Tutorial: Transforming regular leggings into maternity

As I mentioned here I am having real trouble finding any trousers that fit over my low down baby bump. Even the type that are cut incredibly low are a bit too diggy the second I sit down. And anything that does fit when I’m sitting down, will fall off when I stand up. Not really the best look to be flashing my pants at everyone followed by a pulling up the trousers dance!

So I thought I’d give leggings a go in the hope that the nice soft fabric will work against my poor squished bump! But have you seen the price of some pairs of maternity leggings? I mean really, for what is essentially exactly the same product with a little more fabric round the waist, I’m not sure why they cost so much more. (OK, so in the grand scheme of things they aren’t expensive, but I still object on principle.) And it also annoys me that most shops only stock their maternity clothes online. At a time when my body is a different shape at any two points throughout the day, never mind week to week, I’d rather spend my money on something I can try on first.

So I picked up a pair of regular leggings, which I knew fit eveywhere except my tummy, for £3, and set about turning them into maternity leggings.

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It was actually a very simple transformation, all I had to do was remove the elastic from the front half of the leggings and sort out the waist band. Easy!

*At this point I’m going to apologise for the quality of the photos, my camera was having issues with the colour balance, and the dark thread on black fabric was really hard to capture. I’ve used dark grey thread instead of black in the hope that it will show up (at all!) but I’ll also explain each step along the way so hopefully it’s clear what I’m doing.

The first step was to take a look at how the waistband of the leggings was constructed. In my case the elastic was sewn into the seem so it was a little (but not much) more compicated than if the elastic was free to move in it’s own casing. In that case all you would have to do would be to fix the elastic at the side seams, open up a little hole to remove it from the front half, sew up the hole and you’re done!

But if your elastic is sewn in like mine, then start by sewing a straight line to reinforce the ends of the elastic. Do this at the back side of the seam, so that you can open up the waistband at the seam for access to the elastic. I used a triple stitch to make it as strong as possible. Repeat the process at both sides.

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Then carefully unpick the side seams to give you access.

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Now we’re going to unpick the waistand along the whole front of the leggings. Do this carefully with a seam ripper to not damage the fabric. Once it’s opened from side seam to side seam and the elastic is free, you can cut the elastic out.

At this point I tried my leggings on, and they fit perfectly. The remaining elastic at the back was enough to keep them fitted, but they were soft enough round the front to be really comfortable even when sitting down.

Finally I re-sewed the waistband. If you don’t want to include this step you don’t have to. As the fabric for leggings is usually jersey, it doesn’t need to be finished as it won’t fray. And if you don’t plan on wearing them with some little cropped top then noone will be any the wiser!

I will finish off the waistband to show you how to do it. Basically you’re just resewing along the same line that the fabric was stitched before. If, like me, you don’t have an overlocker/serger then you can easily do it with a zigzag stitch. (I’m afraid I’ve never used an overlocker so I can’t tell you how to do it that way) The zigzag stitch is necessary as you want the seam to have some stretch, otherwise it defeats the purpose of this project! A basic straight stitch would either not stretch, or would try to do so and break.

Pin the waistband in place and sew all the way along the front. You might find (if you’re naughty like me and don’t use the proper needle for jersey fabric… Must buy a new one!) that your zigzag skips in places so you end up with a couple of straight stitches in the middle of your row. I’ve now worn my leggings, complete with these minor imperfections, for a few days and there is still plenty of stretch in the fabric along the waistband. So if the same happens to you, don’t worry about it. So long as the vast majority of your seam is a zigzag then it will do the job just fine 🙂

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And here are the finished leggings! (Sorry, again, terrible tummy selfie alert! But I wanted to show you the end product in action.)

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