A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Euro leggings

I am generally a frugal person.  Fabric shopping has been no exception.  I search out deals, buy things on sale, etc.  This has worked very well for me in general, except when it comes to knits.  With very few exceptions, I have found that you get what you pay for when it comes to knit fabric.  Big sister in particular loves to wear leggings, so when I make her a pair they get a LOT of use and I find out pretty quickly which knits hold up and which don't.  I have made a number of purchases from the usual knit suspects, and despite the popularity of some of these outlets I am sad to say I haven't had a ton of luck with the $6-$7/yard range of knits, at least not when it comes to leggings.  There has been a lot of pilling, awful fading of prints and holes developing quicker than it seems they ought to be.

I had been shy to try out the vaunted European knits because of their price tag.  But at Christmas I was treated to some fabric shopping and I used the money to pick up a few yards of Lillestoff and Stenzo cotton/lycra.  Though my girls are small enough that I can still get two pairs of leggings out of each yard of fabric, and though I have sewn no fewer than eleven pairs of Playtime Leggings without any trouble whatsoever, I was still terrified to cut into that fabric.  Because if I mess it up, that's $20 down the drain.  Told ya, I'm frugal.

But then I made yet another pair of leggings out of fabric that didn't look so good after a couple washes, and enough was finally enough.  So this week I screwed up my courage and cut into the Euro knits.

I knew my rose-obsessed girl would love this print from Stenzo.  I was a little nervous to use a print for leggings - the last time I used print knits for leggings, the pants looked a hot mess within a couple of weeks as the dye faded and held onto dirt like crazy. 

I made these in a size 3 with added length - the main legging piece was a 4 + 1" and then I added a 3" cuff at the bottom.  I chose to finish with a cuff because I have been having a lot of trouble topstitching knits on my machines lately.  I've tried ballpoint needle, stretch needle, double ball point, double stretch, zigzag, walking foot, stay tape, Wooly Nylon, etc., in short, all the usual suspects, with no luck.  My machine does condescend to stretch stitch (lightning stitch) on knits, however, I don't like how that looks on hems.  

The leggings fit well but she had a little trouble getting them on.  At first I thought that the 3 was too small but upon reflection I think it's that I needed to adjust the width at the bottom of the leg as I lengthened it, since the hem of the size 4 length actually hits at her calf, I should have adjusted that point on the pattern to be a little wider. Instead I just kept it the same width from there on down.  (I don't think I explained that too well, sorry).

In any case, I decided to go up to a size 4 for the next pair.  These have a more relaxed fit but they still fit her preference of "tight pants only."  I am not sure whether the 3 or the 4 is a better fit for her.  I almost feel like I should grade between the sizes for the next pair.  

This knit is a yarn-dyed Lillestoff stripe.  It is soft but substantial and I enjoyed sewing it.
For the waistband, I decided to try the RTW method of attaching the elastic to the top of the pant, then folding it over and topstitching through two layers of fabric and one layer of elastic.  I used a zigzag to topstitch and only had four or five skipped stitches the whole way around (this is a big victory since usually my machine won't zig or zag on knits).  Time will tell whether this method is any better than the casing method, but I did enjoy not having to sew a casing.  For some reason I really dislike sewing elastic casings on knits.

She loves both pairs of leggings and I still have some more Euro knits in my stash to try out - a Stenzo polka-dot print and a Lillestoff squirrel print I bought for baby things.  Perhaps a fabric-shopping conversion is about to take place!


  1. They are lovely. I know what you mean about knits - the cheap ones tend to be thin, and sometimes have poor stretch recovery. Also, I prefer cotton-based knits, which limits the 'cheap' selection even further. I'm sure your Euro-knits are well worth the money!

  2. I love your fabric choices! I am with you 100% on just about everything you posted here, especially getting what you pay for with knits. I made C a dress for her birthday with some knit from whatever that kids' line is at JoAnn's (Doodlebug maybe? Something like that), and just today I noticed a hole where the seam had separated the skirt from the bodice. I, of course, was running late getting her to school and myself to work, so I sat down to do a quick and dirty stitch up since we were at my parents' house and not at home. I then saw that the actual fabric was running in several places, and that there were small holes starting to form all across the front seam. So frustrating!! I really want to try Birch knits, I've heard such great things. But it's hard for me to pull the trigger on such a high cost per yard!

  3. The fabric looks so pretty! I have some European fabric cuts saved up for a special occasion. But I think I need to cut into it before all my girls grow out of my sewing. :) But first I need more time in my day!

  4. Yes you are so right about cheap knits! And congratulations on your pregnancy! How exciting!!!!! Just the best news!


Hi! I am so happy you came by. Thanks for your comment!