*This is a republished post from the old website: original post date November 2012

Materials and Tools

  • Sweater Knit, can be patterned or solid 
  • McCall's 6173, wait till JoAnn's has them on sale for $0.99
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Jersey Ball Point sewing machine needle
  • Iron
  • Serger, optional


Part One: Preparation

For this legging, I chose option B, which was the plain legging, no gathering at the ankle and no faux-fly finish at the crotch

-Cut out the pattern pieces, which in this case is just one piece

Once you've cut out the pattern, be sure to iron all the fold creases out of the pattern. You can see the difference below, which can cause the size and shape to differ from the true pattern.

Next, you'll layout the fabric. If you are using a stripe or plaid fabric that you will have to match the pattern, you will need to lay the fabric single ply. If you are using a solid or patterned fabric that doesn't require matching, i.e. polka dots or flowers, you can double the fabric lengthwise, to where the fold runs down the length of the fabric.

*Most sweater knit fabrics don't wrinkle very easily, so no ironing is needed. However, if your fabric is wrinkled, iron it before laying it out. 

Line up the edge of your fabric near the selvedge of the fabric. This will allow us the most economic use of the fabric, so hopefully, we'll have scraps for other projects. 

Under the crotch, there are horizontal lines that allow you to shorten or lengthen the pattern as necessary. These will also be our matching lines. Pick the part of the striped pattern that you want to match and make note, as we'll need to know where to match the other leg.

*Note: If you are dealing with solid/simple pattern fabrics, you will only be cutting the fabric once through the double layers to get two pieces, one for each leg. 

There is a long-line down the length of the pattern; this is called the grainline. Measure the distance from the grainline to the selvedge and make sure the grainline is parallel to the selvedge, down the full length of the pattern.

Pin the pattern piece in place.

Be sure to place a weight or two around the free fabric to keep the weight of the fabric from pulling on the knit. It will cause your cut lines to get warped as you cut. 

Once you have the first piece cut out, you will need to flip the pattern to the reverse side to cut out the second leg. The printed words should be face down onto the face of the fabric. Again, this only applies if you are using a striped or plaid fabric.

Match your lines as to the same point in the pattern as you did on the first cut leg.

Pin and cut out as above.

Part Two: Sewing 

Yay! There was plenty of leftover fabric; enough to create an infinity scarf, which I'll blog another day.

Be sure you have the correct needle for sewing stretch fabrics. I recommend a jersey ball point, like the one from Schmetz pictured above. The tip of the needle has a rounded point, which keeps the needle from puncturing the stretchy fibers in the knit. If one of the threads in the knit weave gets punctured, it can cause a small fray in the fabric. Imagine how a small knick can cause a run in your hosiery: same concept.

Next, line up the length of the first leg of fabric. Pin perpendicular to the cut edge, several inches apart. Make sure your stripes or plaid is lining up.

Note in the picture how I pulled back the fabric on top a little on the left pin to show you how the print was lined up properly.


Note that because of the angle of the crotch, you should have a little triangle piece that doesn't line up at the crotch line. The key is to make sure that the pieces line up 5/8" away from cut edge.

(Most commercial patterns are not trued, meaning they don't change the angle after the seam allowance - but more on that later.) 

Using a 5/8" seam allowance, starting at the pant bottom, back stitch and then stitch up the length of the inside leg seam.

Be sure you sew from the pant bottom to the crotch on both legs. If you sew up one leg and down the other, the moderate amount of stretch that naturally happens on a knit fabric can cause the pattern to get warped. The stripe on one leg can end up a little higher than the same stripe in the pattern on the other leg.

After you finish the inside seam, run both legs through the serger to give a more finished look. For those of you without a serger, this step is not necessary as the fabric will not fray. If you don't serge, I recommend ironing the seams open so they lay flat against your skin. Most knits require a low to medium heat iron, so the fibers don't melt.

Turn one of the legs right-side out. Stuff the right-side out leg into the leg that's still wrong-side out.

Line up the notches along the crotch seam.  

Stitch the crotch seam up, using 5/8" seam. Again, make sure not to stretch the fabric as you stitch. 

Part 3: Elastic and Finishing steps

Take about a yard of elastic and wrap it around your lower waist (an inch or two below your belly-button). Overlap the elastic and stretch it until it sits firmly on waist. Make sure you have an inch or two overlapping. Cut the elastic the desired length.

Overlap the elastic a couple inches, creating a continuous ring of elastic. Using a zigzag stitch, stitch around the edges of the square created by the overlapping ends.

Serge the top of the waist, optional. 

Pin the overlapped section of the elastic at the back of the waist. Overlap the legging fabric by 1/2" onto the elastic. Pin in place.

Fold the elastic in half, to find the equivalent to center front and pin that to the front seam. Put the pin from the back seam and the pin from the front seam together and you'll find the halfway points on the side of the elastic and the side of the legging fabric. Pin this new halfway point of the elastic to the corresponding halfway point of the leggings. Continue finding halfway points and pin legging fabric to elastic. This will insure that the excess legging fabric is even distributed along the elastic waistband.  

Backstitch a couple of times, halfway between the fabric overlap, about 1/4" from edge. 

Lightly stretch the fabric and elastic until the legging fabric is taut and smooth. Topstitch about 1/4" around the entirety of the waistband. As you move, you'll need to stop and restretch the fabric. 


At bottom of elastic, using a zigzag stitch, lightly stretching fabric and elastic together, stitch along the bottom side of elastic all along the waist.  

Turn the elastic down to the inside of the garment. Topstitch about 1/4" away from edge, slightly pulling on fabric and elastic together to allow for a little stretch when you put on the leggings. 


Now, tack down the elastic in four places, center front, center back, and the two sides. Run a few backstitches perpendicular to the waistline through the front face of the fabric and the elastic to tack the elastic down. This will keep the elastic from riding up while you're wearing the leggings. 


Now, hem the pant leggings. Try the pants on first and mark where you want the leggings to end. Be sure to allow a little extra as the knit fabric will ride up a bit while you're wearing them. Turn the hem up 1/2". 

I chose not serge or double turn the hem to keep the hem less bulky. Since the fabric won't fray, just stitch the hem down, again lightly stretching as you stitch.


And the final result! 

Paired with a dark heather gray skirt I turned into a tunic, nabbed for free at a local clothing exchange, a long gray sweater, the scarf my brother and sister-in-law bought me while in Italy and some platform black boots with boot socks.