Basic Leggings for Kids – Free Pattern and Tutorial!

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Leggings are easy to sew! Make a cute basic pair of leggings for a child size 2-12 using this easy pattern. The instructions are easy to follow and include many step by step images showing an easy method to add the elastic waistband.

Can you guess which of the leggings above were sewn with the serger and coverstitch and which ones I made entirely on my home sewing machine? Well, here’s the answer: the orange leggings on the left with blackberries are the ‘fancy’ ones that I sewed with my serger and new coverstitch machine. The aqua leggings look almost exactly the same and I used my sewing machine only. How did I do it? I’m going to show you!

After making hundreds of pairs of leggings (at least it seems like it), I have a method that’s quick, easy, and always turns out great.

UPDATE: This free leggings pattern has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The blog post and template below are totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The PDF download for $2 is totally optional. Did you know you can get ALL the Optimized for Printing PDF files organized in a library for you to access anytime you want? Check it out.

young girl wearing turquoise leggings and white top standing on fence cross rail

These leggings are not super tight so feel free to go a size down if you want them to fit snugly. Knit interlock or cotton jersey are a great choice for these, especially fabric with a bit of Spandex or Lycra. The Spandex or Lycra provide a little flex to the leggins so the knees don’t sag. Review my tips for sewing with knit fabrics if you like.

Download the Basic Leggings for Girls – Pattern Template

You will need:

  • 1-1 1/4 yd of knit fabric

  • less than a yard of 1/2” or 3/4” elastic

  • a double needle for your sewing machine (if you aren’t using a coverstitch machine)

I drafted a pattern for you that comes in girl’s sizes 2-12. To determine the size you need, measure your child and consult a sizing chart. If you already have a legging pattern that you like or if you need a different size, you can probably follow my instructions with that pattern, too.

Prepare the Pattern Template

Print the pdf pattern and measure the 1” square to check to make sure that your printer did not enlarge or reduce it.  To put the pattern piece together quickly, stack the pages and use your ruler and rotary cutter to cut the margins off the top and right side – all at once. The margins are just under 1/2”; cut where the lines end and you’ll be fine.

Then, use your sewing room glue stick to apply a strip of glue on the left and bottom edges where the pages connect.

This is what the pages will look like all connected. Notice how the leg lengths vary by size.

Trace or cut out the size that you need.

Lay the pattern on your fabric, secure with pins or pattern weights, and cut out. Make sure that you are cutting out 2 opposite pieces pieces of fabric. This is easy if your fabric is in a double layer with wrong sides together. If your material is directional, stripped or plaid, you should be careful to ensure the legs match.

Here’s where this tutorial becomes 2-in-1. I’m going to show you how to sew leggings with your regular sewing machine or with a serger and coverstitch, all at the same time.

Sew the Leg Pieces

If you do have a serger and coverstitch, go ahead and use the coverstitch to hem the bottom of the leggings now if you like. This especially helps with the small sizes that are hard to fit on the coverstitch machine’s awkward free arm. To double check the inseam allowance, you can measure the inseam of the child and compare it to the inseam of the pattern piece. Be sure to allow enough length to include the desired hem size.

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Fold each leg piece in half, right sides together and sew the inseam with a 1/2” seam allowance. By using this method, the only leg seams are the inseams.

Above, the aqua leg was sewn on my regular sewing machine. I used a narrow zigzag that had a stitch length of 3 and a width of .5. If your machine includes a stretch stitch, use that since it is designed to allow for the give that stretch materials require. This will give the seam some stretch so the thread won’t pop when she runs around.

The orange/blackberry leg was sewn on my serger. I cut off 1/4” to make the 1/2” seam allowance.

Sew both leg pieces this way.

Turn one leg piece right side out and place it inside the other so they are right sides together.

Pin and stitch the crotch seam, matching up the leg inseams. Again, the aqua leggings were sewn with my sewing machine and the orange ones on the right were sewn with my serger.

My Shortcut Elastic Method

Turn the leggings right side out and cut a piece of elastic for the waistband that fits the child’s waist. If you don’t have the intended child close by, measure the top of the leggings and cut a piece that is 1-2” less.

Butt the ends of the elastic together and use your sewing machine’s widest zigzag stitch to sew them together.

Mark the elastic and the top of the leggings in quarters. Pin the elastic to the top inside edge of the leggings, matching the quarter marks.

Still using your widest zig zag stitch, sew the elastic to the top edge of the pants. (top left)

You can also use a serger to do this. Be careful not to cut the elastic. (top right)

Here’s how we look so far.

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Since kids find it hard to tell the front from the back of handmade clothes, I usually make my own tag from a strip of soft fabric or ribbon. If tags bother your child, use a waterproof marker to draw on the material above the stitch line but within the width of the elastic. A large X is enough to indicate the back of the garment although you could print a word like BACK.

Turn the elastic over and pin from the right side. Pin your tag in place from the right side if you are inserting one.

Sew Around the Front of the Leggings

If you are using a regular sewing machine, install a double needle and thread it with two spools of thread the same color (use an extra bobbin for the extra spool if you need to like I did). The double needle will make parallel rows of stitches and is perfect for knit fabrics.

This step might look tricky but really it’s not. Use your thumb to feel where the lower edge of the elastic is.

Using the double needle on either your sewing machine or coverstitch machine, sew right over the bottom edge of the elastic from the right side. Stretch the fabric slightly to match the elastic.

If you haven’t hemmed the bottom of the legs yet, go ahead and do it now. It’s easy with a double needle.

Simply fold or press the bottom edge up 1/2” and sew it in place from the right side.

How to sew an easy hem with a double needle.

You just made some basic leggings for girls! Next time make them shorter in capri or biker short length.

Psst… you can also use this pattern for my Boy’s Swim Jammers tutorial.

Happy Sewing!

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