Tag Archives: Culottes

Wanted! Searching for a long lost friend: my vogue ballgown

Dear online sewing community (& anyone else who can help)

Sketches  I have been searching for several years now for a pattern I used to own.  Folks, this generally involves several hours trawling through Ebay & Etsy “Very Easy Very Vogue” patterns, & believe me there are lots out there.  You see I don’t have a reference for it but just know that It’s a “Very Easy Very Vogue” pattern from the late 1980s (possibly 1986 ).  This pattern & I have been through a lot together, but somehow we parted company.  Oh, how I rue the day I allowed this to happen….all I have left are my memories & one outfit …

So it’s separates:

1. A cute sleeveless button back blouse with a stand up collar & an inverted box pleat

2. Culottes that I have made up in a light weight polycotton which have to be the best culottes I’ve ever had.  I think they had front pleats, & definitely a back zip.  Last time I mentioned them the wonderful LinB sent me a raft of culotte patterns, divided skirts & culotte-all-in-ones from the 60s & 70s for me – sooo kind & inspirational…& outrageous in cases!

3. A pencil skirt with front pockets (they are designed to gape a little) & a back vent.

Put them altogether & you’ve got two super cute & elegant outfits.  I think I made the top twice, culottes once & the skirt twice. I used the culottes the most (floral poly cotton, the best kind of shorts, but then you know I have a fondness for culottes & shorts 😉  ), but have no longer got them.

So since you’ve got this far, I made an effort & put on the make up, found my posh earrings & dug out my smart shoes.

Very easy very vogueThis folks is all that I have of this pattern I am hunting for.  You see when I was 17 or 18, I was sewing a lot of my own things & in those days there were the odd large scale (drunken ) parties held in big venues, including university “balls”.   (The ballroom dancing society ball had such a reputation for being *the* ultimate Christmas party with a coach to the Winter Gardens in Weston Super Mare that it attracted quite a few first years as members during Freshers’ Week.  And yes it was a pretty awesome Christmas party) Anyway, clearly one needed a ballgown.

Very easy very vogueClearly I was not a girl that desired frills, flounces or meringues (even though it was the 80s) & I’d also not been one to go strapless.  So I concocted my ballgown made out of emerald shot taffeta & for some reason my Mum helped me out & made the top, & I made the skirt (maybe I was short of time?).

Very easy very vogueI think I always loved this because the top & skirt at least reminded me of the 60s (& just imagine it with elbow length gloves!)  When I was in my late teens, all the cool sixth form parties rekindled 50s,60s & 70s music with plenty of fancy dress opportunities to raid the parents’ collections of favorite clothes being mothballed in the attic.   People used to hire function rooms in hotels with a disco for their 18th birthday & then sell tickets to friends & friends of friends to help recoup the costs.  These parties were generally reliably huge fun, with plenty of dancing & (underage)  drinking.  I remember I went to one such fancy dress party dressed in my Mum’s wedding dress.  Before your eyes pop with wonder, my Mum made her wedding dress out of shocking pink lace & it was a sheath dress which she allowed me to shorten for this party.  It was awesome.

very easy very vogueSo this outfit I think saw 4 or 5 outings, mainly “balls”, where it would be the first time you saw the blokes you study with at their height of dashing, dressed up in black tie & DJs.   Gosh they looked swell.

battle scarsIt’s quite a narrow skirt to be lengthened.  And you can see above that it didn’t stand up to the rigours of copious cider (we were students, & not in the champagne set) & shouting ironically to “Living on a Prayer”, doing the Twist & Simple Minds (hey, they weren’t all cool music parties!).  My skirt split.  A few times.  Therefore it has a couple of “plasters” attached to seal & reinforce.

So, the plea.  Please please please, anyone with information about this pattern could you get in touch – even if it is a reference number.  I would so love to be reunited with it.


You mean it’s not a skirt? The dreamy Tania Culottes

So when the Breakwater collection was released by Megan Nielson & someone (you know who you are, Vicki Kate) alerted my attention to the Tania Culottes it did not take me very long before I had added yet something else to my paypal account.

Tania culottes 1I mean culottes folks!  You know I have an obsession with finding the perfect pattern, & despite a whole range of vintage patterns donated by the awesome commenter LinB last year, I had yet to see culottes that “combines the practicality of shorts with the cuteness of a circle skirt”.  Circle skirt!  Wowser.

Tania culottes 4The pattern calls for fabric with drape & I had some cheapo viscose mix in my stash from Birmingham Rag Market last summer.  It was intended to be a Darling Ranges dress, so it seems fitting that its diversion kept within Megan Nielson’s pattern range 🙂  It’s unfortunately got a printing flaw, but I don’t think it’s visible.

