Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tutorial: Sew your own leggings!

I'm usually not the trendiest woman in the world, but leggings and tights (or as my mom calls them, "leggins") have been 'in' long enough that I think I feel safe wearing them.  Especially when its been below freezing for several weeks (and it has, brrr!).
Last week, my local WalMart put out an incredible bin of sale fabric.  Chiffon, stretch lace, t-shirt knits, sweater knits, courderoy... all $1/yard!!! seriously. I think I bought like 20 yards of material, and would have bought more if I weren't afraid of what the hubby would say when he saw it all. 
So, my first project was some "leggins" made from brown stretch lace. (my only options were brown and pink, but you don't complain when its $1!) I know lots of people probably think its crazy to make your own leggings (mom included), but I'm a pretty crazy person.  Plus it really isn't hard. If you can make pajama pants, you can do this.

Step 1: find your material.  You can make leggings out of anything stretchy - t-shirt material, sweater material, swimsuit or leotard material, get creative!  Figure out how long you want your leggings, then add a couple inches, and thats how much you want to buy. I got 1 1/3 yds and had about 6 inches left over.

Step 2: make your pattern.  This is easiest if you already have some tight pants to trace. Other leggings, skinny jeans, exercise pants (or what I used, long thermal underwear).  If you dont, you'll end up having someone trace your legs onto tissue paper, and thats going to be awkward, and then your going to have to get the crotch worked out... frankly it will be a pain. If you are like me and don't have a lot of junk in the trunk, you can make your back and front identical.  Just fold your pants/leggings/whatever in half and get them to lay as flat as possible, and trace onto tissue paper adding an extra inch at the top and bottom (for your waistband and your hem) and a 1/4 inch seam allowance on all sides.  You should end up with something like this:
Pattern piece for leggings
Step 3: lay your material out flat. Find the selvedge edges (the manufactured edges) and the cut edges.  If you can't tell, stretch knit material should stretch more from selvedge to selvedge than it does from cut edge to cut edge.  Then, fold the selvedge edges in toward the middle, just as wide as the widest part of your pattern.  Place the long straight side of your pattern along the fold and pin. (if your pattern isn't totally straight, thats okay, just pretend it is.) then cut it out, and do the same on the other side.  You should end up with two pieces that look like this:
Leg pieces for leggings
Some general notes about sewing stretch knits before we continue:  It might seem wrong, but you want your clothes to stretch more side to side, not up and down.  For this reason, you always cut your pieces to be vetically parallel with the selvedge.  Also, if you don't have a serger, just use a tight zig zag stitch on a standard machine then cut close to your stitches.  Practice on some scraps to find the right length and width (I set mine to be a 2 width and a 2 length.)  If you used a really thin material, you may want to try a #9 needle.  Finally, pins are your friend.  Put your pins close together to prevent your material from stretching and sliding while you sew.

Step 4: Fold the pieces right sides together and pin the inside leg seams.  I put my pins vertically along the seam line when I sew knits to keep the material more steady.  Sew from the crotch to the hem with a 1/4 inch allowance (if you cut a little unevenly youd rather cut the hem straight than have a wonky crotch seam, right? right.) Now, clip close to your seams and continue.
see those pins? vertical and close together!
Step 5: turn one pant leg right side out and put it inside of the other, so that right sides are together.  Line up your inner leg seams and pin, then pin up to the waist band on both sides.  You should have a U shape to sew... now sew it with a 1/4 inch seam allowance and clip close to the seam. Then take the leg out from inside the other so it looks like inside out leggings now.
With one leg inside the other...You can kinda make out that U shape, right?

Step 6: make a waistband by cutting a piece of 1/4 inch elastic to be the size of the waist of your leggings plus a half inch.  pin elastic to the top (on the wrong side of the fabric), overlapping the extra, and sew with a wide zig zag stitch.  Then fold under again and sew with a wide zig zag stitch again, this time with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Elastic pinned to the waist
Sew the elastic on with a wide zig-zag stitch
Step 7: you can add a hem if you want.  I didn't. My material won't fray and the raw edges look just fine I think.

Step 8: turn right side out and admire your leggings, then put them on and keep your legs warm(er) when you wear a skirt and its 12 degrees outside! ta-da!
The finished leggings
Yeah, I made that.
p.s. if you make them for a little girl, I think you should add ruffles to the bottom, because when else can you get away with wearing ruffled leggings? I sure wish I could.

This post was linked up to:

Modest Monday


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    1. Thank you! And thank you for stopping by and commenting! :)