The right choice of fabric for leggings will make or break their success. So we put together this guide to looking for the right fabrics.
Stretchy! – You must stick to knits. The fabric must stretch both vertically (with the selvedge) and horizontally. It is important to look for really stretchy knit fabrics. When you make a pair, your actual pattern is slightly smaller than you are (negative ease), that’s why you need really stretchy fabric, then they’ll fit you like a second skin. Having negative ease in the pattern, coupled with really stretchy fabric prevents your leggings from being baggy. To feel how much stretch a fabric has you take 10cm of un-stretched fabric and then stretch it. What does it stretch out to? 12cm, 16cm, 20cm? These examples would have 20%, 60% and 100% stretch.
Soft – If they are going to be like a second skin, you will want them to be really comfortable. Natural fibres are an obvious choice, but also look at synthetics that have a brushed finish.
Synthetic– When you consider how we pull on leggings and then also how your legs move through the knees and hips, you will see the need for the fabric to have good recovery. You don’t want them bagging out at your knees after the first wear. Recovery is achieved with synthetic fibres (nylon, spandex, etc). You can go 100% synthetic, or go for blends that combine natural fibres and synthetics.
Strain– Make sure you are happy with how the fabric (particularly the print) looks when you stretch it out. Sometimes the fabric can become sheer when stretched or the print can look darn right silly!
Search – We found Lush Fabrics, an Australian online shop that stocks great prints on Brushed Poly Knits which would be ideal. The Fabric Storeis known for their Merino knits – just make sure you have a good percentage of synthetic in the blend.
Thread tip– grab a polyester sewing machine thread. Synthetic fabrics (even the blends) like synthetic threads.
Tools & techniques– You are going to need different needles, you’ll use stretch stitches on your machine and an overlocker can be very handy. Luckily we cover all that in our Leggings Workshop!