When I first came across Greenstyle Creations patterns (you may have noticed they feature rather heavily on here…!) I was pretty new to sewing stretch fabric, nevermind activewear fabric. I knew that my local fabric shops didn’t stock much in the way of what I tended to lump under the umbrella of Lycra, so I headed online.
It was then that I discovered the choice of activewear fabric in the UK wasn’t a patch on what was available in the USA where Greenstyle Creations are based. It’s not really that surprising as we’re a much smaller marketplace here, but it was still pretty frustrating!
Luckily, I quickly found Funki Fabrics and since then I’ve been on a bit of a mission to source the best fabrics and notions I can to compliment Angie’s wonderful patterns. Over the last couple of years I’ve learnt more and I would say the supply has also improved. I’ve bought together a list of sources I’ve found useful that I hope will be of use to those of you based in the UK. It’s not exhaustive so do share your favourites in the comments – I love finding out about new shops!
I hope this is useful if you’re just starting out. Once you hit on your own favourite suppliers you’ll be in Greenstyle heaven! Happy Sewing!
Firstly, if you know your stuff please skip ahead, but if you’re new to stretchy fabric (especially buying it online) it’s worth knowing Lycra content can be a bit misleading. You can have two fabrics with the same EA% and very different stretch and recovery. The knit of the fabric is what tends to make the difference. Getting samples where possible is worthwhile. Funki Fabrics will send you five at a time for free and Tia Knight are pretty good at sending samples as well.
I know everyone has their favourite stockists, but the following are the shops I’ve had the most positive experiences of:
They have a great selection of plains, prints, foils, meshes – if it stretches they probably have it. Here are some very limited notes on their fabrics (they have loads more!):
Flexcite: This is the cheaper print base. It’s 190 g/m2, which is enough for leggings and great for the skirt parts of the Pace. I know others have used it for Super Gs, but I only use it for Inspires and Strides as it can go a tiny bit see through with the stretch needed for Super Gs.
Titan: The other, slightly more expensive, print base is 250 g/m2 and has just enough stretch for Super Gs. It is slightly compressive and specifically designed for exercising in.
Life Recycled: This also works for leggings, but only just has enough stretch for Super Gs.
Perform: Muscular compression and hard wearing, with a lovely matt finish. I really like this for any of the leggings and Pace undershorts. I was worried about overheating, but I found it’s actually quite effective at keeping you cool in hot weather.
Meryl: This almost has a Supplex-like feel to it, but is lighter than most Supplex I have come across. It’s heavy enough for leggings though and also makes great tops. I have a couple of Pacific Pullover tanks made from it and have used it for the Lacy hooded top. It’s super stretchy and is chlorine/oil resistant so would also be good for swimming costumes.
Chine: This is a bit lightweight for leggings in my view, but I do like heavier weight fabrics for bottoms. I have used it for pockets in Super Gs and it was fine. It also makes great tops and I’ve used it for Green Tees, Xpress Tanks and Lilles. I think it would work well for a Lacy as well.
Supplex: It seems like this isn’t quite the same as the ones mentioned in the GS Facebook group from Phee/Z&Q etc in the States. It’s got enough stretch for strides, but isn’t brilliantly opaque at full stretch.
Peach: This has quite good stretch and is not bad on the opaque front as well as feeling nice. I’ve not used it yet though as I had lots of others I wanted to get first.
Tia Knight (I believe this is the same company as Tissu)
In my personal experience and opinion, the fabric quality doesn’t tend to be quite up to that of Funki Fabrics and they don’t tend to have as much heavier weight fabric. For example, their standard Supplex is lightweight at 98 g/m2, although they sometimes have 200 g/m2 (not heavy, but heading that way). However, for tops they can be great and often have really good deals! I love their Tactel (although it does vary in feel colour by colour) and have used some of that for the shorts and waistband for a Pace as well as for lots of tanks. Their customer service has also been good.
Casey stocks some lovely fabrics and is increasing her activewear selection. As of Feb 2019 I know she has some activewear prints coming in and has a few plain swim basics. She also stocks a good range of French Terry if you fancy a cosy Pacific Pullover or Studio to Street! She is really suportive and has a Facebook group that is worth checking out.
