Pleated denim leggings

The three words in the title may not seem like they naturally go together, but it’s all made possible by the super stretchy denim I bought from Mood when we were in NYC for my birthday in March. The weave definitely looks more like a denim/twill than a knit, but strangely, there’s more lengthwise stretch than widthwise (about 50-60% compared to only about 20%). There’s still plenty of stretch there for them to just pull on with an elastic waistband, and the fit is definitely more “leggings” than “jeans”, despite the denim.

I made these well over a month ago, and I’ve been wearing them pretty much twice weekly since then – they’re unbelievably versatile and so much more interesting than just a basic stretch denim legging (or, ugh, “jegging”). They were one of the last items to be made in my old sewing room, and I’m not entirely sure why it’s taken so long to photograph these, because I really do like them!

There’s no pattern to talk about here, I’m afraid – I just opened my basic leggings sloper in Illustrator and made some modifications to fit what was in my head.

In short, I drew some design lines on the Front where I wanted the pleated panel to be, sliced that off as its own piece, then digitally spread it apart again to have twelve 1cm pleats with 2cm in between. (You can do this really quickly by overlaying a grid onto the pattern piece, splitting it apart, then moving the top (or bottom) piece by the amount you want the total spread to be (in my case, moving it 12 × 2cm=24cm). Then just set those pleat pieces to distribute vertically!) IMHO, this is so much easier then getting out scissors and tape and a ruler and trying to draw out all the pleats myself. I truly am a digital native when it comes to pattern drafting now, I swear!

Worn here with my mustard Drape Drape top – still a favourite 2.5 years later!

I did all the pleating first, sewing each with a zigzag stitch in bronze thread to get more of a classic jeans vibe, but to ensure they’d actually stretch around my thighs without popping stitches! I did the hem and waistband topstitching with the same bronze thread, too.

Ultimately, these are an homage to a pleated MyImage pair I made a few years ago and loved so much I wore them to bits – even taking them in after I lost weight (and I hate alterations so that just shows how much I loved these!). When we were in NYC, I was specifically looking for super stretchy denim to recreate these, and I’ve been itching to have these in my wardrobe ever since – 3 months!

The back view is a bit boring, but I just wanted a plain back – sure, I could’ve continued the pleating around, but that’s not really the look I had in my head!

Despite the weird lengthwise stretch (normally only seen in bengalines, which this is most definitely not!), I really wanted these to be snug fitting and I thought it’d be weird to have the grainline going around the body, so I made them with the 20% stretch going around the body to keep the grainline running up and down. They’re definitely snug, but they feel great and fit exactly the way I wanted, thanks to a high lycra content.

The only problem with this is that, when I finally had a spare few hours to sew these, I was feeling supremely lazy and couldn’t be arsed to change my overlocker threads from white to something darker. And because these are so snug fitting, you can see some of the white overlocker threads on the centre front and centre back seams where it’s stretched the most.

Eventually I’ll go back over these seams with a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine (in navy thread this time!), but see above regarding my thoughts on alterations, ha! I wanted to document these as-is, both because it’s been long enough already, but also because these will act as a reminder to myself that I really should just spend an extra two minutes to change my overlocker threads before starting a new project!

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