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

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Make a leggings pattern by tracing a pair you own

If you have a pair of leggings that fits really well, you can trace the shape and make yourself more. It's just a single pattern piece! Here's how to make the pattern. It's really rather simple so don't be put off by the length of this post... we're just trying to make it super-duper clear.

  • Leggings that fit you well
  • A large piece of paper (or several taped together)
  • Pencil & scissors
First, make sure your leggings are freshly washed so they are, as much as possible, in their original non-stretched shape. Lay them out on your paper, front side up, with the outside of the leg in about the middle of the paper. Make sure there's extra paper at the top and bottom too, for adding waistband and hem allowances. You'll be working with one leg/side only so you'll need to be tucking the other side away a bit.

Line up the inside leg seam so it's right on the fold, all the way from ankle to... ahem... crotch. (There's really no nice word for that so we'll just be going with the 'c-word', okay?) As much as you can, neaten the outside fold of the leg into a straight line. Grab your pencil and trace the leg shape: from the crotch point right down the inside leg seam to the ankle, and the straightened fold edge from the waistband to the ankle.

Now fold the other side of the leggings back over so you can trace the shape of the front crotch curve, from the crotch point up to the waistband. You may need to stretch the waistband out a little to be sure you get the correct shape of the fabric (ungathered) there.

The waistband will probably dip down further at the front so you will need to fold the back waistband away to trace the correct shape there. Make it as accurate as you can but don't stress too much. Knit fabrics are very forgiving, which is one of the reasons we love them so much!

Flip the leggings over so that the outside leg fold is lined up along your traced line, but the leggings are now facing the other way and the back is upwards. Try to make sure the inside leg seam is lined up along the fold again.

Repeat the tracing procedure. Your back crotch curve should be longer and straighter than the front one. Take away the leggings and add an inch of seam allowance to the top waistband and half an inch to the ankles, and 1/4 inch all the way up both sides.

Now, cut out the front half that you first traced, but leave the other half uncut. Fold the pattern so that the front and back crotch points meet and the leg folds more-or-less in half along the outer leg line you drew in the centre. Don't stress if that's not exact. The inner leg line is more crucial. Make a nice, firm crease in the paper.

Re-draw the back inner leg line to exactly match the front inner leg line. This is important since it will stop any strange twisting of seams or mis-matching stripes. The new line is drawn below in green. Unfold your pattern and mark along the crease with a long arrow. This will be matched to the grain of your fabric.

Cut out the rest of your pattern. If your back waistband is coming to quite a point, level it off towards the back crotch seam, otherwise you'll end up with a strange point of fabric up your back! (Speaking from experience, heheh.)

Voila - your pattern! Next post will be how to cut and sew your leggings.

- Jane & Fiona xx

The Who and the Why of The Drapery

Hi there! We're Fiona and Jane, proprietors of The Drapery, a bricks-and-mortar fabric and haberdashery shop in Adelaide, South Australia, opened in April 2013.
308A Glen Osmond Rd, Fullarton SA 5063
We met when our children went to the same local school and kindy. We also connected through the world of blogging. Fiona was one of Australia's crafty blogging pioneers with Hop Skip Jump, and her book of toy making by the same name was published by Penguin in 2011. Jane was a relative blogging newcomer with Lempo Bee, which she started in order to share her sewing (mainly clothing) with the online community.

We soon discovered a shared passion for sewing and using natural and sustainable materials to create things of lasting quality. A casual conversation about our 'dream fabric store' turned into a plan, and after many, many cups of tea and months of research and investment, The Drapery was born. After all, no-one else in Adelaide seemed to be about to open that dream shop for us!

We believe there is a rising wave of people committed to reducing their environmental footprint. Good people are thinking twice about mass-produced, disposable clothing, toys and home textiles. We feel there is a resurgence of interest in home sewing and crafting. When people take a close look at the workmanship and materials in mass-produced goods, they will realise that with a little practice, they can actually do a lot better and make something far more meaningful. Something beautiful, made of natural materials, that will provide pleasure or service for a long time. And when its lifetime is over, can naturally decompose rather than becoming landfill.

Of course, terms like 'eco-friendly' and 'sustainable' are much bandied about and open to interpretation. However, we feel that every step in the right direction is a worthwhile step. So whilst some of our cottons are not organic, and some of our tools are plastic, and there's even a worthy argument for using no new fabric at all, if you dig too far it is easy to feel overwhelmed, shrug your shoulders and make no changes at all.

So go on. Sew something. Enjoy a beautiful, flowing cotton voile. Snuggle under a quilt made with pure new Australian wool batting. Make a beloved soft toy with corn-fibre stuffing. Use a pattern by a talented independent designer. Wear linen and hemp because they are more sustainable as well as texturally divine. It all helps. And it makes your life lovelier, too.

- Jane & Fiona

Friday, May 17, 2013