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


  1. Brilliant! thank you for this tutorial I'm going to give this a go :)

    1. Thanks Erica! I hope it works well for you :)

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