How to make leggings step by step

Learn how to make leggings with this easy-to-sew project from Karoline Dahrling-Hughes

How to make leggings

Who doesn’t love a pair of leggings? They’re casual, comfortable and easy to wear. Whether you’re working from home or looking for something relaxed to wear at the weekend, you need some leggings in your life!

In this how to make leggings tutorial, we’ll show you how to make leggings so you can stay cosy in the colder months of the year. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll want to make your own leggings in an array of colours and patterns. You can adjust the length of this pattern to make 78th leggings or shorts.

Karoline’s leggings sewing pattern uses jersey fabric, which can be tricky to work with. If you haven’t sewn with jersey before, take a look at our jersey fabric sewing masterclass for lots of tips and advice. If you’re a sewing novice, we’ve got lots of great how-to guides to help you get started. Learn how to use a sewing machine, get to grips with the basics using our sewing for beginners guide, discover the best sewing machines for beginners or stock up on some stash with our pick of the best sewing kits for beginners.

This leggings sewing pattern by Karoline Dahrling-Hughes was originally published in Simply Sewing Magazine, which is packed with gorgeous patterns and tips for sewers of all abilities. Karoline is a regular contributor to Simply Sewing and you can find lots of her patterns on Gathered, including this fantastic fanny pack pattern.

How to make leggings video

We’ve made this how to make leggings video guide to demonstrate Karoline’s technique. It shows the process in action, so is very hardy if you are a visual learner!

But if you prefer a written tutorial with photographs, we have that for you, too. Read on to make your own leggings with Karoline’s step-by-step guide…

Leggings sewing pattern


  • Seam allowance is 1cm (38in) unless otherwise stated.
  • We used an overlocker for many of the seams, but you could also use a zigzag stitch/lightning stitch.
  • You will need more fabric if you wish to make the leggings longer, or to make them larger than a size 16.
  • We drafted our pattern straight onto the fabric, but you could draft a paper pattern first if you wish.
  • The pattern has no side seam so each leg is cut in one piece.

You Will Need

  • Jersey fabric (1m (11/8yd))
  • Elastic tape (length of your waist x approx 3cm (11/4in) wide)
  • Leggings (to measure from)
  • Paper or card (for the pattern)
  • Erasable fabric marker
  • Matching thread
  • Basic sewing kit

Total time:

Making the pattern for the front

Step 1

Place your paper roll or a large piece of card on a large table. Mark a line down the centre of the length of the paper. This line will be where the side seam of the leggings will sit as you mark the pattern.

Step 2

Place your existing leggings on top of the paper with the right side (RS) of the leggings facing the paper, aligning the side seam with the line drawn previously. As the leggings are made from stretchy material you will need to move them a bit as you mark them on the paper.

Step 3

Start by marking around the lower leg opening. Make sure that the side seam stays aligned with your centre line. Mark close to the seam as we will add seam allowance later on. You will likely find that the side seam is not completely straight due to wear and washing. Align the side seam with the centre line as close as possible, but if the seam is uneven mark a little extra space rather than too little.

Step 4

To mark the centre front seam, you will need to lift the leggings from the paper slightly to be able to mark underneath them. Mark the centre front, again straightening out any seam anomalies with your new line.

How to make leggings step 1

Step 5

Follow the top edge of the front of the waistband. Do your best to hold the fabric in place as it will shift about as you attempt to mark the paper. This completes the front of the pattern piece.

How to make leggings step 2

Making the pattern for the back

Step 1

Fold over the leggings so the side seam still follows the line and the back of the leggings is now facing the paper.

How to make leggings step 3

Step 2

Repeat as before to mark the centre back seam, note that the crotch at the centre back will be slightly deeper than at the centre front.

How to make leggings step 4

Step 3

Mark the back waist (which will be slightly higher than the front) and the hem. This will now be the entire leggings pattern marked.

How to make leggings step 5

Step 4

Mark 1cm (38in) of seam allowance along the centre front, centre back, and the leg seams. Add 3cm (1¼in) to the bottom edge for the hem but leave the top edge seam allowance free as we will add this later on.

