The idea for this pattern review came up in the Capsule Wardrobe Sew Along group on Facebook – a really lovely group to be a part of if you are interested in sewing for yourself and/or the capsule wardrobe concept. Someone mentioned that a comparison of several of the free women’s leggings available would be really helpful to guide which ones to put the effort into downloading, printing, assembling the pattern and sewing.
I jumped on the assignment for a couple of reasons: First, I was an internal auditor before having kids. Reviewing and documenting work processes (pattern tutorial) and analyzing results (comparing features and fit) is what I did for over three years and beyond in different accounting roles. Second, I don’t typically have to do a lot of fitting for my body as I am relatively close to ASTM standards for my size. If I do make adjustments, they are generally minor and more about my broad shoulders and D-cup breasts. Even though I’m usually making a size at the higher end of the range offered, they usually fit right out of the envelope (or printer). I’m regularly asked to participate in pattern testing for women’s patterns, and I believe being a fairly good “fit model” for the upper end of the size range is part of that.
My current relevant measurements are: 5’8″ tall. 36″ waist, 39″ high hip, 42″ full hip, 25″ full thigh, 30″ inseam. I’m kind of between a rectangle and an hourglass, but I lean more towards a rectangle because I don’t have a defined waist, particularly from the front. I have full, muscular legs and more of my height is in my legs than torso.
The four patterns I’m reviewing are 5 out of 4 Ninja Pants, Laela Jeyne Talor Leggings, Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs, and Streetstyle 003 Leggings. There are other free leggings patterns out there, but these four seemed the most similar in style, and because four seems like a good number for a head to head comparison. I selected the size to sew based on the recommendation in the patterns, and only modified to add length to the Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs and Laela Jeyne Taylor Leggings.
All the fabrics are double brushed polyester with 4-way 60-70% stretch from Raspberry Creek Fabric. I made sure to use fabrics with all the same weight and stretch. Raspberry Creek Fabrics is not sponsoring this post, but I do like to shop there because they have a great selection, ship super fast, and their Facebook group is so full of inspiration!
This table is an at-a-glance overview of the stats about each pattern. I’ll cover the details of each pattern in depth and then give a summary at the end.
5 out of 4 Ninja Pants
Overview: Okay, I THOUGHT these were going to be my favorite, but unfortunately they were not. I love the gusset, and this is the only pattern I reviewed which had one offered as part of the pattern. The gusset is fine, but I really didn’t like the waistband on these at all. I cut on the mid-rise line, and perhaps if I had used the high-rise line it wouldn’t flop over immediately. Now, I’m not really a yoga waistband gal, so bear that in mind. For my body type and personal preference the waistband needs to be taller and/or also have elastic in the waistband.
Downloading, Printing, Assembling: Discount code available for 5 out of 4 Patterns group members and pattern on 5 out of 4 website. There’s a link to the pattern group on the pattern listing to get the special discount code. The pattern is no-trim with different files for 8.5 x 11, A4, and a copy shop file is also provided. I had to play a little with the overlap to get everything to line up – if I butted the page right up to the guideline as instructed, the pattern didn’t match correctly.
Drafting: Looks solid. Appears to be natural/uneven grading meaning there are different distances between pieces which correspond to the steps in the sizing. The nesting is logical and pieces are proportionate as they get larger. Most seams are trued, or close to a 90-degree angle. The different rise options are labeled well. I really like the contoured waistband, but as you see above, I wish it were taller or had the option for elastic combined with the fabric waistband. There is instruction for an exposed elastic waistband, but that doesn’t appeal to me either.
Recommended For: If you’re a narrow yoga waistband gal with a curvy figure these probably would be fantastic for you. I think these would fit best for those with a well-defined waist so rectangles and apples might find other leggings more to their taste, or plan to modify the waistband on these. These also had the widest size range, so those that find they are outside the size range on other pattern makers may hit the jackpot with the Ninja Pants.
Laela Jeyne Taylor Leggings
I really enjoyed the contoured four-piece waistband. The extra structure given by sewing the outer and inner waistband pieces together at the top really helped keep the waistband from folding over on itself when I moved around. Even after hunching over to put on socks, the waistband stayed in place. The front and back rise provide full coverage; with the waistband it falls just below my belly button and passed the squat test with flying colors.
