Culottes anyone?

I’ve been thinking about culottes a lot recently. I’m still a little bit over skirts, not that I wore many last year. But perhaps this is because I spent ALL of my 20’s in knee length skirts of various descriptions, with the odd mini thrown in for good measure.

I quite like the idea of culottes for summer. They can be shorter than pants, and roomier with pleats or gathers, which strikes me as a cool and comfy solution for the hot weather. I love the longer ‘tea length’ culottes that I’ve seen more of lately. Culottes just scream sophistication to me. They have an elegance and versatility that allows them to be paired with shirts, or dressed down with T’s.

It seems I haven’t been the only one with culottes on the mind. Karen Walker presented these beauties recently. Also loving that shirt by the way.

These green ones are simply fabulous. Just look at the depth of that hem! They were spotted by Stylesight blog. There were a few other pictures on this site too.

I like the cropped top and fluid pleats of this version from Tibi’s 2014 RTW collection.

A few other designers also presented culottes in their shows recently, including Chanel and Marc Jacobs. But by far, the most frequent results of my search all came back to vintage patterns. And so that is what I used as my starting point.

My plan was to make some culottes out of white denim. I wanted a bulky, pleated pant, similar in length to the versions above. But at some point, I had a change of heart and opted to use a gorgeous grid patterned, cotton sateen instead.

You might remember the long shirt dress I made in the black colourway of this fabric a few months ago. I loved the way this dress turned out so much that I immediately raced off to purchase the other colourway from Tessuti Fabrics. I’d initially planned on making a pair of high waist, skinny, capri pants with it, which I still think would suit the fabric beautifully.

The vintage pattern I started with was Simplicity 5433. I had to alter it in the following ways: 

 Pattern pictures 021
  • I reduced the waist size
  • I re-jigged the pleats in the front to match the new waist size. I also wanted a slightly different pleat look than the original pattern so I factored this into my changes.
  • Added two pleats to the back.
  • I only stitched the side seams to the pocket base, leaving both legs with long slits up the side.



If you can, please try to ignore the disgracefully mismatched gridlines of the waistband. I had an awful time lining up this fabric, although I only have myself to blame for this. I should have washed, dried and ironed the fabric before cutting in order to straighten up/block the fabric. But as a sometimes lazy seamstress is apt to do on occasion, I skipped this step and regretted it later! I did try to compensate with two gorgeous vintage buttons and a perfectly lined up waist band flap (that you can’t actually see in the photo). Does it work…?

Anyway, I think these pants are the bees knees right now, especially when teamed with my new top. And for those of you who don’t know, my eldest daughter’s name is Coco. I stumbled across the T-shirt online and just couldn’t resist purchasing it for my daughter’s recent birthday. It got the desired response. Coco literally popped with excitement when I wore it for the first time!

10 thoughts on “Culottes anyone?

  1. cheekychacha

    Totally gorgeous! Being a 70's child who wore culottes and knickerbockers to death way back when, I was unsure how appealing I would find these but they really suit you! Not sure how they would go over my hips these days….!


  2. Gail

    Well, hmmm. I've been firmly anti-culotte (another child of the '70s – did it way back when) . . . up until I saw yours! Now you have me rethinking my stance. Love these!


  3. SewJillian

    Oh yes I remember culottes the first time round.. and knickerbockers!! I had gold velvet ones. Oh yes, I was a very fashion forward child 🙂 Ok, whilst I love these on you (I love everything on you!) I still don't think I can go back there. I actually picked up a vintage 80's pattern a little while ago with a culottes-based playsuit – I thought it was a simple sundress until closer inspection. You could so rock it! I'm thinking of sending it your way!


  4. Kirsty

    If you weren't twice my height I would come over and steal those from you. Plane fare and all.
    LOVE them. I need a pair of these in wool for winter.



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