'80s Throwback: How to Crochet Legwarmers

What's old is new again! Legwarmers, a quintessential piece of '80s fashion, are now on-trend again. As someone who had some when they were first fashionable, I do have very fond memories of wearing legwarmers, so I had a lot of fun putting together this new design!

This pattern has three fabulous features:

  • They can be worn in public without too much embarrassment.
  • They don't look clunky or obviously crocheted.
  • The pattern compensates for the lack of sideways stretch in crochet stitches, which can make it difficult to achieve a good fit.

Before you get started, here's what you need to know:

  • The finished legwarmers have a narrower cuff at the bottom so they don't go baggy around your ankles, but they also don't slip down your calf.
  • The main pattern is dense but very stretchy and looks great in a variegated or hand-dyed yarn.

How to crochet legwarmers

For more advanced crocheters, I've included a concise written pattern that should include enough information for you to get started. 

If you're not as experienced, skip ahead in this post for more help, including a tutorial and guide on customizing the size.

The full pattern — with notes, abbreviations and U.K. crochet terms — is also available as a free Bluprint download .

Crochet legwarmers pattern

Uses U.S. crochet terms.

What you need

  • For the cuffs, I used 100 grams of Stylecraft Special aran (a 10-ply yarn) in Burgundy (100 grams/3.5 ounces per skein has 196 meters/218 yards)
  • For the body of the legwarmers, I used Stylecraft Carnival (a chunky yarn) in the Notting Hill colourway (100 grams/3.5 ounces per skein has 160 meters/175 yards)

You could use any worsted weight or chunky weight yarn with similar yardages.

Lower cuff

Instructions are for an average woman’s leg size: ankle circumference 9" (23 cm), calf circumference 14" (36 cm). 

Cuff Round 1:

  • Using Yarn A, work 30 chainless foundation half-double crochet. [30st]
  • Join with a sl st, making sure not to twist the foundation row.

Cuff Round 2:

  • Ch2 (counts as one hdc).
  • Join to top of starting ch with a slst. PM. [30st]

Cuff Round 3:

  • Ch2 (counts as one hdc).
  • *3 front post dc around next 3 stitches.
  • 2 hdc in the central V of the next 2 stitches.*
  • Repeat from * to * but on final repeat, make the second hdc into the starting chain and then continue working in the round without joining with a slst. PM in last hdc of round. [30st]

Cuff Round 4:

  • *3 front post dc around next 3 stitches.
  • 2 hdc in the central V of the next 2 stitches. Move marker up. *
  • Repeat from * to *. [30st]

Repeat Cuff Round 4 until the cuff is 3" tall (8 cm). On the last round, complete with a sc into the next-to-last hdc and sl t into the last hdc. [30st]  Break yarn and fasten off


Turn your cuff  180 degrees so that you are working into the foundation round. Join Yarn B using a standing sc.

Leg Round 1:

  • Make one sc into each foundation hdc, inserting your hook into the base of the round. [30 st]
  • Do not join with a sl st; you will work in continuous rounds from this point. PM in final sc to mark the end of the round

Leg Round 2:

  • * 3hdc into the next sc. Skip a st.* Repeat to marker. [45 st]
  • Move marker to middle hdc of the final hdc group to denote the end of the round.

Leg Round 3:

  • 3 hdc into middle hdc of each hdc group of previous round. [45 st]
  • Move marker up at the end of the round.

Repeat Leg Round 3 until you have used up to 55 grams of your ball of yarn (just under half). If you want a shorter leg warmer, stop when you are happy with the length. I used around 40 grams of yarn for the leg of each of my legwarmers.

Leg Final Round:

  • Hdc into each st, close with a slst into first hdc of round. [45 st]

Upper cuff

Cuff Round 1:

  • Join yarn A using a standing sc. *Ch1, skip a st, sc.* Repeat to end.
  • Join to standing sc with a sl st. [45 st; 23sc and 22 chains]

Cuff Round 2:

  • Ch 2 (counts as hdc). Hdc into each sc and ch sp. [45 st]
  • Join to top of starting ch with a sl st.