Downloading, Printing, Assembling: This pattern is only available for free through the end of the year – so you’ve only got a few more days to grab it with the freebie code available for Laeyla Jeyne Patterns Group members and pattern on Laela Jeyne website. There’s a link to the pattern group on the pattern listing to get the special discount code. * Update: the coupon will be extended through January 2. This is a no-trim pattern with layers. I had to do the normal amount of fiddling to get the pattern aligned with the trimless setup.
Drafting: Laela Jeyne drafts for a 5’5″ woman, so I used the lengthen/shorten instructions in the pattern to add 3″ to accommodate my 5’8″ height, which is more in my legs than torso. I didn’t add any length to the rise because I’m reasonably short-torsoed, but I did make a small nod to the suggestion by sewing my waistband to the leggings with 1/4″ seam allowance vs. the 3/8″ pattern allowance. The grading is definitely natural/uneven grading meaning there are different distances between pieces which correspond to the steps in the sizing with the increases getting greater as the sizes increase. The nesting is logical and pieces are proportionate as they get larger. All the seams are trued – a nice 90-degree angle is formed where pieces meet. This makes the sewing smooth and no guessing where edges should be aligned.
Recommended For: Anyone looking for generous rise with a structured and contoured fabric waistband. I think these would work well for all body types. Also the full-panel maternity option would probably be awesome for pregnant ladies.
Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs
This was the only pattern I had made previously. But I hadn’t used fabrics with the recommended stretch AND I now fall into a size L instead of the XL (the ones I made before now fit because I’m smaller and I wear them fairly regularly). I did lengthen about an inch and a half. Using the correct fabric, these are pretty comfy. The tall waistband stays upright reasonably well. They are really low rise in the front which doesn’t bother me since I generally either wear pants low on my hips or all the way up like granny panties. I don’t really like things that hug the squishy bits in between. The Patterns for Pirates group on Facebook is very active and there are loads of conversations to modify the Peg Legs. There’s a blog post on Peg Legs 101 and a gusset pattern available on the sister site Made for Mermaids – you have to click through to the Made for Mermaids Facebook group for the file download.
Downloading, Printing, Assembling: Discount code available for Patterns for Pirates Sewing PDF Pattern Group members and pattern on Patterns for Pirates website. There’s a link to the pattern group on the pattern listing to get the special discount code. It’s been a while since I printed this, but I don’t remember any other difficulties other than my general dislike of no-trim pages. I just don’t find the overlapping method to be very precise in general.
Drafting: My biggest complaint on the Peg Legs is the odd angle where the front rise meets. The angle is obtuse – greater than 90-degrees, so when they’re joined it creates a “V”. The photo at the beginning of this section is the first pair I made but you can see the waistband attachment better. The grading appears to be natural/uneven grading meaning there are different distances between pieces which correspond to the steps in the sizing. The nesting is logical and pieces are proportionate as they get larger. There is a cut chart provided for the rectangular waistband.
Recommended For: I think these would work well for nearly all body types, some with modifications found in the discussions in the group. The combination of the low front rise with a modified taller waistband seems like it best addresses those with a fuller tummy like apple shapes. I think these are the most booty flattering with the lower rise offset by the extra tall waistband.
Streetstyle 003 Leggings
I didn’t want to like these. The quarter inch seam allowance and putting the pattern together had put me off before I even got to cutting and sewing. I don’t love that the holes for the tie at the waist is not finished in any way. But man, they’re comfy. The rise is great, the tall waistband with drawstring feels nice and secure, and the relaxed fit makes them feel like a warm hug. That said, they are more of a lounge style and not a compression-type legging like the rest.
Downloading, Printing, Assembling: Pattern is available as a free download on the Streetsyle website. This was by far the most troublesome pattern to assemble. They need to be trimmed (which is actually my preference), and then symbols in boxes are overlapped to match the pages. Except there aren’t symbols on a couple of key pages, and often when things matched horizontally they didn’t match vertically or vice-versa. Streetstyle is a new adult line offshoot of Brindle & Twig but I don’t know if this is the same assembly method as the children’s line.
