. I had to wear shorts over the top to yoga just to make sure.

Two years is not a long time for a garment to last but they were worn a lot as leggings and yoga pants, almost daily in fact. When it became apparent they would need imminent replacing, I started looking around to buy some more. I thought perhaps something specifically for yoga might be more hard wearing but most of what I saw were entirely synthetic and the ethically produced ones seemed to be no more hard wearing that what I already had. They were also very expensive.  The lack of biodegradability was particularly concerning and I imagined that whatever I purchased might be on the earth forever, long after they ceased being used.

I decided to sew some myself. I used the Espresso leggings pattern from Sewing Cake Patterns, adding my measurements and tracing off a pattern. The first one was made with some inexpensive fabric just to trial. It was a little tight in the calves and not quite tight enough at the waist so I readjusted the pattern.

The second one used fabric from The Drapery and fits perfectly.

I am super happy with the pattern and the actual garments. However, I have some reservations about a couple of things. Both fabrics are cotton and contain 8% Lycra, a synthetic that adds stretch and memory to a fabric (so you don’t get elephant knees after squatting). I am reminded that 10% nylon was enough to start me on the Tuff Socks Naturally project so I know already I am not comfortable with the synthetic component…or indeed the cotton bit.  I can’t really expect them to last any longer than my other ones. So all in all, these leggings are really just a stop gap. I think there must be a better way.

I think the underlying problem is the concept of leggings themselves. They are an artifact of the synthetic age…a garment that can’t exist before the invention of Lycra. So the more I look for yoga leggings, stretchy skin-hugging, breathable trews, the more frustrated I am going to get. So what is the alternative?

Since yoga predates the invention Lycra, presumably folks have worn other things to bend and stretch and breath. The blokes in my class wear shorts but I desire a wee bit more coverage for myself. One bloke wears Thai fishing pants but I think there too much fabric in those for what I want. My brother once had a pair of rock climbing trousers that had a gusset in the crotch to allow for deep leg extensions. Perhaps the way forward is something in linen or hemp with a gusset.

I am not sure what is next is but I’ve bought myself some exploration time I think. Ideas and suggestions are welcome.