Sewists of the universe, I took the Made-to-Measure leggings class! In the online Made-to-Measure leggings course, you measure your body, draft a custom leggings pattern, and stitch yourself a pair of second-skin leggings.
Keep reading for a class overview and my experience sewing Made-to-Measure leggings!
Made-to-Measure Leggings Class Setup
The class is hosted by Zede Donahue, the mother half of the mother-daughter Sewing Out Loud podcast. In case you’re not familiar with Donahue, she and her daughter, Mallory, are the powerhouse duo behind The Self-Sewn Wardrobe Facebook Group, the Sew Here website/blog, and they were sewing machine dealers before they closed their brick-and-mortar operation in 2017. The Donahues know a thing or six about sewing.
The class has five parts:
Here’s where the class supplies are discussed and all the printables introduced. I suggest printing all your goodies before you start the class.
Heads up: One of the printables is 36-by-48-inch gridded drafting sheet for drafting your leggings pattern. If you use this sheet for drafting (I recommend it), you’ll have to hook up with a copy shop for printing — unless you have a large-scale plotter at your house, and in that case… hey, girl… wanna hang out and print my PDFs for me? 😉
Donahue shows how to measure yourself for leggings, and the cool thing about her technique is that you can measure yourself BY YOURSELF! No measuring buddy necessary!
As you measure, you complete a worksheet with your dimensions. This is why it’s important to have stuff printed before you get into the leggings coursework.
Bust out your drafting sheet, ’cause it’s time to start drawing! Using your measurements worksheet, you first draw your vertical dimensions. Then you add your horizontal (circumference) dimensions. At this point, a dressmaker’s curve is helpful to draw those graceful curves.
Now that you have your pattern pieces, Donahue shows to put them together. She demonstrates construction on a serger, sewing machine, and coverstitch machine, so no matter what you’re working with, she’s got you covered. You also get advice on fabric, needles, thread, stitches, and elastic.
Construction is where you see Donahue’s sassy personality shine. Up to this point, she’s reading most of the material. When she sews, she sounds much more at ease and conversational — the Zede you find in the Sewing Out Loud podcast.
Donahue reiterates the high points of the class and shares a few more choice tips. There’s also a page of links, which so far only has one link to how to add a power net waistband. The Donahues have more leggings resources to add to this page. Do a site search (a crazy-helpful interneting trick!) for all leggings content.
Who Should Take the Made-to-Measure Leggings Class?
I recommend this class for anyone with an interest in pattern drafting. You get a taste of drafting basics.
If you’re someone who ends up with a lot of pattern distortion on RTW leggings, this class is for you. (In other words, if the flowers on your booty are waaaay bigger than the flowers on your calves, you, my friend, have fabric pattern distortion!) Often you sacrifice fit in the thighs for fit in the waist (or vice versa), and leggings just don’t look or feel right. When you draft for your measurements, you can say “Aufwiedersehen!” to fit and appearance woes!
If you’re a newbie to sewing knits, this course will put to rest any anxiety about stitching stretchy fabrics. The Made-to-Measure leggings class provides a soup-to-nuts experience with knits.
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Schmetz Microtex Sharp Machine Needles, Size 8/60, 10/70, 12/80, 5 Needles: Microtex are Donahue’s preferred leggings-sewing needle.
Dritz Styling Design Ruler: The Donahues recommended a dressmaker’s curve that also has a straight edge. It’s two tools in one!
Fiskars 45mm Contour Rotary Cutter: Knits cut like BUTTAH with a rotary cutter! And while you’re at it, buy yourself extra rotary blades and a self-healing cutting mat, too!
Singer Braided Polyester Elastic 1-Inch by 1-1/4-Yard, White: Donahue recommends 1-inch swimwear elastic for the M2M leggings.
Woolly Nylon Thread Solids 1000 Meters-White: This is the thread I used in my bobbin to finish my waistband and ankle hems. It stretches wonderfully, and I also like to use it in the bobbin when sewing with a twin needle. (BTW, there are gobs of different Woolly Nylon thread colors; used the drop-down box labeled “color” to find your perfect match!)
My Leggings Experience
Because I want to draft my own PDF sewing patterns one day, I drafted my leggings using Adobe Illustrator and printed and taped the pattern the way you would print and tape a PDF pattern. (I was pretty darn proud of myself for successfully drafting and assembling my pattern! Go me!)
I used a poly-spandex performance knit from Jo-Ann. It’s fairly lightweight and doesn’t offer much compression. It is opaque, especially since my leggings were drafted for my body and they weren’t stretched to the max over my thighs and bum.