Drafting: I found the drafting on these to be the most professional. All the seams are trued – a nice 90-degree angle is formed where pieces meet. This makes the sewing smooth and no guessing where edges should be aligned. There are notches for lining up the inseam as well as the waistband. The grading appears to be natural/uneven grading meaning there are different distances between pieces which correspond to the steps in the sizing. The nesting is logical and pieces are proportionate as they get larger. These are 1/4″ seam allowance, which I gritted my teeth at (and drew a frowny-face on my notes on the pattern), but actually didn’t cause me any issues with sewing. This was the only pattern that assumed they would be sewn 100% by serger, so that’s what I did.
Recommended For: A more casual fit with looser calves and ankles. Anyone who appreciates a nice tall rise. Probably best for hourglass, rectangle, spoon, and inverted triangle shapes.
Comparison by Features
The winner for front rise goes to the Laela Jeyne Taylor Leggings. Not too high, not too low. I’d put the Streetstyle 003 Leggings as second place with the extra tall waistband and drawstring. Third goes to Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs with the tallest waistband compensating for the lower front rise. Last goes to 5 out of 4 Ninja Pants with what I consider a too-short waistband that wants to fold over if I move at all.
The amount of ease shows how closely each pattern fits. I measured the size I made at the full hip, deducted seam allowances and then subtracted my full hip measurement. The size chart covers a range at each size so the ease would be a corresponding range, but I figured this was the easiest way to compare. So garment measurement – body measurement = ease. Going from left to right, the 5 out of 4 Ninja Pants have -8.5″ of ease, the Laela Jeyne Taylor Leggings have -3.5″ ease, the Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs have -14.5″ ease, and Streetstyle 003 Leggings have -6.5″.
It’s no wonder the fabric requirements for Peg Legs are so specific. They really HAVE to be very specific because otherwise the fabric will not stretch enough to fit. Also I notice that my favorite leggings have the least amount of negative ease. Hmmm… So if you’re really looking for a pattern that “sucks you in” and smooths out any little bumps and lumps you may come to a different conclusion than I have.
These are all pretty darn close, so I’ll put Laela Jeyne Taylor Leggings, Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs and Streetstyle Taylor Leggings as a tie for first and the 5 out of 4 Ninja Pants as a close second.
The squat test shows it a little better. Sorry, I forgot to pull my shirt up a little on the Peg Legs, but I’m pretty sure I have it right at the top edge of the waistband so it’s about the same level as the two on either side. Ninja Pants were the closest to visible crack, but not dangerously so – and remember I cut the mid-rise line so the high rise would probably be about at the same level as the rest of these. Of course I had the foresight to have a nice big tattoo on my lower back to serve as a good ruler for this test! It says “Muay Thai” in Thai.
This view doesn’t really add much additional information, but you can see the length better and how the thigh, calf and ankle fit. Remember that I added length to the Laela Jeyne Taylor Leggings and the Peg Legs to get them to fit my body better. I like that the Streetstyle 003 Leggings are nice and long right off the printer, but these are looser through the calf and ankle. You can also kind of see how the Peg Legs hold everything in with the far tighter fit through negative ease.
So after all this analysis, my final say is…
Laela Jeyne Taylor Leggings, followed very closely by Streetstyle 003 Leggings, then Patterns for Pirates Peg Legs, and 5 out of 4 Ninja Pants right behind. They’re all grouped pretty closely together and I certainly will wear all of these. Some I may take my favorite aspects and change a few things to make a legging I really love, like the Ninja Pants with a different waistband. Don’t forget that the Laela Jeyne Taylor Leggings are only free through the end of the year, so if you agree with my review and want this pattern for free you’d better jump to it!! * Update: apparently y’all broke the internet with the rush to grab the pattern before the code expired. Marissa is upgrading to a dedicated server to resolve the issues and extending the code through January 2 to give everyone time.
I’d love for this review to become a discussion about features and patterns that you prefer. Comment away!