How to Make the Perfect Pair of Leggings

with Anna from Spoonflower's Brand Marketing Team

SEP 13, 2021

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!

DIY Custom Leggings

Materials List

  • 2 yards of Sport Lycra®
  • Your favorite pair of leggings
  • Patterning paper
  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • Marker for pattern paper
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
Skill Level

Advanced-Beginner

Spoonflower Suggests:

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.

No leggings? No problem!

You can use this patterning method to duplicate more than just leggings! Try it out with palazzo pants, lounge shorts or joggers.

Pattern Paper Alternatives:

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!

How to Draft a Leggings Pattern

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.

Trace the Front Half

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.

Leggings front laying on top of pattern paper
Pulling the seams of the leggings tight
Tracing the leggings onto the pattern paper
GIF of leggings seams being pulled tight and then traced around

Trace the Back Half

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.

Pro Tip: Kid’s Sizes

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.

Leggings flipped over prior to tracing back side
Inseam sections of leggings drawn out

Add Pattern Guidelines

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:

  • An arrow indicating which orientation to lay my stretch fabric when cutting
  • “Leggings Cut x2” since I need to cut out two of these from my fabric
  • Lines to mark where different hemlines could sit — you can make leggings, capris or bicycle shorts simply by altering the leg length!
  • “Front” and “back” on the sides to indicate front vs. back

 

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.

Final leggings pattern

Cut the Pattern Out

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.

Cutting the leggings pattern out with scissors

Steps to Sew Your Leggings

Cut the Fabric

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.

All pattern pieces cut from fabric: 2 leg pieces and 1 waistband
GIF cutting the leg piece from the fabric
Cutting out the waistband from the fabric

Sew the Inseam

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.

Right sides of leg pieces together
Legs piece pinned, white arrows follow curved edges showing where to sew

Sew the Sides Together

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.

Pinching the crotch seams together before pinning in place
Inseam pinned, white arrows follow curved edges showing where to sew
Inseam of leggings sewed together
Finished leggings before waistband is added

Sew the Waistband

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.

Waistband short sides pinned together, white arrows follow curved edges showing where to sew
Finished waistband piece

Attach the Waistband to the Leggings

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.

Waistband pinned to legs piece, white arrows follow curved edges showing where to sew
Sewing waistband to legs
Finished waistband sewn onto leggings

Hem the Ankles

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.

Ankle hemmed 1/4 inch up the leg, white arrows follow curved edges showing where to sew
Finished hem around ankle

And now your new leggings are complete! Take a moment to strut in this pair, or create a whole wardrobe!

Anna holding up finished leggings
GIF of Anna in front of trees jumping in finished leggings
Back view of finished leggings

Shop Featured Designs

Check out these leggings-friendly fabric designs and more!

Looking for something to match?

Use any leftover Sport Lycra fabric to sew your own headband or sports bra!

More Sport Lycra Projects
About the Author
Headshot of Anna

Anna Fletcher

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.

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