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upcycle after: leggings & pants

upcycle after: leggings and pants

Hello! Holly from Hamster and the Bee back again today, ready to share with you some amazing examples of upcycled leggings and pants, and to provide you with patterns and tutorials to get you started.

This is a fun topic for me because my kid (the bee) will NOT wear pants. Like, ever. She will however wear leggings. Every. Day. I have sewn about a dozen pairs of leggings for her at this point, she wears a pair to bed every night, and when the warmer weather rolls around, we will argue about them being seasonally inappropriate. So while I get to (I hope!) provide some inspiration for everyone, I also get to live vicariously through the rest of you, dreaming about fun pants that I will never get to make. *sigh*

Let’s start with leggings. (I know I’ll definitely be sewing some this season!) If you’ve never sewn leggings before, they are sooo easy. I especially love those that use only one pattern piece. (One piece! How often do you get to sew something that simple?!) Oliver + S Playtime Leggings are one of my favorites. If you find a big t-shirt that has lots of stretch then you can lay the pattern piece right down on the center of the tee and get cutting! Another favorite (with more than one pattern piece) is the Fancy Pants Leggings pattern by Titchy Threads – these are fun because of the little bum panel that can be cut from contrasting fabric.

Leggings can require quite a large t-shirt (or something big and stretchy) – or so I thought, until I found a ton of great tutorials utilizing the sleeves of long sleeve t-shirts (or sweatshirts or sweaters!) as the legs of leggings. Brilliant! You can utilize the existing cuff as the hem, which saves lots of time. Many of the tutorials for leggings I found are based on tracing an existing pair that you have and using that as the pattern, which is great because you already know that they fit. leggings2_web

1. sweater into leggings by make it & love it  2. upcycled fancy pants leggings by max california  3. upcycled sweatshirt pants by celina bailey (while not technically leggings, they are pretty similar. and rad. you can find a tutorial on petit a petit & family.

(Side note: I went down a serious swants and meggings rabbit-hole, you guys. Did you know about these? I’m about 2 years late on this “trend”, but it was well worth reading about for the giggles alone. Just the word swants is hilarious!)

So leggings are great but what about pants, you say? I found lots of great projects, patterns or tutorials using upcycled fabric for pants (or patterns that I think would work great made out of upcycled fabric). There are lots of fabric options for pants, like t-shirts, sweatshirts, adult size pants, linens… just keep in mind that they need to be large enough to fit your pattern pieces. pants-boys_web

1. coastal cargos by boy,oh boy,oh boy  2. upcycled oliver + s sailboat pants by sberseth via flickr  3. drop inseam sweatpants by lily pad montana


1. seraphic pants by girl like the sea  2. upcycled parsley pants by made by rae  3. upcycled green t-shirt pants by juanita via flickr

One solution to working with smaller, upcycled source fabric is the ever-lasting color blocking trend (that is so well suited to kids clothes)! You can use color blocking (or pattern blocking) as a tool to create your garment out of several fabric sources, either by cutting different pattern pieces from different fabrics, or creating stripes or sections of color by cutting single pattern pieces apart and adding seam allowances to your new pieces. Jessica from A Little Gray has a great tutorial on color blocking with the Kid Pants pattern by Dana Made It (circa KCW 2012!). Color blocking can be applied to both pants and leggings with super-fun results! color-block_web

1. color blocked small fry skinny jeans by sewing like mad  2. color blocked fancy pants leggings by girl like the sea  3. too short pants to color blocked pants by delia creates

And lastly, just for fun, here is a selection of a few more things-that-go-on-your-legs, made from upcycled fabric! legs_web

1. upcycled leg warmers by hope and honey  2. baby tights tutorial by made by rae  3.  tiny tights to knee highs by ruffles and stuff

I’ve got a pinterest board going for this season of KCW, with lots of upcycled t-shirt projects, pants patterns and tutorials, and great inspiration! Plus, a few non-kid upcycling projects, just for fun.

And, if you’re into using up every single scrap of fabric, you can save all the little pieces left over from cutting out your projects, and use them to stuff a poof. It’ll take awhile to save up enough scraps, but nothing will go to waste!

Happy sewing friends!