Leg warmers can be a cute and cozy addition to any wardrobe and with fall fast approaching I wanted to make at least one pair of Cadence Tights with them sewn on. This is a super quick and easy hack that you can easily add and it works well with larger pieces of scrap too! I knew I wanted a neutral pair of leggings so I selected Black Flex as my legging fabric and dug through my scrap bin to see if I had anything I liked to use with them. I did: Titanium Athletic Brushed Polyester. This is a lighter weight ABP at 190GSM and is great for gathering. For this hack you will also need you preferred fabric marking medium (for me that’s a washable marker) and elastic for gathering: I used 1/4” elastic for this pair.
I decided on Option B for mine because I LOVE the pockets and the 3/4 length because I didn’t want super short or long leg warmers for this pair (and I was limited my the length of my scrap). I cut and sewed my them according the pattern, stopping to measure the width of the leg pieces before sewing the inseam shut so I knew how wide to cut the ABP for the leg warmers: for my size that was about 12.5”.
Cutting the Leg Warmers
Now it’s time to cut and mark the ABP for making the leg warmers! I knew I wanted to use as much of the ABP scrap as possible so I stacked my two pieces on top of each other, being mindful of the grain (you want the grain lines to run up and down, just like on your pattern pieces). I used my 12.5” square quilting ruler to cut a long rectangle that was 12.5” wide and used as much of the length as I could (which was about twice as tall as the hem line to 3/4 length line on the pattern), shifting the ruler down as needed. The collage below shows cutting of my ABP rectangles.
Next I grabbed my 24” ruler to mark a line down the center of each piece: this will be used for attaching elastic to the inside of the leg warmers later. Alternately you can press a crease with an iron, but I find marking with a washable marker easier. After marking the center of each piece I laid them back on top of each other so I could angle them in at the ankles. I did this by measuring in from the edge 1” on each side, then using my long quilting ruler and rotary cutter to trim from the top corner to my mark. The collage below shows marking the center line and trimming the ankles on each side.
Time for Elastic
Before you start working with your elastic it is a good idea to pre-stretch the elastic and mark the start and stop points along the stitch line we marked earlier and at one edge. At the top we need a little over 1/4” to make attaching to the leggings easier. At the bottom I left double the hem allowance I never measure elastic because I have noticed a significant difference in stretch and recovery between brands, types, and sometimes even batches. Instead I choose to measure by stretching it between my start and stop points and adding a little bit for tacking down the ends. Because the outside edges are longer I needed to measure the center and edge separately. Cut 2 of each length, making sure to remember which is which: I clipped the center elastics in place before cutting the edge pieces. The collage below shows me stretching to measure my elastics and the difference in length between the center and side pieces.
After you have the elastics cut it is time to sew them in! I started with the center elastic and used a triple stitch on my sewing machine to sew each end in, remembering to secure the my stitches. Then with a zigzag I sewed the elastic on the line I had marked earlier, stretching the elastic as I sewed making sure to keep the tension even on each side of my foot so there was no pushing or pulling as I sewed. If you need to readjust as you work make sure the needle is down to help hold everything in place. The collage below shows attaching the elastics with my sewing machine.
For the edge elastic there are a few ways to do it. You can sew your seam and then sew in the elastic, sew in the elastic as you sew your seam, or tack the ends in and then sew the seam and elastic in place at the same time: this is what I choose to do. I placed the side seams, right sides together, tacked my elastic in place, then serged my seam and attached the elastic in place at the same time. Again I carefully stretched my elastic as I worked. The collage below shows the center elastic sewn in (left), attaching the seam elastic with my serger (center) and the seam elastic attached (right).
From here there are only two steps left: hemming and attaching the leg warmers to the tights. I decided to hem first because it is easier to turn a small tube of fabric than the whole project. Then I found the half-points of both the leg warmers and tights opening. Normally it’s recommended to find quarter points, but because we aren’t needing to ease anything together I find half-points are sufficient. Turn the leg warmer inside out and slide it over the leg of the tights, matching up the quarter points. Pin or clip in place and sew around using a 1/4” seam allowance. The collage below shows the hemmed laid with the center seams toward the outside (left), half points pinned (center), and one leg warmer pinned in place for attaching (right).