I drafted my leggings to sit at my natural waist. When I had a pattern I was pleased with, I shared it with The Self-Sewn Wardrobe Facebook Group for feedback. Mallory Donahue suggested that I re-measure my front crotch; on my first pass, my front was longer than my back. She also advised to scoop the back and front crotch a bit more.
I made those adjustments and sewed my first iteration. Turns out, I had drafted maternity leggings! I mean, look at these photo!
I like a high waist, but this was too much. I lopped off 7 centimeters, and I’m happy with the rise!
I sewed the seams on my serger, and I did the topstitching (ankle hems and waistband) on my sewing machine with a standard zig-zag stitch. To ensure a stretchy stitch, I used Wooly Nylon in the bobbin. Lord in heaven, I enjoy that thread. Everything else was sewn with non-stretchy thread.
As a novice serger operator, I loved watching Donahue serge. She helped me understand the best way to move my hands and my fabric. I actually enjoyed sewing the elastic to the waistband with my serger! With her instruction, it looks fantastic.
In terms of fit, there *might* be a bit of extra fabric near the front crotch, under the bum, and behind the knees. But when I shared photos with the SSW Group, most everyone told me I was seeing things and that the fit was great. After wearing the leggings for a casual day around the house, I think it might be the fabric adding extra wrinkles. Here are the pics I shared with the FB Group.
I’d like to make these leggings in another fabric before I start doing more alterations to remove wrinkles. One astute FB Group member pointed out that you need *some* ease, otherwise your anatomy will be on display. Point taken.
As they stand, I’m completely willing to wear these leggings out of the house with zero worry, and that speaks volumes to how I feel about how they turned out, (imaginary) wrinkles and all!
Leggings Hacks I’m Dying to Perform
So, now that I have a solid leggings pattern, I’m mega hot to test drive some hacks, including:
- Crotch gusset: Leggings with a crotch gusset are so, so, so comfortable!
- Horizontal pleats: Think moto jeggings.
- Heart-shaped insert: I’ve seen some cute leggings that have a big heart shape in the back, where the cupid’s bow starts at the top of your bum and the bottom of the heart reconnects above your back knees on the back of your thighs. The round lines give you the illusion of a poppin’ booty (as the kids like to say).
- Pocket for my phone: So I don’t have to wear a hip pack when I’m working out and listening to jamz and/or podcasts.
- Color blocking and mesh inserts: So many fun options!
- Power net waistband: Instead of the elastic waistband, the waistband is a wide strip of leggings fabric lined with compression mesh. Very sleek and popular with RTW leggings.
- Joggers: In the March edition of Sew Long and Sew Happy, the Donahues’ zine, there’s a how-to on converting your leggings pattern to joggers!
How the Made-to-Measure Leggings Class Could Be Better
This is minor stuff, because the content is rock solid. Keeping that in mind, here are the top three things I’d change about the course:
Improve the Landing Page
You also could call this the sign-up page. It’s the page that gives the course description. IMO, the landing page doesn’t give a lot of intel about what exactly you’re buying.
I would like to see on this page a list of what you learn/acquire for your money. I also think a one-minute video trailer, with clips from the class, would be great.
Most important, though, they need to add pictures of finished leggings!
Share Finished Leggings
So, you get to the end of the course, AND THERE ARE ZERO LEGGINGS PHOTOS! WHAT?!?
I know we all know what leggings look like, but photos are inspiring. If I were the Donahues, I would have images of humans of different sizes showing off M2M leggings. Heck, at this point, they probably could put out a call to people in the FB Group to share their finished leggings. I’d share my pics!
On a similar note, the Donahues could ask for customer testimonials! #socialproof
(OK, I’ll stop thinking like a marketer now, LOL.)
Coach Zede’s Presentation
Zede is a fount of sewing knowledge. She’s also a fount of personality.
Her personality gets turned down when she reads lines. I know it’s important to make information clear, but I wish she would have put more content in her own words.
Really, though, none of these issues would keep you from making a nice-fitting pair of leggings.
I give the online Made-to-Measure leggings course my seal of approval. It’s a great value, especially when you join the Facebook Group and ask for feedback. Look for me over there if you join!
Over to you: What’s your experience with pattern drafting? What online sewing classes have earned YOUR seal of approval? And where do you stand in the great “Are leggings pants?” debate?
P.S. Here’s the previous post, ICYMI: Erin vs. The Seamstress Tag.
P.P.S. Here’s another time I made leggings (with mixed results): Becoming a (Manila) leggings person for Project #SewMyStyle.