Leggings have been a trend for a while, but it’s one I hadn’t really gotten into. But when I saw the article in the Feb/Mar 2016 issue of Sew News about making your own leggings, I decided to give it a try. Fall seemed like a good time—leggings are great for cooler weather.
For my leggings, I chose this amazingly gorgeous knit print from Art Gallery Fabrics. I adore the delicate dandelion design, and I thought that a darker background would be ideal for leggings. The design is called Tiny Dancer Midnight, and it’s from the Sketchbook Collection from Sharon Holland. Art Gallery Fabrics’ knits are super soft and made of 95% cotton and 5% spandex, which is perfect for this particular project. My one concern is that when the fabric is stretched, the white back shows through a little and it becomes a little transparent. It’s not too bad, though—I’ll just make sure to wear tops with it that fall past my hips! It’s worth it because I love this fabric so much.
The leggings pattern I used is called Dot-to-Dot Leggings, after the print from the original sample. It’s a simple pattern, which is great because knits and leggings are a bit intimidating; the simple pattern reduces that. You can find it at shopsewitall.com if you want to give making leggings a try. It really wasn’t that hard!
The pattern is a single piece: a leg. Cut out two of them and you’re done! I marked the front and back on each piece, in addition to transferring all pattern markings, so I could be sure I was putting everything together right.
The first step, after cutting, is actually to finish the ankle hem. This is a great way to to it because you don’t have to worry about pressing or stitching the fairly small openings that are the ankles once the inseams are stitched. First I pressed up my 1/2” hem, using a line drawn on a file folder for a quick, even fold. The fabric pressed beautifully because of the cotton content. I serge-finished my edges (they didn’t unravel at all, so it wasn’t necessary; I just like finished edges), then turned them up on the fold and stitched using a double needle. I love double needles for hems on knits because they look neat and allow the fabric to stretch.
The next step is to sew the inseams on each leg. I used a serger for this—sergers work great with knits. They feed top and bottom at an even rate so there’s no distortion, they allow the fabric to stretch and they leave nice finished edges.
Once I finished the inseams, it was on to the crotch seam. First I added an extra thread to the serger—I did the inseams with three threads (one straight and two loopers), but a crotch seam needs reinforcement, so I added the second straight stitch. Then I turned one leg inside out and one right side out. I put the right-side-out leg into the inside-out leg so the right sides were facing. I also double-checked my front and back marks at this point. Then I pinned and stitched.
The pants were basically done at this point, except for the waist.
To finish the top, I cut a piece of elastic that fit the space between my waist and hips, where I wanted the leggings to sit. I overlapped the ends 1/4” to make a loop and zig-zag stitched them together, then quarter marked them and the leggings. I lined up the elastic with the placement marks transferred from the pattern. Then I zig-zag stitched the elastic along the top, stretching it to fit.
I pressed the extra fabric from the top over the elastic, but before I completed the last step, I tried on the leggings… and a good thing, too! As soon as I put them on I knew that I wanted the waistband lower than where it was currently sitting. I rolled it down until it was comfortable, then marked the spot where I wanted the top edge to be in the front with a safety pin. I also noted that I wanted it one inch lower (the width of the elastic) in back. I then picked off the elastic and marked the new location. Because the adjustment was different in the back than the front, I had to sketch in a line connecting the new marks at front and back. I used a curved ruler to help me.
Finally, I stitched the waistband in the new location, then trimmed the excess fabric to 1/2”, pressed it over the elastic, flipped the elastic down, and stitched along the bottom of the elastic with a double needle. This gave me a neat, self-contained waistband.
I love my leggings! As the weather has been getting cooler, I’ve been wearing them with an oversized sweatshirt and I’m just so cozy and warm. I also have some projects planned for less casual tops to wear them with (things I can wear to work, that is), including a short dress and a flowy tunic. In the meantime, I’m lounging in them all the time. I highly recommend both the pattern and the fabric. Give it a try if leggings are your thing—they’re easy and fun to make!