Beginner’s guide to sewing DIY leggings like a pro | sewing

The total beginner's guide to making DIY leggings. A totally easy tutorial showing you how to make a DIY legging pattern using your measurements. Snazzy | Randomly Happy

First things first – we need to finish our pattern. Last week we drafted a great basic legging patternΒ but we need to add a few extras to this (like extra fabric for the hem and the waistband).

After that it’s all about sewing these leggings up.

I’ve been experimenting with sewing jersey lately and have found that sewing with a zigzag stitch set to the shortest length gets pretty decent results.

I’d also massively suggest using a fun print fabric. I’m really diggin’ how these leggings are coming out. OK, so maybe they’re not for wearing outside the house (or would you? I’m nowhere near brave enough) but I still love ’em!

Sew Your Own Leggings

Finishing off your pattern

You will need:

pattern from last week
elastic tape for the waistband
extra paper to extend your pattern
pencil or pen

The total beginner's guide to making DIY leggings. A totally easy tutorial showing you how to make a DIY legging pattern using your measurements. Snazzy | Randomly Happy

1. Measure the width of your elastic tape (how tall it will sit). Double this and add 1″. This will be the height of you waistband.

2. Extend your pattern by the height you measured in step 1. Draw a slightly slopping line across the top of the pattern.

3. Extend the bottom by 4″ (10 cm). This will create a nice deep hem.

4. Make sure the corners of the ankles and waist are square. This will help when it comes to sewing the pieces together.You won’t need a seam allowance since the fabric will stretch. You may want to adjust the seam allowance if you have really stretchy material.

Sewing up your leggings

You will need:

legging pattern
sewing machine, thread
The total beginner's guide to making DIY leggings. A totally easy tutorial showing you how to make a DIY legging pattern using your measurements. Snazzy | Randomly Happy

1. Lay your pattern on your fabric. You want the stretch of the fabric to be running from side to side so that it stretches around your thighs and hips.

Give your fabric a quick tug to check.Pin the pattern in place and cut. Repeat so you have two legging pieces.BTW You won’t need a seam allowance since the fabric will stretch.

2. Take one legging piece and fold it so that right sides are together. Match the edges and pin.

3. Sew up the long edge using a 1/5″ (0.5cm) seam allowance. Stop when you get to the rise. this should be easy as the back and front rise don’t match as neatly as the long leg edge you just sewed.

You may want to adjust the seam allowance if you have really stretchy material. My fabric was pretty stretchy so I used a 1″ seam allowance. And it worked a treat.

4. Repeat for the other leg. You should now have two leg tubes.
5. Turn one leg tube inside out. Place the one leg tube inside the other so that right sides are together.

6. Open up the rise on both leg tubes so they form an arc. Match the front and back rise for both leg tubes. Sew as one continuous arc with a 1/5″ (0.5cm) seam allowance.

7. With the right side facing out,Β the hem under by 1 cm. Turn under again and hem using a 1 cm seam allowance.

  1. Reply

    this is great but I've got to find some decent jersey! Where did you say you found floral jersey? Or something other than plain, stripes or spots would do πŸ™‚ x

    1. Reply

      I bought my fabric from ebay. For some dark floral jersey you can't go wrong with this…

      Hope that helps

    2. Reply
      The Blended Splendid

      Um, Etsy has a lot of sellers with amazing vintage pieces of stretch jersey in awesome out of print patterns enough for leggings. I have an Etsy shop but I'm not trying to shamelessly promote it. Just check out Etsy in addition to Ebay!

    3. Reply

      Totally right! Etsy has amazing fabric.

      And I checked out your shop – beautiful vintage treasures. Slightly drooling over some of those patterns and fabrics!

  2. Reply
    Nikki Banham-Hall

    I really need to make some of these. El will you help me please?

    Nikki x

  3. Reply
    Veronica Darling

    I just made some leggings from my old pair! I'll follow/tweet your tutorial though, so I can make more!

    One question, what does 'square the corners' mean? Add more fabric (that's square) or make it square along the grainline? (I am thinking the latter now that I've typed it out!)?

    THANKS! xoxo

    1. Reply

      Hey Veronica,

      By squaring the corners I mean you want the four outer corners of your pattern to end in a right angle (or a square). These corners will be where your separate fabric pieces match up. Making them square makes it easier to match them up seamlessly!

