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with Anna from Spoonflower's Brand Marketing Team
Does this scenario sound familiar? Your favorite pair of leggings fit like a glove, are the perfect color and you can wear them year-round with anything! However, for these exact reasons they’ve been loved a little too much and are starting to wear down past their prime.
What if you could always have that perfectly-fitted pair on hand, plus more? I’m here to show you how to repurpose your model pair of leggings into an easy sewing pattern that can yield an entire closet of brand new pairs. Plus, thanks to the never-ending list of fabric designs available in the Spoonflower Marketplace, your leggings will be the definition of custom!
I’m using Spoonflower’s Sport Lycra for my leggings, but you can choose any stretch fabric with at least a 5% spandex content that you find the most comfortable. Also, use a stretch needle and/or a walking foot with your sewing machine for best results when sewing with stretch fabric.
You can use this patterning method to duplicate more than just leggings – try it out with palazzo pants, lounge shorts or joggers.
If you don’t have traditional pattern paper in your craft stash, try using an alternative like tissue paper (what I’m using) or wrapping paper.
While store-bought leggings patterns are readily available, they will usually only include one set of measurements for a single size. Considering that every person has their own unique body shape, and that leggings are a particularly tight piece of clothing, drafting your own pattern from a pair you’re already comfortable with will ensure that every curve and seam fits precisely without any puckers, gaps or folds.
Take your leggings and flip them inside out so you can see all the inside seams that run up the leg and around the edges. Fold your leggings in half at the center waistline, leading down to the crotch seam. Lay your folded leggings with the front side facing up on top of your pattern paper. My pair had a logo and tag on the back, so it was easy for me to differentiate the front vs. the back.
Pull the edges of the seams straight until you have a clear shape that’s traceable, and pin to hold. Trace this shape onto the pattern paper with a visible marker or pencil.
You may notice when straightening out the seams that the back side around the waistband wants to peek out a bit from the front — this is because it’s common for adult leggings to have extra room in the back! Tuck these sections under, or even pin them out of the way, so you have a clear view of the front part you need to trace.
Unfold the leggings and refold them in half where the back is facing up this time (so for me, tag up!). Place the folded leggings along the longest edge of the shape you just traced, as if they were mirrored to the other side. Straighten out the seams and pin to hold like before, then trace the shape. You should now have one large pattern piece with 2 halves that are almost symmetrical. The back half should have a little more space between the waist and the crotch.
If you’re making children’s leggings you won’t need to trace the back part separately (unless you wish to make room for something like a diaper). After tracing the front half, simply flip the folded leggings over the longest straight edge and trace again. Your pattern piece should be completely symmetrical.
Use a ruler to draw a border 5/8” (1.5 cm), the standard seam allowance for sewing apparel, from the edge around the shape you just drew.
Add any guideline marks on your pattern piece that may help you during the sewing process. For mine, I chose to add:
If you’d like to sew in a separate waistband, mark a line from the top of the waistline 2″ (5 cm) down, or whatever width you’d like your band to be.
Cut your final leggings shape out. If you chose to include a separate waistband in step 3, cut this piece off of the top. You should have two pattern pieces: one main leg and one waistband.
Congrats, you have a working leggings pattern! Now it’s time to cut and sew the fabric together.
Take your leg pattern piece and pin it to the Sport Lycra or other stretch fabric. Cut out two of these shapes.
Place the waistband pattern piece on the fold of your fabric with the fold lined up against the short edge of the pattern. Flip the pattern to the other side, similar to how we mirrored the leggings pattern, and mark double the width. So, for my 2″ (5 cm) waistband it would be 4″ (10 cm). Trace around the other edge until you have a rectangle, then cut this piece out.
Place both of your leg pieces right sides (printed sides) together and pin. With a 5/8″ (1.5 cm) seam allowance, sew the curved edges only with a zigzag or other stretch-friendly stitch.
Open the legs piece with the seam in the center and lay it down flat.
Align the crotch seams right sides together and pin in place, then pin down each leg. Your pins should form a giant “U” shape in the end. Wow, these already look like leggings!
From the crotch seam down, sew each side. Flip your leggings right side out and set aside.
Fold the waistband in half with short edges lined up and right sides facing, then pin together and sew in place. Flip this right side out so the clean seam is facing outwards and fold in half again, bringing the long edges together with wrong sides facing. You should have a ready-to-go waistband piece with all raw edges at the bottom and a clean edge at the top.
If you did not choose to include a separate waistband you can simply fold the edge of the leggings waistline over 1/2″ (1 cm), and then 1/2″ (1 cm) again, to create a double hem.
Slide the waistband, clean edges first, over the leggings waistline until all raw edges are aligned, making sure to line up the waistband and back seams for a clean look. Pin this in place and sew around the waistline.
Flip your leggings inside out again, fold the bottom edge up about 1/4″ (1/2 cm) and pin in place. Since Sport Lycra doesn’t fray, I’m able to leave the raw edge exposed with no problems. Sew around the ankle close to the raw edge and repeat for the other leg.
And now your new leggings are complete! Take a moment to strut in this pair, or create a whole wardrobe!
Check out these leggings-friendly fabric designs and more!
Use any leftover Sport Lycra fabric to sew your own headband or sports bra!More Sport Lycra Projects
Anna is a seamstress and cosplayer of seven years who joined Spoonflower’s Brand Marketing Team in 2021. In her free time, she’s either sewing together new products for her small business, binging some sort of animated series or relaxing with her cat, Mina.
Thank you so much for a well described tutorial – with pictures! I prefer written instructions with pictures rather than a video. I can read as slowly as I want without pause/rewind all the time. And this tutorial is WAAAY better than those ones where you tuck one leg inside the other then stitch the inseam – for me at least. That step took about 20 minutes fiddling to line up all the seams.
Thanks so much for your comment, love to hear that you enjoy the tutorial.
And I totally agree with you about the tucking step– a big reason I wanted to share the easier method!
If you made/are about to make some leggings using this tutorial, feel free to tag us in your creations on social media (@spoonflower) so we can see. 🙂
I love this tutorial, but wondered if y’all might have a hack for adding side pockets. My daughter has a pair with triangular shaped side pockets that is like to replicate for myself. I think you just split the pattern into 3 panels – a front, middle with the pocket, and back. But I’m not a great seamstress so I’m not sure 100%. Thanks for any helpful hints!!
Hi Denise! I’m afraid we don’t have any guidance ourselves for adding side pockets, but I was able to find this tutorial for you on Youtube that may help! – Theresa
I only ever sew clothes for my 1,5 year old.
And I’ve been looking for cosy leggings for winter. But because I wanted them to have a cute christmassy pattern I couldn’t really find any that were really my cup of tea.
This really got me into planning to sew for myself as well now! Thanks!!! 😀
Glad this tutorial found you, Betty! If you make a pair of leggings using this, feel free to tag us on social media– we’d love to see!