Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sewing up your leggings (after making your pattern)

This is part two of DIY leggings - for how to make your pattern, see previous post.

      Suitable fabric (stretchy knit), the length that you would like your leggings plus a little for hemming, prewashed and dried. Aim for fabric with a similar amount of stretch to the leggings you're using for your pattern.  (The Drapery recommends our soy/organic cotton/spandex knit, 100% New Zealand Merino jersey or rib, Australian made cotton/spandex knit or even the gorgeous Lillestoff organic cotton/spandex stripes)
      Elastic, your preference but soft and fairly wide is recommended (1/2 inch used here)
      Dressmaker's shears or rotary cutter
      Poly/all purpose thread and stretch needle for regular sewing machine
      Overlocker if you have one (optional but great)

For some great tips on sewing with knit fabrics, we can recommend information on a couple of blogs:

Lay your pattern piece on your fabric. Make sure the stretch of your fabric (selvage to selvage) goes horizontally across the leggings, in the opposite direction to your marked grain line.

  Cut one side, flip your pattern over and cut the other side in a mirror image. (Persimmons make excellent pattern weights.)

 Fold one leg piece right sides together, matching crotch points and bottom edges and pin in place. Sew up the inside leg seam, using either a stretch stitch or small zigzag on a regular machine, or an overlocker, using the 1/4 inch seam allowance. Repeat with other leg. No need for any other seam finish since the knit fabric won't unravel.

Turn one leg right side in. Slide in completely inside the other leg, so that right sides are facing each other and the back crotches and front crotches meet each other. Pin crotch seams together.


Turn right way in and admire how much they look like leggings already!

Try them on and measure your elastic around the point where they sit on your waist. You'll want it firm but not constrictingly so. Fold in enough waistband seam allowance to accommodate your elastic and sew it down with a 3-step zigzag stitch (or your preferred stretch stitch method), leaving a gap at the back.

Thread your elastic in, pin it with a safety pin and try the leggings on again to check the fit. When you're happy, stitch the ends of the elastic together and finish the waistband. You can tuck a piece of ribbon in as a tag if you like (great for kids who would otherwise put them on back to front!).  

To help stop the elastic rolling, stitch it down along the seam lines (stitch in the ditch) front and back.

Hem the bottoms of the legs and you're done. Or don't hem them, as I chose to (these are actually PJ pants for one of my kids)... with knit fabrics you can leave raw edges wherever you like. Happy layering!

- Fiona & Jane xx

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