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Old Sweater into Cozy Leggings

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Is your weather changing? You’re either turning warm right now (hello my Australia friends!!) or the wind has become crisp and your long sleeved shirts have come out.  (Okay, maybe not if you’re down south. Your chilly weather won’t come until, oh, December? We remember our warm winters in GA!) But if that chilly weather has started creeping in, start digging through that sweater box.  I know you have a sweater or two that have never really fit right but you have kept anyway.  Maybe hoping you’d get another use or two out of it the next fall/winter.  Ha… I right? ;)


Well, it’s time to tell them goodbye.  Because there are chilly little legs out there that need some cozy sweater leggings to cover them up!



Especially during this in-between weather, when it’s not quite cold enough for snow pants but those little legs just need a little covering from the brisk air.



And what good are those sweaters doing, going unworn up in that sweater box anyway?!!  (However, If you can’t bear cutting through one of your beloved sweaters, take a trip to the thrift store.  There’s plenty there to choose from. That’s actually where I bought these two.)




Thinner/tighter woven sweaters work best.  They are easier to sew and they don’t have gaping holes like a loose knit sweater does.  Plus, they are all sorts of comfy! 



And choosing a sweater with a cinched in waist band gives a nice snug bottom to the leggings.  (And makes it so you don’t have to hem up the bottom of the leggings.…..which would truly be a pain on a cut up sweater.)



And wait, before you get nervous…….this is officially a lightning fast project! 


One pair of leggings is just 2 pieces of sweater and 1 elastic band.  No hemming, no casing, and pretty darn forgiving.  Hallelujah!



So go on and find some great un-loved sweaters and give them a new life.  Even if the sweater shape is awkward and terribly unflattering, the design or pattern may be perfect for some leggings.  And then don’t blame me if you pass out when you slide them on your little girl and you see how blazin’ cute they are!!  Holy smokes……I could eat my little Chloe right up!  (I should have taken a picture without the jumper on.  They are just as cute with just a top on!)



There you go Little Miss…..2 new pair of leggings!  Should we dig through daddy’s sweaters and see if we can make more? ;)

**And yes, Chloe is doing so much better than last week.  She decided oxygen was no fun and kicked that ol’ tank out the window! ;)



Would you like to make a very simple pair of sweater leggings?

I thought you might. ;)


First of all, and like I mentioned above, a thinner/tighter woven sweater works best.  Tighter knitted (or machine woven) sweaters are easier to sew with because they don’t unravel much.  Also, a thinner sweater will be easier to slide under your needle and will be more comfy on a little one’s legs.  Now, you don’t have to choose a T-shirt thin typ sweater material……but just try to stay away from gaping holes and thick cable knit type sweaters. And, remember, if you have a sweater with a tighter knit waist band, it creates a fantastic bottom to the end of the leggings.  It keeps it snug on the legs and also lets you skip the step of hemming the sweater at the end of each leg.  Which is something I don’t recommend.


Then, make a pattern piece by using an old pair of leggings as a guide.  Check out my Simple Leggings tutorial, where I explain more thoroughly how to make your own pattern piece.



Now, if you want to keep it really simple, skip the casing for the elastic at the top of the leggings and use some one inch wide exposed elastic at the top.  (Or if you’d rather, go ahead and create a casing just like the tutorial I linked to above.)


But if you skip the casing, you won’t need as much fabric at the top of your pattern piece.  Just cut your pattern piece straight off at the top, and don’t add that extra 1 1/4 inch of extra fabric, like explained in the simple legging tutorial above.  And if you use 1 inch wide elastic like I did, you will actually need to cut your fabric about a 1/2 inch shorter at the top, because the elastic adds to the height.


So, go ahead and cut up that sweater.  And when you’re cutting through the waist band at the bottom, pull it a little so that it lays flat as you’re cutting.  Then when you let go, it will pull in a little bit.  But don’t worry, it will just create a nice and snug bottom to each leg.


Then, sew your 2 legging pieces together just like the legging tutorial.  (**HINT: If your sweater is really pulling excessively while sewing, increase your stitch length just a bit.  This will help the needle hop over more of the sweater at once and will eliminate some of that stretching and pulling.)  Also, I didn’t use a double needle to make these but you can if you want to.  I just knew there would only be a few stitches and no hemming, so I wasn’t worried about making a pretty double seam.  So I didn’t bother switching out my needle.  But I did sew each line with a straight stitch and them used a zig-zag to finish off each edge…..which is very important while sewing an old sweater together.


Then, if you’re doing the exposed elastic band like me, zig-zag all the way around the top opening of the leggings.  And if it stretches and waffles just a bit, don’t worry, the elastic will fix that.



Then, cut a piece of 1 inch wide elastic that is the same size as your subject’s waist.  Then overlap the ends by one inch and then zig-zag the ends down.  (I share tips on elastic and where to buy all sorts of colorful wide elastic on my Elastic Band Skirt Tutorial.)


Then, divide the elastic band into equal fourths and do the same with the top of the leggings.  Match up the pins and then overlap the elastic by a half inch over the outside of the leggings.  Then add more pins if needed. (Need more help and pictures for this technique?  Check out my Elastic Band Skirt tutorial for more instruction.)


Then sew the elastic band right to the top of the leggings, pulling the elastic a little bit as you go, to match up with the sweater fabric.  Be sure to use a zig-zag stitch (about an 1/8 of an inch from the bottom edge of the elastic), so that it will stretch when your subject pulls the leggings on and off.




And that’s it………some Simple Sweater Leggings. 


Ready to keep some little leggies nice and warm!!







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Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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