Corduroy culottes: another Esther shorts hack

I’m here to convince you that culottes really are the new skirt. And I’m not talking about the cute little flippy variety that could be mistaken for a skirt. I’m talking about the hard-core, wide leg, knee length type, or the sharp, A-line, midi silhouettes that are probably giving some of you unpleasant flashbacks right now. I admit, I get the flashbacks too. My high school sports uniform was a pair of bottle green, knee-length culottes (that memory came flooding back to me when my ‘blue’ corduroy arrived in the mail). But don’t worry, I’m quite determined to sway all you doubters out there, and to do so, I’ve put together not one, not two, but four different looks with the same pair of fabulous winter weight culottes.

For Autumn, I’ve paired them with my Nani Iro top and a pair of open booties. A long pair of tan leather boots would look fabulous right now, but I don’t own any and I spend all my spare cash on fabric instead of shoes. Can anyone else relate? 

The fabric I used in my culottes is utterly divine. It’s a cotton corduroy by Thread, with the most beautiful velvety sheen I’ve ever seen. It’s called ‘blue’ but it is most definitely a bottle green. I knew what I was getting though. It’s nothing like the dull kiddie quality cord that I’ve sewn with in the past. I should have paid more attention.

I do all my fabric cutting and sewing in the evenings in poorer light than I would like, but that’s just the way it has to be. I don’t have time to sew during the day. So I happily cut into my gorgeous fabric, positioning the legs in opposite directions and paying complete disregard for the nap. I merrily sewed away at the project until I tried my culottes on to decide on the hem length. The lightbulb suddenly went on in my head. Nap! Why did I not consider this first? I thought I’d made a total blooper of these pants. One leg was clearly a different shade to the other.

I think the difference in nap looks more pronounced in artificial light, and from my persepective as the wearer, looking down at an acute angle. It is such a silly mistake to make that I still feel like giving myself a slap. Anyway, they are so comfortable and warm that I’m just going to wear them anyway. I think it’s pushing it a bit far to call it a design feature so I’m just going to feign ignorance. What, my legs are different shades of bottle green? No way! It’s a shadow. Go get your eyes checked!

For view two, I opted for a more vintage feel. I’m wearing my Liberty of London Kanerva with them this time.


The pattern I used to make these culottes was based on the Esther shorts pattern by Tessuti Fabrics. My modifications were pretty simple. I added a 10cm pleat to the front legs. I also widened and lengthened the legs. I really like how they turned out but next time I will definitely add in-seam pockets.

I also tried my culottes out with my new favourite shirt. I like chambray with cord. Hubby isn’t too sure about this combination. He can’t decide whether I look like Anne of Green Gables, a school mistress, or Brethren. 


And finally, I paired the culottes with my black ponte and leather top for a slightly more edgy look. I like the silhouette of a cropped top over high waist pants. 


Here’s a summary of the four looks. Which one do you like best? And more importantly, when are you going to make a pair!

44 thoughts on “Corduroy culottes: another Esther shorts hack

  1. Sam

    Love these! I wish they'd look this good on me, but sadly I'm 5'3″ and curvy-ish. I think you definitely need to be tall and slim for these. My favourite look is the last one, closely followed by the first one.


  2. Bellbird

    My favourite looks are the ones with your Liberty Kanerva and the ponte top. I agree the cropped top looks great with the culotte silhouette, like two triangles but in the best way possible! I LOVE this style of culotte and have been drafting a pair for myself. I'm onto toile no. 2 which should also hopefully be toile no. last! I have a gorgeous black silk cotton stashed for them, it has lots of body so there will be lots of flare!! Yay culottes!


  3. SewJillian

    I'm totally not making a pair. No way, no how! I love your husband's take and I have to say that the chambray shirt combo is my doubtful one. I can say that, 'cause we're friends 🙂 My favourite is the one with the Nano Iro top. So bright and edgy! The last one is a winner too.


  4. Rachel

    I like the Kanerva combo best. I think they look fantastic! I have been eyeing off the Leisl & Co ones… Maybe a linen pair? Especially as The Fabric Store just announced they're having a $12 linen sale!


  5. thisismoonlight

    What a beautiful corduroy! I love the silhouette you created with the pleat. I downloaded a similar burda pattern recently and you have inspired me to get to the making bit sooner than later! Number 3 for the win.


  6. Gail

    These are brilliant. I think the deep pleat in front is so classy, and you got the length and width of the leg just right. I like all the looks, but my fave is the Liberty Kanerva.

    And no, I can't relate – I spend my cash not only on fabric for sewing, but shoes to go with the things I sewed!


  7. Sarah Liz

    Right, they are on my list. I wore them the first time round, and I think at nearly 60, I should wear them again!

    Seriously Debbie, these are gorgeous – I love the almost Japanese aesthetic on your angular frame.


  8. Pingback: DIY obi-style, jersey belt – LILY SAGE & CO

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