Tania culottes 5So, what’s to tell?  Culottes are dead easy to make.  They have all the simplicity of a skirt but with an added crotch seam that does not need to fit like trousers or shorts do.  It is intended to hang low.  And you know what that means?  Yes, less fitting issues 🙂

Tania culottes 6These culottes take more fabric than your standard, makes sense since they are like a circle skirt.  What’s so clever though is the way that the leggies are almost completely hidden by some canny pleating.  This really does not look like a pair of shorts/ culottes or even a divided skirt.

Tania culottes 3

What did I do my way?  Well, yet again I did not have an invisible zip, but fared well by inserting a lapped zipper, however since this is drapey fabric cut with some areas that will be on the bias, I used strips of interfacing to stabilise the side seam before I sewed in the zip.  Seemed to work OK.

Tania culottes 8What else?  Well, I hemmed them using the rolled hem on my overlocker since I thought this was going to be a longggggg way around times two legs.

Before I hung them

Before I hung them

Bear in mind if you are making these that you need to let them hang as all that draping makes for some weird hem stuff going on as the weight of the fabric plays havoc on the bias.

More hem havoc

More hem havoc

I had to wear them whilst standing in front of the mirror, pinning up bits of hem that seemed to be off.  It shows that it is possible to do this single handed though and I don’t think it’s too bad.

I have made them as long as possible using the smallest size but cutting the length as the largest size.    With the rolled hem, I did not take a hem allowance apart from what was needed to straighten the weirdness I mentioned.  The variations in the back of the instructions give some great inspiration of other lengths (I am visualising long ones myself) or lining them & making them out of lace ….gorgeous!!

Tania culottes 2Now it’s time to rave though.  The drapey fabric makes them soooo cool in the warm weather.  They are a dream to wear.  Put with a strappy vest & they are perfect beach attire.    Or garden in my case.  I L-o-v-e them.

Tania culottes 7On Megan’s website the model demonstrates that they are the perfect clothing for a bike ride – you can imagine, all the float of a circle skirt without showing your knickers as you zoom at 30 miles an hour down the hill.  My real bike’s got a puncture by the way…will this do as a demo?

At last, scalloped culottes UFO to FO

Howdy peeples,  I am delighted to exit a UFO & finally finish it.  Yep, these scalloped shorts noted aeons ago have sat unloved & ripped up waiting for some alterations.


Whereas previously I’d made a different view (A) with back zip & neat little waistband, this version called for a yoke and side zip (view C) , which I have concluded is a right pain to get the fitting right, particularly if you adorn said yoke with rick rack like piping.

It had been lingering for ages after inordinate amounts of crotch alterations, only to realise that it was the waistband that really needed to be taken in.  Like this much:

Gah!  I just couldn’t face it.  For ages.  It sat in my basket eyeballing me everytime I went looking for self cover buttons or the spare tape measure.  I had to unpick the yoke, the rick rack & the invisible zip.  I had to then do it all over again including lining up the invisible zipper with each side of the yoke- got there in the end though.  You can take my word for getting the zip right as I’m going to show bits that weren’t perfect.  First a successful scalloped edge (inside leg seams, typical)

And the pathetic scallop join on the visible outside edge (looks like a curly bracket)

So, not perfect self drafted scallops, somewhere along the way I got the drawing & probably sewing wrong!  Oh well.

Thankfully I grabbed a few hours on Sunday morning to get this to a stage to make it my Andy Murray sewing – I’d managed to leave myself the last step, attaching the facing by hand whilst watching the first exciting set.

Just being coaxed to show you that they do fit -although culottes are funny – according to Pants for Real People (p12 – I have not progressed very far) crotch ease for culottes is bigger- 1 1/2″- I am not sure I fitted mine out (when you look behind you can see it might be less than that!)

(Like the spotty suit?!?! 😉 only for you!)

This is what you can do when you wear shorts/ culottes/ whatever.  They reminded me that I’d made a wonderful pair in the late 80s, a vogue pattern (a Very Easy Very Vogue one) it came with a skirt, culottes & a top with stand collar & central box pleat & back buttons.  I’d made all of it in different guises & the culottes were THE perfect girly shorts pattern that very much looked like a skirt – with pockets.  I looked on Etsy & Ebay but haven’t tracked it down – anyone know which one I am referring to?  Here’s my sketch

WHY did I get rid of it?  I would love to have it still ….it was also the pattern I used to make my “ball gown” only it was separates made out of dark green shot taffeta (not culottes, silly, that would be too 70s for a teenager in the 80s!).  I still have this green outfit.  I made the skirt a longer length with a split up the back that was reinforced numerous times after many a drunken student fling around various dance floors.  If anyone knows of this pattern please could you leave me some information – even a pattern no. would be good then I could try to track it down …

 These shorts need pockets, side seam pockets, but I don’t think there’s enough room in them.  In my dreams my next pair will try to recreate that Vogue pattern I once had….a moderately (but not too balloon-like) swishy “divided skirt”, small front pleats (I think) back darts, side seam pockets, back zip & fabric with drape….

In the meantime they could well be great lounge wear (worn with the appropriate footwear) …