Leggings are the ultimate quick make. They’re one of the few things faster to sew than to shop for. And while they’re easy and cheap to buy, I almost never get the particular fit I want in bought versions—the length is rarely right and the rise never is.
There are a jillion patterns out there, including free ones, and I’m assuming instructions for drafting your own aren’t hard to come by either. In the past I’ve used two patterns: the Cake Patterns Espresso (disclaimer: I did the digitization work for that one) and the Jalie 2920.
Espresso is basically a draft-your-own where you plot your measurements on a grid and connect the dots. I got a fairly “loose fitting” pattern out of it, which works well when I want to make leggings out of ponte or other less-than-optimally stretchy fabrics. I could obviously make another version with more negative ease but it was easier to just use Jalie 2920, which is nice and snug and has ALL THE SIZES.
So why branch out? Well, both Espresso and Jalie 2920 are solid basic leggings patterns, a single pattern piece. A nice feature a lot of my kids’ more substantial storebought leggings have is a wide top band. I’ve been winging my own recently with mixed results, but when Helen’s Closet came out with the Avery Leggings last winter, they had this exact feature built in—plus a gusset, which I was curious about, not that I’m flexible enough that I actually need one in my leggings.
Obviously any of these features you could hack on your own, but we use patterns to make things easier, and easy patterns to make things effortless. When I got offered the opportunity to teach a leggings class at my local quilt shop, Periwinkle Quilting, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on Avery as something a bit more detailed (and maybe something people would like their hands held for) than a basic one-piece leggings pattern.
We’ll see how that works out, but at the very least I got the pattern and a chance to try out some of the cute knits they’re stocking from Cotton and Steel, which is a lot more swanky than I’m likely to find at Fabricland.
The Cotton and Steel jersey is a bit thin for what I like in leggings, and perhaps not quite as stretchy as the Avery calls for, but I wanted to give it a shot, even though in the grand scheme of things it’s probably better suited for a T shirt. I picked the arrow print mainly because the colour didn’t fade out as much under stretch as some of the other options. Also it’s super cute. And it had the most adorable slogan in the selvedge I just had to appliqué it on the back of the waistband as a label.
I also used a wee bit of those cute selvedge stars on one ankle, too. I cut the longer length, which is meant to have ankle scrunchies. No ankle scrunchies on me, but they are long enough.
For my second pair I added 3″ in length. Perfect ankle scrunchies!
For the crotch gusset, I made it two layers. Even though this isn’t like an underwear gusset, I just felt better with the gusset being thicker. Your mileage may vary.
I was curious about the construction of the waistband. Turns out it’s much the same as Jalie 3022, if you skipped the contrast band, which I always do. Good instructions.
I was sewing all these while my basement is under construction and most of my sewing gear is trapped in the depths of a storage container. And I didn’t think to buy elastic, because I always have elastic, but the only stuff that’s not buried is my 1/4″ clear elastic. That makes for a nice non-bulky finish—but maybe not ideal for the whole staying-up part. The pattern calls for 1/2″ elastic.
Partly because of my not-totally-optimal jersey, and because Avery calls for 70% stretch (Jalie 2920 only calls for 60%), I rounded my size up to the Large. This is comfy but may be a bit “big” technically—there are some wrinkles in both pairs, especially around the hips, that maybe don’t need to be there. A quick note on the % stretch—I had always read to measure stretch along a fold of fabric, since the raw edge will stretch out more. But the instructions for Avery don’t mention this. So if you’re measuring the 70% stretch along a raw edge, the actual stretchiness of the recommended fabric may not be much different than the Jalie pattern. I’d compare but, again, all my stuff is buried.
My second version is in a deliciously beefy cotton spandex knit from the ends at Fabricland. It’s everything you could ask for for a pattern like this. I added a bit more length, as I said before, for ankle scrunchies, and went with the mid-rise version of the waistband. The high rise version I think is actually a little too high for my short body—the mid-rise still comes up to my waist pretty easily, though it does ride down a bit.
In the mid-rise, I think a little more height in the back could be a good idea—this happens with almost all my pants. I think the correct solution might be to use the high-rise waistband but lower the front rise on the leggings piece a bit.
But while there’s always room for a tweak or two, I gotta say these are pretty darn perfect.
(Oh, and if you’re local and would like some hand-holding with these, the class will be May 5! Contact Periwinkle Quilting to register!)