Culottes, Pants
Comments 62

Emily Culottes – The Jury’s Still Out

I wore culottes in the 80’s.  I also wore bright yellow full length pencil skirts and goth make up for a short time (not together, I hasten to add), but it doesn’t mean I’m going to do it all again now I’m approaching my mid 40’s.

Or does it!?

Whilst browsing the blogasphere, which I’m currently spending more time doing than actually sewing, I stumbled across Maris’s post (over at Sew Maris) declaring she was going to host a sewalong to make Itch to Stitch’s Emily Culottes.

Click on the image to be taken to Itch to Stitch!

I can’t recall at what point I decided to join in, but that’s not important.  What is important is that I did and I made them and now I’m wearing them!! TWO days in a row!  But I’m still not sure.

A few of you might have heard of Itch To Stitch Patterns.   There’s quite a few Lindy Petal Skirts floating about on the net – it’s their free pattern and is really lovely and easy and on my to-do list.

I’m not getting commission for pushing this pattern – just like to share the love of free patterns to you guys!

The Culottes.  That’s why your here isn’t it? The instructions are very thorough, great diagrams and lots of support from Kennis.  I was surprised a sewalong was needed.  But then Maris comes along and breaks it down into bit size chunks and adds her own twist on the instructions.

I was late starting so read all Maris’s posts and all Kennis’s instructions and used a bit of both.

I used a cheap stretch denim from Fabworks in Dewsbury.  It bled like made and had faded lines on it when i pre washed it. I thought it would be ok for a muslin. I had some raspberry red stretch denim from Minerva which I was saving for the real thing!

I didn’t have enough denim so used so scraps of liberty for the yoke.  I added interfacing to both inside and outside yoke pieces to make it more substantial so used Maris instructions for the outer and Kennis for the inner!

When I came round to trying them on I was pleasantly surprised with the fit and also that the marks on the denim weren’t that noticeable.

Once I realised it fit and looked okay-ish I rummaged for a suitable zip and found this beauty, but then had to search for a tutorial on how to insert an exposed zipper/zip!

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I found this amazing tutorial on Pattern Runway – click HERE!

I struggled a bit with the last bit – it was pinning and sewing the left side above.  So I pinned the outside, then pinned the inside, then removed the outside pins and sewed!!

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The last bit of text above is for my future benefit really and probably won’t mean anything to you even if you do one yourself!  You might not struggle like I did!

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Voila!!  Hopefully you’ll be so dazzled by the shiny brass teeth you won’t notice the seam line not matching up!

To hem the bottom – which are huge and now I know what it must have felt like to hem bell bottomed trousers in the 70’s!

There is a 2cm seam allowance. I stitched a row of stitches in matching thread 2 cm from the bottom edge.

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I then used this as a guide and pressed to the stitching line was just on the inside, then stitched in place from the right side – you don’t get them awkward bits of excess fabric if you do it that way – don’t use a walking foot for this!  (I’d already finished all my raw edges with the overlocker before I sewed them up).

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I bet you’re wondering when you’re going to see the finished article!? Or have you already scrolled down for a peak before reading this.  Or maybe you’re not reading this (so won’t see this) and are just looking at the pictures!

Without further ado, me in culottes – now!  Not in the 1980s!

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Not the best pics I’m sure, but this show the Liberty Yoke. You can see the lines too where the denim bled and went funny in the wash. Maybe I should have done a slower spin and taken it out of the washing machine sooner (only left it 5  minutes), any suggestions for this not happening again would be welcome.

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And here’s what you can do in culottes that you can’t do in a short skirt:

Cross your legs – unless you’re called Sharon Stone.

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Sit with you legs open – not very lady like, but often we might want to if we are sat on the floor at a picnic ) imagine I’m at a picnic and not sat in my conservatory!

#emilyculottes 171And lastly you can just sit normal and know that you’ll not be giving anyone an unexpected eyeful!

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So what do you think? I’ve only really shown you the more flattering photos.  From the side they make my look huge, or at least to me they do.  But I suppose one day I’ll loose my baby weight and I won’t have to worry about it (should it have gone by now? H is 13?).

Have I tempted you!?

Or I have put you off culottes forever!?

Should I continue to wear them in public.

Should I make a raspberry denim pair!?

A lot of questions!

Don’t feel obliged to answer them all, one will do!

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I sew and play golf. I blog about my sewing as I don't think you'd want to read about my golf. It's bad enough watching it on telly! Contact me via email -


  1. No not tempted cos I remember (and wore them) last time round. Yes, yes yes wear them they look good. Yes make the raspberry ones too. I’m going to check out Itch to Stitch patterns tho. And I’ve been looking for instructions for an exposed zip. Thanks I’ll give that a go.

  2. Lovely culottes!!! ! (Those lines are true-blue denim characteristics, old style… just sayin’ ) Have been thinking I should get out my old culotte pattern – great minds! Ya look great in ’em!

  3. Great fit and you look so good in them! Love the liberty yoke – a great design feature. They get a yes vote from me. And yes I want cullottes too now😃.

  4. Karen says

    Yes no yes and yes. I too have the raspberry fabric bought last year from Minerva. Forget what I bought it for. Must be baby brain. Can I still claim that when my boy is 24?? Seriously you look good K xXx

    • Thanks! Yes you can claim it too, mine’s 13 and I was leaving doing tummy exercises til is recovered from my c- section. Maybe nows the time i should start! 😃

  5. Haha! Yes, I like them. Yes, I might even make a pair and actually wear them. (I am almost 60 and I probably can’t pull it off) Yes, you should make up the raspberry denim pair. And post them. I would bet you will have better luck setting your zipper. (it doesn’t look that bad)

    • I was fairly pleased in the end with the zip, could just have done with an extra pair of hands when I was pinning it!! 😃

  6. The culottes look soooo cute on you. I’m really impressed by how great they look. I am tempted but still on the fence. Great job!!

