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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!

My birthday jeans

It’s my birthday today! And I’m in New York City!!

We usually take a Spring holiday, but not til later in April or May, however this year James suggested we go away to New York over my birthday, since we haven’t been for four years and there were some shows we really wanted to see (we’ve developed an expensive immersive theater habit!). I’ve been needing a new pair of jeans for a while now, so I promised myself that I’d sew some up once the Steeplechase Leggings pattern was released and I’d have a little bit of a breather. And here they are, coinciding nicely as my birthday make this year!

This denim was bought from Ditto Fabrics, labelled as an Italian denim with very slight stretch, so I treated these as a non-stretch denim. It’s super high quality and I love the colour and wash, though like most denims, it’s still bleeding a bit of colour after two prewashes, so I’ll wash it separately for a while before sitting on any white couches.


(Apologies for the iPhone timer photos taken before I left, but I wanted to ensure I had covered the bases and it’s hard to upload images on the road without a laptop!)

I used the same base pattern as my classic pair of jeans made in 2013 (which is #120 from the April 2010 issue of Burda magazine), but my older pair is a bit too big, and also very straight in the leg and I wanted something more fitted and with a slimmer leg this time around.

I essentially made the same pattern (plus the same wedge cut out of the CB as before), but then basted the inseam and side seams to check the fit. I then decided I wanted to take out a cm at the hips and thighs to make the fit closer to “just washed jeans” to allow for some relaxing, then took out a cm from each of the side seams and inseam through the legs for a more skinny-jean silhouette.

Triathlon Leggings and Three Molehills

I’ve been a fan of FunkiFabrics for a long time (ie: before it was cool!), having made a sports bra, shorts, and leggings from their digital print lycra back in 2013. I’ve been meaning to get some more to use for myself, but it always felt like I was buying it on request for clients and students and never for me!

But recently I decided enough was enough ad I splurged on some luuuuuuuuuscious Funki Fabrics lycra in the “triathlon” print (bought with my own money). This fabric could not be more me – geometric print with turquoise and purples?! (It also comes in a red/orange/pink colourway).

I teamed it up with the basic, one-piece Kwik Sew leggings pattern that I’d recently altered in strange places to suit my runner’s legs, so I knew that the pattern would work well on the run and not bother me by shifting around! I’d made these with an eye to wear at the Three Molehills race, but the old adage “Nothing new on race day” lives deep within my psyche, so I took them out for a test run through Hampstead Heath (and the infamous Swains Lane) the weekend before:

It was only a short loop round the Heath, but long enough for me to tell they were going to be great (and that the mud washed out of them just fine on a cold sports wash!).

When I got home and put a sweatshirt on to warm up, I realised how well the print teamed with royal blue as well as purple! It’s a definite bonus for me when I can pair leggings with a number of tops in my running wardrobe…

So when the morning of the Three Molehills race arrived, I wasn’t even all that concerned that the forecast was for heavy downpours the entire day – at least I had fun leggings to wear round the super hilly, 16 mile course mudbath!


Photo credit: SussexSportPhotography.com

Crazy Cat Lady Leggings

I mentioned at the end of a post earlier this month that I cut into the kitten-face lycra Fleur brought me from the Garment District and made some leggings, but they weren’t finished at the time, and I owed you more photos.

I wanted to minimise the disruption to the print as much as possible (I could hear the kitties screaming every time I chopped through a face!), so I used KwikSew 3636, which is a one-piece legging pattern with no seams running down th outside legs. Coincidentally, this is also the pattern I also in my Lovely Leggings classes (and there’s still time to join this Sunday’s class if you sign up now!), so it’s super quick and great for beginners, too. Perfect for showcasing a wild print!

We were out in Wiltshire at the weekend visiting a friend, so I wore these for a little walk around her village. They actually work surprisingly well as casualwear, especially paired with my trench jacket I made in 2010 and still wear regularly!

Donna Karan denim-look leggings

Yikes! I actually made these leggings back in early July, but then it was so hot and sunny for weeks that I couldn’t bear to do the photoshoot, even though I was wearing them in the evenings a lot. The impetus for these was that my beloved pleated “denim-look” leggings had come to the end of their life through heavy use. I’ve been trying to find the time to sew a new pair of denim-look leggings over the entire summer, even buying in the fabric ahead of time so it was all ready to go, but alas, other work had gotten in the way.

But then I finally had some spare time so I pulled out my denim-look jersey and Vogue 1378 – the Donna Karan separates pattern.

I’d made these leggings a few months ago in grey ponte, and I really like them – except for the floppy ankle opening things. Those really annoy me, limit my shoe choices to heels, and generally just don’t work for me. So I’d already altered the pattern by overlapping the two ankle pieces and drawing a new seam line where they intersect, and I used the modified pieces here.


Seen here with my new Yellowtail Camisole – more on that later this week!

Grey Donna Karan leggings (Vogue 1378)

I don’t sew many “Big Four” patterns these days, but when I do, they’re invariably Vogues, and even then, they tend to be the designer patterns. The Big Four are really bad value in the UK, for starters, but then I also hate fighting with massive sheets of tissue paper, playing the “how much ease?” roulette, and dealing with outdated construction techniques. Give me a magazine maze to trace or pdf to tape together any day!

But I do love great and interesting seamlines, so when the Donna Karan coordinates pattern, Vogue 1378 was announced, I immediately wanted to make those leggings (the wrap top? Meh. I’ve seen a thousand like it).

