Fehr Trade | Surf to Summit

I’ve used running as my exercise of choice (with varying degrees of dedication) for the past 10 years, but I generally wimp out during the cold months. My runs had been super irregular this past Fall due to being over-scheduled, and not making the time, and myriad other excuses… so, mid-December I got back on it and decided I needed to make running a priority. And that, my friends, means I need gear to keep me warm-ish. We don’t have (or have room for) a treadmill, and if I have to go to a gym for exercise… well that just isn’t going to happen. I prefer solitary exercise and fresh air, so outdoor running it is. My dedication is being severely tested as of late since we’ve had several feet of snow every week since the end of January. The snow on the side of the road is currently at eye level so… yeah. Luckily, we live where snow removal is efficient and thorough, so as long as the streets are clear off I go.

Anyways… a quick perusal of running gear showed me just how expensive the stuff can be. So instead I picked up some dry-wicking fabric on sale at Joanns and decided to try the Fehr Trade Surf to Summit top: a long sleeve high-necked, raglan and princess-seamed top.


I cut the XS at the top, grading out to the S at the waist and hip. This pattern is designed to be fitted through the shoulders and bust, but less so at the waist and hip. I’d say that the sizing is pretty accurate, though I think I’d prefer a slightly closer fit in the waist at the back. The neck is very close fitting, as I imagine it is supposed to be, but I’m fairly sensitive to things touching my neck. While I can deal with the neck issue on this top by simply not zipping it up all the way, I’ll probably end up scooping out a regular neckline or altering the integrated collar in some way.

The shoulders could use a little work as well, I feel like there is too much pulling under the arm, and a better shoulder fit may improve the neck fit as well. I think I’ll do a straight size S next time around.


As far as construction goes, this was a quick top to make. The zip and placket/facing was a little dicey, and took some careful reading of directions to get right. I think the finishing on the inside ended up a little messy, and not completely as represented in the diagrams. The zipper facing is much wider than the zipper under-placket, but the facing doesn’t show up at all in the diagrams when you’re constructing the neck facing/placket. I think this could be neatened up a little, but I’ll have to work out how. If I do want another high-neck version of this top I’ll most likely make a separate neck piece or, at the very least, top stitch around the bottom edge of the neck facing. The pattern has you stitch in the ditch to secure the neck facing, but I’m not completely satisfied with that finish.


I don’t yet know much about wicking/activewear fabrics, but I won’t be buying the stuff from Joanns again. It has a slightly plastic-y feel and retains odors. None of my RTW activewear (cheap or not) has either of these issues. I know higher quality fabric exists, but I’m not sure how much money I want to spend experimenting. I’m pretty minimalist with how much running gear I own, so I’m happy to get by with only a few pieces.

This top serves as a “wearable muslin” and I have been wearing it, despite my issues. Plus, this was a really fun top to sew! All the seaming is fantastic and there’s a lot of room for color-blocking, piping, top stitching, extra pockets, and so on. The jury is out as to how far down the activewear rabbit hole I’ll fall, but if the right fabric comes along it’s definitely worth the effort.

How about you guys? Anyone else tempted to stitch up exercise gear?

—lisa g.

33 thoughts on “Fehr Trade | Surf to Summit

    • lisa g says:

      I’ve had a yoga pant pattern for ages that i’ve yet to make for some reason… need to bump that up. The nice thing about the activewear sewing is that it’s relatively quick—an afternoon or evening is all you need!

  1. mokosha says:

    i really like how your top looks (and i hope you’ll find better quality fabric for the next one, so you can wear the hell out of it!).. i always admire people that can run when it’s really cold outside, my brother is preparing for half marathon, so he spends lots of time outside, running, and it’s freezing.. no way i could ever do that.. but, i love mountain climbing in winter conditions, so i guess to each his own 🙂 anyways, it’s a great workout top, thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    • lisa g says:

      I’ll definitely be ordering some swatches to see if I can find a better fabric. I’m kind of surprised how much I’ve enjoyed the cold weather running. It helps that I don’t have to run super early since all my kiddos are in school—that always held me back in the past. It’s hard to get out of a warm bed and head straight into frigid temps. Good luck to your brother and the half marathon training!

  2. eeksboutique says:

    this looks very nice on you! exercise clothes are some of the few things (along with underthings) i am ok with buying off the rack, mostly because they seem to always be more quality fabric than what I could find.

