Pattern hacked leggings

Great British Sewing Bee inspired stretchy leggings

As a very young Costumier, in the coughs(90’s) I spent many lunch breaks whipping up leggings and catsuits to wear clubbing or working out. Sadly these days, I’m so time poor that I’ve never got the time to whip up my own clothes.

I spent new year and early January under the polar vortex in New York City, and whilst out in -11 degrees, I spotted this fabric shop in the garment district, and popped in for a look and a warm up.

Stretch house new york

Oh lordy, what an aladin’s cave. So much stretchy fabric in one spot..
I had already made a promise to myself that I would get fitter and stronger in 2014, so whilst in there, I picked out some lovely soft stretchy velours that I could mix and match to make some colour blocked workout leggings. Why make my own? Well, I am short, so they’re always too long, and I have a tummy so the waist on Ready to wear always rolls down. If I make my own, I can add a slightly higher rise that will keep my waistband above my pesky tummy!

So workout leggings will need washing a lot, my first step was to get the fabrics in the washer and then the dryer twice!

prewashing fabric

I decided to hack up my, “go to” leggings pattern, a simple one piece legging, as it fits and I can make multiple hacks all with different styles. No need to go and buy patterns every time!

Before working “hacking” a stretch pattern, it really is a good idea to test the pattern in something similar. Here’s my wearable test version in a pretty wild print.

printed lovely leggings

The fit was pretty good, and as my stretch velour isn’t as stretchy as this fabric, I made no adjustments to the pattern before hacking. I wanted a stripe coming forward from the sides of the legs, forming a yoke section at the back. I folded the paper pattern in half, then freehand drew the shape of my ‘yoke and go’ faster side stripe. I then cut the pattern up along my new style lines.

pattern hacked leggings patter

Along the curved sections, i added some notches to ensure I matched up the 2 curves correctly in the fabric, and as I’m a lazy seamstress, I added the seam allowance along the new seams directly onto the fabric, so I didn’t need to fiddle with the paper!

Notch detail

I tried using a rotary cutter and mat to cut the stretchy fabric, but to be honest, not having a giant cutting mat meant this caused more of a headache than cutting with scissors. Just cut carefully, and use the full length of your scissor blade so you do less chops. Cutting out stretchy fabric is just practise, and you can smooth off rough cutting edges later.

Next I joined the 3 pieces in each leg, creating the “go faster “stripe

leg construction

Once I had made up my 2 colour blocked legs, I could follow the pattern instructions pretty much to the letter, except I like to sew up each leg and try on before joining the crotch, This allowed me to see that the top of the inside leg was a bit baggy, so I re-seamed the top of the legs. I used an overlocker to sew these leggings, which is super fast, but you can use the stretch zig zag stitch on a regular machine.

With the inside legs adjusted I joined the crotch and again checked the fit. I use a band of elastic to adjust the rise on all my trousers including leggings and pj’s, but as I wanted a high waist, these were perfect.

Next step is to attach the ring of elastic to the top edge of the waist. The elastic must sit inside the leggings for this technique to work.

attaching elastic

Again, I used an overlocker, but you can use a regular zig zag stitch on a normal machine.

The elastic is then folded over on itself to the inside of the leggings, making a flat covered waist line. I stretch and pin from the right side all the way around the waist. Pinning allows it to stay exactly where we want it when it’s sewn with a twin needle.

Pinning the waist for twin needle sewing

The waist is then stitched from the right side with a twin needle. If you’ve never used one, watch my video tutorial here  Finally, pin up a hem on both legs, and again sewing from the right side use the twin needle to sew the hems, taking care to stretch the hems slightly as you sew!

Ta Dah- ready for lunging action!

Pattern hacked leggings

Happy Stitching:)


1 Comment

  • Katharine in Brussels

    14.05.2015 at 08:02

    Your leggings look fantastic, so sporty and flattering on you. What an awesome tutorial too! Thank you, because specialized leggings patterns are hard to find in many variations, but this just demonstrates we can let our imagination run free!