Ruched Leggings Tutorial with Guest Dana from Made

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


we've got another special guest tutorial today! one of my besties in the blogging world - dana of made is here to put her tutorial in the ring for "comfy sews VS cozy knits"! dana never ceases to amaze me on a daily basis with her gorgeous photography, creative tutorials, yummy recipes and of course who doesn't love her runway rundowns! i always know when i'm up late at night working on this blog and i feel like chatting i can have a good laugh with dana.


she's so inspiring and i continually cannot wait to see what she is going to do next. in an ideal world dana would be my neighbour. it warms my heart to know that at 10pm at night i could go to my dream house window and wave to her sewing and working on her blog as well. during the day we'd meet up for coffee and let the kids play as we conjure up our next blog post or sewing tutorial! i love that her and i both think that without blogging we would feel like a tiny bit of ourselves was missing we love it so much. plus all of our late night blogging sessions can make us girls have a pretty wacky sense of humour. so dana, watch out...one day i'm gonna kidnap rae and a few other special ladies and we're all gonna wreak some good ol' havoc together! woot! woot! watch out texas...here we come!

ok, ok, i digress, i could write about 10 more paragraphs about how fab dana is, but you guys all know she is and if you don't, you must be new to the blogging land. so i'll cut this short and let you all see what dana dreamt up for "comfy" to wear. i cannot wait to make some of these!!!!


let's hear what dana has to say......


Hello mommyhooders! It's Dana from MADE. I'm excited to be in the ring this week battling it out over knitting vs. sewing. It's probably obvious where I'm coming from here, since my blog is a place for DIY sewing ideas. So I'll just say this: I'm an impatient person who likes immediate returns. Thus, the sewing machine is where I've left my heart. One day, when time is...endless?...I hope someone teaches me how to knit a sweater or two because that would be totally cool. I stand in complete awe at you knitters. I just don't think it's my season of life, yet.

So if you're a knitter or sewer who wants a simple 2 hour project, you came to the right spot! Today we're making leggings with a twist.

Despite what many people think, sewing with knits is fun and easy to do!

Knit fabrics are created the same way that knitters do their magic, with needles and yarn (which is why knits have stretch to them, compared to woven fabrics). However, these needles and thread are very small and are attached to industrial machinery. So in a way, we knitters and sewers should get out of the ring and do a cheers together over some Diet Cokes because we're really talking about the same thing here! Sort of.

The biggest hang-up I hear from people about sewing with knits (other than they're frightened to try. Don't be!) is that it's hard to find a good selection of fabrics in the average shop. It's true. Some online shops like harts and fabric.com carry some options (I purchase most of mine at Michael Levine, FIDM, and Joanns from time to time).

But if you're the kind of person who wants to feel the fabric before purchasing, finding the right knit is not as easy as finding the right cotton. Thus, when making kid's clothes, my go-to knit is: a man's T-shirt. It's so easy to sift through Dad's drawer or pick up a $2 Tee at the local thrift store and turn it into something fun.

The key to selecting a shirt is in how the fabric feels. The average cheap T-shirt does not stretch very much and becomes coarse with time and washing. You want something soft and sometimes with a bit of spandex. When I rummage the thrift shop, I simply run my hands over each shirt without even taking time to look at them. When I get to a shirt that feels soft, good quality, and has a bit of stretch, I pull it out and see if it's a color or print I even like. If it is, then splendid! My $2 search is over.

Ideally what you want is a soft cotton jersey knit. If it has a bit of spandex or lycra in it, even better. Make sure you wash/dry it when you get home and you're ready to go!
Now let's sew...
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Every girl loves a pair of leggings (especially when you're a skinny bean pole 4-year-old who looks great in them). Since my daughter is at preschool twice a week and has gymnastics class too, her wardrobe for fall and winter is made up of knit pants and leggings. It's hard to pass them up when they're $4/pair at Target! But I decided to make some of my own to give her wardrobe more variety. And, I decided to put a twist on it. Using elastic thread I ruched up the sides, added some buttons, and voila!.....


This is a very easy 2 hour project. And once you've made one pair, you'll want to make more. So let's get started.



You need a man's T-shirt or about 1/2 to 3/4 yard of knit fabric. For my pattern, I'm using a pair of leggings that my daughter already owns since I know they fit great.

If you don't have a pair of leggings to use a your guideline:
* Buy a pair at the store, use them as you guide, and return them later if still in proper condition.
* Lil Blue Boo has a wonderful leggings pattern HERE that you can purchase for $6, sizes 6mos-8 years.
or
* Wing it! You may surprise yourself at what you can do if you go for it!

It may not seem like it, but the back and front of most kids pants are slightly different. The back crotch is usually a longer to accommodate a booty. So I started by turning my pair of leggings inside out and traced one side of the pants (the front).

