Adult Sleeves to Kid Legwarmers


When it first started getting cold, the Bit went through a brief legwarmer phase. She wanted to wear them to bed (which was great, because she never wants to wear socks, and is sketchy about using a blanket, so any little extra warmth she can get is fine by me) and occasionally wanted to wear them to school or around the house.

I got all in a panic because she only had legwarmers that were from last year and thus were a little tight on her.

I’ve seen tutorials all over the place for turning the sleeves of sweaters into legwarmers for a kid, but I wondered if the same thing couldn’t be done with a long-sleeved T-shirt. I happened to have one with a little hole in the sleeve down by the cuff that I thought would work perfectly for this type of application.

This is a quick and easy project, though it probably would be better for a slightly older kid than the Bit (maybe 3 to 5? I don’t know how fast kids’ legs grow) because they’re just a little loose. And of course they’re T-shirt material so they will stretch.

What You’ll Need

  • an old long-sleeve T-shirt (mine was a medium woman’s shirt, but whatever you have lying around would work, particularly if you have an older kid with bigger legs)
  • a pair of legwarmers (optional)
  • scissors
  • sewing machine with matching thread, or needle and thread if that’s how you roll
  • straight pins to hold your seams down
  • sewing needle and contrasting embroidery thread for optional embellishments

What You’ll Do

  1. Cut the sleeves off the shirt at the top.

    sleeve to legwarmer
    If I'd cut this a little shorter, I could have turned the shirt into a short sleeve for me!
  2. If necessary, you can cut off some length at the cuff end if you have a hole like I did. Or you can just use the cuff as the bottom of your legwarmer and save yourself a step. I folded over an inch or so and seamed with a plain straight stitch.

    sleeves to legwarmers
    The seamed bottoms of your legwarmers are the cuffs of your sleeves.
  3. Take your sample pair of legwarmers and trim your sleeve to a little more than that length (for seam allowance; again, I used about an inch). If you don’t have legwarmers lying around, measure your kids’ leg where you’d like the legwarmers to cover, or just go with about a foot in length.

    sleeve legwarmers
    I used the monkey legs to trim my sleeve legwarmers to size.
  4. Fold over your seam allowance, pinning if desired, and sew a straight seam. Because you’re sewing on a stretchy fabric, you’ll want to pull on the fabric a bit as you sew so that the legwarmer can stretch freely at the seams. (If you don’t do this, the seam will pull out when you stretch the legwarmer. Ask me how I know.)

    sleeve legwarmers
    The finished sleeve legwarmers, before embellishing.
  5. If you don’t mind a plain legwarmer (or, say, you used a striped or patterned shirt), you’re done. If you want, whip out some embroidery floss and some basic embroidery skills and stitch a little to make them more interesting. I used lazy daisies and French knotsto make little flowers on mine, but you can do whatever you want.

    embellished fabric legwarmers
    The dolled-up legwarmers.
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