Friday 2 March 2018

Free Pattern Friday: Kids' Flora Capri Leggings

This is my monthly 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 of you who plan to get your 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.

If you're in the market for a stash-busting kids' sewing pattern that is embarrassingly quick to make and will get worn satisfyingly often, then I've got the goods (well, a link) for you right here. I'm genuinely excited to have discovered petitboo's Flora capri leggings pattern, and I'm equally excited to tell you about it today. Please note that you will need to sign up as a member of Craftsy to access this pattern.

Pattern type:

As the title would suggest, this is a pattern to make simple, capri-length leggings with an elasticated waist. It consists of just one, well-drafted pattern piece. The downloadable PDF includes both the pattern piece and the construction instructions, which has illustrations to help with each step. 

Sizing info:

Rather fabulously, this pattern has been graded to span approx. age 2 - 10 (lots of free kids' patterns seem to stop around age 6). One thing I really like about this pattern, is that they have thoughtfully included an alternative back rise shape for the size 2, which goes higher if your little one is still in nappies. 

Fabric info:

The pattern recommends that you use 'stretchy knits with at least 30% stretch and GOOD RECOVERY (cotton or rayon blends with Spandex /Lycra /elastane)', and I really can't think of any thing else to add to that. Because there's just one pattern piece, I've found this pattern to be a great way to use up too-small-for-most-adult-garments pieces of fabric. You may remember the cheetah fabric from this project and the black/gold from here

You could also use this pattern to remake unwanted adult leggings into kid's ones. As you can see below, I made Dolores some red leggings out of my old maternity leggings by cutting up the inside leg seam and laying them flat. This way, you can also incorporate the original hem to make this an even faster garment project.  


As most people with kids usually have limited time to spend sewing, it's great to find a pattern that is so quick and easy to make. After cutting out, a fairly experienced sewer/sewist could probably bust a pair of these out in half an hour to forty five minutes with a sleep-deprived brain. But the instructions are sufficiently detailed and supportive for this to be a great project for someone new to working with knits, or fairly new to sewing altogether. My only micro-niggle with the pattern is that the seam allowance is 1/2". When I traced off the size I currently need, I reduced the seam allowance to 8mm which is my personal preference for kids' knit projects these days. 

As for the actual garments, I used the age 4 for Dolores (who is about four and a half) and I've found the fit to be excellent. The fit is just as good as the shop-bought leggings she's been given, and a better fit than other leggings sewing patterns I've tried.

Customisation ideas:
  • By taking the child's waist to ankle measurement or using a RTW pair as a guide, this pattern can easily be extended into a full length one. As you can see in the image above, I drew the extra length directly onto the fabric, but I'll probably make a separate full-length version pattern piece at some point so I can make long ones more rapidly. 
  • You could make them extra jazzy by cutting each leg from a different fabric, perhaps two different floral prints or differing widths of stripe. Just make sure both the fabrics have a very similar weight and stretchiness. 
  • You could try colour blocking the pattern like this.  
  • Or if you have more free time than you know what to do with, you could add rows of stretch lace like this
  • Reinforcing the knees with patches will definitely lengthen the leggings' lifespan. And as I have been finding out recently, applying knee patches is MUCH easier if done before the leg seams are sewn up, than afterwards when the hole appears through wear. Go crazy and make a special feature from them like this, or keep it simple with oval, cloud or heart shaped patches. 

Would I make them again?

'Making this leggings pattern' has now overtaken 'making myself some new undies' on my 'Favourite things to do with knit scraps' list (don't tell me you don't have one of those lists too). The red ones have been worn heaps since their creation, and I have to keep telling Dolores that she can't wear the other two pairs yet because it's still currently winter here. 

I love clothing for kids that allows them to play and move around freely, plus leggings worn underneath dresses make the latter far more playground-and-soft-play-friendly, IMO. I've also found that adding leggings under a dress lengthens the lifespan of said dress when it starts getting unsuitably short after a growth spurt. Thanks a bunch petitboo!!!!!


Sew Sarah Smith said...

Thank you so much for this! It’s exactly what I need right now...I feel a kids leggings marathon coming on too!

Kristina said...

I love free pattern Fridays! This is such a useful pattern, really looking forward to giving it a try. Glad to hear you had success lengthening to ankle length too. Thanks Zoe!

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