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With ruffles, please! Leggings Mini Sew-along Tutorial

With ruffles, please!  Leggings Mini Sew-along Tutorial

My daughter loves leggings with ruffles 🙂 So how about a sewing tutorial?

Leggings are one of the simplest and quickest projects for girls, big and little girls alike. Using a nice cotton lycra knit, you can make leggings that look great and are made to last. I usually look for a cotton knit with at least 8% lycra and weighs between 6-10 ounces per square yard. Mind you, that’s a square yard, not 6-10 ounces per yard. There is a difference, but I have found many online fabric shops do not distinguish between the two. Remember to ask if you are unsure.

Weighing knits: A square yard means just that: a square of fabric 36 inches by 36 inches. Whereas, a yard is a piece of fabric  36 inches by whatever its width. Most knits are 60 inches wide, which will give a much different weight at 36 X 60, then at 36 X 36.

Fabric: For leggings, make sure the fabric you choose  has a good amount of stretch. Lighter weight cotton lycra will also work.

Pattern: Find a pattern that works for you. If you have never tried the pattern, or you’ve never made leggings before, then I suggest making a test pair out of your least favorite knit. This way you can test for size and fit, before committing your coveted fabric to something that may not work. I have tried 2. The first is a Farbenmix; the laguna skirt has a legging pattern that comes with it and it has a great fit. I tried  Burda 9615 pattern recently (for its convenience of not having to trace and add seam allowance). The sizing is good, but the rise is too high for my daughter. My daughter wears skirts and leggings below her belly button, so I took about 2 inches off the rise, to give you a better idea of how I adjusted it for a better fit. It’s also a good idea to measure your daughter’s inseam and compare it to the pattern, since this tutorial will have you hem before the inseam is sewn.

Okay enough noise, let’s get to the tutorial. Adding ruffles is supper easy and fast.
Pre-wash your fabric and cut out your leggings. Notions: Make sure you have stretch needles for your machine, as well as a stretch twin needle for hem. You will also need matching thread (2 spools for hemming with a twin needle) and elastic.
Step 1: cut some strips of fabric for your ruffles. I cut mine 20 inches by 1 1/4. My daughter wears size 9 in this pattern. If you are making toddler sizes, you may want more narrow ruffles, say 3/4 of an inch or 1  inch wide. I cut 4 strips, in order to have 2 rows on each pant leg.

Step 2: make a single row of gathering stitches down the center of each strip. Use the longest stitch length, leave the threads long, and do NOT back stitch.

Step 3: Hem your leggings, using a stretch twin needle. Follow the tips and how to’s on this post if you’ve never done a double needle hem on knits before, which walks you through  threading your machine properly and technique.

Step 4: pull up the bobbin threads of your gathering stitches on your ruffle strips and pin them to you pant legs, placing the ruffle right side up on top of the right side of pant leg. The wrong side of the ruffle will be facing the right side of the pant leg. Starting with the lowest strip, pin it along the hem. Pin it close to the bottom. Pin the second just above the first, keeping them relatively straight. You can have them overlapping a bit, so when they curl after washing, they still look close together. Repeat for other leg. Note: you don’t have to finish the edges, because knit fabric does not fray.

Step 5: Sew the ruffles in place, using a zigzag stitch and making sure to remove pins before they go under presser foot.  Using a zigzag stitch is important, so the ruffles will easily stretch with the fabric. Using a straight stitch won’t work, because it won’t stretch. Instead the threads will break when the pant leg fabric stretches. It’s best to try to zigzag right over the gathering stitches.  Note:If your rows are so close together that the pins of the upper rows are getting in the way as you stitch your lower rows in place, then it’s probably best to pin and sew one row at a time.

Step 6: (Optional) Carefully remove gathering stitches. If you  have sewn your zigzag stitching centered over the straight gathering stitches, then gently pull on the bobbin thread and it should come clean out. If not, you can use a seam ripper to pick them out.

Step 7: Sew the inseam. With right sides together, match the hem and ruffles together and pin in place. Sew up the inseam of your leggings. Make sure you remove pins before the go under the presser foot. Do not sew over any pins.

Step 8: sew crotch seam, by turning one leg right side out and putting it inside the other leg, so that right sides are together. Match up inseam seam and pin in place. Sew using serger or stretch stitch.

Step 9: Finish waist, according to pattern or method shown in this post.

For more info on sewing  crotch and waist, see my yoga pants tutorial here, or follow pattern’s instructions.

So the ruffle leggings are done, and no fancy pattern was needed. Hope this tutorial helps you to create some fun and one-of-a-kind leggings for the sweet little or big girl in your life. Leggings seem to be the most requested clothing essential in my home lately. It’s nice to have some ways to make them a little more special 🙂 Have fun creating!


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