Sewing and Knitting DIY Tutorial: Eco-friendly Leg Warmers Made with Recycled Knitwear

Leg warmers— sometimes called gaiters— are back in fashion! They are a must-have accessory for women like me who enjoy walking early in the morning despite being sensitive to the cold…

Here is an easy, eco-friendly tutorial to make as many leg warmers as you want.

My project started out with a worn out wool sweater that my life partner could no longer wear… and a strong urge to have my own leg warmers!

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First I knitted two 2 x 2-wide ribbed pieces matching the colours of the sweater to complete the leg warmers, because I knew the ribbing on the sweater was not tight enough for the leg warmers to stay in place. If the sweater you will use for this project already has large, taught ribbing at the waist, you can skip this step and use it.

Let’s move on to the next step! I cut the knitwear into rectangles of about 17 inches by 24 inches (43 cm x 61 cm) in size. Obviously, I wanted long leg warmers… I sewed a straight stitch all along the edges to prevent the knitwear stitches from running.

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If you have an over seaming machine, you can do the same as I did and re-stitch over the straight seam to make sure it holds and the edges have a nice finish. If the knit twisted during the operation, simply smooth it back into shape using a steam iron.

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Then I inserted pins in a straight line along the edges I had stitched. I used the knitted lines of the fabric as guidelines to end up with a nice, straight rectangle, because I didn’t cut the knitwear carefully enough. The allowance between the pins and edge stitches varied between 1 cm and 2.5 cm, depending on how I cut the knitwear.

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Hand stitching is terrific for finishing knit work! You could also stitch both edges of each leg warmer together lengthwise using a sewing machine. But I far better prefer hand sewing finish, because it becomes practically invisible.

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Do the same thing with each ribbed band.

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If the width of your stitched edges is very irregular like mine, you can finish the edges by sewing and over seaming another straight stitch.

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Next, I tacked the stitched edges in place by machine stitching them only at the bottom of each leg warmer, so that they do not show on the knitwear right way out.

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If you prefer not stitching ribbing on the top part of the leg warmers, simply sew that part into a hem, like the bottom of pants, to finish your project. But if you knitted a ribbed band or want to use the one from the sweater, it is now time to add it. I used extensible stitching and a larger needle because of the thick knit.

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Finish off the piece by stitching a narrow seam of about 5 mm to 1 cm, and voilà!

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Laid flat, each finished leg warmer measured 27 inches long by 7 inches large (69 cm x 18 cm). Even if they turn out to be long, you can wear your leg warmers shorter!

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I don’t know about you, but I find my leg warmers terrific! AND not expensive at all!! 😉

Please feel free to send me pictures of your completed projects! I love to share your talents with my readers! 😉

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