Sunday, October 22, 2017

DIY Leg Warmers, Boot Socks & Boot Cuffs

A few years ago I did some fun research on Pinterest for making your own leg warmers and boot cuffs.  The problem was that I LOVE wide leg pants, and basically had nothing with which to wear such accessories.  Fortunately I used Pinterest to make a board with my inspiring research.

Last year I acquired some thick, fleece lined leggings, mostly to add an extra warm layer under anything all winter long because I get cold, and I've discovered that basically if I'm not going to put fat on my body to insulate me, I have to supplement.  An added perk is that in moderate temperatures, I can wear these same leggings with skirts or dresses (not as pants alone!) and boots with that cute little splash of decoration that I loved enough to pointlessly research making them.

So, last week I went to the thrift store with friends in order to acquire some supplies.  I came away with three sweaters whose sleeves were lovely and in appropriate colors to correspond to my fall sense of fashion.  I sat down to work on the first two.  And the third one?  Well, the sweater actually fit and it was beautiful, so I'm keeping it, at least until I get tired of it, and then maybe I'll Frankenstein it.

I now have these leg warmers, plus a boot cuff made simply out of some wide white lace I have.  And I would kind of like to wear them with jeans.  Jeans are my favorite.  I love long skirts, and fluffy skirts, and some of my grey pants are a pretty color, but jeans are go-to.  It's probably the most American thing about me.  My solution was to check Goodwill's 50% off sale this weekend for jeans that are (sadly) not so very long and (wow, can't believe I'm buying these) not wide-leg or boot-cut.  I found some.  Two pairs, and I bought one of them, leaving behind what I realized later was the pair that didn't have the hole in the knee.

While at the thrift store searching for skinnier jeans, I found another sweater whose arms were striped in perfectly inspiring colors.  I mean, I wear these colors at least half the winter.  The sweater was ONE dollar, so I bought that, and tried to keep myself from spending any more money, by staying at home all afternoon making them into another pair of leg warmers.  And then I was on a roll, besides having found some wool socks with holes in the heels that I had cleverly saved for just such a craft project as this, and some soft ribbon I love.  I dumped out my whole collection of buttons and began sorting colors.

My first pair is actually super simple.  One of my shopping buddy friends found the sweater for me, and all I had to do was cut off the arm at a good length, zig-zag the cut edge, and then (after wearing them a few times and feeling how often they slipped down, turn them inside out and sew about 3/4 inch inside the pre-existing seam, trim, and zig-zag for a tighter leg warmer.   The four buttons on each even came with.  Perfect.

Next I worked on a sweatshirt I found in the kids section.  I love the blue and the birds on this fabric.  What I didn't love so much was something I discovered after I cut off the sleeves: they don't stretch.  Who ever heard of a non-stretchy sweatshirt?  anyway, in the future I'll always check for stretch.  I added a double row of eyelet lace and two shiny silver buttons on each leg-warmer.  Once again, after wearing them a bit, pondering, and reviewing my previous Pinterest research, I decided to seam-rip down where the eyelet lace was sewn and even a bit past that, and re-sew those edges so that there is a little more give in the top of these socks.  Still cute.

Now we get into some serious buttonery.  I had a surprising number of purple buttons, which did a shabby chic ensemble at the top of my striped socks.  I think these may be my favorite.  I can just see wearing them with my brown tights and a new dark tealish-blue sweater dress I got (also for $1 at the thrift store this weekend).  Or I might wear them with my new jeans and my lime green sweater - or my purple one.  

Next I was thinking about trying to imitate a look on one of my pins.  It was wide lace, slightly gathered by a button in the center.  The only problem was that my only lace that wide was stiff and white.  But I did have some aqua tulle.  At first I thought about braiding it to darken it into a ribbon look.  (And from the olden days, a bit of braided trim was just that touch of hand-made detail that catches my eye.)  Except the tulle just didn't work well with that, and I didn't want it actually sewn onto the stripy sock I already had.  So I wound the tulle around my leg about five times, pinned it, sewed up those pin lines to keep it in a tube shape, and then did my little gather-button thing.  I had two buttons I liked, in matching shades of bronze but not at all the same design.  An advantage of boot cuffs is that they face opposite ways, so it would be very hard to see them side by side in real life, so little differences won't look weird, and if anyone notices, it just adds to the charm.  

Here is the cuff alone:

And the cuff with the stripy sock: 

While searching my ribbon and lace stock for the tulle, I came across a spool of ribbon that I love, but haven't had much use for.  It feels soft, and is mostly cream with some mocha edging and pale gold flowers with sage leaves.  It's elegant, and even though I didn't think of it much as a fall-style before, it works beautifully.  I trimmed it first with some of my favorite cream-colored lace, then sewed it in a loop, and finished with buttons accenting the fall colors in the ribbon (and following the rule of three; however much I liked other buttons and wanted them to go along, or when I tried to line the whole top edge of the ribbon with clear buttons studded with these accents, it was no good.  Rule of three.  Just follow it.).  
These cuffs are pretty short, and I actually like the idea of seeing most of the ribbon.  So with my shorter boots, I wore a pair of matching socks and pulled them up just over the bottom edge of the ribbon.  It doesn't look so formal, seeing the sock, but it worked.  
I'd abandoned using dozens of small clear buttons on the tops of the cuffs above, but I did have a working idea for blues that were in a line down a sock, not so formally as the first leg-warmers I made, and not matching buttons.  I cut off the top of my grey holey sock and lined up the buttons. I loved it.  I began sewing the various buttons on.  The top one was two-holes, vertical.  After that came two with no holes, and then three more two-holed buttons.  By the time I finished the first sock, the line was more suggested by the buttons than the clean look I'd arranged beforehand.  So I took my seam-ripper and took off all the buttons. This time I had a plan.  I used the ribbing in the sock to line up my needle.  This worked altogether better, and let the buttons speak for themselves.   

One Pinterest image featured a built-in pocket on the sock, which seems so practical to me, even if it is only big enough to hold a key and a twenty.  I haven't yet decided whether to attempt adding a pocket to the inside of any of these.  

While I was on my second day of boot sock making, I also turned on my iron in order to install an iron-on patch on the back of my new skinny (and barely-holey) jeans.  I forgot about it, went to do it, burned the patch, which then came off.  I also burned an iron-shape only visible when my jeans are inside-out.  I tried a second patch, which didn't stick, and gave up, hoping the various glues ironed into the pants will keep it for a while, and acknowledging that a bit of a hole can add character to the look.  But since they were under construction, I didn't do any pictures with jeans.  

Incidentally, I know from testing with wider leg and longer jeans that if you're worried about bunching (and maybe the best plan is to just go with a scrunched look on jeans and socks alike), if you actually put the socks and boots on before you pull the jeans all the way up over your hips, it can make for a more taut look. Then you just have to be careful how you stretch and bend and sit when wearing them, in order to keep them from bunching.   

I took some pictures with my black boots, and they don't match so well with most of my sock ideas.  I think the final grey-and-blue ones are probably the best.  

This project was easy and fun, with a good balance of planning and fairly mindless implementation while watching a show.  I am kind of interested in adding a pair of orange ones (for Denver Bronco game days) and a nice green pair that will go with a lot of my sweaters that I end up wearing autumn-spring.  

To God be all glory.  

1 comment:

ravenlark said...

I have no interest in making these at all but still enjoyed the post. I must say that I have never thought about my pants bunching at the top of my boots and reading about how you keep it from happening makes me think "Is't it great to be a guy!" :)