Tigs runs a great shop (and brilliant Facebook group) and she stocks some activewear, although some of it is a bit more ‘swim’ like so isn’t quite as breathable. The descriptions are normally enough of a guide to give you a sense of which is which. I have the Ferns she’s got at the moment – I have made 2 pairs of Super Gs and a Stride/Super G mash up from it, colour blocked with black Perform from FF, as well as a Lille crop top and a Pace – safe to say, it works really well!
This is an Etsy shop where the team behind Burnt Soul (who make festival outfits) sell off their excess fabric. You can often find some great job lots and interesting custom prints. Shipping is normally pretty quick (although I am only about 15 miles away…!).
This is a custom printing site similar to Spoonflower. You don’t have to do your own design, there are lots of designs you can pick from and then pick your base. They will send a swatch pack out as well to get a sense of the fabrics.
I have used the Active Lycra and although it’s slightly lighter weight than I’d normally choose it works well. I used it for the fabric I used when making a set of Christmas-themed Strides for a race. You can get 15% off if you put my name (Lisa Thrower) in at checkout and then I get a 15% voucher as well.
Stretch reflective fabrics? Surely not? Oh, yes! The stretch tends to be around 50%, but that’s enough for most things. I’ve used it for accents on Strides and Pacific Pullovers. I’ve also used the stretch mesh for side pockets on the Pacific Pullover and as a hacked insert on the pocket of the Super Gs.
You never quite know what you’re going to find here as they source a lot of overstock fabric and notions. Primarily, they focus on lingerie, but have a good sports wear section. I’ve had some great deals on Supplex and compression fabric and have also got some great casual tank fabrics. It’s worth plodding through the pages of ‘pieces’ as there can be some gems.
This company is based in Germany, but the shipping is quick and not too expensive. They don’t always have a massive selection of activewear fabric, but if you search by use you can filter for sport, swim etc. you’ll find some. They also sell French Terry and they also sell jersey bias binding, which I’ve not seen in many places.
Using woolly nylon in loopers was a great improvement for me; I don’t think I’ve had a popped seam since. My local shop sells Fujix Woolly Lock, which is lovely, but pricey. I’ve found it on Amazon a bit cheaper, but it comes direct from Japan so not a quick order (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fujix-black-woolly-sewing-thread/dp/B004WM56GU/). I also use Shan Woolly Nylon, which you can buy on Amazon (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shan-Fashion-Colour-trends-overlocker/dp/B00ICVLCII/) or from the same people directly at https://c9store.co.uk/ They do multipacks on Amazon. It’s great for colour matching fun colours and prints and is nice to work with. For the needles I mostly use Coats Moon polyester overlocker thread, which I can get at my local market, but I also have bigger cones of black The cones are no longer stocked where I got them, but William Gee stock 5000 yard cones.
Clear: I would avoid hemline (seems to be in most shops) and go for Vilene, which I get from William Gee – I get 5 packs at a time as I use so much.
Standard woven elastic: William Gee stock Prymm soft waistband elastic and I tend to go to Amazon for most of the rest.
Swim: Trying to find 1” Swim elastic is a bit of a unicorn hunt, but it occasionally comes up on Amazon. Alternatively, Fabric Land do 20mm swim elastic, which is fairly close.
Fold Over Elastic (FOE): As someone who is a bit too lazy for proper binding, I love FOE for Lilles in particular! Generally, this isn’t hard to find, but Sewing Chest normally have a good selection.
I doubt you struggle for zips, but thought I’d mention that I’ve got good deals from both https://c9store.co.uk/ and William Gee. Pennine Outdoor do good zips for more technical versions of the Sundance and Etsy is a good source for fancy colours and styles.
Sewing Chest has power mesh and alternatives for the Power Bra and foam for the Endurance (and I’ve used her for FOE before as well).
Another good bra notions supplier is https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/thebrashop. I have had foam and hooks from there (superfast delivery)