This post contains affiliate links that help in various ways to keep my site alive. If you happen to purchase from them, thank you! On that note, there’s a discount code at the bottom of this post.
I’m gonna warn you. This post is very in-depth.
When I buy custom printed fabric, I get serious about my projects. This one took a very short time to sew up (less than an evening and an afternoon, really) but took me 1.5 years to be sure it was the pattern I wanted to cut into this special fabric for.
The first cut is, in fact, the deepest when it comes to ‘spensive materials.
If this post is helpful or interesting to you, please share it on Facebook, Pinterest, wherever it will find others who might like it too!
You can also sign up for email updates in the right sidebar, and follow me on Instagram if you’d like to know about new posts!
I had recently started sewing clothes for myself and family after a few years making scarves for my shop. I wanted to make some leggings because they looked comfy and cute on all the bodies. In the sewing world, there is no end to the variety of leggings patterns to sew up, but for some reason, I couldn’t find any athletic ones that lacked the inseam.
Then came the Cavallos by Greenstyle Creations (affiliate link) — a legging that emulates horse-riding pants. (Did you know those are called jodhpurs? I didn’t.) Along with the lack of an inseam, this PDF pattern features a couple of options for massive pockets. At the gym especially, that kind of thing is paramount to me not losing stuff. I can’t do the gym without pockets.
I waited a while — an admittedly long while — to purchase the pattern. Why? Well, I had started going to the gym, and I had pre-ordered some athletic fabric I absolutely loved, I was so ready to finally make non-rubby leggings…
…this was in February 2020. Then, you know. Here in Ontario, we were only back to the gym as of this past October, 2021.
Greenstyle is a PDF pattern company that also offers projector files, something we’ll get into the awesomeness of in another post. I wanted to mention this quickly because projecting the pattern down onto my cutting table used to seem like sorcery, yet in reality it is incredible and has saved me hours and hundreds of printed pages as well as ink and glue. This pattern was projected to scale onto my fabric using an inexpensive projector, where I cut it to size and now I have something to wear! Cool, right?
So anyway, given we were all finally back to where things like the gym could open again, I bought the Cavallos pattern. Within their size range (the waist measurement goes from from 22″ to 57″), the pattern states that the most fabric you’ll need for this pattern is 1.5 yards (about 1.37 metres). I have used a few of their patterns (over and over) in the recent past and their sizing is usually pretty dead-on for me. More details about this pattern and fabric requirements can be found on their site here.
So here’s what I did, followed by a rundown of why I chose each, and the good/bad of my decisions:
- Symmetrical waistband in ultra-high rise
- Full length
- Athletic knit
- Graded down for hips only
- Slant pockets (as opposed to scoop pockets)
- Coverstitched seams
Symmetrical waistband in ultra-high rise
The symmetrical waistband just seemed flat-out easier for me, rather than piecing together the other waistband option. By the end of a pattern, sometimes I’m just tired and lazy and want to be done, and that’s when the waistband usually comes in. Luckily for me it turned out to be very flattering. I’ll often scroll through the pattern’s tester photos just to be sure I will like what I end up with when it comes to making these decisions. The symmetrical waistband looked great on all the people who tested it, so that’s what I chose. And it doesn’t slip or ride down while walking or even during a good workout.
A note on clear elastic: It is mentioned in the pattern that you can add clear elastic to the top seam of the waistband to prevent slippage. Using this athletic knit fabric with very decent recovery (i.e., snap-back-into-place-ness), I added the elastic and, maybe I did it wrong but I couldn’t pull the waistband up over my butt. Ha! Soooo, I removed the elastic and re-did the seams and it turned out I didn’t need it anyway with this fabric. Just my experience. Yours might be different.
This is just what I’ll get the most use out of, I figured, since fall/winter is prime gym time.
I’m taller, nearly 5’10”. I wear a longer length in most pants, and I think Greenstyle drafts most feminine-shaped patterns for 5’7″, with the option to add or subtract length as needed. I wasn’t worried if these turned out to be a 7/8s length since they’d be workout-wear, so I didn’t bother adding length. This turned out to be a good thing! At regular full-length, hemmed as directed, these leggings are still a few inches long on me. Unsure if this has to do with the amazing stretch in this athletic fabric or not, but I don’t mind it. I turn the extra inches up under, though I could just cut off the end and re-hem (but I don’t wanna).
The fabric I chose was a preorder from Blended Thread Fabrics, a Canadian-based custom fabric shop, and the best thing to come out of Saskatchewan since Corner Gas. The fabric is an athletic knit custom print called Honeycomb Petals (currently unavailable, though they do re-run pre-orders for popular custom prints sometimes). It has great stretch, excellent recovery (doesn’t stay stretched-out; snaps back into place as a legging should), and it doesn’t white-out (stretch out to show white when you squat, for example), though this may be because it’s a very light coloured fabric to begin with. I’m not 100% on this but I have heard that their most recent athletic knits are supposed to be even better at not whiting-out than previously.
