Alice won't wear any type of pants besides leggings. Ever. I bought her exactly one pair of leggings in the time I've been sewing for her. They got a hole right at a seam within an hour the first time she wore them. As I sat cursing while repairing them, I decided that I would never buy leggings again. And I haven't. Having made her leggings for 4 years now, I've got things down to a science and thought I'd share.
1. The leggings are always solid colors. I also try to coordinate things so that she can match at least 2 different colors of leggings with each dress. This past year her leggings wound up being orange, lime green, pink, and yellow. She also had blue, purple and lilac left from the previous year. Next year she's going to require a bunch of new clothes due to a growth spurt. This year will be pink, orange, brown, green, and turquoise. We've also got one of each legging left over from this year.
2. If I cut extremely carefully I can get 2 pairs of leggings from a yard of fabric. This year that required cutting the first pair with a double thickness of fabric and then cutting the second pair one leg at a time. Next year I think I'll have to get more than a yard to make two pairs. (She'll be in 2nd grade next year to give you an idea of sizing...) Ottobre 4/04 has my favorite leggings pattern. It's sized from baby through big kid and dips in the front. Very flattering and comfortable. I always cut them on the long side to allow for growth during the year and to try to eek out a 2nd year's wear from some of them.
2-1/2. I save my scraps from the leggings in case I need to repair them. This year Alice ripped the knee on one pair and I rescued them by sewing a heart-shaped patch over the hole. They became her very favorite pair to wear.
3. In April I stop being very concerned about treating the knees of the leggings for stains. When it starts getting warm out I cut a few pairs off for bike shorts. When it REALLY gets warm out (May!) I go through, set aside the pair in each color that has worn the best and cut the rest off into bike shorts for the summer. This allows for cold weather in the summer as well as expanding her color choices for the next year. It also buys me time if I don't get the new set of leggings done in time for fall weather.
4. I cut the shorts long. This way it is possible to get more than one year's worth of wear out of them. She has a few this summer that she's been wearing since she was three. She'll be 6 this summer.
I tend to make a ton of pairs of leggings at a time. This year I've got 12 pairs cut out. I make them assembly style.
Here is a big pile o' leggings that I've chain serged the leg seams:
Here are two pairs all finished:
Alice doing modern dance. Notice the top. This was a product of a nice long sewing weekend with a friend. Her little girl has a matching top. This top is so darling I've changed my mind about making dresses from jersey in favor of more tunic tops.
12 pairs of leggings cost me roughly $35 in materials or $2.91 each. Granted, two pairs were free fabric, but even if I bought that fabric @ $6 / yd it only brings the total to $3.41 a piece. Not bad.