DIY: Faux Leather Leggings

Love the look of leather but not the maintenance? Read on to find out more about my DIY faux leather leggings!

I love the look of leather leggings and how easily they make an outfit effortlessly cool. What I don’t love however is the care they need. Specialist cleaning (often exxy), no grubby or greasy hands (sorry Mr 2), not to mention that I would need to cut off a significant amount of decent leather to fit my short legs.

Sure, it’s easy enough to buy faux leather leggings instead, and they’re not too badly priced too. In fact, I bought a second hand pair from Rozelle Markets a few weeks ago for $10.

My beef however with the one I bought and others I’ve tried on previously:

  • the faux leather just looks very faux – eg too shiny, too plastic looking, generally poor quality.
  • they just don’t fit well – loose around the knees and ankles, the elastic on the waist twists inside its casing.

Decent pairs of faux leather leggings like Asilio or Sass and Bide still cost around $120-$200! So I decided I would try making a pair, and below is how I did it.

Materials used:
  • Faux leather – I bought mine from eBay for $18. It was 1m long and 140cm wide, which was enough for me to make my leggings.
  • A pair of pants or leggings you like the fit of (I used a pair of Bonds ponte pants)
  • Sewing machine – if you can, use a Teflon foot or walking foot, and sew with a leather needle or jeans needle (I used the latter)
  • Thread – I used cotton, but it’s recommended to use nylon or a stronger thread
  • Wide elastic for the waistband
How I did it:

1. I folded the faux leather with the right sides facing each other. As it was 140cm wide I was able to fold both sides in evenly so the ends met in the middle, giving me enough fabric for each leg.

2. I folded my ponte pants along the crotch, and lay the long side of the pants along the fold of the faux leather.

3. You could be very precise and draw around the pants with a 1.5cm seam allowance (I gave myself extra for any errors). Or you could be lazy like me and just cut around the pants. (I gave myself lots of allowance for the waistband – see step below.)

4. Steps 2-3 were repeated for the other leg.

5. I unfolded the two pieces of faux leather and with the right sides facing each other aligned the edges. It looked a little bit like a coffin (sorry, morbid I know).

6. I sewed along the edges that are very crookedly marked in the image below. These form the front crotch seam and back seam.

7. I then rearranged the pants with the right sides still facing each other so that the two sewn seams were in the middle. At this point they started looking like proper leggings. I sewed the inseam of each leg, as marked below (crookedly):

8. The reason for the extra large allowance for the waistband – I wanted to make the back waistband higher than the front (like my ponte pants) and needed a lot of fabric in case of error.

9. Sew in the elastic waistband. I could have created a casing but it was too hard (I’ll explain why below) and I didn’t mind the exposed elastic anyway.

10. I could have hemmed the bottoms of the legs, but for the same reason as the elastic waistband I couldn’t, so left them raw and folded them under when I wore them.

The finished item:

Thoughts on working with faux leather:

Get the right type of leather – the first one I bought was way too thick for leggings, and was more appropriate for making bags. (Thank goodness for returns!)

As it was first time working with faux leather I found it really difficult to work with. It didn’t help that I didn’t have a Teflon foot or walking foot as the faux leather wasn’t running smoothly along when I tried to do the casing for the elastic waistband and the bottoms of the legs.

Also, if you make a mistake with faux leather, it’s not as forgiving as cotton or a knit. Once you make a hole in faux leather, it’s there forever. I tried really hard not to make mistakes, but I did, and there are little telltale holes, but these aren’t easily seen.

Play around with the tension – my cotton thread was breaking A LOT, so I had to go with a lower tension than usual. (Also try to use a stronger thread.) Don’t use pins, for the same reason I mentioned above – the less holes the better. I used washi tape to “pin” my pieces together.

The faux leather I bought is essentially latex – the seller described it as being perfect for catsuits! And latex is definitely not super stretchy. When I tried the pants on for fit and adjustments, maaaan they were tighter than I thought! I could have given myself a centimetre more leg room, BUT I actually like that they’re more like leggings than pants.

The most important thing is that you have time to work with it – I asked hubby for a couple of hours of peace and quiet (he took the kids to the park) while I made these. And while I did have moments of “WTF am I doing”, I’m actually quite pleased with how they turned out.

Outfit details:

 

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