So I decided to make him tights, and he also asked for a cape. I really wanted a print that would be fun but would also reflect that he was doing something pretty impressive, a physical prowess (to me anyways). So I looked for cartoony super-heros prints.
I looked at several websites including Funki Fabrics. They had some good options, but it ended up being quite pricey and I as worried about shipping times. Eventually I ended up on Spoonflower and found this super cute "action hero" print, with colors that were pretty much B's usual color scheme (red and black). Also turned out Spoonflower had just introduced a new fabric to their catalogue: Sports Lycra, intended for leggings and tights. It all sounded pretty perfect, but I still did some research on their product and found out that some of their fabrics didn't sustain washing very well and colors tended to fade especially on natural fabrics.
Because the lycra had just been released, there hadn't been a lot of feedback on it, but fortunately I found this thread on Pattern Review that sounded like the lycra didn't have the fading problem. So I went ahead and ordered 1 yard (still pretty pricey), and then waited.
When the fabric arrived I wasn't disappointed! The colors were vibrant and the scale of the print was great. I washed it right away and the colors didn't change at all. Success!
To make the tights, I looked at several available commercial patterns. This Jalie one was an option, as well as this one from The Green Pepper. I was concerned about the crotch area though, as none of those had gussets or any type of "crotch shaping", which i would think would be more comfortable to include on men's tights. So eventually, I just grabbed one of B.'s RTW tights, one that he hadn't worn much and that wasn't stretched out of shape yet, and just traced it.
It turned out to be the best option. I just added a waist band as the original tights didn't have one, only a wide elastic sewed at the waist.
The tights came together super fast. I was really happy with my choice of tracing the existing tights as they pretty much had the perfect lines: crotch pieces (similar to that of tight boxer shorts, so basically like underwear) and the legs had one piece that wrapped around most of the leg (no side seam), except for one vertical band on the inner leg, from crotch to bottom. So this was perfect to add a bit of contrast with using the same black moisture-wicking polyester fabric on the inner leg piece as I had used in my own activewear.
When B. put them on the first time though, I realized the limitation of the Spoonflower fabric. Because the design is printed on a white fabric, the white tends to show when the fabric stretches, so if it stretches too much, the colors end up looking quite faded (especially if the print is in dark colors).
I only had one yard of the Spoonflower print, so I couldn't recut the main leg pieces. Instead I removed the black inner-leg pieces and recut those about 1inch winder. That way I made the leg a bit wider and the fabric didn't have to stretch as much.
As I said, the tights came together really easily. I used a zigzag stitch on all the seams, and a wider and narrower zigzag stitch to finish the edges. I used wooly nylon in the bobbin...I don't know if the wooly nylon really made a big difference in the feel of the edges...But I felt all "technical" using that kind of thread :P
In the end I was really happy with the result and they fit B. perfectly. I was a bit worried that they would fall apart or that some seams would end up being scratchy or uncomfortable, but B. took them out for a test run and they were fine.
One thing I did notice about Spoonflower, is that a lot of the print feel like they have obvious repeats. This is due to the way prints are designed and uploaded - as a single tile basically that is repeated. In the case of these tights I didn't mind because it's really only the one little character that is repeated two ways but in some other designs, i find that the repeat takes away from the design itself, it becomes more prominent visually than the actual print, if that makes sense.
Funny enough, B. found this link on facebook a while back, explaining how create a pattern repeat that doesn't feel like a repeated square tile. I would definitely try this if I ever design a print myself.
Another thing that I learned in sewing those tights and mine, is that the amount of stretch of the fabric is extremely important. Because those kinds of patterns are designed with negative ease, if the fabric doesn't have the proper amount of recommended stretch, the tights will probably end up...well too tights. So in the future, I'll definitely take the stretch of my fabric into account when making a new pair.
The cape was made last minute the night before the race. I bought a piece of light-weight, water-repellant nylon and just finished the edges with my narrow-hem foot in about 15 minutes (so glad I have that one). The cape was just attached to B's backpack with safety pin and it held up no problem for 42km....He was actually quite a sight to see racing up and down the hills :)