Friday, August 14, 2009

Homemade Baby Leg Warmers

Greetings from beautiful Wyoming! We had a lovely trip here (mostly) - beautiful scenery, 2-year-old took a 3.5 hour nap in the car (!), I forgot my wallet, my camera, and a bracelet device that I use to control motion sickness when driving through the mountains(!). Luckily I brought most of the cash we intended to bring, Hubs has all our credit cards, and the only thing I'm really missing is my drivers' license. My mom loaned me her camera, and we'll pick up some Dramamine or such before heading into the mountains. On to Frugal Friday!

When I got pregnant and started reading all the "baby propaganda" out there, one advertisement that stuck out as *cute*cute*cute* was for Babylegs. Ever the cheapskate, though, I set my sights on more practical items that we actually needed. If YOU wish to buy a pair or six of my leg warmers, I'd be happy to oblige, though! Please click over to my Etsy shop from the sidebar.

One day, I stumbled across a tutorial on flickr to make baby leg warmers out of socks. When I went back to link to it, it said the page was now private. I've not taken pictures when I've made any, so this post was an attempt to walk you through it in words. Goose is shown above sporting her cow leg warmers. [edit: here it is!! And here is a tutorial on how to make them using a dollar store scarf. Awesome!]

First, get your hands on a cute pair of adult knee socks. Unless they're for a tiny baby, you want actual knee length, not mid-calf or crew or anything else - and adult size, not girls. Lay them out flat whichever way they come out of the package, usually with the fold running down what would be your shin and where the stocking seam would hit down your calf if ladies still wore such things. (How's that for a visual???)

I try to eyeball where the sock seemed to smooth out at the ankle coming up from the heel to make that first cut - essentially, you're cutting to make a long tube for the main part of the legwarmer, so you want that bottom seam to be as even as possible, and cut the foot off the sock. Consider the design on your sock, and decide if you'd rather have an extra inch in length or straight stripes in the design on the bottom.

Next, you're going to cut the toe and heel off the foot of the sock so that you have the small tube that goes over the middle of your foot, and we'll use that to make the cuff. Again, eyeball your sock and try to cut so that you'll end up with the most even top and bottom possible. The original instructions identified to cut the cuff to a certain size, but I found that some socks (cough*cheaper ones*cough) didn't come out well when I tried to do that. Since your foot is taller the closer it gets to your ankle, the tube will be wider at that end. I tried to just trim it up evenly and take off the least amount of fabric possible near the toes. (Clear as mud?)

You'll discard the toe and heel, unless you want to use them for sock monkeys, or some such. I made this sock monkey for my niece for Christmas last year - but you use a whole pair of socks, no need for extra heels or toes. Unless, I suppose, you have socks with the heel worn out, in which case you'd be glad for the extra heel pieces! I promise her mouth doesn't look that crooked in real life - yikes! But I digress. Sorry.

If the intended recipient happens to have chunky thighs, you may want to use a piece of knit or ribbed fabric instead, and make what used to be the top of the sock (that reaches your knee) into the bottom of the sock (that sits on baby's ankle) and make a larger cuff for the top. You'll use the same principle as we will for our cuff.

Fold the cuff in half lengthwise (so that the top is the part that was near the ankle and the bottom is the part that was near the toes) with the RIGHT sides together, or basically inside out. You can use a machine to stitch these together if you prefer, I found that I could control my tension better by hand stitching. Stitch down the side of the cuff so the top and bottom are still open. Make sure you use good knots - these will likely take some abuse!

Then fold it in half the other way to form the actual cuff, so the wrong side of the fabric is inside. Take a look at the pattern on either side and decide which one you prefer - you might also look at how it will join up with the bottom of the other part of the sock. Situate it so the part you want showing is to the inside and insert the main part of the sock/legwarmer in the cuff with the three cut edges together. (MAN, that is begging for a picture - sorry!)

I would try to line *something* up between the top and bottom, be it the seam of the cuff and the fold line of the sock, or whatever works for the pair you have. Then start stitching! This is where hand-sewing really worked better for me. I'd sew several stitches, then give the opening a stretch all the way around so that the smaller cuff would stay lined up with the larger sock.

Once you get it all stitched on, tie a good knot, snip your thread, and turn the cuff right side out - admire your work and repeat on the other sock! The tutorial recommended using a serger or zigzag stitch to finish off the raw edges inside, but I never have and they seem to be fine. Feel free to e-mail me at the address on the sidebar or leave a comment with any questions!

If you don't want to make a cuff, and the intended recipient is an older child, check out My House Boutique's leg warmers that are simpler to make.

And for more frugal ideas, visit Life As Mom.


Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

I would love to try to make a pair of these for Clara -- so cute!

And that sock monkey is adorable!!

LaVonne said...

thanks for posting this. we love baby legs here. I linked your post to my own Frugal Friday post. Stop by anytime ;)

Angela said...

Those are just the CUTEST!! Glad your trip is going good!

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

Yours are so adorable. I think these would be great for sleeping, that I don't have to put a whole pair of pants around my son's diaper. I could put his shirt on and then scoot some leg warmers on his legs (because he kicks the covers all over the place).

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Ohhh. The sock monkeys remind me of my grandmother. She made them for each of her grandchildren (my siblings and me) and her greatgrandchildren (my childen). We still have some of them around even though she is no longer with us. Thanks for the memory!

Unknown said...

Netta, i'm loving our babylegs! These plus underwear are now worn with tunic shirts at daycare, modest and warm enough for indoor winter play while potty training.

Added bonus: they absorb most wet accidents before it hits the carpet, and are easy to change.