Hello! I’m excited to share with you today about planning a coordinating, Athleisure inspired outfit with bamboo fabrics. This project is sponsored by Nature’s Fabric. For this project I’m working with bamboo spandex jersey in the Almond Heather color and a bamboo stretch fleece in the Heretic color. To see more details about these fabrics, reference the end of this post.**
I was gifted these fabrics from Nature’s Fabric, in exchange for making and sharing the garments. I selected the fabrics and colors and the opinions are my own.
Merlo Field Tee: For the top, I made the Merlo Field Tee by Sew House 7. I have enjoyed the Athleisure trend that grew in 2020. In case you’re not familiar with Athleisure, it’s elevated and comfortable clothing that is not meant to be worn for exercise or sleeping (but you could of course wear them for either if you wanted to). This trend combines the comfort of pajamas but as a more elevated garment that you would wear during the day.
I have made the Merlo Field Tee a few times before and really love the pattern! I was drawn to use this pattern and fabric together as bamboo jersey is recommended in the pattern. My dimensions are Bust: 34” Waist: 30” Hips: 40”. For my tee I selected a size 4 for the sleeves and shoulders and then graded from a 6 to an 8 from the waist down.
For this version of the Merlo Field Tee, I selected the crewneck and long sleeve options.
The eye catching elements in the Merlo Field Tee are the panels in the shoulders and sleeves. In past projects, I have really enjoyed using a contrasting fabric in this area for a sporty look.
The weight of the bamboo jersey is 150 GSM (grams per square meter). The Almond Heather is a cream tone with a traditional heather variation within the fabric. It’s a t-shirt weight but I would say it runs on the thinner side in thickness. You could make a form fitting top with this fabric, however, you would see skin curves or bra lines underneath. Pairing a looser fitting pattern with this fabric offers the benefit of the drape in the bamboo to utilize the fabric’s strengths. A cotton jersey wouldn’t drape in the same way as this bamboo jersey does. Being a slightly lighter weight helps the fabric drape and hang really nicely on a looser fitting top like this one.
I cut the bamboo fleece arm and shoulder band pattern pieces vertically (as the fleece fabric has a greater amount of stretch vertically then horizontally). Using a fabric that has more stability in the band pattern pieces worked out really nicely! When I sewed the shoulder seams and arm band seams, I laid the fleece on the bottom. It worked well to have the more stable fabric on the bottom layer as I sewed.
I wanted to note that the bamboo jersey that I used from Nature’s Fabric is 70” wide. That is significantly wider then a typical 54” or 60” wide knit fabric. I had 2 yards of the jersey for this project so with the 70” width, I had enough fabric leftover to make a second Merlo Field Tee (a short sleeved version). I’m looking forward to having one version of this top to wear in the fall/winter and a second one for spring/summer. The natural properties of bamboo will make this top breathable and comfortable to wear year round (the long sleeved for fall/winter and short sleeved for spring/summer).
I wanted to note a tip if you’ve never worked with a bamboo jersey fabric before. Make sure that the fabric is not stretched on the cutting table before cutting out the pattern. If the fabric is stretched before you cut out the pattern piece, it will spring back after cutting and be smaller in the finished garment then you intended. After I lay out and measure the bamboo fabric on the cutting table, I will gently pull the fabric up and down a few times to make sure the fabric is not stretched before cutting out the pattern.
I have made this pattern a few times in Ponte Roma knit fabrics. My favorite blend for a Ponte Roma has been a 65% Rayon/30% Nylon/5% Spandex. I have never made this pattern in a bamboo fleece knit so I was quite excited to finish this project and wear it!
The bamboo fleece is thicker then the bamboo jersey. The weight of the bamboo fleece is 320 GSM. The Heretic color is a dark red with purple undertones (I would describe it as a merlo red). There is a unique drape to this bamboo fleece that acts differently then a polyester fleece. I would say it runs at a medium/light weight which offers a nice drape in the fabric. I had 3 yards of the bamboo fleece for this project (with more then a yard of fabric leftover). This fabric is 62” wide.
