Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Peg Legs

In a rare burst of sewing activity in 2015, I attempted to sew my own leggings. It didn't go that great. I did not have a good understanding of the type of fabric I needed to use and none of the pairs I made fit very well. Then I discovered Zella leggings and that's what I've been buying ever since. Since I got the coverstitch I decided to try again so I bought some stretchy activewear fabric from Joanns and downloaded the free Peg Legs pattern.

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This pattern has a ton of options for a free sewing pattern and it also gives a lot of sizing information that is tremendously helpful. Because the designer lists measurements for not just waist and hip, but also thigh and calf, it was so much easier to grade between sizes. I want to say that I started with a S at the waist, grading to an XS at the hip, back to a S at the thigh, up to a M on the calf, and back to an XS at the ankle. It also helps that the fabric I used is very stretchy and pretty similar to the Zella compression fabric I'm used to, albeit slightly thinner.

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I ran into a couple of sizing snafus. The pattern suggests that you take out 1/2" of length for every inch that you are shorter than the pattern was drafted for, which is 5'5". I am 4'9" which means that according to the pattern I needed to remove 4 inches from the length. After doing this I suspected that the pattern would still be too long, and indeed I ended up cutting another 3" off the hem of my first pair. The stretchiness of your fabric will have a big impact on the length so I may not always need to take off that much, but it was a significant difference from what the pattern stated. I also originally cut the high-rise version and used the contoured waistband but it was practically under the armpits high so I cut off the top to match the "low rise" height and that put the leggings at the proper high rise level for me, which is just above my belly button. I realized after the fact that the rise has a lot to do with how much padding you have in the gut area. Because I'm not particularly round there I don't need the extra length.

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My other issues were construction-based. I had no problems with cutting. The performance knit fabric was really stable and easy to cut with a rotary cutter. I used a 3-thread overlock and a triple stitch on my coverstitch. Most of the time I put the reverse side of the triple stitch on the outside because a lot of activewear leggings use this as a decorative stitch and I thought it looked really professional. The problems were due to my thread. As usual I was eager to get going on the project and just loaded up my machines with normal serging thread. I didn't have any problems stitching the fabric but when I went to try on the leggings, the waist coverstitch seam stitches popped very easily. I now know that I should have used wooly nylon in the loopers to give the seams the extra stretch they need. I will definitely do that next time. I can still wear the leggings but I need to be careful putting them on and taking them off not to stretch them too much. These leggings may not last all that long as a result but I could potentially just go back and restitch the seams if necessary.

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I'm thrilled that I found this pattern because it's super easy and quick to sew up and there are lots of details you can add like pockets and contrasting panels. I wanted to sew a few plain versions to make sure I had the fit right first. I definitely think this will be my leggings block that I can use to compare future patterns to. I bought Simplicity 8561 for the interesting seam details and I will check the shape of the pieces against the peg legs pattern first to see if there are any differences before cutting them out.

I'm glad to have found that I can make my own leggings fairly easily and inexpensively. These 2 pairs cost me about $15 each, compared to $30-$50 for Zella leggings. I mostly wear leggings as loungewear rather than exercise gear and I'm happy to be able to sew my own.

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