The recent heatwave we’ve had in London has left me with quite the conundrum.. it’s been boiling on the tube, but ice cold in my air conditioned office. As such, I want the best of both worlds in my wardrobe – something that’ll keep me warm in the air con but cool in the stifling heat. Impossible surely? Well I thought I’d try out a couple of recent fashion trends to see if I could sew my way out of this conundrum.
I’ve already tried midi skirts, which have been pretty successful – you can read about my self drafted stripy midi skirt here. Now, I’m trying out culottes, with mixed success..!
I considered various culottes patterns that have popped up in the indie sewing space in the past few months.
The Megan Nielsen Flint pants look great; I really like the waistband/pleat detail, but ultimately decided they were too wide legged.
Also, the Winslow culottes from Helen’s closet; I enjoyed Helen’s instructions for the Suki kimono, which bodes well, but not sure about how wide the legs are.
I also thought about the Ninni culottes from Named Patterns, but not 100% sold on the elastic waist.
I ultimately (see what I did there? I’m hilarious) decided on the Ultimate Culottes from Sew Over It. I like their pattern instructions, they looked high waisted, they had a zip (no elastic) and not too wide in the leg.
I opted for some light blue cupro I had in my stash (from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn), for a couple of reasons. Practically, it was the only suitable fabric I had in my stash where I had enough for the pattern (at least 2.5 metres). Also, it had enough weight for a trouser and I didn’t want something sheer. Plus, I’d never sewn with cupro and wanted to see what it was like; I will say, it was great to sew with and I’d definitely look to use it again in the future.
However, I’m not 100% convinced by the colour. I like that it emulates washed denim, but I prefer darker colours on my bottom half where I’m slightly bigger… then again, it does me good to sew and wear something other than black or navy..!
It’s been about 15 years since I sewed trousers, and back then I was pretty new to sewing clothes, and didn’t have any curves whatsoever. The latter made the process somewhat easier!
I think the reason why I’ve shied away from sewing trousers for so long is because I feared the challenge of fit. I’m pretty lucky in that I generally don’t have to make many fit adjustments to patterns to get them to work for me – my bust and waist usually fit into the same size. However the hip is usually at least one or two sizes bigger. I’ve made my peace with that – it’s been that way for years, I might as well get used to it! It’s why we sew, right? But it also means that fitting close-fitting trousers or skirts is a bit of a pain – you don’t want to grade out too much, lest it’s suddenly way too bulbous around the hips. But you also don’t want to go too small and risk not fitting into it. Decisions, decisions!
The Ultimate culottes were a good way of dipping my toe back into the world of sewing trousers. Realistically you just have to get the waistband and darts right and you’re home and dry. I will say, I’m pretty pleased with the waist fitting, although it sits a little high on me. If I were to make these again, I’d choose the other view and omit the waistband altogether.
However, a few things I didn’t quite get right with this make…
The invisible zip on the side seams doesn’t quite sit flat at the bottom, which bothers me… but not enough to undo it.
Also, I hacked off a load of the width from the bottom of the trousers in the end. I tried them on once they were all sewn up and just thought, ‘Nah, this isn’t for me’. The legs were too wide and made me look a bit clown like. I’m not saying that’s true of all culottes – I love the look on other people, but on me I just felt they made me look wider than I am. Not ideal.
However, after effectively turning them into a wide legged cropped trousers (hence ‘Quirky Culottes’ since I’m not sure they count as culottes anymore..!), I’m much happier with them and I’ve worn them to the office a few times.
The pattern itself is really lovely, and as with other Sew Over It patterns, the instructions are great.
Do these keep me warm in the air con and cool in the heat? Yes, for sure!
Would I make them again? Maybe… but I’d remove the waistband and hack the width again. I feel like if I’m doing that, I should just find a wide legged trouser pattern instead..!
Am I convinced by the culotte trend? Totally, but just not on me! Oh well, at least I tried. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone every once in a while!