The ultimate guide to the best activewear fabric UK including prints and patterns to choose for activewear regular price

Activewear fabrics that do the job

The most important thing we look for when choosing these types of fabrics and workout clothes is something that will keep us cool and dry. These types of fabrics are moisture wicking fabric UK: 

What to look for in an activewear fabric

·      Does the material cope with sweat? You need to make sure that the fabric you choose is a moisture wicking fabric. This type of material keeps sweat away from your skin so that you stay comfortable while exercising. It also reduces stains and smells, which would make you feel self-conscious while working up a sweat. Cotton and linen have these capabilities.

·      Does the fabric breathe? Air must move through the fabric when you’re exercising. You are going to get hot, so you don’t want fabrics that are going to make you even hotter. You’d prefer something that keeps you cool, like cotton.

·      Do the fabrics move with you? Activewear doesn’t only have to be dry. It needs to stretch with our bodies so that we’re extremely comfortable while exercising. The best material for working out is one with a 4 way stretch fabric for sportswear. Cotton jersey does this well.
.   Is it regularly washable? You want fabrics that cannot only withstand stretching, sweating and abrasion, but can also be washed regularly to keep them fresh.

What to consider when choosing activewear fabric

Make sure:

-       It works well for whatever type of exercise you’re doing. There are no one-size-fits-all fabrics by the metre; it all depends on how much you’re going to be sweating, stretching and moving. This is why lots of cotton fabrics are used for less strenuous exercise.

-       Is breathable and keeps you dry.

-       Moves when you move. 

-       Works as hard as it looks good. 

5 popular activewear fabrics UK


This is a popular choice for many activewear manufacturers, as this synthetic fabric effectively draws moisture away from the body. Polyester wicks moisture – ie it takes the moisture away so that we are comfortable, dry and odour-free. 

It also doesn’t crease, is hard wearing, quick drying and lightweight. It’s not only great in the summer – polyester insulates the body in winter. The only downside: make sure to wash it after every use, as it can hold onto odours. 

Best for: all types of sports fabrics and workout clothing and any type of exercise.

Spandex/sports lycra fabric

This extremely stretchy high quality synthetic material stretches up to eight times its size. It’s used as a garment for sports that require a lot of flexibility, like yoga, pilates and weight lifting. 

Best for: leggings, sports bras, socks and running shorts


Soft, stretchy fabrics that are resistant to mould and mildew. They move with your body, are moisture wicking and resist mildew. Lots of activewear is made out of nylon, or blended with other fibres to create workout gear.  The downside: like some other fabrics, you need to wash them regularly to get rid of odours. 

Best for: This textile is an all-rounder, found in many types of activewear and used all seasons. Nylon garments include undies, sports bras, shorts, T’s, tops and leggings.


This is a form of plastic. It’s thin, flexible and is extremely waterproof. It’s very hard wearing and crease-resistant and ideal for wearing in humid or very cold weather (it’s thermal in cold climates). Unfortunately, it needs to be washed regularly as it holds onto smells, like polyester. 

Best for: rain jackets, skin-tight base layers, socks and sports undies.

Merino wool

This natural lightweight high quality wool cloth keeps you extremely warm in winter and cool in summer. It’s also a moisture wicking material that keeps sweat at bay. Thinner and softer than regular wool, this expensive wool material is usually blended with other fabrics (polyester included) because it’s soft and breathable. Sadly, this wool material is not as durable as other fabrics. 

Best for: leggings, tops, jackets.

The best UK fabrics, prints and patterns for your body shape

Don’t discount your own body when choosing sportswear fabric. We’ve done our research to come up with a guide to which patterns, fabrics and prints work best for different body types.

The Apple 

Apple-shaped women usually have slim arms and legs. They retain weight in their middle and upper body areas – the back, the breasts and stomach. 

