McCall’s 6173 or P356:Leggings:Pattern Review


I know you wish you had a pair.

Just like these.

McCall's 6173, though my envelope says P356. No, this is not the fabric in which I intend to make the final version.


McCall’s P356 Leggings, Option B

McCall's 6173

Leggings are in all the stores now and I was pleased to see that McCalls had a pattern. Spying it on a stand near the pattern cabinets at JoAnn’s I bought on impulse. I was doubly pleased when the very youthful cashier thought the pattern was so hip that she said after ringing me up she was going directly back to snag herself one.

  • Pros:
    Very easy construction. Just like sewing pajamas only with very skinny legs.
    Knits do not require a serger so very new sewers will be able to sew these successfully.
    Since the fit is so tight no one will notice any sewing or fitting snafus.
    A lot of RTW leggings are in shiny colors which enlarge many women’s legs, or they are very thin like pantyhose, negating the warmth factor. When you sew your own, you can pick patterns, weight, and amount of sheen you desire.

McCall's 6173 First Practice Muslin:The legs are way too loose to look like leggings.

  • Cons:
    If you don’t have a serger, play around with your zig zag or consider running two lines of stitching for extra strength.
  • Thin knits are best but their edges do curl as you sew. I just pin every six inches and then relax because I will need to straighten the edges as I go anyway. Relaxing instead of being annoyed does the trick for me. Also you may want to purchase cheap gift tissue paper and run that along the feed dogs if the knit is giving you too much trouble.
  • The pattern came out too large to be worn as proper leggings. I cut the hip portions at extra-large for comfort, but I could have cut the legs between a medium and a large. The pattern did not run down to a medium, making this a pattern alteration that might scare new sewers who haven’t yet made many pattern adjustments.
  • The legs are straight when they could be curved in and out to follow the leg. This could make them fit really well and is easily done, but a newbie sewer might not know about that adjustment.
  • Simple as it is the pattern could have more finesse. Intermediate sewers will have no problems, but new sewers might feel discouraged when they see they might have to tackle some adjustments they might not have done before.
  • Requires 60 inch fabric widths. Most knits come in that width, but a few don’t.
  • Finding appropriate knits. I want a matte legging to go under tunic-y dresses and I think I can find such a knit in a solid color at either Hancock’s or JoAnn’s. But if you want metallic or a funky print, something really hip, you may have to do some serious online research to find a shop.
  1. Some Assembly Required:
    Sew the front crotch seams together, and then the back crotch seams.
  2. Fold down to meet the front crotch intersection to the back intersection. Then sew side seams, through crotch and down other leg. Yes, you can sew directionally, but on this you may not want to bother.
  3. Attach elastic.
  4. Finish hem at ankle. You can use stretch lace or simply turn under. Twin needle would mimic RTW but since leggings are often bunched a bit at the ankle no one will notice if you just do a single shallow zig zag stitch.

The first muslin is in an outdated print of knit pique with considerable stretch. It was probably the best weight for leggings. The second muslin is of an old knit bedsheet which accounts for the livid stripes.

Curve the sides seams to look like legs from the mid-thigh down. You might need to use a flexible curve.
Do not use a knit that unravels easily.
Take up the length at the knee. This pattern has too much material at the base of the knee.
No one will see the top. If you like extra room in the seat, for comfort consider cutting the hip and crotch a size large than the legs.

McCall's 6173: What the pattern initially looked like.

McCall's 6173: What it looked like after my pattern adjustments.

Will I Sew it Again:
Yes. I plan to make some dresses and very long tunics and then make the leggings to match. Leggings might be the only viable way to make casual dresses wearable during the cold Ohio February.
Advice to Others:
Practice on cheap knit to get the legs comfortably tight.
I added five inches to the back waist seam and tapered down to 0 at the front. I eventually cut it back to 3 inches with a taper but I found the back waist much too short on the original muslin.
Even if you are not petite, consider taking in at the knee foldline.
Overall Style Grade: A, because these things are in. I know they aren’t for everyone, but I nearly fell over when I saw a Big Four offer a pattern for something fashionable right in the moment! Most of the time it feels like they wait a year or so to see if the design will take off.
Results Grade: B, only because they take some tweaking to get right. I don’t think I should have had to add three inches to get the back waist seam to meet my waist. Any woman cutting an extra-large probably has some booty. Looking at the pattern out of the envelope it appeared very simple, like possibly the patternmaker had just graded up by rote, without any finetuning. Also, there is no curvature on the legs making some bunchiness at the knee.
Next Post: Friday, October 8, 2010; Stash Bash Week Update and the post on the leggings I promised my daughter


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. TakiJ
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 07:02:47

    Great review. My daughter has been talking about making leggings so I may have to tell her to give this pattern some thought.


  2. Donna
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 09:22:34

    Thank you so much for your post. I also snagged this pattern at JoAnn’s when they were having their sale. It is next on my list after I finish a jacket so your post will really be helpful. I have some beautiful medium gray knit for the leggings. I want mine for warmth as well as the look.


  3. Trackback: Leggings from Kwik Sew Swim and Action Wear by Kerstin Martensson « Sew Store-Bought
  4. Trackback: McCalls M6173: Funky-licious Leggings — ¡carynification!

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