colorblocked workout top
Yay, Essentrics!

It always takes me a while to get back into my sewing/writing/doing life routine after having a baby, and this time I’ve been trying to not be hard on myself about it.  I went through so much sickness after my youngest son, I’ve been careful not to go overboard.  After 3.5 months, I think I’m finally gaining enough energy back to do something beyond the absolutely necessary, so you can consider me back from maternity leave as it were.  And what a way to get back in the swing of it all than with a colorblocked workout top?

Colorblocked workout top

Living in Colorado, land of the ultra fit, I am woefully unstylish in the workout gear department.  It’s absolutely not a joke, that this is the carpool pickup at my kids’ school, except the moms there really are just that fit and done up.  If I cared about that sort of thing, it would be a pretty intimidating environment.

As for me, I’ve been wearing the same ratty pants and random t-shirts I was working in 10+ years ago.  I workout to be strong and healthy, not because I love it.  I want to get it done first thing in the day, preferably in my pajamas, at home where nobody sees me, and then I want to get on with with the day with a little more energy.  But like bramaking, activewear sewing is quite popular in the sewing world at the moment, and it’s been more than time for me to jump on the bandwagon.

I started this project by looking around for inspiration when I came across this Betsey Johnson top.

Image result for betsey johnson colorblock workout top

I loved the colorblocking, and the fact that it kind of just looks like a regular cute t-shirt, not necessarily a workout top.  I know people love their tanks and other sleeveless sorts of tops for working out, but that’s not my thing.  My arms get cold, and if I do go for an actual run, I hate having to worry about putting sunscreen on my upper arms.

I scoured my local thrift store and easily came up with 3 performance jersey tops that I could cut up and recombine into my own version of Betsey Johnson’s colorblocked workout top.

colorblocked workout top

I messed around with my TNT t-shirt pattern, Jalie 2921, pinning some style lines.  There’s basically nothing left on this top that would leave you thinking this was Jalie’s scarf-collar top, but the fit works so well for me, that I keep hacking out new things with it as my base.  I guess in reality, it’s become my knit tee sloper. After I traced off a fresh version of my pattern, I transferred the  pinned lines.  Then I cut along the lines, adding seam allowances when I cut out the pieces from the t-shirts.

colorblocked workout top

The Betsey Johnson top has a media pocket sewn into one of the back seams with an invisible zipper.  I sewed in the invisible zip, then I added a pocket piece that I topstitched into place.  It makes for a bulk-free pocket, and it turned out much better than I anticipated.  It’s nice to know that if I want to go out and actually carry something, I can just stash it in my roomy hidden pocket.

colorblocked workout top

The back keyhole was a fun detail to add too.  I conclude that I need to add more keyholes on my t-shirts.  It’s the kind of girly touch that I look for.

colorblocked workout top

After this top, I’ll need to add some workout leggings eventually too.  Jalie’s Cora leggings are definitely in my queue.  No more dated Everlast pants that have survived 4 pregnancies and are ripping apart at the seams!

How about you?  Have you sewn your own activewear?  What are your favorite activewear patterns?

colorblocked workout top

My full review of the top is here.

Elizabeth Made This

Let’s keep the conversation going!  Check out my sewing dreams and inspiration on Pinterest, and keep up to date on my projects on Instagram and Facebook.



  1. This top is so cute! I am obsessed with that keyhole detail. I haven’t tried one before… is it difficult?

    I’ve sewn the Papercut Patterns Pneuma tank 4x already and am breaking into my Sewaholic activewear patterns. I’m actually on the hunt for some good quality sweat-wicking activewear fabric so I can update my workout wardrobe. I used to be a gym rat, but lately it’s been a love/hate relationship with the gym. My job drains the heck out of me and I’ve been dealing with joint and soft tissue pain so I’ve been MIA on an off for the past few years. I’m hoping the new activewear I’ll make will help give me the kick to stay active!

    • elizabethmadethis Reply

      That sounds so painful. I hope you get to feeling better soon. Working out is often walking on a knife edge…yes it makes you feel better, but it can be too much too. Argh!

      Keyholes are pretty easy in theory…just cut out a shape that you like and bind the edge. I’ve seen a lot of people just turn the edge and it always looks homemade in that non-flattering sense…I think what happens is that the jersey stretches out of shape when you do that, especially at the stress points. One of my daughter’s tops has a wee miter sewn in at the bottom point on the binding–just like you would for a V-neck shirt. It helps it look super crisp.

      Good luck finding cute wicking fabric. There’s so much cute stuff out there these days.

  2. Love your top and your inspiration too! SO into that colorblocking and shape! Welcome back! I am still struggling to sew 18 months after having little D, but I think it’s more work and my health getting in the way at this point than him…

    • elizabethmadethis Reply

      Thanks Mikhaela! Post baby health is no joke. Pregnancy takes a lot out of you even if you had a relatively easy pregnancy like this one was. I saw that some of your sinus stuff was back recently. So sorry. I hope you get to feeling better.

  3. This is super cute and the color blocking is clever! That video is my favorite thing ever. I had previously watched it like a dozen times, but your post compelled me to watch it a couple more times for good measure! Ha!

    • elizabethmadethis Reply

      Thanks Helena! That video makes me laugh every single time too.

  4. Welcome back! I’m also in the camp of not enjoying exercise, and I’m just barely getting into it now that my husband has turned the finished part of the basement into a space where I can follow dvds while Hobbit safely runs around. So I’ve honestly not had much motivation to try activewear, especially since my wardrobe is still in a bit of a rough state. The colorblocking on this top is nice, and the colors are so you. Great way to source the material, too. Are you going to try to make another out of the leftovers?

    • elizabethmadethis Reply

      Thanks! It’s always a challenge trying to get in time working out with kids. I honestly don’t know how I ever made it to the gym! 🙂 DVDs and YouTube are the only reason that all happens at all. I had hoped to make another top from the leftovers, but there’s not much left of the tops. The original orange top in particular had a weird super curved hem that made it difficult to cut the pieces I needed. Refashion math is so off. It’s weird that it would take 3 tops to make 1, but so it is.

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.