Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tutorial: Make Baby/Toddler Leggings from an Shirt

I promised this post last week, but honestly, I was so exhausted after KCWC and I was frantically trying to finish 3 quilts and 2 quilt tops before my quilt guild meeting, that blogging fell by the wayside. So now I've got the tutorial all ready for you!

Toddler leggings

I made these leggings for Ellie at the end of KCWC. I had made her several dresses and she had some hand-me-downs, but no coordinating leggings. (She had tights, but since we play outside every day I knew those wouldn't last long!) I have a stack of old shirts that I have outgrown post babies, and I couldn't bear to throw them away or donate them, when I knew I could repurpose them somehow! I used some to make some shirts for Ben, but Ellie didn't need shirts. I knew I could use them for leggings - after all, they are knit material!

Supplies: Old shirts - nice 'dress' t-shirts from Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor. These are stretchier than 'regular' t-shirts, so will do better as leggings.

1 inch wide elastic - I purchased mine at JoAnn's - I loved the colors they had!

Ballpoint needle for your sewing machine
Marking pen
Regular sewing supplies.

First you need a pair of leggings that fits your child. We will use these as our 'pattern.'

Fold your shirt in half, lining up the bottom hem (we will use the bottom hem as the bottom hem of the leggings, so less work for you! ).  Smooth out any wrinkles. 

Fold your leggings in half, pull out the crotch and line up the bottom of the leggings with the bottom of the shirt. Make sure your folded leggings line up with the fold of your shirt. It doesn't matter if you fold your leggings toward the front or back - they are the same pattern piece. 

Using your marking device (I use a washable marker - nothing fancy!), trace a 1/4" around your leggings, stopping about 1 inch from the top (we are going to have exposed elastic, so you don't need to draw to the top or past it). 

Pull your leggings away and draw your line straight across the top.

Cut out your leggings.  Turn your pieces right sides together and line up your top curved edge (the front and back seam). 

Sew together, using a zig-zag stitch. Repeat on other side. 

Keeping right sides facing, pull the legs apart - the seams you just sewed are now in the middle - they are the front and back seam. Using your zig-zag stitch, stitch up one leg, across the crotch and down the other leg. 

Measure your child's waist and cut elastic slightly smaller (For this project I cut my elastic about 1 inch smaller - since you are gong to seam the elastic, this will make them about 2 inches smaller). Sew elastic together with right sides facing, using a 1/2" seam. Align the seam of your elastic with one of the seams of your leggings. *Make sure you put the wrong side of the elastic facing the right side of the pants - this picture is incorrect!* Pin the elastic to the leggings. I found it easiest to pin the front and back and the two sides. I folded the elastic to find these points. You may want to use more pins, but I found it easier to gently pull the elastic while I was sewing. I still had some puckers (especially on my first few pairs), but I wasn't too worried - after all, she is going to wear these under dresses! And, if I pulled too hard on this wide elastic my machine started to skip stitches. 

Sew your elastic to your leggings using a zig-zag stitch. I kept my leggings inside out so that I could make sure I was getting the leggings inside the stitch. I sewed about 3/8" from the top of the leggings. 

Turn right side out and ta-da! Cute leggings! I made 5 pairs in just over an hour - it is very easy to batch make these! 

I wish I had a modeled shot for you, but it has been too hot here to wear them! 


  1. It really is much simpler to just add a waistline to the pattern and feed the elastic through. It looks beeter also. BTW, GREAT tutorial. Made these for my girl. How can I send you the pics?

  2. I also have been saving t-shirts for some possible sewing project, now I know what! Today I'll start making some leggings for my 3 yr old granddaughter. Thanks for sharing this great idea.