Tag Archives: short culottes

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) …


In pictures: newly sewns on the go

I’ve been a bit behind posting some of my finished makes with any reasonable pictures, so this is largely a pictorial record of some Autumn makes that I have mentioned earlier with a little bit of wear-info.  First up, because I know many of you are not convinced, are the Culottes.  The green twill “shorts” for anyone like me who feels too old to wear short shorts & tights (in public).

I am very much in public – yikes!  I asked Gary to take some pics as the setting was STUNNING (Stourhead – a National Trust place).  There I was, goofing around like the lemon I am- he was getting me to hold strange & interesting poses (eg arms out stretched & leg in the air/ crouched down looking like a cossack dancer), which I thought would give me some entertaining choice for this blog.   And when I came to review these thigh  trembling pictures?  A bunch of close ups of my facial expressions!  Certainly not interesting to anyone else but him……So, these pictures show some semi -action shots of the culottes.  (Click on them if you want to see a larger pic – not that I can imagine you would!!) Look how I can fling my legs around in a very practical & neo-rugged way.  No demureness needed with culottes.  They are blogged here, I used Butterick 5681.

What works about them apart from releasing my inner tomboy & being great for trekking around an autumnal lake?  Well, as LinB described them, they are like a “split skirt”- a very cute shape.  Style-wise they are a hit.  But.  When I get up from sitting I find myself adjusting the pleats – I think this is the type of fabric- it’s quite stiff.  As I said, I want to make them in something softer to see what difference that makes.  Also, the zip could do with being a bit longer.  That might be my fault, but they are a snug fit around waist & hips, & wiggling them off over woolly tights makes me fear for the zip (& remember this is their disadvantage over skirts – need to take them off for comfort breaks…)  The last thing I want to have to do is to re-insert a new zip.  So there is my longer than intended in-use review of culottes.  I shall make another pair, that’s for sure.

#Yawn# How many outfits does my Ginger occur in?  Well, here’s something else that works with it –  Simplicity 2599 with a lace collar, also featured in the earlier culottes post.  I’ve got a “heather” coloured cardi that looks tops over tthis for this time of year.  The fabric was from Ebay & looks to me as if it came from some bedlinen – it only had one selvage.   The lace collar was from the Birmingham Rag Market.  This pattern is my tried & tested with vertical front darts added by me.  I love this pattern.  So easy to make- just a single button with loop closure & this time I also omitted all facings using bias instead.

I’ve also made a Nora top, thanks very much to Debbie from Minnado’s House who traced it out for me ages ago.  It’s a knit top with a yoke, and meant that I used stretch interfacing for the first time for the yoke.

Now It’s a bit narrow over the upper chest, so I’d increase that next time, but apart from that it’s a cute pattern.  The fabric is some nice quality jersey I’d bought, & boy does that make a difference – super slinky.  I used my overlocker ( of course – any excuse)  for all of the construction – even the curved yoke insertion- but not the hems or topstitching.  Here are a couple of pictures showing the inside: the yoke:

And I used stay tape at the shoulder seams

Out of all of the knit tops I’ve made so far this was the most complicated with yokes & facings, and if it fit me better I’d be really pleased with it.

So, short tour over.  I feel unburdened now.  Has anyone else made any of the patterns above?  Anyone sporting culottes? Or I even heard mention of Palazzo pants in the previous culottes post.  Anyone got any to show off?  I am not convinced they are something I could wear- I’d like to see some lovely modern palazzos being worn now (to update my 80s memories & persuade me).


Culottes rock- I think …

I’m afraid I was tempted in the pattern sales to look at Butterick’s styles.  I had thought my pattern library was complete & that I had the basis for altering & even drafting any possible variations imaginable.  But did I have culottes?  No of course not!  Culottes are an oddity.  Debi made some from a vintage 70s pattern this year & she can carry them off (that lady can carry any era clothing off & look so fabulous! )  I made a pair in wool crepe in the early 90s (with an elastic waist [ssshhh!] from a Prima magazine).  They were a beautiful wine colour & looked fabulous with boots…. but that was nearly 20 years ago, are culottes something that can be worn in 2011 & beyond?  What do you think?

I had some rationale behind this curiosity: they were a more grown up version of shorts to be worn with tights.  I was aiming for short culottes you see. But not shorts.  This pattern Butterick 5681 has a couple of varietals- the short culottes and the longer culottes.  Within each length there is a version with an extra “inside leg” pleat, & a plain version.  I took to the pleated version, not really imagining what it would look like or how it was made, up for some experimentation.  I’d purchased some £2 per metre bottle green cotton drill at the Rag Market that was destined for the first pair.

Back view of green culottes

So what are they like?  The sewing was easy – really wonderful to make.  There’s not much that can be added to that.  They really were simple & I so prefer back zips.  I am not sure that I made the pockets as intended in this view however.  The patch pockets might have supposed to have been like suspended flappy bags from the waistband.  I don’t know – the diagram was a little unclear, relying on bound pockets that seemed to have some 3rd dimension, hence flapping?  Knowing cotton drill, I knew that side seam pockets (my pockets of choice) would not iron well, & would leave a shiny line on the outside tracing the pocket shape (fallen into that trap before!).  So I decided to try patch pockets, fully attached, no flapping in sight.   Not to take the easiest route & remembering that the little details are what elevates something beyond the “wearable muslin” I got a quota of velvet ric rac in at the pocket tops.

Black ric rac peeping out of the top of the pocket

OOh, ooh, did I also tell you that I’ve invested in a topstitching foot?  Well I have & it’s got a neat little groove underneath to steer by.  It’s another groovy foot don’t you know & I used it for the pockets.  I was really pleased with my sewing & fitting, but what would they be like to wear?  Would they look like a girl scout uniform?  Would sitting in them upset the pressed in inner leg pleat?

Me wearing culottes in front of a blue summer house

My friend took this picture of me, on her Blackberry to give you an idea.  The nice thing about the pleat is that it lends duplicity & confusion – it is a skirt, isn’t it?   But wait until I start flinging my legs around & then you’ll see that it isn’t.

Me wearing culottes and new top under a tree


I made the top too from a remnant, a Simplicity 2599 with a lace collar (also bought at the Rag Market).  I’ll show that one once it emerges from the wash.  Making the two to go together though helped distance me from the culottes feeling like a uniform.

In terms of sitting in them – super comfy, although never usually fitting trousers to be worn with woolly tights, they were more snug than I planned!  The pleating at the inner legs got a bit squashed around, which can’t be helped.  I am still working out the optimum weight & crease-holding properties for this pattern: the fabric should be able to hold some form of crease I think, otherwise how would the pleats work?

I love wearing shorts, and always have, but really do think I’m too old for short shorts with tights this winter.  I think these could well be shorts for the more mature amongst us, as they are a better length & I do love the A line shape.  I have a feeling that the black watch suiting I bought at Birmingham may also be turned into some of these ….anyone else a culotte convert?