Upcycle: Sweatpants to leggings

Sweatpants upcycle
My daughter has been wearing only leggings for quite a long time. She doesn’t wear jeans, any type of fabric pants or sweatpants. She prefers tight and soft fabrics. That’s fine during fall and spring but leggings are not cold-weather clothes. Definitely not for Chicago cold. Even though I consider myself a laid-back mama when it comes to kids’ preferences for clothing, I cannot just let her go out of the house with flimsy cotton leggings at below freezing temps.

She had few sweatpants with fleece lining and fleece sweatpants for winter but she refused to wear them complaining that cold air was getting in from the leg openings. I asked her to wear long socks underneath but she was adamant that it didn’t help. It might possibly be a sensory issue because my son also prefers to wear soft cotton sweatpants.
She had these beautiful soft fleece and fleece lined sweatpants. They were loose fit and boot cut. She likes snug fitting leggings. She doesn’t like zipper and button on pants just like her big brother. These were brand new and I wanted to spend neither more time nor more money on shopping for leggings. I didn’t have any option but to refashion the sweatpants and make leggings out of them.
Here is how boot cut sweatpants sit on her. She is quite slim. She complained that cold air coming through the leg openings was making her cold even if she had long socks. Otherwise, fleece fabric was really soft and warm.

I made the upcycling as simple as possible. I used a legging that fit her well with a good length as a guide pattern. I turned the sweatpants inside out. I marked the outline of the legging on the sweatpant with pins. As you can see in the photo above,

  • I marked a little bit outside the guide legging, not exactly on the line.
  • The sweatpants had pockets. I started marking the outseam right under the pockets.
  • I left the crotch seam as is and starting marking inseam an inch below the crotch.

The front and back panel of the sweatpants are not equal. The back panel is wider than the front. Therefore, when I laid out the sweatpants I made sure the seams were lined up flat and the back panel was a bit folded up so that the leggings didn’t end up weird looking and too tight.
I sewed the marked line with a straight stitch. I could have added a zigzag stitch on the side to make it more like a serger finish but I skipped that step. Since the fabric was fleece, there was no possibility of the raw edges shedding thread and tear apart. Then I trimmed the fabric approximately 1/4″ outside the new seams.
When my daughter tried on the upcycled fleece leggings, even though it was not super tight like an actual legging, it still fit her better than boot-cut pants. Eventually, she grew into these upcycled leggings making it a better fit. No complaints of air draft through the leg openings. #firstworldproblems

In my daughter’s opinion, the best thing about this upcycle project was that her new leggings had pockets, which regular leggings don’t have. For me, I am able to send her to school without making her wear 3 layers of tights and leggings and still have to worry that she would be cold.

Do your kids stick with a type of clothing that makes it hard to dress them in a specific season? Let me know what kind of solutions or tricks you come up with.

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