The beauty of using a T-shirt for leggings is that you can use the hem of the shirt as the hem of your pants! Woohoo! The project just got a little easier. So, make sure you line the pattern leggings up with the hem of the shirt like this:

Trace around the leggings and cut it out, or don't even both with the tracing....just start snipping! Since the pants are inside out, the seam allowance is already there, so you can cut right next to the pants. Remember that you're cutting two Front pants pieces and TWO back pants pieces. So cut through both layers of the T-shirt.

When you get to the top, you need to stretch it open, pulling the elastic waistband taut. It's not the easiest thing to do (nor is taking a picture of it) but stretch it open and cut. MAKE SURE YOU CUT AN EXTRA INCH OF FABRIC AT THE TOP so you can fold the fabric over and create a new waistband casing down the road....

Like this:

Then flip the pants over to the other side and cut the BACK pants pieces (cut through both layers of the T-shirt so you have two pieces):

Here's what the Front and Back pieces should look like (on the left is the BACK, on the right is the FRONT):

Okay, we're going to make this as easy as possible here. Take the two FRONT pieces, and place them with right sides together (if you've just cut them out, then they're wrong sides together, so flip them around). Sew down the crotch only. Do the same for the two BACK pieces.

When sewing with knits, a zigzag stitch allows more stretch in your seam. But a standard stitch works as well (which is what I typically use). Don't pull or tug the fabric as you go, just allow the machine to feed the fabric naturally.
I finish all my seams off with a serger but it's not necessary with knits since they don't fray. You can always use your serger to sew, without using your standard machine. However, your serger makes everything final and doesn't allow for much error. This is why I often sew with my standard machine first, make sure everything is where I like it, make adjustments, and THEN serge off my seams.

The image below shows:
TOP - a zigzag stitched seam
BOTTOM - a zigzagged seam with a serged finish
Both work fine.

So, serge off your seams if you like or just leave them raw and let's move on.
Leggings are already coming together!

Open up your Front and Back pieces and with right sides together, pin the leggings down both sides of each leg. I start by pinning at the bottom hem of each leg, so I make sure those are matched up perfectly.

Then sew down the outside of each leg first:

And finally, sew from the end of one inside leg, all the way up to the crotch and around down the other side of the leg, in one continuous line.....

Serge off all your seams or leave them plain.

Next, create a casing for the waistband. I used 1/2 inch elastic here. You want it to be about as long as the waist itself or maybe a 1/2 inch shorter. Leggings should just be tight enough to keep them from falling off, but not gouging into a toddler's pot-belly. You do need to add an extra inch however, so you can overlap the ends and sew the elastic closed.

So, using the elastic as your guide, fold over the top of the leggings and measure how far down you'd like the casing to be and iron it all the way around:

Pinning helps as well. Make sure you mark a start and stop point, so that you leave a small opening in the casing, for inserting elastic.

Starting at the start point, sew all the way around to the stop point:

Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic and insert it into the small opening you left in the casing:

Pull it all the way through and make sure the elastic isn't twisted anywhere. Overlap the ends a 1/2 inch and sew it together.

Then sew your casing closed:

Add a fun label if you have one:

And you're done with a simple pair of leggings!

The new pair looks very similar to the old one. Our pattern-making tricks worked. Ding!

But let's not stop there....let's ruche up those legs for added flair!

Thread you bobbin with elastic thread. It's sold at most fabric shops and online for about $1.50. Normal thread goes in the top of your machine.

Don't wind it too tight, don't wind it too loose, just somewhere in between. Load it into your machine and you're ready to go!

We're going to be sewing two lines of elastic thread on the seams of each leg. Mark where the elastic thread will end on each leg, since once you get sewing, it's hard to tell how far you've gathered. You can remove the pin as you get close to it. It's just to help you eyeball the distance.


This image shows 3 1/2 inches, but I've decided that 5 inches works best.

It's a little awkward to sew on the side of the leg since it's so small and narrow. But just do your best. Make sure you're not sewing on the other side of the leggings as you go!

Start at the bottom of one leg, do a forward and back stitch, and sew up the side of the leg, about 5 inches and do a forward and back stitch at the end too.

Hooray! Just one line of elastic thread and it's already gathering up!

Then sew another line, parallel to the first line.

And continue this step with the other 3 sides of the pant legs, sewing two parallel lines of elastic thread up the seam, about 5 inches.

When you're done, spray the scrunched legs with water and then press them with an iron. This is key to getting your legs to scrunch up even more!

When you're done, they should look like this:

You could stop there but the buttons really add the special touch. Use 3-4 small buttons for the outside of each leg. This gives them sort of a "riding pants" look.

Using a needle and thread, start by sewing the top button on where the elastic thread ends. This is the perfect time to sit down and watch Project Runway.....

Then sew the bottom button onto the pants next. This will help you space all 4 buttons more easily.

