Abstract Scuba Manila Leggings – Seamwork

Sew out of this World

When I bought this fabric from Sew Me Sunshine I had planned to turn it into yoga leggings but, being a lightweight scuba, it doesn’t quite have the stretch percentage that leggings patterns usually require. When I tested it against the stretch gauge of a few patterns, it did reach the minimum stretch marker but the print was distorted and the fabric became see-through – not what you want when you’re doing the downward-facing dog.

Side view of navy, pink and purple abstract print leggings

With my mind still set on making leggings, I decided to try sizing up, reducing the amount of negative ease to make up for the difference in stretch percentage. Expecting my first attempt to be a disaster, I ordered some extra fabric – this time from Sewloco. Lucy left a note with my order mentioning the Sew out of this World challenge so I thought I’d take part with my leggings.

Image of Sew out of this World text on a starry background with a drawing of a rocket Image of Sew out of this World text on a starry background with a drawing of a rocket

This project was perfect for mission one – To Infinity and Beyond! (sewing out of your comfort zone) – as whenever I've made an alteration in the past (other than my usual small bust adjustment and shortening of the bodice) it's always ended in disappointment so I often try to avoid patterns that require lots of adjustments. I've wanted to make trousers for a long time so leggings are a good first step since knit fabric stretches to the shape of the body so it doesn't require as many fitting adjustments.

I had some Seamwork credits left over so I decided to use the Manila leggings pattern. It's designed for double knit and ponte fabrics so it has a smaller amount of negative ease than other leggings patterns. It also includes an interesting petal cuff detail and a thin waistband which looks better on my body shape than the wide band of the Shelly leggings.

Fabric pieces and rose gold scissors

Because of the stretch content of the fabric, I chose my size based on the finished garment measurements – a size L which gave me 1” of negative ease. I have large calf muscles so I compared my measurement to the pattern pieces and found there was a 2" difference so I first tried adjusting the pieces using the large calf adjustment tutorial from the Colette Sewalongs blog.

This made the side seams sit too far forward on my leg so I decided to re-trace my pattern pieces, blending from a size L at the knee to a size XL at the calves and back to an L at the ankles (on both the front and back pieces). This added an extra inch to the width without making them baggy at the knees. It also created some unusually shaped pattern pieces!

Sewing pattern piece adjusted for large calf muscles
Pattern piece adjusted for large calf muscles

The leggings fit well at the calf muscles but they're a little baggy around the bum so I'll take an inch off at the hips next time. The petal cuffs end just above the ankle so I'll also try lengthening them by 1" (for reference, I'm just under 5'5").

The instructions tell you to encase the elastic in the waistband and pin it before attaching it to the leg pieces. I found this really fiddly and it made it difficult to attach it evenly. I should have attached the waistband piece first and left a hole so I could insert the elastic at the end.

I also had some difficulty pressing the scuba fabric to get a neat curve and the fabric has become a little wavy at the seams after wearing the leggings for a while. Neither of these problems are noticeable from a distance though.

Close up of the petal cuff of the Seamwork Manila leggings

I'm feeling more confident about moving onto sewing trousers after making these and I'm excited to take on the challenge of fitting them to my knock knees and large calves using the pants fitting adjustments guide on the Closet Case blog. Now I just need to decide which pattern to try first - the Closet Case Sasha trousers or Burda Style 7017, maybe?