How to Sew Your Own Leggings

I love to wear dresses, so in the winter I am all about the layering. Tights are great, but for those extra cold days when you need something a little thicker, leggings are the way to go. I’m going to show you how I sewed my own leggings from stretch fabric and with a twin needle! A twin needle leaves a double straight stitch on the outside of your fabric, but allows for stretch with a zigzag stitch on the inside. If you decide to opt out of the twin needle for this lesson, you can still easily make your own leggings using a stretch or ballpoint needle and a zigzag stitch. I would challenge you to give it a shot, though! My machine even came with a twin needle in the little pack of extra needles, so I had no excuse not to at least try it out! Oh, and spoiler: I’m really glad I did!

-twin needle
-1 1/2 yards of stretch fabric
-rotary cutter & self healing mat or fabric scissors

Step One: First, let’s create our pattern using a pair of existing leggings. Fold your leggings in half and trace around them. Add 1/4″- 1/2″ (depending on what seam allowance you prefer) to the part that won’t be cut on the fold (the left edge in the photo above). Add an additional 1 1/2″ to the top for the waistband and 1″ to the bottom for the cuff.

Step Two: As you can see in my first photo, I traced around my leggings to create my pattern, but the edge was curved. Since we will be cutting this edge on the fold, we need to straighten it out to a solid line. If your pattern is curved like mine was, adjust it and cut your fabric on the fold (right sides together). We need two pieces for this project, so repeat.

Step Three: Alright, now that our pieces are cut, let’s get our twin needle all set up. Like I said before, if you are feeling less than brave, it’s okay! A zigzag stitch will also work for this. As you can see in the top photo, my machine came with an additional peg that you can insert for the second spool. If your machine has this, go ahead and pop that in. Thread your machine with both spools, just as you normally would with a single spool. Don’t forget to move your needle over if your machine requires it. I broke my first twin needle because I forgot to move my needle to the right. Oops! I guess it’s kind of an important step. ????

The first thing we’re going to sew is the front/back of the leggings. Use your twin needle (or zigzag stitch) to stitch up the areas pictured above with your two pieces lined with right sides facing each other.

Step Four: Now let’s hem the bottom of our pants. I like to do this step before I stitch up the legs. It just works easier for me. As you can see in the photo above, we want the straight stitches to be on the outside of the pant and the zigzag stitch to be on the inside. This means you will be pinning and stitching on the right side of the fabric instead of the wrong side. Isn’t that double stitch such a clean and professional looking finish?

Step Five: Once your ankles are hemmed, open your pants and lay them flat with the right sides facing in. Pin and stitch along the legs and around the crotch. I like to reinforce the crotch area when I’m sewing leggings since it gets a little extra pull. So if you’re in that camp, go ahead and stitch the crotch a second time.

Step Six: Measure your waist and cut your elastic to fit your measurement. Join the ends of your elastic with your sewing machine so you have a circle. Pin the sides of your elastic to the left and right sides of your leggings. Pin the center of the elastic to the front and back seams. This will keep your elastic in place as you stretch and stitch. Make sure the top of your elastic is flush with the top of the fabric and stitch in place with your twin needle or zigzag stitch.

Once the elastic is sewn in, fold down and repeat.

Did you try out the twin needle? What did you think? I think it leaves such a professional-looking finishing stitch and takes home-sewn garments to the next level. Here’s to warmer days ahead! – Katie

Credits // Author: Katie Shelton. Photography: Janae Hardy and Katie Shelton.

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