Then sew on the other two buttons, somewhere in between:

And you're officially done!!!

One cute pair of Ruched Leggings ready for school....or a party, or hanging at the park, or going to the mall, or dancing around for hours. Leggings are the IT fashion for fall.

big thank you to dana for coming to be part of the mommyhood - you rock and i luv ya! if you guys are looking for some other comfy pants, check out our "shirt sleeves to yoga capris tutorial" for some more fun refashioning and don't forget to sport our button to join in on the fun - you can find it on our sidebar!


have you tried making your leggings before? what's your favorite thing to make out of a t-shirt?

27 comments:

  1. Wow, awesome tutorial Dana! Those leggings are A-dorable - can't wait to give those a try. I think both my little ladies would love to rock those. Thanks so much for putting this together!

    Lindsay

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  2. So glad to see this tute! You know how I love Dana! I love the ruching... it adds such a feminine touch!

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  3. These are AWESOME!! Leggings are a wardrobe staple at our house, too. I am SO going to have to maek some for my daughter!

    I linked to your tutorial over at Craft Gossip Sewing here:
    http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-girls-ruched-leggings/2010/10/20/

    --Anne

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  4. How cute are those? I need a daughter to make all these fun things for! One day I hope to be more confident with knits!

    You can also make yourself yoga pants out of hubby's old t-shirt!

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  5. Very cute leggings! I have been making little girl leggings out of the sleeves of recycled tees for my daughter - I used a tutorial off of Make it and Love it. I may have to add some fun with the ruching!

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  6. That looks like fun! I'll have to try those for my 6month old.

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  7. Love the ruching! Thank for another great tute, Dana!

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  8. Aw. thanks for the kind words! I'm happy to be hanging in the mommyhood with you!

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  9. LOVE this! i have a 4 year old who's always in leggings, too, so i know this would be great for her! it looks so easy, but is so cute, thanks so much! :)

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  10. Great tutorial! Just what I needed this week! And using a men's t shirt is perfect. I hope my husband won't miss the shirts I have in mind, they are just the colors I'm looking for (and haven't been able to find in store).
    I'm wondering if it's necessary to have a side seam though? Is it possible to cut the front and back as one piece?

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  11. these leggings are adorable ...thanks for the great tutorial - I cannot wait to make a couple pairs! :-) so far from tee shirts, i've just made tee-shirt dresses, warhol dresses & a couple skirts (cut off top of tee and add elastic)!

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  12. Thanks for inspiring me to overcome my fear of elastic thread!I am going to get some ASAP and try this out!Aloha~

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  13. Sweet Dana, great tutorial. I have acquired several pair of leggings that are too long for Charlie,but didn't want to get rid of them. I think along with making a few more pair I might try ruching the extra long ones to fit.
    Thanks for the tips as always.

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  14. I love these. I'm so making some (for me!). My favorite thing to make out of old t-shirts (besides stuffed animals) is 4-year old girl pajamas. I just take my daughter's fav nightgown, trace onto the old t-shirt, use the already sewn hem and neck, and done! I even use my poor man's screen printing technique that I learned from Dana to spice the nightgown up a bit.

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  15. My pictures are never as cute as Dana's, but I actually just did a tutorial for some quick 20 minute leggings here last month:

    http://subtle-tee.blogspot.com/2010/09/20-minute-leggings-tutorail-with.html

    My machine won't take elastic tread, so I show how you can do the same rouching by just sewing on small strips of elastic.

    I love the idea of putting buttons on the rouching part! Brilliant! Thanks Dana!

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  16. Adorable! Love the ruching and buttons!

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  17. These are so great! I'm new to sewing with knits, but I am totally in love! I've been making my daughter a bunch of shirts using the Tee for Two pattern by "Pattern by Figgys"

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  18. This is so cute. There is a tutorial I used to make leggings on the "No Big Dill" blog and it doesn't have the outer side seams. It's not as detailed as Dana's though. It's the Ruffled Bloomer tutorial but it's basically leggings.

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  19. Dana...these so rock. I love to wear leggings in the winter and Fall under my skirts. I want to make these for me! Thanks for the tutorial.

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  20. My girls will ONLY wear leggings for pants. This is so great that I can sew some up for them now. Thanks for the super tutorial!

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  21. I'm appreciate your writing skill.Please keep on working hard.^^

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  22. I haven´t made leggings but I refashioned some into ruched leggings with elastic thread as Dana or elastic strips as Jessica. The same technique can used for making ruched sleeves

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  23. Seriously great tutorial. Going to try these for my sweet pea and myself. Plus, I just might have to make some little baby ones for next daughter on the way.

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  24. I can't believe I have been sewing all these years and still haven't tried knits! Dana will convince me yet.

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  25. How very cute! Thanks for linking up to my ruffles, ruching and gathers post! I was totally thrilled to see a new link on there.

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