How to Make a Shirt Out of Leggings

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Leggings are just like pants, only that they have a skin-tight fit due to their elastic fibers. Keeping in mind that shirts rarely contain elastic fibers for tight-fitting, learning how to make a shirt out of leggings can help you create a tight-fitting shirt for warmth and protection.

Gray Legging Outfit Ideas
Gray Legging Outfit Ideas

How to Make a Shirt Out of Leggings

Leggings come in different forms and different names for both men and women. It’s not uncommon to have some old leggings, the leggings starting to feel uncomfortable, or being gifted with more leggings than you really need.

Image of different kinds of leggings

Since leggings are exceptionally comfortable, you can add comfortable legging-like shirts to your collection by changing some leggings to shirts. Regardless of leggings design and material, you can use the following tips to make a shirt out of leggings.

Check the Tag of Your Leggings

Since different leggings are made from different fabrics such as polyester, cotton polyester, lycra cotton, or spandex, they have different washing and ironing requirements. That means you will need to check the tag to see the washing and ironing instructions.

Keeping in mind that ironing dirty fabrics settle the dirt permanently, it is advisable to wash and dry the leggings using the tag instructions. If the leggings tag doesn’t indicate that the leggings are wrinkle-free, you will need to iron them before cutting.

Remove the Pockets

Most of the recent styles of leggings come with secret zippered pockets that can help you keep things such as credit cards, IDs, and keys. Since the legs of the leggings will change to shirt sleeves, the pockets will be miss-aligned, and the shirt won’t look realistic.

Turn the leggings inside out and then pull out the pocket to make it flat. Since the pocket is more of a bag sewn into the seam, use a seam ripper to remove the pocket. You can then close the pocket by hand sewing the side seam at the top using small stitches.

Iron the Leggings

Since you will cut the fabric using scissors, wrinkles can cause incorrect cuttings. Ironing the leggings will also help create a pulled-together look, making it easier to work on them.

An image of two person wearing leggings

However, the effect of ironing might vary across leggings depending on the fabrics. After confirming that the leggings can be ironed, use the following steps to iron the seams, hems, and waistband.

  1. Place the leggings on an ironing board, adjust the height of the board and lock the legs before you start ironing. If you don’t have an ironing board, you can use any flat surface with a fire-resistant tablecloth.
  2. If your iron box comes with a steam compartment, fill it with fresh water so you can generate steam to help you remove the stubborn wrinkles.
  3. If you have removed the pockets, start by ironing the closed pockets so the new seam can blend well with the rest of the garment.
  4. Smoothen the top section and the waistband by placing the hot iron on it and letting it rest for around 2 to 5 seconds. Use the same procedure to iron the back and front of the waistband.
  5. Iron the legs by laying the leggings lengthwise across the board and then moving the iron box back and forth across one leg at a time. Use the same procedure to iron the back and front of the legs.
  6. Once the leggings are wrinkle-free, let them cool down on the ironing board for around 2 to 5 minutes before you proceed to the next step, so you don’t re-introduce the wrinkles.

Cut the Crotch of the Leggings

Although you can use any flat surface for this procedure, it is advisable to use an ironing board or a table with a tablecloth to prevent unnecessary movements of the leggings when cutting. Typically, you will be cutting a hole that will act as a neckline.

Lay the leggings lengthwise across the board and then fold the leggings together in a symmetrical fold so the cutting of the crotch can be uniform on both sides. Although the size of the hole you should make will depend on your size, the hole should be around 8 inches.

That means you will need to cut around 4 inches on each side. The best way to avoid unshapely and zigzag cuts is to first mark the semicircle using a marker and then take your scissors and cut the crotch in a crescent shape.

Stitch the Edges

There are high chances that the scissors will not move uniformly, especially if it is your first time cutting a semicircular shape. That means your new neckline will not be smooth, and there are high chances of fraying, especially if the leggings are made of knits.

The best way to make the edges smooth, clean and neat is to finish them with a zigzag stitch. Keeping in mind that you want the new shirt to have the same stretchability as the leggings, it’s advisable to use a three-step zigzag stitch.

An image of a group of women wearing leggings

Even if you can have a sewing machine make the zigzag stitches for you, you can still use the following zigzag stitching tips to hand-stitch at home.

  1. Take a thread that is around four times the perimeter of the hole you have cut. Usually, you can take a thread of the same color as that of the fabric if you want the stitch to be invisible or a contrasting thread color if you want to decorate the neckline.
  2. Thread the needle, tie a knot at the other end of the thread and then stitch the shirt from back to front.
  3. If you’re using a decorative thread that will be visible, it is advisable to use a tailor’s chalk or a washable fabric marker and ruler to draw parallel lines. You can then stitch between the parallel lines so the zigzags can be the same size.
  4. Fold the fabric under and create a straight stitch by inserting the needle vertically from the front to back at the point of the needle’s first entry. Bring the needle back through the initial entry to the bottom of the created stitch. Place the needle diagonally at around 45 degrees and insert it from front to back to make a V-shaped stitch.
  5. Bring the needle from back to front right below the diagonal line to create a straight stitch, and then make a straight stitch to connect the threads, so they look like N.
  6. Bring the needle from back to front and then repeat the procedure to create a zigzag stitch around the neckline.
  7. After stitching the neckline, you can use the second step to iron your new shirt so the neckline seam can blend well with the rest of the shirt.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need to Cut the Leggings’ Legs When Making a Shirt?

In most cases, you won’t need to cut the leggings when making a shirt, as most people’s leg length is the same as that of the arm. However, if you are using someone’s leggings or your hands are shorter, you can cut the leggings legs using the above tips.

Can the Neckline of a Shirt Made From Leggings Fray if I Don’t Stitch?

Yes, the neckline of a shirt made from leggings can fray if you don’t stitch the neckline. However, the fraying should stop after a few washes. Keep in mind that the extent of fraying will depend on the fabric and how you cut it.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to make a shirt out of leggings can help you use your old leggings to add new shirts to your collection. Simply wash and iron the leggings, cut the crotch to make a neckline, and then create a zigzag stitch around the hole to prevent fraying.