I love me a good pair of leggings. A mostly cotton blend with spandex for elasticity and retention, and of course ones that fit me just right. When I’m not at work, I live in my leggings. Yep, they’re crazy comfortable and perfect with over-sized flowy tops and sweaters and flats. What’s not to love? So when my favorite pair began wearing through as they inevitably do, I decided to use them as a “pattern” and create a few more pairs that fit just like them, but this time using graphic fabric that I’ve been holding onto waiting for precisely this project to come along.
I feel like there’s a misconception out there about how difficult it is to sew on stretch fabrics. Truthfully, it’s not as hard as everyone makes it sound, and you, yes you, can sew stretch fabrics! If I can do it, you can do it. By simply adjusting your sewing machine settings (as noted below) you’ll set yourself up for success. A big thank you to my mom, Sandi Knutie, of Seams Sew Cool for coaching me from afar on the secrets of the craft.
- an old pair of leggings that both fit you well and are ready for the donation or trash bin (you’ll be cutting them up to use as a pattern, so don’t use your fave new pair!)
- 1.25 – 2 yards of 2-way stretch cotton/spandex blend fabric in the pattern of your choice. 2-way stretch means that the fabric stretches both vertically and horizontally.
- coordinating thread
- 1″ ‘non-roll’ elastic– enough to wrap around your hips
- sewing pins
- marker in a contrasting ink color to your fabric
- safety pin
- sewing machine
Step 1. Set up your sewing machine so it’s optimized for sewing stretch fabric. You’ll want to use a zig-zag stitch. And your stitch width and length should both be set at 2.5. Lastly thread your machine with your coordinating thread so it’s all set to begin stitchin’!
Step 1. Cut the inseam and girth seam of your old leggings. Follow and cut the inseam right up through the waistband. Keep one “leg,” and discard the other. This is your pattern piece.
Step 2. Fold your patterned fabric in 1/2 lengthwise and inside out, so the wrong side of the fabric is facing outward.
Step 3. Lay fabric flat on your work surface so the selvages are on your left, the fold is on your right, and the raw edges of your fabric are at the top and bottom of your work surface. Place your pattern piece that you made in Step 1. face down on the fabric, and pin into place through both layers of your patterned fabric.
Step 4. Using a marker with contrasting ink, outline the pattern piece and then guesstimate and mark a 1/2″ border around the sides and bottom of the pattern piece. Measure 2.5″ up from the waistband and draw a parallel line. Extend dashed lines upward to meet the parallel line.
Step 5. Cut through both layers of patterned fabric using the outside line as your guide. Once cut out, remove pins and the patterned piece.
Step 6. Separate the two “legs”, and fold each leg over itself lengthwise, right sides together and pin up the leg starting with the ankle and ending where the fabric juts out and begins not to match up at the top of the leg. Repeat with 2nd leg.
Step 8. Place one leg inside of the other. Match up the two longer curves and pin and sew right sides together.
Step 9. Remove leg from inside the other. Match up the two smaller curves; pin and sew right sides together.
Step 10. Fold waistband down 2″ and pin into place. Starting at the back of the leggings, sewing around circumference of waistband and stopping short 2″ from completing the loop. This is where you’ll insert the elastic.
Step 11. Fold one end of elastic over 1/2″ and attach a safety pin to help guide the elastic through the waistband. Insert elastic, safety pin first, into the waistband opening and thread through waistband. Pin and sew the two elastic ends together. Sew waistband closed to enclose elastic band.
Step 12. Hem ankles by folding fabric up 1/2″. Pin and sew each ankle at 1/4″ seam allowance. Turn leggings right side out, and put them on. You’re finished!