Since there was a sale on Vogue patterns a few weeks before I was due to visit my parents last November, Stacy very kindly bought it for me at sale price (even without shipping, it was like a third of what I’d pay here) and it was waiting for me when I arrived! Thanks Stacy!

But for all the aforementioned reasons, I never quite got around to making it until now – the thought of unfolding all that tissue to trace the tons of pieces just made me choose other patterns instead. But eventually I realised that I really needed some basic, all-around trousers, so out they came! By my measurements, I should be a size 16, but I opted to throw all caution to the wind and make a size 14 instead, as I wanted them to be close fitting, like leggings. Having gone down a size, I now think the ease is just right – not stretched tight, but not baggy either.


(Photos shot whilst holidaying in the medieval Breton town of Dinan, in France! Paired with my Manequim birthday silk blouse)

Silver Jamie Jeans

I hadn’t realised quite how much I wanted to sew the Jamie jeans pattern from the new Finnish company, Named, until it disappeared off their site for a few days and I kinda freaked out that I might’ve missed the opportunity to make it! Happily, it was only down so they could revamp the pattern and improve the instructions, and I bought it soon after.

Despite my first version/muslin being a total FAIL due to lengthwise-stretch only fabric, I still managed to crack on and sew up a second version without totally losing my nerve, and I now am the proud owner of silvery rockstar jeans. Maybe I need to start a band now, hmmm…

I bought this pattern after Named’s refresh, so I can tell you that the instructions are now illustrated (though with some mistakes – I noticed they forget to say to close the pocket bags!), and you get all the sizes when you buy them, though they’re still split into different pdfs (two sizes per file). There are 1cm seam allowances included, but the stitching lines are also marked, which is helpful.


Thank you to Claire for snapping these photos after our lunch date!

Since all of my trousers are stupidly baggy from my marathon training, I did my best not to go too big and I made these in a size 40, and they’re really close fitting! Don’t get me wrong, I love the fit, but you need some serious stretch in your fabric to make these work.

Blue neopreney leggings

You’ve already seen the sister skirt to these leggings planned for my upcoming Mexico trip in a few weeks. I wouldn’t normally make two things out of the same fabric in rapid succession, but I ended up buying the end bolt (3m instead of the 2m I’d wanted) and having two bottoms in the same colour is quite handy when packing, as obviously the same tops will coordinate with both!

These were a super quick but comfortable make using my standard leggings draft from the Kristina Shin book plus my own preferred elastic waistband technique. I reckon I probably had these sewn up in under an hour, and I’d cut out the fabric at the same time as the skirt.

As you recall, the fabric is a royal blue hefty jersey that really feels very much like a thin neoprene – this stuff couldn’t wrinkle if it wanted to! I bought the last of the roll at “A-One Fabrics” on Goldhawk Road, and I’ve still got a little bit left that I think might be fun to mix & match with something like denim or even leather!

Summer sewing & posts by mail

When summer weather comes to England, it’s always something of a surprise. Those in other countries may not be aware, but just because the calendar says June, July, or August, does not mean it’ll be either hot or sunny. Sometimes “summer” comes one weekend in March, or in a few days in September. Or in the case of 2012, not at all.

In any case, summer has arrived, and for the past week, it’s felt hot here. I think the heat may be getting to my brain somewhat, because I’m 99% finished sewing up a summer outfit:

Yes, that would be shocking pink trousers and a cream stretch lace teeshirt, dear readers. I both hope look as good in the photos as they do in my head!

The other development of note is one of a more digital nature – for a while now some of you have been asking if it’s possible to get my new posts delivered my email (instead of RSS or just popping by when you remember to!), and I’ve finally got round to setting this up!

If you pop your email address into the box on your left (or, repeated below), then you’ll get a summary of all the week’s posts emailed to you every Saturday! My test version from last week looked like this:

Two pairs of marathon leggings

Word got round my running crew that I was starting to do some custom drafted leggings for a few people and my friend Lee Ann immediately came up to me and said “I want you to make my leggings for London marathon.” Holy crap – what an honour! It’s her first marathon, and the biggie, and she trusts me to make them for her?! I couldn’t say no to that, so I measured her up right then and there, then drafted out her pattern using the Shin book, and made her a test pair using some cheap thin lycra. She came round the boat and tried them on and amazingly, the fit was perfect, with no alterations needed, woo!

With the fit out of the way, I could then start in on the design lines, which she said she wanted to have a stripe/ribbon that started on her right hip and wrapped around to her right calf, and in navy and red to match her charity vest.

So, as I do, my first step was to draw myself a little plan:

Sorry for the crap quality there, but essentially I drew out the four big pieces (front right, front left, back left, back right) and the rough stripe shape, and realised I’d need 12 pieces in total, and as it’s asymmetric, I’d need to cut everything in single layer.

Organisation was the key, keeping the three pieces for each quarter pinned together on my sewing room clothes line!

I assembled each quarter first (ie: I sewed the front right top to the front right mid, to the front right lower until I had a full leg, and moved on to the front left). The cutting was really the most difficult here, but I managed to just barely squeeze everything out of 1m each of Tissu’s navy blue and red supplex lycras. Assembling it was much easier, but I had to be careful that the seam lines matched up over the left side seam!

I was so chuffed to see them on LeeAnn when she ran past me during the race, and she said they were a dream to wear on the day, too! No tugging, no baggy ankles, no nothing, hurrah!

Don’t they look great on her?? And she’s totally caught the bug, too – already planning her second marathon!