OK team. I’ve been doing some serious research into this. I’ll be honest with you, making your own leggings needs a few more measurements than sewing your own t-shirt, or making your own dress. But don’t let that put you off. Once you’ve collected those measurements you’re pretty much done.
I know there are lots of steps, making it all seem a bit complicated, but it’s not. Just some hearty measuring, a light bit of math and you’ll have a legging pattern for life.
Still with me? I hope so – because leggings are awesome.
How to make your own DIY leggings
You will need:
a pencil and notebook
paper to draw the pattern on (just tape some pages together or use wrapping paper)
We’re going to start by taking a few measurements. A handy tip I read was to wear a pair of leggings or tights while taking your measurements and to mark the points you measure with tailor’s chalk as you measure. Genius, right?
1. Start by deciding where you want your leggings to sit on you. Do you want them high-waisted, low slung, or somewhere in the middle? A good place to start is to find a pair of leggings or tight trousers that you love and use those to get an idea of where you’d like the waist.
Measure around your waist (or where you’d like the leggings to sit). We’ll call this the waist measure. Note this down in your notebook. Mark this spot in tailor’s chalk on your tights/leggings.
2. Measure around the widest part of your thighs. We’ll call this the thigh measure. Note this down in your notebook. Mark this spot in tailor’s chalk on your tights/leggings.
3. Straighten your knee and measure around your knee. We’ll call this the knee measure. Note this down in your notebook. Mark this spot in tailor’s chalk on your tights/leggings.
4. Measure around your ankle (or where you want your legging to end). We’ll call this the ankle measure. Note this down in your notebook. Mark this spot in tailor’s chalk on your tights/leggings.
5. Measure the distance from your ankle (or where the legging is to end) to your knee (this is where those chalk marks start to come in handy!). We’ll call this the ankle-knee measure. Note this down in your notebook.
6. Measure the distance from your knee to your thigh. We’ll call this the knee-thigh measure. Note this down in your notebook.
7. Measure the distance from your ankle (or where the legging is to end) to your waist (or where you want the legging to sit). We’ll call this the knee-thigh measure. Note this down in your notebook.
8. Now this is going to sound weird, but it’s in been in all the tips I’ve read on drafting your own leggings. Ready? OK. Squeeze a ruler/long pencil between your thighs so that it runs parallel to the floor. Measure from your waist to the ruler/pencil. We’ll call this the front rise measure. Note this down in your notebook.
9. Keep the ruler there and measure behind you, along the back from your waist to the ruler/pencil (you might want to ask a really good friend to help with this one). We’ll call this the back rise measure. Note this down in your notebook.
10. Almost there peeps. Just one last bit to do. We want our leggings to hug our lovely curves as the legging curves from our waist down to our legs. To do this we need to calculate our rise depth. No biggie. But we need to do a bit of maths.
For your total rise depth take your waist measurement and divide by 2. Now subtract that number from your thigh measurement. Essentially you’re doing this sum:
Total rise depth = thigh measurement – (waist measurement divided by 2)
11. So far, so good right? Now we just need to spread that out between our front and back. We’ll use 1/3 of our total rise depth for our front, and the remaining 2/3 for our back. Essentially you’re doing this sum:
Front rise depth = total rise depth divided by 3 (or total rise depth x 0.33)
Back rise depth = (total rise depth divided by 3) x 2 (or total rise depth x 0.66)
Write these measures down in your notebook.
12. Phew! That’s it for the measuring. Now to make the pattern. We’re only making the pattern for one leg (sewing up one side to turn it into a tube), so be sure to divide your waist measure by 2 and write this down in your notebook before you start.13. On a very large piece of paper (or lots of smaller pieces/newspaper taped together) draw your waist-ankle length running down the middle of the paper. Then draw out your measurements following the pattern above.
You want to be sure that thigh, knee and ankle measures fall equally across the waist-ankle length. An easy way to do this is to divide your thigh, knee and ankle measure by 2 and to measure that new number equally on each side of the waist-ankle line.
14. The only slightly tricky bit might be drafting the rise area, but just take it step by step. Draw the thigh circumference first. From the outer edge measure your back rise depth moving inwards to the centre. From this point measure your back rise up towards the waist and mark this. Repeat with the front rise depth and front rise.
To create the rise curve draw a diagonal line from the top edge of your waist (top of your rise) to 1″ (or 1.5 cm) from the outer edge of your thigh measure. Curve this line near the bottom.Add a gentle curve at the knee. And while you’re at it, just check that the top and bottom outside corners (outer hip and outer ankle) are a perfect right angle. Use the corner of a ruler to check.