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And here we have the third and last leggings tutorial! You’ll need a pattern (tutorial here) and a long-sleeved shirt in some sort of stretchy fabric and you’ll sew them in a similar way to how you sew leggings with fabric yardage (tutorial here).
Here are my three victims, ready to get chopped up. I bought all three at the same time but hardly ever used them because the viscose made me sweat (and stink. Ack!). But they were perfect for leggings.
Fold the shirt in half, making sure to match up the wrists and armpits. Then make a straight cut across as high up on the sleeve as possible.
Place the sleeves on the pattern.
The wrists should be lined up along the marking you made where the original leggings you used to make the pattern were (before adding seam allowances) because your hems are already done.
Make a mark where the cut fabric ends. The draw a parallel line 2 cm under that. (I drew two lines, each 1 cm from the others, when I was calculating how to do this, but there’s not need to do that!)
Now place the upper part of the pattern on the shirt’s torso. It doesn’t matter if it goes a little over onto the sleeves, as happened for me, because you’ll end up folding that part inwards for the elastic waistband.
The important thing is to line up that second line (or third, in my case) with the shirt’s lower hem. If you can’t get the pattern to fit onto your fabric, you can always rip out the stitching and unfold the fabric to get more of it.
Cut around the pattern.
Check to make sure there isn’t too much fabric at the bottom. To do this, fold the pattern upwards along that second (third) line. If anything sticks out, cut it off. (In this case, there was a little triangle which I cut off.)
As with leggings made from fabric yardage, you need to sew two tubes which will become the legs. We’ll be doing this just with the thighs. Fold each thigh in half, right side in. Pin up to the crotch and sew. (I always use an overlocker/serger, but you can also use a zig-zag stitch. Just use a stitch with some stretch to it.)
Now slip the sleeves (right side out) into the thigh tubes (right side in). The right sides will be facing each other.
Line up the seam you sewed with the original one from the sleeve and pin all around.
And again, sew with some sort of stretchy stitch, removing all the original shirt’s seams.
When you pull the ex-sleeves out from the thighs, you’ll have your new legs! It’s true that you can see the line where the two pieces join, but it doesn’t bother me. (It’s also true that you can see it very easily in the central part of the photo opening this post, but that’s because 1) you notice it more with the stripes, 2) you see it more with shorts, which are shorter than the skirts and 3) I used the wrong color of thread, so you can see it more. But after I resewed that seam with the right color, it was much better.) If you don’t like it, you can always sew some other fabric or something else over it to cover it. Just make sure it’s stretchy.
Then continue as you would with regular leggings. (If you need more details, please take a look at this tutorial.) You turn one leg inside-out and stick the other leg inside it, matching up the cut edges, lining up the seams. Pin and sew (with stretchy stitch!).
And there you have leggings! Seeing as I didn’t have enough fabric to make my leggings as long as I would’ve liked them (because I’m on the tall side), I made a very simple waistband. I finished off the edge with my overlocker (you can also use a zig zag stitch or nothing at all if you’re using a non-fray jersey).
I sewed the elastic casing with a double needle (again, check out the tutorial on how to sew leggings if you need the instructions.), slipped in a piece of ribbon to mark the back, and closed up the opening. Here you can see why I didn’t mind so much that I was cutting into the sleeves; it gets folded inwards and you can’t see it.
In this case, you can also see it from the outside, but it doesn’t bother me because it just gets covered by whatever you’re wearing over it, anyway. Here, instead of slipping in a folded ribbon, I decided to sew a little tube of scrap fabric (cutting a rectangle, folding it in half right sides together, sewing it into a tube, turning it right side out and folding in half to keep it in place) to show where the back is. It’s slightly more bulky and you need an extra minute to make it, but I think it looks better that way.
And there you have them! Leggings upcycled from something you didn’t use anymore! If you sew something using this leggings series of tutorials (or others) add the pictures to my new flickr group dedicted to your creations inspired by this blog! And there will be more tutorials to come, but I promise you, no more leggings!! 😉
20 thoughts on “Tutorial: Turn a shirt into leggings”
Uao! Che brava che sei! Se un giorno avrò la pazienza ci proverò anch'io…le mie bimbe consumano leggins come se fossero noccioline! Lena
ha! infatti, i leggings vengono molto consumati! 🙂
Love this brilliant idea! Beats getting them at the store 🙂
What a great idea! I love the stripes!
Belli, mi piacciono… riciclosi e utili, proprio come piace a me 🙂
Ottimo lavoro Lisa
I love those ones, too, although you can't really see the stripes in the top picture.
Sì, piacciono le cose riciclosi ad entrambi di noi!
grazie, grazie! 🙂
Great idea! You could make some funky leggings that way!
Thanks! I know, I just need to find some funky shirts to do it with! 🙂
Ma wow! Stesso discorso di prima… pinno e continuo ad avere fede…
Abbi fede, cara Silvia! Non è poi così difficile!
Basta rinunciare ad andare dritti 😉 Scherzi a parte, bisogna che faccia pace col ferro da stiro, secondo me quello è il trucco… ah, tu che sai tutto: ma come si chiama quel tessuto che si usa insieme alla stoffa per cucire cose più rigide tipo le trousse?
uff… non mi piace per niente il ferro da stiro e lo uso il meno necessario!
Immagino che voglia dire quella roba adesiva che si stira direttamente sul tessuto prima di cucirlo? Nella mia merceria la chiamano "tela termoadesivo" ma mi sembra che lo "stabilizzatore rigido adesivo" sia la stessa cosa. Ma è importante che sia adesivo solo da un lato, dove verrà stirato al tessuto da rendere rigido. Spero che ti sono stata di aiuto! 🙂 Lisa
Moltissimo! Ovviamente ci ho messo mezz'ora a ritrovare dove te l'avevo scritto… me lo pinno prima di perderlo!
Thank you so much! This is such a great tutorial, and I love love love your site! I found you on Flickr, as I was looking at refashioned clothing, and followed the link to your blog. You can post as many legging tutorials as you like, and I will never tire of them. I particularly like this one, because it’s such a great refashion. I have been wanting to make some leggings. I get almost all of my fabric at thrift shops. I jst can’t see paying the prices for most fabric, when I can get it for next to nothing, or refashion a garment! Yay!
I’m so glad you like this, Francine! I agree with you; fabric costs so much when you buy it by the yard, but when you buy used textiles or, even better, use what you already have, you can have fun working out how to use the fabric and spend little or nothing doing it! If you make some leggings (or anything else from the blog) I’d love to see them! I have a Flickr pool (http://www.flickr.com/groups/cucicucicoocreations/) which is still a bit shabby looking because I need to fix it up a bit, but please feel free to post there! 🙂