When you think about wardrobe staples these days, it's difficult to ignore a good pair of leggings. Apart from being an incredibly versatile wardrobe basic, they can also be the hero piece of an outfit, especially with a cute print or eye-catching embellishment. In this tutorial you'll learn how to make a super-cute pair of heart-appliqued leggings from scratch, just in time for Valentine's Day.
- Black knit fabric according to your measurements. We used 1m x 1.60m for a
European size 42 (US12 - UK14).
- 10cm x 20cm red faux leather/leatherette.
- 70cm x 100cm tracing paper.
- Curve ruler.
- Right triangle ruler.
- Paper scissors.
- Fabric scissors.
- Tailor's chalk.
- Tape measure.
- Elastic 2-3cm wide.
- Sewing machine or overlock machine.
Step 1: Measure Yourself
Measurements are very important for making the perfect-fitting pattern. For your leggings, take the following measurements:
- Waist circumference - and divide it in half.
- Knee circumference.
- Ankle circumference.
- Total length from waistline to ankle (or your desired legging length).
- Waist/knee - from waist line to knee height
- Knee/ankle distance - from knee to angle.
- Inseam length - from ankle to crotch.
- Front rise seam - from front waist line to crotch seam.
- Back rise seam - from back waist line to crotch seam.
You may also need to add the thigh circumference to the measurements. Write your measurements on a piece of paper and check them twice before your start drawing the pattern.
Step 2: Draw the Pattern
You need to be very accurate at this point. Use this guide as a reference to draw the sewing pattern, according to your measurements. Lay your paper in portrait orientation and draw a vertical axis to divide it in half. This guide line should always divide your horizontal measurements exactly in half.
Use the total length measurement and mark little points along the guide line, starting from the bottom and ending at the top. The top point will indicate the waist height and the bottom point the ankle height. Draw a line perpendicular to the vertical axis. Start from the centre and draw half of the ankle measurement on the left side and the other half on the right side. Add the knee and waist measurements the same way. Remember that the waist circumference is divided in half.
Use the inseam length to find the crotch height. Draw a horizontal guide line. Starting from the waist measurement points, draw two lines perpendicular to the crotch line. Extend them to the top of the paper. Now use these guide lines to mark front and back rise length. If your measurements are correct so far, the front rise length will end on the waist height and the back will go above it.
Join these two points. Place your right triangle along the new waist line. Attach the right angle edge, to the back rise length top point and draw a perpendicular line that intersects the crotch line. Now use the curve ruler to draw curves, filling in the lower corners of the front and back rise lines. Join the end of the curve with the knee point and the ankle point. Do the same for the other side.
Step 3: Check and Cut It Out
Now your pattern is ready. At this point, it would be wise to check your measurements again. Referring to the pattern guide, cut along the red lines. Make clean cuts and try to stay on the lines. Now you have the pattern for one leg.
Step 4: Lay on Fabric, Pin and Mark
The fabric I have used is 80 per cent viscose and 20 per cent elastane, as I prefer natural fibres. You can use any type of elastic fabric you like. Just make sure it contains at least 10 to 20 per cent elastic fibres. Always remember to wash your fabric before you start working with it.
Fold the fabric in half width-wise. Keep good sides together. Lay the pattern on the wrong side of fabric. Leave about 5 to 6cm (according to your elastic width) from the top. Try to keep the vertical axis parallel to selvage, so you take advantage of the fabric's full elasticity.
Remember to leave free space around the pattern for seam allowance. Pin in several places to secure it in place. Use tailor's chalk to mark around the pattern.
Step 5: Mark Waistband Width
When marking the waist line, leave two times the elastic width above the pattern. You will fold this and make a casing for the elastic later on.
Step 6: Cut the Fabric
Once you have marked all around the pattern, mark again about 1 to 2cm away from the previous marking for seam allowance. If your fabric is very elastic and soft, you don't have to leave seam allowance. You can sew about 1cm inside the marked lines. This will make your leggings more stretchy and fitting. Cut the fabric following the external marked lines. Use a pair of fabric scissors and cut parallel to the table surface.
Tip: Remember not to pull the fabric while cutting, as the elasticity will make it loose and change your measurements.
Step 7: Arrange Hearts on Knee Height
Remove the pins. Now you have two pieces. Fold them in half, keeping the good sides out. Use the waist-knee distance to find the knee height. Check with the knee-ankle distance. Mark the heart position.
Step 8: Stitch the Applique
Unfold the pieces and stitch your heart applique on the marks. For the applique you can choose any kind of fabric you like, (apart from woven) including felt, fleece, velvet or leatherette. You could also use ready-made applique design. Attach the applique to your leggings with a zig-zag stitch - either with a sewing machine or by hand. I've blanket-stitched around the heart by hand.
Step 9: Sew the Inseams
Once you have finished your applique, fold the pieces again, only this time keep the wrong sides outside. Secure with pins from ankle to crotch. Sew and repeat for the other piece.
The best way is to sew using an elastic stitch or an overlock machine. If your sewing machine doesn't have elastic stitches, the straight stitch is fine too. You can pull the fabric very gently while straight stitching to make your stitches more elastic.
Step 10: Join the Crotch Seams
Turn one piece right side out and place it inside the other. Open the seams and line them up, matching the front and back rise seams. Pin to secure them in place.
Step 11: Sew the Rise
Sew the curve all the way, from back to front. Turn the fabric inside out and check the seams. The result should look like a clean cross.
Step 12: Try Them On
You're almost done! Try your leggings on now. Keep in mind that they are going to be about 8cm longer than the finished version. Check the fitting on your legs and crotch. Make any adjustments if needed.
Step 13: Sew Waistband Casing
Turn your piece inside out again. Fold the waistline about 3 to 4cm (depending on your elastic) and sew at the edge creating a casing. Sew all the way around but leave about 4cm open next to the back seam.
Step 14: Add the Elastic
Use the elastic to measure around your waist without pulling it. Then cut about 2cm shorter. Feed the elastic through the hole. Use a safety pin to push it through the waist line casing and pull it out from the other side of the opening. Sew the elastic endings together. Arrange the elastic evenly in the casing, fold the fabric over and sew it closed.
Step 15: Hem Bottom Edges
Fold the bottom edges to the marked line and hem. Your new handmade leggings are now ready to wear! Nice one.
Have you made leggings before? Do you think you might have a go at making this project? Leave any queries or comments in the section below.
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