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Turn Leggings into Capris {3 different methods}

I’m really excited about my newest sponsor, World Wide LabelMostly because about a year ago, I searched and searched for clothing labels that were affordable AND durable.  I finally found World Wide Label and was so happy with them.  (Remember my post about them here?) And ahhhh, I love my little labels…….I attach them to everything.  At World Wide Label, you can send them your own design (which I did) but they’ll also design it for you.  For FREE.  They also offer printed or woven labels (which I love), and their correspondence and delivery was awesome.  Anyway, so happy to have World Wide Label sponsoring Make It and Love It.  They really make it fun to add your “signature” to all of your hard work! :)

Turn leggings into capris {3 different methods}
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Turn leggings into capris {3 different methods}
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Turn leggings into capris {3 different methods}
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Kindergarten starts for my little (big?) Elli in just a couple of weeks.  Wow.  We went to Target last night and picked up all of her school supplies.  She was excited to gather everything up from the supply list in the colors and assortments that she wanted.  (I didn’t know so many memories would flood back for me.  I wanted to buy cupcake notebooks and #2 striped pencils for myself too.)  Then we stopped by the big-girl clothing section and I asked her to pick anything she wanted, put it into the cart, and then we’d scale it down and see what she actually wanted/needed…………and then put the other stuff back.  (That’s what I do when I’m shopping for me and it makes my husband nuts. :) )  After a while, I noticed she kept throwing in skirts and dresses, skirts and dresses.  I reminded her that she’s gong to be playing on the playground and going to P.E. and running around chasing boys.  (Yes, she gave me a really confused look.)  So I told her that she needed shorts or capri leggings to go under those skirts/dresses.  But we couldn’t really find any.  Then, I suddenly remembered the pile of outgrown leggings she had at home and told her, “go for it, get all the dresses and skirts you want!”.


When we got home, I pulled out that stash of old leggings that were getting too short and would surely be way too short when the cooler weather came around this fall.  So I hacked them off. And played around with 3 different techniques to turn them into capri’s.




And depending on your comfort level with your sewing machine, you can pick your favorite method. 





Each method is a pretty quick fix.  And I kinda like all 3.  Especially how nice and neat that double seam looks.  (Have you ever used a double needle? So cool.)  But oooh, the raw edge is so fast.  And that ruched look is so darling.  Aggh, see?  That’s why I say I like all 3.





3 pairs down, about 4 more to go.  Yeah, this girl has plenty of leggings.  (She wears them all winter under dresses/skirts.)  And now they get to see another season.




Oh, by the way, I get asked a lot where I buy my girls’ leggings.  Well, anywhere I see them, I snatch them up.  Even if I’m not sure they’ll go with anything.  Because, eventually, they will.  But I see most of these fun colors and prints at Target, Old Navy, and Baby Gap.  Sometimes I find some at Carters and sometimes at Wal-Mart.  I find thick cute tights at the same places.


But rarely can I find capri leggings.  That’s no longer a big deal. :)





And in case you’re curious how those ruched leggings look on…….cute, right?  Makes me want some for me.






Now her little undies won’t show while she’s hanging from the monkey bars.  Problem solved.




Would you like to turn some long leggings into capri leggings?



To get started, find some leggings you’d like to chop off.  Don’t have any in your drawers?  Check the clearance racks at the stores.  Or the thrift store.


If you still can’t find any…….make your own from scratch.  And use this tutorial if you need it.





Okay, first up…….the raw edge.


This is a pretty simple method.  Measure how long you’d like your leggings to be.  Then cut.



Now, you can stop here and just let them be because knit doesn’t fray and the bottom edge will be just fine.  However, you just cut through the inner leg seam and it can start to unravel after some time.  So, turn the leggings inside out and reinforce that seam, right at the new-cut bottom of the leggings.



I just sewed a one inch section and zig-zagged at both ends……starting and stopping right where those arrows are.  (Sew over the inner most edge of that serged seam.)



And that’s it.  Turn right side out and enjoy.




Next up………the Double Seam Edge.


Now, before you skip this method because you’re nervous about that double seam, go here and read up on the double needle.  It can be used on any machine, as long as as you have a zig-zag foot (that has a nice wide opening for the zig-zag to make it through).  And I promise, you’ll love it. :)


First, cut off your leggings a half inch longer than you’d like them.  Then fold under your raw edge a 1/2 inch and pin in place (shown on left).  Then, use your double needle and sew in place.



Remember to keep the rest of the leg opening out of the way while hemming with your double needle.



NOTE:  You don’t want to sew a seam with a single needle and then sew another seam again, to get that double seam look.  A single seam doesn’t have any stretch to it and leggings are made to stretch and be fitted. The under side of that double seam (sewn with the double needle) is a funky little zig-zag and will stretch as it’s pulled.  If you don’t have a double needle, then do a regular ‘ol zig-zag stitch if you want to hem your leggings.  And then hurry and buy a double needle for next time! :)


***Tip: I usually increase my stitch length a bit while sewing on knits.  It helps jump over more of the fabric with each stitch and eases up on the pulling and stretching of the fabric while sewing.  PLUS, I always iron and steam my seams flat.  This helps them to shrink back into place and not look all pulled and stretched out.


And that’s it.  Your Double Seam capris are all ready to go!



Last up…….the Ruched Capri


To make this ruched look……I used theshirring/smocking technique.  Again, don’t be afraid.  Use this shirring tutorial.  And practice on some scrap fabric.  And if it doesn’t work on your first time, that’s normal.  Adjust and try again. :)


Okay, to begin, lay your leggings flat and decide how much of a ruched section you want.  I found that (for my size 6 wearing 5 year old daughter), cutting the leggings about 2 inches longer than the length that I wanted, worked well.  And I also figured that shirring up the bottom edge 6 inches on both sides would be perfect.  So I placed pins on the opposite side of the seam along the inner leg…….to use as a guide.  The top pin is placed 6 inches from the bottom, because that’s how far up I wanted the ruched section to go.    The pins stayed there to show me where to sew…….but I think next time I would mark that side with fabric chalk.  It would have made it even easier.  (I just couldn’t find any!)



Then, add your elastic thread to your bobbin and increase your stitch length (just like the tutorial linked above) and back-stitch at the very bottom of the leggings…..right where your bottom pin (or chalk) is.  Then begin sewing up the side of the pant leg.



Be sure to keep the rest of the legging out of the way and manipulate it around the presser foot every few stitches or so.  Keep aiming for your pins (or your chalk line) and continue on up the side of the leg.  Once you reach that top pin, backstitch a few times again and then you’re done.



Now, make another another 2 shirred seams, on either side of that first seam.  (I made my rows about an 1/8 of an inch apart.)  Again, be sure that the rest of the legging is out of the way.  You’ll need both hands to help keep it flat.



Trim your thread and then steam your seams (like explained in the linked tutorial above).  And now you should have 3 nicely shirred seams.  (I’m stretching it out to show you.)



Then do the same thing on the other side of the leg, right along the inner leg seam.  I sewed 2 rows on one side of the seam and 1 row on the other side.  And while sewing next to the seam, be sure to not sew through that inside serged (most likely) seam.  Push it out of the way while sewing.  (Otherwise it will keep your elastic from pulling the fabric in.)  Steam these seams too and they should pull in even more for you.



Repeat with the other leg.


And that’s it.  A nicely ruched pair of capris.



 Now choose your favorite method.  And enjoy.



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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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