I love this fabric.
Graded down for hips only
The advantage of making your clothes is that you can grade up or down for different parts of your body to get a really great fit.
For the Cavallos, after measuring I found that most of me was one size, but my hips were in between sizes. Greenstyle suggests sizing down in these if you are between sizes for any measurement, so for the hip (around the butt) area, I graded down one size.
This scared me at first, and I thought maybe I should have stayed all one size because I am terrified of butt-seams ripping (haha). However, with serged seams (or even very carefully constructed stretch-stitch seams on a sewing machine), plus coverstitching all seams (or topstitching with a stretch stitch on a regular sewing machine), there is little to worry about, given you use a good quality fabric. Sizing down seemed to fit like a stretchy glove, so I think I made the right choice.
Slant pockets (as opposed to scoop pockets)
As a woman obsessed with pocket real estate, I originally wanted the taller ‘scoop’ pockets. However, I decided on the slant ones last minute and they are plenty big enough. You have the option with the Cavallos of either hemming or binding the pockets. I love binding normally, but I chose to hem to save time. I’m very happy with my choices.
This is not necessary, but adds such a professional polish, as would topstitching with a stretch stitch on a regular machine. And as mentioned earlier, coverstitching made me a lot more comfortable wearing these leggings in public. Two layers of stretchy stitches just seems (seams?) more reliable than one on its own, especially where my butt is concerned.
On the note of stretchy seams, I used stretch thread cones in the loopers of my serger and coverstitch. (Only used stretch in one out of two loopers in my serger.) Woolly Nylon is a brand well-recommended for this; I used Maxi-Lock Stretch. The result is wonderful, the looper stitches look beautiful and clean on the inside of the leggings, and this would look so nice reverse coverstitched (which a lot of people do for athletic; I didn’t because mine wouldn’t have matched the outside of my fabric).
Warning, though: It was a pain in the butt the one time when the looper thread on my coverstitch unexpectedly got caught on the bottom of its own cone and created a bird’s nest of epic proportions that took literal hours to remove from the leggings. I’m not a seasoned stretch-thread pro, but try to make sure that never happens to you. I kept a watchful eye on that cone for the rest of my Cavallos-sewing experience and I did actually stop the same thing from happening a few more times in doing so. Naughty stretch thread!
Thick seams tip: Hammer down any thick seams you’ll be topstitching/coverstitching over, such as where two or more seams meet up together. Yes, use an actual hammer. You’ll be glad you did. It makes a huge difference and saves hours of frustration, I promise.
I absolutely love my Cavallo leggings. I was always a little unsure of how the huge pockets would actually look on my body, but they’re pretty flattering. Keeping them the same fabric as the rest (not that I had more athletic knit on-hand) kind of kept the pattern flowing nicely throughout too, not drawing attention to any spots in particular, though I might colour-block on another pair one day to change it up.
The symmetrical waistband seems to be the less-commonly done option and yet it worked out so well, especially in the ultra-high rise.
Stretch thread was a big help, and topstitching these whether by stretch stitch on a sewing machine or coverstitching gives an added polish. I very nearly skipped this because they really did look so good to me, but the added stitching looks pro and gives me an added sense of security with the additional layer of stitches along the seams. Topstitching with a sewing machine would also work well, but be sure to use a stretchy stitch.
They’re super long even though I’m taller than average for a woman and these are drafted for (I believe) someone with a height of 5’7″. This really doesn’t bother me since nothing ever fits me long, but I thought I’d point it out.
Oh, and the no-inseams part? The whole reason I chose to make these? Comfy AF. It’s so nice to not have the hard imprint of a seam along the calf, which is ever-present with all my other leggings after a workout. It also helps that these are drafted entirely for my measurements — something that you, too, can do for yourself!
I liked these so much, I decided to go full-tilt and sew up a top to match!
Thanks for reading, the long or the short of it, or maybe even the whole thing. I hope this post has been helpful. Feel free to share it with anyone who has been kicking around the idea of whipping up some leggings (or jodhpurs, if they ride horses)!
If you want to make a pair of Cavallos for yourself, this affiliate link will give you 5% off the purchase price of a pattern from Greenstyle Creations. Please note: Your purchase from this link earns me points so I can keep buying patterns, which means more reviews, which helps keep my site happy and breathing!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram or add your email to my list to be notified of new posts and goodies. And there will be some goodies in the coming weeks!
That’s all from me for now.