Friday, February 12, 2016

Fantastic, fun leggings... finally! Hey June Sloan Leggings with vertical striped waistband.

I have to admit that I have not posted my leggings failures. They are just soooo depressing. Leggings should be a simple thing to make, and I just haven't had any real success until now.

First, I tried self-drafting a pattern. Until now, these were my best pair. I think there are several tutorials out there, the one I used was very similar to this one. I made them up in a nice high quality supplex (from Peak Performance Fabrics, their LLL pantweight). They are okay. One problem that would be easy to fix... the ankles and calves turned out too tight. The other problem I was unsure how to fix... I made a yoga-style waistband that was stretched to fit the top of the leggings, but they still tend to get saggy over the course of a day. In general, the fit just isn't quite right... that tight calf is surprisingly uncomfortable, and I think it tends to pull the whole legging down.

Then I tried the Papercut Oooh La La leggings. I think the pattern runs large, and I like my leggings tight. And... I didn't do a muslin or even baste, I just dived right in, topstitching and all. I'm not sure what I was thinking. When I got to a point that I could try them on, it was clear that they are multiple sizes too large. Yuck. And the waistband is an issue... weird height, uncomfortable elastic, will require trial and error to find a good solution. So those are sitting in my UFO pile, waiting for me to have the patience to take them apart and redo them 2-3 sizes smaller, or just toss them. At least they are just capri length, if the whole thing is just a waste.

I also purchased the Fehr Trade Steeplechase leggings pattern. I like the idea of leggings without an inseam, but I'm fearful that these will be difficult to fit. So I haven't even printed them off yet!

Recently I've been having a bit of a love affair with Hey June patterns. I have a few recent unblogged makes... simple things, Ts and sweatshirts, but Adrianna's patterns have so far been almost effortless for me to fit and wear. I hate to spend yet more $$ on the quest for great leggings... but I just had a feeling that Hey June's Sloan leggings just might be a good fit for my body.

What a good instinct.

The top is RTW, a 4 year old LLL cami-style workout top. Will probably clone this one day! The leggings are of course the Hey June Sloan Leggings

These were just as effortless as her other patterns-- at least for my body! I have learned a few things from my failures that probably helped make this a success for me.

1) With leggings, you want a tight fit. Saggy-baggy leggings are just no fun. So, size down, a little or a lot. Since Hey June patterns seem to be drafted pretty true to size, at least for my body, I sized down just a little. By my hip measurement, I fit solidly into the Large, so I made the Medium. Because I was just a tiny bit worried I had gone too far, I used a 1/4 inch seam allowance instead of 3/8.

2) Muslins for stretch fabrics are pretty darn useless, in my experience. They might help if you expect large fit problems, but for minute differences, like the ones that make the difference between so-so and really great leggings, a muslin doesn't help because the way an individual fabric performs is so important. Therefore, I baste-fit my workout wear. So far, this has worked much better for me, since I can feel the way a fabric will work with the pattern and the sizing. It is sort of time consuming, but much better than unpicking non-basting stitches.

3) Sergers are awesome for workout wear and knits. Yes, you can use the Zig Zag. Been there, done that, it works-- I've been serger-less for over 4 years, and work with knits regularly, so I have many zig-zagged garments. However I always felt those zig-zagged seams never looked quite right, and I can and do break zigzagged seams on a regular basis. In my previous legging attempts, double stitching or top-stitching has been a must for me, just for security. But it is soooo much faster and more satisfying to serge. The 4 stitch overlock is secure and and stretchy, and the interiors of finished garments are much cleaner-looking.

Back to these leggings! I used a black wicking supplex from Peak Performance... I'm out of LLL fabric, so this was their Yoga Jersey. It is a little more slick and less cottony than the LLL, but has a nice weight and great recovery. I basted to fit, and they fit great on the first try.

Basketweave stitch as a fake flatlock... in red on the curved seams, and in black on the waistband.

I'm a black leggings kind of woman, but I wanted to highlight the cool seaming, so on the curved seams I first serged the seams, then used a decorative topstitch (I was inspired by the Sewaholic tutorial for their Pacific leggings on fake flatlocking).

Waistband piece together, waiting to be joined with the lining.

I also designed a cool vertical stripe waistband. This was the most time consuming part of the process. I traced the waistband pattern pieces, cut them up, and added seam allowances. Then I serged them together and topstitched with the basketweave stitch, all the while praying that I had done it properly and they would still match the waistband lining pieces. They did!

For the waistband, I did all of the suggested things in the pattern to help it keep its shape. I interfaced the lining pieces with a lightweight knit interfacing, and inserted clear elastic. And I made the super cute little pocket... very easy (the instructions were excellent) and very clever. It looks super professional, just like the pockets in high-end leggings. Perfect size for a phone to play your tunes! And the pocket opening is just a tad smaller than the pocket, so your phone will stay in there and not wiggle out.

The fit of these leggings is pretty spot on. I was worried that the waistband would not be high enough for me... but actually, it is perfect. It comes to just under my belly button, and the back rise is high enough to cover the booty and still have the waistband be level. Another thing I love, which is just the problem I was having in my self-drafted leggings, is that the Sloan is drafted to follow the shape of your calf.

Obviously, these are hot off the presses, so I don't know yet how they will perform in the long-term, but I will keep you posted. So far they feel great, so I'm eager to try them out in the real world.

Oh, and I'm sure you figured out, I made these to match my Greenstyle Sundance Jacket. Pretty sweet, don't you think? They are a bit matchy-matchy, but in reality, I'm unlikely to go around with my top tucked in, so the cool waistband is mostly for my own amusement.

I did want to make a third item in this set, but the Fehr Trade XYT top is still not working out, it is saggy-baggy and just ugly right now. I've sent HOURS unpicking the binding so that I can go back and re-cut the armhole and neckline. It is, so far, a disaster. I could bail on the built-in bra which is the entire reason for my problems, but I am far too stubborn, and I hate having to wear a sports bra to the gym. So I'm still plugging away at this top. (The black top in the pictures is RTW!)

Anyhow, I'm eager to get to road testing the leggings, because if they work as well as I hope, I want to make more! It has been years since I've had a nice new pair of leggings. I want some capris and shorts too! Although I'm not sure I have the budget for any more fabric and I'm all out of black wicking supplex, so I think I might try to fix the Papercut leggings by cutting them apart and sewing them several sizes smaller and using the waistband pattern from the Hey June Sloan Leggings.


  1. I've tried to find the online fabric store Peak Performance you mentioned but have been unsuccessful so far. The closest was Peak Fabrics in Canada but I thought Peak Performance was in California. Could you give me a link?

    I thought you did a great job on your jacket and leggings too!

  2. Thanks for your kind comments! I think you must have found the link... Peak Performance Fabric is in Calgary:

    1. I didn't think that Peak Fabrics was the correct company as I interpreted CA as California since that's where I live and not Calgary. Thanks for your reply. I'm really enjoying reading how you work to get a project right even if it means picking out stitching.

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