Cuff Round 3:

  • Ch 2 (counts as hdc). *Front post dc around next 2 stitches. Hdc into central V of next stitch.*
  • Repeat from * to * to end, skipping the hdc in the final repeat and joining to the starting ch with a slst. [45 st]

Repeat Cuff Round 3 three times. On the last round, complete with an sc into the next-to-last hdc and sl st into the last hdc. Break yarn, fasten off, weave in ends.

Crochet legwarmers tutorial

This is not quite a step-by-step tutorial. At each stage, I'll show you how to adjust the stitch count and pattern. If you do make your own changes, make sure to make a note of them on a printed copy of the downloadable pattern - its all to easy to forget what you did!

Getting a stretchy edge

To start the lower cuff, I recommend a chainless foundation hdc, as this provides much more sideways stretch than a foundation chain. If you need a tutorial on foundation stitches, check out our tutorial here .

When I work an fhdc, I prefer to work into the front loop only (rather than both loops), which gives a really stretchy start to a project.

Making the ankle cuff fit perfectly

After you finish crocheting the cuff section, slip the cuff over your foot. You should be able to get it over your ankle easily, but it should not be too baggy once it's on.

If you need to adjust the size, add or subtract stitches from the foundation round. It's best to keep the foundation row to a multiple of five.

If your foundation round isn't divisible by five, you will need to modify it so that the post stitches line up correctly. Here are a couple of examples:

  • If you have a stitch count of 32, you could work [3FPdc + 2hdc] twice, followed by [4FPdc + 2hdc] then repeat to get a symmetrical rib with almost the same effect. OR, your ribbed pattern repeat could be [2FPdc + 2hdc] all the way around.
  • If you have a stitch count of 33, you could work [2FPdc + hdc] to create a rib that would mirror the upper cuff.

Quick tips for a perfect cuff

  • There will be a small gap where you join the foundation row. Use the tail end to close this gap neatly as you weave in your tails.
  • The post stitches create a textured rib that provides some sideways stretch. Using a solid colored yarn really accentuates the texture.

The leg of the legwarmer

The set up row of sc stitches are worked into the base of the foundation row (shown below by my pink darning needle and the arrows), not into the top loops.

The 3-hdc cluster stitch pattern is simple but very effective. After Leg Round 2, in which you make 3-hdc clusters into every other sc, you'll work 3-hdc clusters into the middle stitch of the cluster on the previous round.

In the photo below, I've stretched the stitches sideways so that you can see how the pattern works.

Customizing the fit of the leg

As you stitch the leg, you'll increases the stitch count from 30 to 45 to accommodate the wider part of the calf. If you have very slender calves, you may not want to increase this much.

You can reduce the final stitch count to 42 st by skipping two stitches twice during Leg Round 2:

  • 3hdc into the next sc. Skip 2st. *3hdc into the next sc. Skip a st. Repeat 6 times.
  • 3hdc into the next sc. Skip 2st. *3hdc into the next sc. Skip a st. Repeat 6 times. [42 st]
  • Move marker to middle htr of the final htr group.

You can reduce the final stitch count to 39 st by skipping two stitches four times during Leg Round 2:

  • [3hdc into the next sc. Skip 2st. *3hdc into the next sc. Skip a st. Repeat 2 times.] Repeat three times.
  • 3hdc into the next sc. Skip a st.
  • Move marker to middle hdc of the final hdc group.

You can reduce the stitch count to 30 by skipping two sc stitches in Leg Round 2... and so on.

Adjusting the length

You can increase or decrease the length of your legwarmer by adding more or fewer rounds. For very long legwarmers, you may need more than one 100-gram ball of yarn.

Perfecting the upper cuff of the legwarmer


To make the top cuff as stretchy as possible, the pattern uses a front post rib by making 2 fptr then 1 htr (into the central V of the stitch in the previous round). 

If you modified your stitch count along the way, you may need to adjust your rib pattern for the top cuff. Choose a ribbing pattern that can be used evenly around your cuff. Here's an example:

  • If you have an even number of stitches, use a FPdc, hdc rib repeat.
  • If you have an odd number of stitches that's divisible by three, use a 2 FPdc, hdc rib repeat.

Finishing your legwarmers

All that remains is to weave in the ends and your first legwarmer is complete! 

Repeat the same steps, including your modifications, to make your second legwarmer.


November 25, 2017
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'80s Throwback: How to Crochet Legwarmers