      Hope that helps! x

  4. Reply
    Shelley Reynolds

    First off I want to say how excited I was to make these leggings from scratch. I tried making 2 pairs last year from store bought patterns and neither fit correctly. Also, I have been sewing for over 40 years so I am not new to sewing.

    As far as drafting the pattern it went well until I had to do the waist. IF you are long waisted then on the first step in drafting your pattern you will need to come down more than 2” BEFORE marking your Waist to Ankle measurement. I suggest leaving 6” just to be sure you have enough! I had to add more butcher paper 2 TIMES to the top waist portion of my pattern.

    I used a jersey knit with 25% stretch so that should be good for leggings right?

    I hemmed my leggings first! Duh, who wants to do this after they are assembled? I used a stretch double needle (the twin/double needle goes on the right side). They look great so far.

    Now it is time to sew these custom leggings together. The 1/5" seam allowance seemed off so I used 1/2"? I don’t have a serger so I used the stretch stitch with a single stretch needle in my machine and trimmed the excess.

    Next I sewed the center seams and then tried them on to see how they were going to fit. This is where disaster occurred! My ankles are a slender 7.75” in circumference. Once these leggings were sewn I could hardly get them on. I could hear some of the stitches popping as I forced them on. They were so tight all over I couldn’t get them on comfortably. (I am slender and leggings tend to be baggy in the legs but not these.)

    The instructions say, "You won't need a seam allowance since the fabric will stretch. You may want to adjust the seam allowance if you have really stretchy material." My warning is if you are going to make these be sure to use a stretch fabric with 50% stretch or add in seam allowances. This is my 3rd attempt to make leggings and I am totally frustrated and disappointed. Also, you might want to try making a practice pair out of β€œclearance” knit. That way you can see if they are going to fit before spending money on nice fabric.

    Has anyone else made these and did they come out for you OK? What fabric did you use and did you include a seam allowance?

    1. Reply

      Hey Shelly,

      Oh no, I'm sorry these didn't work out well for you. I'm wearing my pair all the time – and they fit brilliantly. I think you may have run into 2 problems – the stitch and the fabric.

      I recommend using a zigzag stitch set to it's narrowest length (I set it at 1). I find zigzags much better at stretching with the fabric. No more popping stitches.

      I always do a fair amount of research for each project and no one I read suggested adding seam allowance. Just using a narrow hem.

      I know it might seem like a silly question, but did you cut your fabric so that the stretch ran from side to side. I made that mistake once and couldn't work out why the stretch wasn't working.

      Hope that helps.

      Elena x

  5. Reply
    Shelley Reynolds

    Hello Elena,

    Thank you so much for your reply! I agree that the problems that I ran into have to do with stitch and fabric. The stretch stitch worked fine since it was like a zig zag but perhaps the seam allowance was too much (I used 1/2") for a knit with only 25% stretch. At .5cm that comes out to less than 1/4" seam allowance, so this is my first mistake.

    Also, IF I was to try to make the leggings again, I would try with a fabric with 50% stretch first.

    But here is my question: If I wanted to use a fabric with 25% stretch should I increase my overall body measurements by 1 inch to allow for seams and the lack of stretchyness (compared to a 50% stretch). Or should I just add seam allowances for a 25% stretch fabric. Which method would fit better?

    Yes, I did cut the fabric with the stretch going the width.

    Thank you for any insights and help that you can offer it is greatly appreciated.


    1. Reply

      Hi Shelly,

      I guess, ultimately the answer is to go by the fabric you love. If it's got a 25% stretch add seam allowances if you think that will work. If you've found a fabric with 50% stretch don't add seam allowances.

      The fabric I used had about 50% stretch and I didn't add any seam allowances.

      Hope that helps.

  6. Reply

    This is awesome! You've inspired me to make my own leggings. πŸ™‚

  7. Reply

    About how much fabric would you say these take?

    1. Reply

      Hi Kimi,

      I bought 3 meters (about 3 yards) and had pleanty. I even managed to make a top with the leftover, so I'd suggest 2 yards for an average size 10 (size 6 us).

      Hope that helps x

  8. Reply
    Candace Hyde

    What do you mean by "open the rise up like an arc and sew along the arc"? I'm having a hard time picturing this part? πŸ™‚


    1. Reply

      Good question – it is a bit confusing, eh? You basically want to sew the crotch area (the rise if we're being all polite) from the front to the back. You'll want to make sure you don't sew your leg openings closed, so you want it to be opened up.

      Does that help? If not, let me know and I can find a good photo to explain it better.

      Do be sure to share your make!

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