Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tutorial - How To Make Baby and Child Leg Warmers, and Adult or Child Arm Warmers With Thrifted Scarves

Warning: Lots of cute photos of kiddos to come... all images by Tiffany Teske

Baby Leggings

Child Arm Warmers

Baby Leggings & Child Arm Warmers

Adult Arm Warmers

Child Leg Warmers

I have had the idea to make these for several months now. I have been taking a sewing class, one of several I have taken over the years, and my favorite part about it is that I am given THREE UNINTERRUPTED HOURS to work on whatever I want. That is about how long it took me to make two pairs of baby leggings, for my babe and for a gift, and a pair of leg warmers for my daughter, who is almost 4 years old.

Front of Child Leg Warmers

I love to work with thrifted materials. Some are given to me and others I seek out at the thrift store, yard sales, and rummage sales. There are so many possible places to find fabrics that I rarely buy new fabric. I always keep an eye out for materials that I can use in the future, especially vintage prints. This allows me to amass a stash so that when I have time to work on something I just go "shopping" in my studio and I usually find what I am looking for. I also stockpile materials for when I teach recycled art and craft classes to adults and children.

Back of Child Leg Warmers + Cute Baby

The two scarves I used for these projects came from Victory Thrift Store. They normally sell scarves for $2 each but they often have a buy one, get one for 99% off sale. It cost me $2.03 for these scarves. They are very different from one another. Since I had never made these I didn't really know what to expect when sewing the scarves. I looked for stretchy scarves but all scarves are different. I spent a long time touching, stretching, and anticipating. The important factor is that they stretch out and then back into shape. They need to stretch enough to go onto the baby or child's leg and then to stay there. As mentioned in the title, if they are long enough these can also be used a adult arm warmers with no modifications.

How To Make Baby Legs, Child Leg Warmers, and Adult Arm Warmers With a Thrifted Scarf

This is a simple project for even a beginner. The only trick is selecting the right scarf. Read through all of the instructions for tips on this and rest assured this is an easy project that will leave you feeling accomplished in the end.

What you will need:
- a stretchy scarf
- a sewing machine (or Serger if you have one, I don't)
- coordinating thread
- needle for stretch fabrics
- pins
Optional items for embellishment such as vintage buttons, embroidery thread, ribbon...

One of my two scarves before I started cutting...

Now with the ends cut off and cut in half.

Zigzag stitch at the bottom and top of one legging. I didn't fold this edge over and stitch since this material wouldn't hold like that. I just stitched around near the top.

Step One
Decide on the length you want the leggings to be and then decide how to cut your scarf. It will completely depend on your scarf and your needs. You will need about a 1/4" seam allowance on each end. For my fuzzy rainbow leggings I was able to get two pair from the one scarf, meaning I cut four pieces from the full length and I used the full width. For my argyle ones I cut the scarf in half for one pair and I guesstimated on how tight I wanted them. I did end up cutting a bit of the width off, so I used 3/4 of the width. Where and how you cut will depend on the fabric. For the stretchy fuzzy scarf I needed to sew a line, using zigzag stitch at each end of a piece BEFORE I did any cutting because the knit fabric unraveled once cut. This is all I did at the top and bottom to finish those edges. For the argyle fabric I could cut without any fraying.

Try stretching the ends of the scarf to see if they are finished, they probably are if the scarf is knit. The way they are finished may make them too tight when folded in half, around the upper leg, so it is best to cut the ends of the scarf off in this case and re-sew a zigzagged line across the bottom and top of your two pieces, stretching a bit as you sew. If you have a serger, use it. I had my instructor serge the second pair of rainbow leggings so I could see if there was a difference in quality. I think hers are more durable but my sewing machine and zigzag stitch did fine. The only thing I can say about sewing such a "hairy" fabric is to keep a seem ripper handy for when you get stuck. You will never notice where you have used it in the end. I had smooth sailing with the argyle pair.

Piece with finished ends folded in half and ready to stitch up the side.

Step Two
Now that you have your pieces, you are ready to fold them in half, right sides together, and to zigzag stitch up the side. My knit scarf didn't have a right and wrong side.


Step Three
Turn your fabric tube right side out. I am finished with the rainbow pair at this point. I need to stitch the top and bottom edges of the argyle pair. I folded the fabric, which stayed without pinning, in about a half inch, and zigzag stitched around, near the edge. They are now complete and can be worn as arm warmers or leggings (see photos below).

Finished top edge.

The same arm warmers as above, now on my daughter...


Some Possible Materials

You can embellish these leggings/warmers whatever way you chose. The sky is the limit. I decided to use vintage buttons, embroidery thread, ribbon.

Threading the ribbon from the "wrong" side out...

Because the rainbow leggings have such a loose knit I was able to thread the ribbon through them easily. I started in the middle of the front of each one (turning them so the seem would be inside the leg) and threaded from the inside to the outside, so there would be enough ribbon on the inside so that I could sew the button to it from the outside.

The "right" side of the legging with the ribbon coming out from the inside.


Next I sewed the button onto the "hidden" part of the ribbon, using embroidery thread. In my mind, this is the front of the legging but of course could be the back...


I continued to thread the ribbon in and out of the legging until I got to the middle part of the back. I then brought the two sides of the ribbon out the same hole and tied it in a bow. Voila!

If you have any questions or comments about this project please leave them here. I would love to know if I have inspired you to try this and to see your leggings on your blog. I will now leave you with a few more images of the leggings in action...


kimbuktu said...

Love it Tiffany! I tweeted your blog.

angela said...

this is such a good idea! i am really into arm warmers right now (they keep my hands warm when i'm photographing outdoors)...but i am a terrible seamstress so i gave my little sister a pattern and then she made them and mailed them to me...they are super awesome...her life probably would have been easier had she read this blog post ;)

Tiffany Teske said...

Thank you, Kym! I appreciate the tweet. And let me know if you need more, Ang :)

Anonymous said...

Love the fuzzy ones!
so CUTE!
and so are QQ and Elle! Oh mY!
your photos are beautiful
and sewing class sounds great