A month or so ago, Helen from Helen's Closet put out a call for pattern testers for her upcoming pattern. I jumped at the chance as she had recently pattern tested for me and I wanted to return the favour, and (more selfishly) I wanted to force myself to sew something new for myself. These days I get very little free time to sew, as most of my sewing time is consumed by pattern development and sampling for upcoming releases. I do know though that I work very well under pressure, and a deadline is a great way for me to make time to do some (semi)selfish sewing.
We were given two weeks to test the pattern, and of course about three days before the deadline, I decided to start sewing my Winslows. Thankfully the pattern isn't made up of too many pages (and does include a copy shop version), so doesn't take to long to assemble, and it's a quick and straightforward sew.
'The Winslow Culottes are wide-legged pants designed for ultimate comfort and style. This pattern is intended to be made at any length, from shorts to full length palazzo pants. The design features inseam pockets, an invisible zipper, a waistband, and inverted box pleats. Make above-the-knee or midi-length culottes in tencel for a chic, professional look, shorts in cotton lawn for active adventures, or full pants in viscose poplin for comfortable weekend wear.' (Helen's Closet)
I decided to make view B (the knee-length version) as I wasn't too sure about the whole culottes thing and I thought this style was the least drastic, and therefore probably the most wearable for me and my lifestyle. Since it started getting cold in Sydney, I have been living in jeans, so I had been on the hunt for some different bottoms I could make, for days when I need something a little more formal (but still comfortable).
I used a mysterious fabric that I bought second hand form The Fabric Cave. It has lovely loose weave that gives it a beautiful texture, although I am not at all sure what the fibre content is. It definitely has a polyester component as it didn't want to press well (but is also good because it doesn't hold creases, which is a real plus when we're talking culottes).
I used a couple of different techniques in my Winslows to make them more winter appropriate (the pattern is designed for lighter fabrics) finish. I added 5cm to the length and turned this up for the hem - this extra weight in the hem helps them sit nicely and also makes them less likely to blow around too much in the wind.
I also bound the inside edge of the waistband and sewed it flat (rather than tucking it under) to minimise on bulk in the waist area. (Sorry about the shoddy photos. It is really hard to photograph black garments!)
When I finished my culottes, I wasn't totally convinced that I'd wear them much, as they're quite different to my usual style. But I must say I've worn them five or six times since I made them!
If I made them again I would think about changing the straight waistband to a shaped one (using this tutorial), but apart from that the fit is great. I know this is totally a matter of preference, but straight waistbands just never sit very well on my curves.
This is a really straightforward sew, with fantastic instructions that guide you through the process. I really enjoyed testing for Helen, she was so supportive and positive throughout the whole process and was very open to feedback, which I thought was fantastic. She somehow managed to coordinate testing with over 40 testers, and then released the pattern in no time (I wish I could take a leaf out of her book!)
All in all, a great pattern. Head over to Helen's blog for more details and inspiration (she has made so many pairs!)
What are your thoughts on culottes? Are you still sitting on the fence, or have you been converted like me?