Monday, October 27, 2014

DIY Sweater Leggings!

Happy Monday!!! Things are finally starting to cool off down here and- I'M JUST KIDDING IT'S STILL HOT.

Hot means I have the AC on a lot in the apartment. I love my AC. But that also means that sometimes it gets cold inside. I don't like being cold. I'm very particular about my temperatures.

My favorite thing is to be nicely bundled up, with a pair of warm pants, a comfy cardigan, and my fleece Bambi throw, a hot cup of coffee warming my hands, with the AC blasting.

Ahh, heaven. :)

I have a pair of yoga pants, as most of us do, for lounging in (not for yoga, psh). I have some paper thin and silky smooth pajama pants. But I don't have any leggings. And that's such a shame! I love a good, warm pair of leggings. I've often drooled over pictures of crazy quilted sweater leggings, wishing I had the cojones to try it myself.

And then, just a few days ago, I realized...that I do!!!

I also have this giant green sweater that's been scoffing at me, saying "Ha! See, I don't inspire you AT ALL! You've been trying to figure out what to do with me for weeks, and to no avail. Hahahahahahaaaaa!"

Well, can you blame me? Look at how shapeless and boring it is! Where would I even start? It's too short to be a sweater dress, and I don't want to make another cardigan right now (okay yes I do, but I promise I won't!).

Until I realized...oversized sleeves...might fit on my legs!

"NOOOOOOO!!!!" the sweater screamed in rage as I removed it from the stash box. "ALL OF MY PLANS FOR WORLD DOMINATION, FOILED!!!"

Click "Read More" to learn how this drama unfolded!


Here's your sweater:

Cut off the collar so you can fit the neckline over your hips, and slide the sweater on like a pair of pants. Pull the bulk of the sweater's torso behind you so you can get an idea of how the sleeves fit your legs.

Then chop the sleeves off and set them aside. They're important!

You'll need to basically make a pair of briefs to attach the sleeves to. So, fold your sweater in half and carefully smooth out any wrinkles. One of the best things about this project is, it does not have to be perfect!

Now...potentially NSFW? I don't know. There are panties in the below picture. But in a totally practical and useful sense! And they're not at all sexy.

So, take your panties (clean ones pls) and fold them in half with the rear-side out. Lay the folded edge of your panties against the folded edge of your sweater:

Trace around the panties and cut, leaving several inches above it for a waistband (more than I did). You'll end up with two pieces that look like this:

Now sew up the side and crotch seams (ALL SEAMS IN THIS TUTORIAL SHOULD BE SEWN WITH A ZIGZAG OR STRETCH STITCH). Turn it right side out.

Does it look like underwear?


Try it on. Does it fit?


Good. :)

Now, take one of your sleeves and line it up under a leg hole. The existing seam (if there is one) on the sleeve should be your inseam.

You'll probably notice that there's a lot of sleeve excess. That's okay! There are two ways to go about this. If have particularly shapely thighs, or if you want a looser fit around the thighs, you could try stretching the leg hole as you stitch the sleeve in. Or, if you feel you have a little room in the sleeve to work with, you can do what I did.

Mark a spot about an inch into the crotch on the sleeve. I had some handy vertical ribbing to work with so I didn't mark it, but right around where my finger is holding the crotch seam down onto the sleeve, you'll want to mark right there, on the sleeve.

Then you want to draw a line straight down until it meets the inner seam of the sleeve. It's hard to explain, but you are basically cutting away the little triangle of fabric that's overlapping the crotch area. Cut it off! Turn the sleeve inside out and sew it back up where you just cut it:

Now your pant leg opening should be the same circumference as the leg hole in the briefs, but with the same shape so it will attach correctly.

From here it's basically exactly like inserting a sleeve. (This picture below is WRONG by the way - the brief part should be inside out and the sleeve should be right side out.) 

Slide the shoulder end of the sleeve into the brief from above so that the underarm seam is lined up with the crotch seam and the top of the shoulder meets the side seam and pin in place all the way around.

Sew in place and repeat all of the above sleeve-specific steps for the other sleeve.

You should have something that looks like this:

At this point I realized two mistakes which you might want to keep in mind:

  1. I clearly made the crotch too wide. The leggings are perfectly comfortable but they don't really fit like leggings typically would. So you might want to be sure that the crotch is the correct width before you attach the sleeves/legs. This would probably involve just laying your panties (unfolded) on top of the brief and cutting to match the width.
  2. I clearly didn't give myself enough waistband to work with. Trying on the above, there was an embarrassing lack of coverage in the, uh, rear-al area. That's why I had to utilize the t-shirt in the following way:
Find a t-shirt in a coordinating fabric that you don't mind cutting to pieces, and lay it underneath the top of your leggings, overlapping by an inch or two. Cut straight up through both layers of t-shirt until you have several inches (I had about six) that are the same width (or slightly less) as the top of the leggings.

Cut across the t-shirt and sew up the side seams so you have a short t-shirt tube. Then, leaving it inside out, tuck the top of the leggings INTO it so the top edge of the leggings meets the top edge of your inside-out t-shirt tube, and pin in place all the way around with right sides together:

Sew it up and try on your pants!

Now these are cute. I love them! I even like the length. I even like that weird seam at the top of the thigh! But what I really wanted was leggings that would go all the way down to my ankle and even a little bit past. Luckily I already had this black t-shirt sitting here...

I cut the leg parts of the leggings roughly in half (starting at a point a little north of my knee).

Then I folded my t-shirt in half, smoothing out all the wrinkles. I laid the upper portion of the leggings, also folded in half, upside down against the fold of the t-shirt.

The main thing I'm trying to do here is cut two more tubes of fabric from the t-shirt that are the same width as the legging at the point where I made my cut.

I drew a chalk line across at the end of the legging, and then drew another line straight down (using a ruler) about 11 inches. I cut along those lines and ended up with two rectangles of fabric.

Sew up the short sides...

And you have two t-shirt tubes to use as extenders for your leggings!

Now, with the leggings RIGHT SIDE OUT and the t-shirt tube INSIDE OUT, slide the t-shirt tube over the leg until the bottom edges align. Pin in place...

And sew it up! Flip the t-shirt tube right side out and try them on to make sure everything's looking good. Is it? Awesome.

Now, you're going to do the exact same thing to the bottom part of the leggings you cut away earlier. With the leggings right side out, and the sweater tube inside out, shimmy the tube onto the leg until the bottom edges meet, pin in place...

And sew it up!




I've never, ever made pants before. Frankly, they terrify me. BUT NOT ANYMORE!

Now I know I can step up my game in the bottoms department. AND I have kind of a great pair of leggings to keep me warm at night or to wear with fall dresses and skirts!


I'm pretty thrilled. I know I don't look thrilled in the above photo but that's because I was still worried they'd fall apart. But I slept in them (they make GREAT pajama pants) and they held it together beautifully!

I couldn't be happier!!!


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