    • lisa g says:

      Thank you! I’m firmly of the mindset that I won’t feel guilty about buying certain parts of my wardrobe. Fortunately the activewear is so quick to make that it’s fun to try out, if so inclined. Fingers crossed I can find some better fabrics!

  3. gingermakes says:

    Oh dear, I really need to get my butt in gear and actually exercise! Cold weather running is kind of my nightmare, so I’ve been extra impressed by your IG pics! Keep up the good work!

    • lisa g says:

      Hot weather running is my nightmare! I just can’t stand the heat. The cold weather is so much more invigorating to me. Despite the crazy weather we’ve been dealt recently, I still wouldn’t trade it for a warmer climate!

  4. Soisewedthis says:

    Love the seam lines on this! And thanks for the review on the joanns fabric. They’re one of the few shops nearby. Lauren Dahl announced that she’s starting an activewear fabric site called sewkinetic.com and I’m interested to see what she stocks when it opens. Please post if you find other good sources. I’d love to make some workout tops (not sure I can replace my favorite under armour leggings, but I’d love to sew tops)!

  5. dixiediy says:

    Oooooh, I hadn’t seen this pattern before but it looks interesting. I like that the zip has a placket behind it so no metal against your skin but I agree with you – I’m not a fan of stuff touching my neck. I wonder if Seattle Fabrics might have a better version of that Joann fabric? I’ve been wanting to experiment with Activewear lately. This was a really thorough review, thanks!

    • lisa g says:

      Stuff touching my neck is so uncomfortable, even crew neck tees can be a problem! I have to say, activewear is really fun to sew, hope you get a chance to experiment. I’ll check out Seattle Fabrics, thanks for the tip!

  6. Michelle Martini says:

    This looks great! I’m boycotting Joann’s after several quality issues with their fabrics (and customer service).

    I’ve got two winter-weather zip-up tops (Nike) that I alternate running in during these months. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have another one, but they’re made of a thick activewear fabric that would be hard to find.

    I’ve seriously considered Fehr Trades running tops and would like to sew one up, so thanks for the review of this top! And PLEASE keep us posted if you find any good activewear fabric!

    • lisa g says:

      Yeah, I really avoid buying fabric at Joanns anymore. I have far better options if I have the time to drive a little further to my other fabric shops. There are a few places online that sell supplex fabric, but they don’t always give much (if any) info about weight and stretch percentage… Guess I’ll just have to order swatches!

  7. Silvia says:

    have you tried Thrift Stores. I cut apart mens XXL garments for activewear. cheap and better than anything I can get my hands on.

  8. kristin says:

    oh i like the look of this pattern a lot, and despite your issues it does look pretty darn pro. there is a fabric store here in in portland called rose city textiles that is supposed to have tons of activewear – i’ve never been. haha.

    • lisa g says:

      Being able to source the fabric in person would be so helpful! I hate the unknowns and shipping expenses of ordering. This pattern has a ton of potential, I even saw that someone made it into a full zip jacket—love that idea!

  9. aleah says:

    I have been about to make this pattern for a few months now… Thanks for the tips about the zipper – because mine will be a bike jersey I will definately be using the zip.
    I’ve been wearing merino jersey bike jeseys for a few years now and I have to say I love exercising in wool! It keeps you the right temperature whatever the weather, hot or cold, and it never smells no matter how much you sweat. Of course, nice merino jersey is probably harder to find than synthetic activewear fabric, but I happen to have access to The Fabric Store in LA, and I’ve bought a bunch of it.
    But anything would be better than JoAnn’s!

  10. Heather says:

    You are amazing running in the snow. Your pictures on instagram are inspiring; I probably have slipped and broke a hip running in those conditions LOL. I despise exercise so I have no desire to sew any sporty tops at all. Yours looks awesome and it looks like it fits way better than anything you could buy! Doing a zipper/placket in a knit is tricky, but yours looks fantastic. Well done as usual! 🙂

    • lisa g says:

      I’m definitely not an exercise junkie (way too lazy for that…) but it’s amazing for clearing your head and de-stressing! My most dedicated running/exercise times were also very stressful times. Anyways, I do have to be extra careful to not fall! Can’t wait for spring 🙂

  11. Carolyn says:

    This looks absolutely terrific! I generally just use regular Tshirt patterns and fabrics for active wear, I do really like this pattern by Melissa though, very tempting 🙂

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