MAKE YOUR OWN LEGGINGS - a simple first project

Assuming one has come to the Lights with absolutely no sewing experience at all, here's a simple project that will introduce you to one of the essential skills of the 18th century soldier, basic stitching! At the end of the project you'll be able to do a running stitch and have a nifty pair of authentic Indian leggings.

This legging pattern is based on the construction of an original pair worn by Sir John Caldwell, an officer in the 8th regiment serving during the revolution.

Those that do know how to sew will find this project a breeze and whether you are experienced or not, one can whip off a pair of leggings in an evening of watching television.

Let's begin!


STEP 1 - Materials


First things first, gather your materials. You will need the following for this project:

1 yards of green or navy (melton)coat grade wool
strong thread, preferably linen
tailors chalk
measuring tape
8 large sized hooks and eyes
good pair of sharp scissors


STEP 2 - Measure & Cut

With the tape measure, measure the length from the middle of your foot (just above the toes), to just above the knee (about 5 inches above the center of the knee cap).

Record this measurement. This is the length of your leggings.

Measure the circumference around your ankle and add two inches. Divide this number by 2.


Record this measurement as ankle width.

Measure the circumference around your thigh (5 inches above the center of the knee cap). Divide this number by 2.

Record this measurement as thigh width. (Important!) Take your wool and fold it in half.

With the tailors chalk mark the length (the first recorded measurement) by placing a mark at the bottom and the top.

From the bottom mark (the ankle) draw a straight line to the width of the ankle measurement (ankle circumference divided by 2).

From the top mark (the thigh) draw a straight line to the width of the thigh measurement (thigh circumference divided by 2).

Now draw a straight line from the bottom width mark to the top. Cut out the shape along the lines you have drawn. You should end up a shape when folded that looks like the picture above.


STEP 3 - Stitching

Pin the open length down to avoid mistakes. With a running stitch sew down from the top about 3/4 down the length leaving a 2 inch seam allowance.

A trick here is to mark your holes with chalk. Remember, don't sew all the way down!

When you've reached the end with the running stitch, sew back over through the reverse holes like in this picture. This double running stitch provides a super strong seam.

Your finished product should look like this!


STEP 4 - Gusset & Hooks


After you have finished the outside seam of your leggings you are ready to add the finishing touches.

At this point you'll want to try them on and make sure everything fits in proper order. While they are on your leg you can mark where your hooks and eyes will go.

In order to get the correct 'tight' fit around the ankle, pinch as close to the ankle as you can get in 3 or four spots from your seam stitching to just above the bottom. Mark with chalk about an inch interval. These points will be where you apply the hooks and eyes on the inside.

For the gusset draw a rough triangle at the bottom. Again this should be done while they are on the leg so you can center your triangle over the top of the foot.

With your scrap wool cut out two triangles sLightly larger than the triangle you drew for the gusset.

Sew on the gusset with the seam on the inside.


STEP 5 - Finishing Touches


You can wear your leggings as they are after you have completed step 4 but you may want to go one step further and some nice touches.

Adding a buttoned 'stirrup' of leather or wool to go under the shoe is a correct element to leggings and helps keep the legging from riding up on the leg.

Another popular decoration is finishing all the rough edges with coloured twill tape, red, blue or brown is appropriate.

Native style garters are also a nice touch so long as you don't go overboard with the native stuff. Try to avoid jingly dangley stuff, and stick with simple pattern woven or wampum.


STEP 6 - Wearing the leggings


Leggings should fit tight around the leg, especially around the ankle.

Unless you have sewn the hooks and eyes too loose, the fit should be tight when you close the hooks.

If you leggings look like bell bottoms. adjust your hooks and eyes.

Tying Indian style garters or the plain leather ones just under the knee helps keep the leggings from falling down.

You should be able to comfortably go down to one knee and still have your knee protected by the leggings.

There you are! Enjoy your leggings!


The King's Royal Yorkers