How to make leggings step 6

Step 5

Cut out the pattern piece all the way around.

How to make leggings step 7

Cutting out

Step 1

Lay the fabric out on a large table or on the floor. Fold the fabric in half RS together. Place the pattern piece on top of the fabric.

Step 2

Marking directly onto the fabric, add 5cm (2in) to the waist edge using an erasable fabric marker. This will make sure there is enough fabric to fold down and use as a channel for the 3cm (1¼in) wide elastic tape. If your elastic tape is wider than 3cm (1¼in) adjust as necessary so that there is enough fabric to fold over the elastic.

How to make leggings step 8

Step 3

You might like to add a little extra seam allowance – 1cm (38in) or so – all around to be sure you have enough width. Also please note that stretch fabrics have a different amounts of stretch in them depending on the elastane content, so be sure the leggings you measure from have the same stretch percentage as the fabric you intend to use. If your fabric isn’t as stretchy as the original leggings you can make the pattern larger to compensate. If you would like the leggings to have a looser fit you can also add more seam allowance around the sides.

Step 4

Cut all around the newly marked top line and the rest of the pattern. By cutting through two layers of fabric you will be cutting out one pair. As mentioned in the notes section, each leg is one piece of fabric so once cut out you will have two pieces.

Sewing the leggings

Step 1

With RS of the fabric together, pin then sew the centre front and centre back seams together. The two short edges will make the front centre seam, and the two long edges will make the back centre seams.

Step 2

Align the centre seams just sewn and then sew the inner leg seams.

How to make leggings step 9

Step 3

With the main seams now sewn together try the leggings on and see if you need to make any adjustments. If you do need to make any adjustments, do so within the additional seam allowance. Finish the raw edges of the leg and waist openings.

Adding the elastic

Step 1

Measure the elastic tape around your waist, making sure that you can get it comfortably over your hips. Stitch the elastic tape together and then stitch the ends to the main loop to secure.

Step 2

Place the elastic inside the top of the leggings, fold the fabric to the wrong side (WS) by the 5cm (2in) and pin in place.

Step 3

Stitch around the channel with a zigzag stitch along the lower edge. make sure the elastic has 5mm–1cm (¼–38in) room to move freely inside the channel.

How to make leggings step 10

Step 4

Keep the elastic tube inside the channel as you sew, pulling it as you go along.

How to make leggings step 11


Step 1

Try the leggings on to see if they need to be shortened. Make any necessary adjustments gradually to avoid errors!

Step 2

Fold the hem at the leg openings to the WS and pin then stitch in place.

How to make leggings step 12

All done! You now know how to make leggings and can whip them up in a flash.

How to make leggings

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You’ll find more great style hacks from Karoline in her book, Stylehacking: Sew a Creative wardrobe. It will show you have to make more garments based on much-loved items already in your wardrobe!

Get inspired to elevate your wardrobe with dozens of tips and tricks on creating handmade, fashionable, wardrobe pieces. Dream about it one day and wear it the next. Take the essentials found in every closet (a camisole, a tee, a jumper, a pair of trousers, and leggings) and learn how to transform them into something new. Advice ranges from hemming and elastic techniques, stitch and fabric guides, and basic sewing principles. Perfect for sewing beginners looking to conquer clothing, you’ll learn how to sew a top, trousers, skirts, and other fashion favorites. Also great for more experienced sewists looking to get creative with new timesaving garment tricks. All creatives can find something to design with 30+ wardrobe ideas from basic tee dress to cardigans, kimonos, bike shorts, and so much more. Stylehacking is made for every sewist to succeed—there is no time spent on measuring, on decrypting the lines on paper patterns, or altering premade patterns.

  • Take 5 basic pieces (tank top, t-shirt, sweater, trousers, and leggings) from your closet to make templates from which you can create an endless variety of garments
  • Includes over 30 styles to get creative with Stylehacking is easy!
  • No paper patterns, no sizing, and no fuss.