Tips for Sewing Motoleggings

Can you scroll through Instagram or Pinterest without seeing motoleggings?

Most likely, that’s a big fat NOPE!

But, I was definitely among the pumpkin-spice-latte lovin’ fashionista hopefuls that immediately fell in love with them! ALL of them! Faux leather, boyfriend jeans, jegging material…

And most of all, I wanted a pair that would work perfectly in the gym as well as brunch (dumbbells and mimosas, anyone?). Of course, Phee’s supplex was the perfect material for my motoleggings.

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So, the number one characteristic of motoleggings are the pintuck panels. Traditional pintucking on woven fabrics are simply created by straight stitching over evenly spaced folds.

Another way to pintuck, which is much more common with stretch fabric, is to straight stitch over unfolded marked lines with a twin needle. With this method, you would want to allow tunneling to occur. And if you have a coverstitch machine, you could also adjust the looper tension (increase tension, but please don’t forget to experiment first) to force tunneling.

But, I planned on putting my motoleggings through rigorous activity (HIIT, mass developing leg workouts, tennis, indoor volleyball), so having the maximum amount of stretch and strength through the width of my panels was vital.

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This immediately knocks out the straight stitch method. And sadly, after stretch testing the twin needle method, I found that the stitches were not strong enough (though I probably stretched my test piece 10x greater than my panel would ever experience…but hey, enginerds like me are super conservative and design to ultimate limits).

The coverstitch method would have probably worked…but I was much too lazy to rethread the dang thing. So, what did I do?

I used my beloved serger! I followed Angela Wolf’s method for pintucking with a serger. After completing all my rows, I ended up really loving the look of the reverse side. Traditionally, the folded pintucks are visible. And even though the serged side looked pretty badass, I really ended loving the quilted look of the reverse side.

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Would I ever make motoleggings again? Not for a while. I ended up really disliking the monotony of making the pintucks. But, I do want to eventually muster up the motivation to try a different method.

Before I bid you adieu, here are my top three tips for pintucking supplex:

  1. If you don’t have a pintuck foot and you need to mark out all of your lines, use the knife edge of tailor’s chalk. It’s so much easier, I promise!
  2. Experiment with different methods before you commit to your legging panels. Decide if you just want some cute looking comfy pants, or if you’re going to be parkouring your way down Santa Monica Boulevard. If you just want the look, you might not need to play with stretch stitches or your serger to pintuck.
  3. Note: I hacked my tried and true Simplicity 8212 pattern so I didn’t know how much fabric I need before pintucking. If you don’t know how much your pre-pintucked panel should measure, here’s a little bit of math that might help (only if you’re folding your pintucks and not using a coverstitch or twin needle):

First, determine how tall your panel is including seam allowances.

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Then, figure out how much space you want between your tucks. I chose 0.75 in. If I do this again, I’d most likely increase that distance to at least 1″.

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Then, determine the number of divisions your panel will end up having by dividing the pattern height by the distance between tucks. For 1/8″ pintucks, the total length of the pintucks will be close to 2″

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I multiplied that length by an “oh sh*t factor” of 1.5 (in aircraft enginerding, this 1.5 value is called the ultimate factor of safety) to get approximately 3″. FINALLY, add that 3″ to the original pattern height of 11″ and you’ll get a pre-pintucked fabric height of 14″

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So basically, in non-number terms, this is what I did:

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In my case, I ended up with roughly a 30% increase from the pattern height to the pre-pintucked fabric height.

My main concerns for running the numbers were to

  1. Know my minimum (definitely didn’t want to end up with too little)
  2. Not pintuck an unnecessarily large panel and waste fabric

But, if you want to be ultra conservative and skip all the math but also make sure that you have more than enough pintucked paneling, multiply your pattern height by 1.5 or even 2.0

I really love my leggings and have already tested their limits by stretching them over my post-Thanksgiving bod 😉 I can’t wait to take them to the gym!

Hugs and hugs,

Monica

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