Friday, 1 March 2019

Free Pattern Friday: Women's Matilda Leggings

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes a women's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

So today's free pattern comes shrouded in mystery! Signs indicate that the Matilda leggings pattern used to be part of a range called 'Sew Loft Patterns', which later morphed into 'Spit-up and Stilettos'. It seems that any sites relating to either have been taken down, hence no links. Apparently the designer, a women named Lauren, is now creating children's patterns which can be found here. And for reasons I don't entirely understand, another blogger (that isn't Lauren) is hosting all the patterns via Dropbox, making them accessible to anyone for free. I'm grateful to all concerned for providing access to these patterns. 

Pattern type:

It's worth pointing out that there are numerous free, women's leggings patterns out there, many of which look a lot like this one. I chose to make the Matilda leggings pattern because, A) I already had it downloaded, and B), the waistband is formed from a tube of the main fabric and does not involve elastic (i.e. comfort to the power of 10). I've been on the look out for a comfy, super-basic, leggings pattern because a friend recently asked me along to a yoga class, and not owning any leggings or other suitable alternative, I had to wear some hideous 'active wear' that I bought in the very early 2000s. So I was hoping that this pattern, which consists of only two pieces (waistband and legs) and includes cutting lines for capri and full length, might just fit the bill. 

Sizing info:

This pattern is graded from XS to XL (US 0-18), hips-wise it's 35"to 47". My measurements put me in the top end of the M and I'm generally very happy with the fit, although of course the stretchiness of your chosen fabric would have a massive effect on the fit of this garment. One sizing issue that's been mentioned by other sewers regarding this pattern, is that the full length version seem to come up a bit short. It is not indicated in the pattern what height they has been drafted for, however, I am 5ft 5"/165cm and I feel these could have done with being 4 or 5cm longer.

Fabric info:

The advice given is to 'find a knit fabric with good resistance that bounces back really well. Otherwise your leggings will start to look stretched out after the first few times you’ve worn it. We suggest getting a knit with Lycra in it.' To that I'd add that your chosen fabric should have a good four-way stretch (i.e. make sure it stretches well when you pull it up and down as well as across), which is essential for successful leggings. Ask me how I know.

For this pair I used this black, cotton/spandex jersey from Girl Charlee UK. It's incredibly soft and was wonderful to cut and sew (minimal rolling edges!), however, in hindsight, I'd say it's a smidge thin for leggings and would be better suited to tops like the Agnes pattern or similar. My pair are a touch transparent when the fabric is stretched and the waistband tends to fold over whenever I bend forwards. However, if you're looking to make leggings that will be exclusively worn underneath dresses or skirts, this fabric might be your best bet afterall, possibly combined with something sturdier for the waistband.


This was billed as a quick and easy pattern to make and they weren't wrong! Making a waistband from the fabric rather than faffing with any of the various methods of adding elastic really cut the construction time down a lot. I used my regular machine to hem the bottoms, and all the seams were done using my overlocker/serger. You could easily make the whole garment using a regular machine however, and if evidence of this were required, the step-by-step photos included in the instructions show the sample being made using a faux-overlocker stretch stitch on a regular machine. 

As I mentioned above, fabric selection is everything here so be sure to find a sturdy jersey knit with a decent elastane/spandex/lycra content. You might also want to consider lengthening the rise as they sit very low. This is somewhat exaggertaed on me as I am short-waisted (by natural waist is pretty high up my torso) but for my next version I intend to slash horizontally across the pattern piece half way down the rise and add a few cms of height. Also, I found that they didn't taper quite enough at the ankle, I pinched out a bit at the ankles of this pair, and I feel I could have done so even more. Oh, and do consider adding length at the hem if you're over 5ft 4" and making the full length version.

Customisation ideas:

  • You could draw some panel lines and trace the new pieces off, add seam allowance and make some colour/pattern blocking craziness.
  • Using a print for the legs and a solid for the waistband could give an interesting (but not too wild) effect.
That's all I've got today.

Would I make it again?

Yup. I feel those few changes listed above will get me the easy, comfy, basic leggings pattern I need to provide myself with some half-way decent exercise wear. 'Activewear' is not an area I've previously given any consideration, but I'm keeping my eyes peeled for suitable fabric candidates for another pair.


Siobhan (Chronically Siobhan) said...

Ah, I remember the Sew Loft / Spit Up & Stilettos controversy! I believe the owner was accused of slightly altering, or not altering at all, other indie designer's patterns and presenting them as her own. Rightly so - I owned one of her patterns and the pattern it was supposed to be a copy of, and they were near identical.

Zoe said...

@Siobhan, OOOOhhhhhhhhh interesting! Thanks for sharing that info. The waters are murkier still....


BLD in MT said...

Yes! I had JUST been thinking: I wonder if I could make my own leggings, too....

Zoe said...


Fabric Tragic said...

Yes I remember accusations of plagiarism and the company quietly fading away..... these look very comfy but oh my I’d need to raise the rise to tuck my mumtum well away lol! Xx

Claire said...

Hi! This is Claire from HPS who now hosts the Sew Loft/Spitup and Stilettos patterns.
I agree this whole thing is clouded in mystery. I had previously found and made a few Sew Loft patterns, but then lost my electronic files. I went looking for the files online and found Lauren at her current pattern website (peanut patterns). I emailed her to ask if she still had the files, and that set off a conversation. She ended up emailing me all the files and ok-ing my idea of sharing them. No one else was hosting them and there were conversations all over the internet (and pins on pinterest) where people were looking for them. Sewing and blogging are non-money making hobbies for me (Although I think Ive gotten about $5 in donations- all this goes to hosting my website) so I figured, why not share them with all the people looking? If Lauren ever changes her mind I will certainly take them down, but for now I'm so glad people are finding and sewing them!

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