Mods: Starting out, I made a change to the size that I selected for these pants. The pattern recommends a fabric with a 25% horizontal stretch. This bamboo fleece has a 5” horizontal stretch and 60” vertical stretch. Knowing that I selected a fabric with a smaller amount of horizontal stretch then recommended, I went up a size from what I have previously sewed for this pattern.
For reference, my waist dimension is 30” and Hips are 40”. My height is 5’5”. I have usually sewn a size 10 in this pattern with a thicker Ponte Roma knit. For this project I sewed a size 12. I added 2” to the length of the pants (at the lengthen/shorten line on the pattern). I have a few commercial joggers that are too short on me and this detail bugs me. I appreciate pants to be long enough on me that they don’t ride up at the ankles.
For this version, I initially skipped stitching the two horizontal topstitch lines that are recommended in the pattern along the waistband. I love this finishing detail but if you need to go back and replace the elastic in the waistline, it’s not worth unpicking all of those stitches. Initially I just stitched in the ditch on each of the side seams (to hold the waist tie in place).
Although I wanted to test out skipping this detail, after wearing the pants a couple of times, I’m going to add the two horizontal topstitched waistband lines. If I need to replace the elastic in the future, I will just remove the entire waistband and replace this piece as a whole. I used a thinner, 2” elastic for the waistband. Although the elastic is on the thin side, if you topstitch along the two recommended stitch lines, this reinforces a thinner elastic to work quite well with this pattern.
I love the finished result! This was the first project where I made a pair of pants and a shirt at the same time and coordinated the fabrics together.
Bamboo fabric scraps – I enjoyed these fabrics so much that I wanted to find ways to use up the precious leftover fabric scraps. Some ideas that I’d like to make with my scraps are:
-Headband, Free Zenith Headband pattern
-Gaiter (for walks outside in the winter), Link to free pattern video from Proper Fit Clothing
-Underwear, Link to free underwear patterns
-Piece scraps together for a patchwork garment
-Sew a knit quilt, Tee: The Knit Quilt Primer Pattern by Carolyn Friedlander
As a side note, if you’re interested in reading about how clothing has been impacted from past pandemics and major historical events, I found this article really interesting to read.
**Bamboo Jersey (product description from Nature’s Fabrics’ website): “Our soft Bamboo Jersey is created from 70% Bamboo Viscose and 30% Organic Cotton. This fabric is 70” wide and 150 GSM. This jersey is very smooth and stretches approximately 25% in the width and 15% in the length. Bamboo Jersey is the perfect fabric for many necessities and luxuries. Our high quality bamboo jersey is ready to be turned into under garments, tops, skirts and cloth diapers, Mama cloths, baby blankets and cloths, wipes and pillow cases. After many washes and use, bamboo jersey keeps its softness. This fabric is dyed with eco friendly dyes. These dyes do not produce harmful chemicals or environmental pollution, therefore, comply with environmental regulations. Eco dyes are non-carcinogenic and are free from or produce no harmful aromatic amines or acute toxins. The color fastness and performance of these dyes are superior to banned dyes.”
**Bamboo Stretch Fleece (product description from Nature’s Fabrics’ website): “This Bamboo Stretch Fleece is 66% Bamboo Viscose and 28% Organic Cotton and 6% Spandex. It is 62″ wide and weighs 320 GSM. This fleece stretches approximately 5% in the width and 60% in the length. It is great for projects like fitted diapers, sweatpants, hoodies, sleepwear, stretch knit winter dress, leggings, and active wear.
This fabric is dyed with eco friendly dyes. These dyes do not produce harmful chemicals or environmental pollution, therefore, comply with environmental regulations. Eco dyes are non-carcinogenic and are free from or produce no harmful aromatic amines or acute toxins. The color fastness and performance of these dyes are superior to banned dyes.”