Leggings are a blessing. They can stand in for pants or tights, hide unshaven legs and dance party bruises, and generally function as work-appropriate pajamas. For those of us who buy our leggings from cheap fast fashion chains and wear them daily, the unfortunate truth is that one pair of leggings won’t last a year.
I have a plethora of ripped, hole-y, basic black leggings strewn around my closet. (I like to keep them around so that I can wear them in a leggings emergency.) Recently I decided that they needed to move on. Like a sartorial organ donor, they needed to be stripped for parts and put to new use.
First up: I used the waistband from a pair of old leggings to help create an incredibly basic skirt. I grabbed a yard of rayon fabric from my stash and threw together a tutorial. The skirt turned out incredibly comfortable – as comfortable as leggings – and with any luck it won’t fall apart in the wash. (Let’s be honest, the vast majority of my homemade clothes are held together by luck.)
You will need:
1 pair of old leggings
1 yard of lightweight fabric (or more as needed)
Sewing machine (duh)
A camera to take photos of your completed skirt
An Instagram account to post photos of your completed skirt (@handcrapted)
- Cut the legs of your leggings away from the waistband. Chop, chop! Congratulations, you now have one circular elastic waistband.
- Stretch out your waistband and measure the length at its stretchiest stretch. Double that measurement. That’s your Official Skirt Width. (You don’t have to go crazy to get the exact stretch length, just make sure it’s wider than the widest part of your bottom half so that it’ll fit over your hips and/or butt. My Official Skirt Width is 48 inches because my leggings waistband is really stretchy and also I’m a chubbo.)
- Decide how long you want your skirt to be. You could use the measurement from one of your favorite dresses or skirts. Personally, I like to measure to my knee, assemble the skirt, try it on, and then chop four inches off when I remember I like ‘em short. (Why do I even bother measuring anymore? It’s always 22 inches!)
- Measure the height of your waistband. (Or just guess that it’s about 1.5 inch-ish.) Double it and add 2 inches (for the hem). Add this number to your measurement from step 3. This is your Official Skirt Length.
- Divide your Official Skirt Width in half. Using this number, cut 2 pieces of your fabric to your Official Skirt Length. These will be your Skirt Back and Skirt Front pieces.
- With the right sides facing each other, sew the sides of your Skirt Back and Skirt Front together. Use a ¼ inch seam, or something close to that. Almost done!
- To get a clean edge, fold the top of your Skirt down ¼ inch, wrong sides together. (It’s up to you to decide which edge is the top. If you’re working with an owl patterned fabric and you want the owls to be upside down, you do you.) Press, pin, and sew.
- Slip your Waistband over the top of your Skirt and fold the top of your Skirt down so that it’s covering the Waistband completely, plus about ½ inch, with wrong sides facing. As you can probably guess, you’re going to be encasing your Waistband within this fold.
- Pin. Pin, pin, pin. In addition to generally keeping your shit together, these pins prevent the elastic waistband from slipping out of place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stitched over the elastic when I didn’t intend to. Probably at least twice. Don’t be like me. Pin your shit.
- Sew all the way around your Skirt Top so that you’ve encased your Waistband. I try to sew as close to the clean edge from step 7 as possible. On this example, I sewed too far away from the clean edge, so I sewed another line around the skirt top just to keep the edge from flipping up. (A rare moment of tidiness in my sewing.) YOU’RE ALL DONE!!! Oh wait, dammit, you have to do the hem.
- Doing the hem: Fold the bottom edge of your skirt up ½ inch, wrong sides facing. Press. Pin. Sew.
- Fold the new bottom edge of your skirt up ½ inch AGAIN. Press. Pin. Sew. (I hate sewing the hem. It’s so boring. If only someone would invent some sort of iron-on tape that would magically hem your skirt for you. OH WAIT THAT’S A THING.)
YOU’RE ALL DONE!!!