Fabric types: As shiny, body hugging fabrics will draw attention to those areas you’re hoping to hide, avoid them when sewing. This type of cloth includes chiffon, rayon and satin. Choose fabrics that are less unforgiving, like viscose, cotton and wool.

Pattern types: Draw attention away from big busts with scoop necks or V-necks. Choose lightweight cotton tops that sculpt the body and give an illusion of a small waist. Tops with zips are much more flattering than cotton sweatshirts with high necks.

Print types: Wear dark or plain colours on top, and then go wild with eye-catching patterns and prints on your legs, which will detract from your bosom. 

The Pear 

Remember when sewing: pear-shaped women have small upper bodies and are curvier on the bottom. 

Fabric types: Only wear heavy fabrics on the top to add bulk. Jersey, polyester, cotton and viscose are excellent for sewing for this body shape. They flatter the pear shape’s lower body best. Remember: flat, smooth textures decrease the size of those areas you’re trying to hide.

Pattern types: Choose designs that draw the eye upwards and highlight your waist. You can be daring with tops when it comes to colour, print and pattern, but make sure to avoid drawing attention to your bottom half, which is heavier. Avoid tight-fitting leggings if you’re very self-conscious. Sewing a flattering track pant is a better choice.

Print types: Opt for bolder prints and patterns on the top, and smaller patterns on the lower half of your body. Avoid an all-over print. Even out the body by adding neutral and pastel shades to your bottom half.

The Hourglass

Flaunt your perfect curvy hourglass figure with light, natural body-skimming fabrics like cotton that can reveal all your curves.

Fabric types: You’re so lucky – form-fitting fabrics seems great on your shape. Highlight curves by sewing activewear using spandex and cotton jersey. Use heavyweight fabrics sparingly, as these could make you seem more bulky.

Pattern types: Flatter your bust with a V-neck, show off your waist in a crop top and choose high-waisted leggings for extra effect. Make sure when sewing to choose patterns that will keep your clothing a little loose. The secret is leaving something to the imagination…

Print types: All prints and patterns work for this body shape, with its perfect symmetry. However, you are curvy, so perhaps avoid really busy patterns, as these will add a few pounds, and make you seem larger.

The Rectangle 

If you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, you probably think you’re too ‘straight up and down’. But being slim with a small bust isn’t all bad. You can get away with murder when it comes to sewing activewear – in fact, all types of clothing!

Fabric types: Opt for fabrics for sewing that will skim the body rather than bulky materials – we’re talking about silk, spandex, you name it. You can wear them as tight as you like. Remember: shiny textures reflect light and emphasise any curves. 

Pattern types: Play with layers. You’re lucky enough to be able to wear what you want without worrying about looking heavier, so take full advantage when you’re sewing activewear.

Print types: Wear tops and bottoms in contrasting hues, and play with layers. Choose bold prints and patterns that make you curvier. A heavier cotton could do the trick.

maake's top activewear fabric choices

Cart add your choices of our versatile, quality activewear selection:

Active Eco Lycra: Lightweight fabric, a blend of polyester and elastane, ideal for activewear. 

Recycled Eco Lycra: Made from recycled materials – (rPEt) and elastane. Excellent choice for activewear.

Heavy Lycra: Our heaviest stretch fabric is made from elastane and polyester. It’s perfect for leggings and activewear.

Eco Glitter Dot Lycra: This gorgeous, shiny rainbow foiled spot fabric made from recycled polyester/elastane fabric is often used for dancewear, leggings, swimwear and other activewear.

Organic Jasmine Lycra Jersey: Lightweight organic cotton jersey fabric, popular for leggings.

Poppy Lycra Jersey: 89% cotton and 11% elastane blend, this lightweight cotton jersey is a great choice for leggings.

Stretch Lycra French Terry: 90% cotton 10% elastane stretch fabric blend. This cotton and elastane blend is often used for sweatpants and hoodies because of its durability and versatility.

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September 22, 2022 — Alexander Wills