  7. I’m just the same as you, a lot of dithering on the culottes front (although I never wore them during the 80s, maybe because we didn’t have a school uniform?). So while for me the jury on the whole culottes trend is still out – which hasn’t stopped me from buying fabric for a second pair – I like yours and I think raspberrry ones are a must!
    What was the third question? Whatever – just make those culottes 🙂

    • Haha! I will! It’s the least I can do seen as I never got round to making another jumpsuit and you’ve got a wardrobe full! 😀

  8. I like them, but then I love the pair I made for myself too so maybe I am biased? I don’t think they look 80s at all.

  9. I actually love culottes and made loads to wear in the Eighties. Sadly, those patterns went out in the Big Purge I mentioned to you and the culottes went to the charity shop circa 1993. I also have baby weight to lose, all two stones of it and ‘baby’ is now eight. I gave in and bought the larger size dressform in an attempt to acknowledge that it’s here to stay:)

    • You’re not tempted to make them again? I’m not sure still on me, but they’re comfy for every day wear, and quite quick to make – or they were once I’d pulled my finger out! 😃

  10. Seriously, I think they look really good on you, not 80s at all. I think the denim is a very good choice and yes I think you should go for the raspberry denim too. I am also very tempted, despite the fact that I don’t think they suit me, perhaps in a more flowy fabric, I tend to like the longer ones, which are for long legs as well, that I don’t possess. I’m off to Asia for two weeks’ work on Monday though, so by the time I’m back, I will be too cold to wear them. Do you think I should try a winter version? hmm. Bad influence haha!

    • A winter version – is that going to be culottes plus thick tights! Best stock up on the canestan! We used to have fully lined culottes as part of our uniform and had to wear tights! Was a bit warm!
      They’d be fab to wear in Asia in a soft floaty version! Bon voyage! Will be be fabric shopping over there? 😃

      • Now that you mention fully lined, I see how the winter version isn’t going to work! Yes they’d be perfect for Asia, but sewing machine’s in box and leaving Monday, there will definitely be fabric shopping though in Beijing!

  11. I am definitely tempted but I think I might make them slightly longer. These culottes look really good on you, they don’t look 1980 at all.x

  12. Are the photos representative of how they look in real life? If you have chosen just the flattering ones, maybe not. They look really flattering from behind but I’m not sure about the front. I definitely think they would work in a medium sized print but I’m not sure about the plainness of the front. Maybe with some patch pockets? Or maybe that would just make them short flared jeans.
    I would get your photographer to take a short video of you in them doing something normal and then maybe you might be able to judge better.
    They do look super comfy though. But will you wear them next year? Are they classical enough to put the effort into another pair? It might be another 30 years until they come around again.

    • Ta for your comments Lucie, the pix are a fair representative of real life, but maybe I should have added a side view. I’ve always looked better from the back tho’! We’ve slim hips and small bums in our family but any excess pounds always go on the tummy! So I missed off the side view as it doesn’t matter what I wear it’s not usually very flattering!! They are plain and could do with livening up with some pockets. I think the next pair (which will be good for golf in a shorter version) will have pockets, and zip in the back for when I loose an inch or 2 off my waist and will be easier to take in.
      Will I wear them next year? Probably yes as everyday casual, and as a change to jeans, when it’s not quite warm enough for my Yasmin Yoke skirt. 😀

  13. corrineappleby says

    I must admit that I have never worn culottes before but I quite like these. I was thinking they would be more floaty but they’re quite structured aren’t they? Love the idea you can be unladylike whilst wearing them!

    • I don’t need culottes to be unladylike, lol! I think it’s the denim which help hold the A line shape, I’ve seen linen ones on the net which drape more softly. 😀

  14. The word culottes makes me cringe a bit – I was young but I remember them. But actually these don’t look too bad from the photos – definitely a more modern style than they used to be. At the very least, they look comfortable. Your post was very entertaining and made me chuckle a bit – you should definitely try out the raspberry ones as well.

    • Glad I made you chuckle! I removed the pleat at the front which is more of how old school culottes looked. Might add it to my raspberry ones 😀

      • Hmmm, I actually think leaving out the pleat may have been the right call. I don’t know maybe it’s just me and my pleat-hatred. Either way, I’ll be interested to see if you do make another pair :0)

  15. Bekki Hill says

    I’ve never worn culottes – I have enough trouble trying to spell the word! 😉 To much like a skirt and I’m really not a skirt person. But they look good on you. And yes you can claim baby brain when he’s 24. I’ve scientifically proved it – my baby’s 24 and I’ve still got it. 🙂

  16. I vaguely recall a pair of softer, longer cullottes from the mid 80’s that I loved. I like yours, and think the raspberry version is a must. I might just add cullottes to my ever growing list of wants.

    • Oh yes, you must, be maybe they’ll need to jump the queue in case we’re soon out of fashion! Not sure if they’re even in tho’! 😀

  17. Carolyn says

    I think they look great on you and definitely vote for making the raspberry pair! 🙂

    • Thanks Linda, they’re super comfy! Might look into putting some sort of fly inside next to the zipper as it rubs sometimes near the waist. Will have to do some googling! 😀

  18. Andi says

    Just came over from the Facebook sewalong. They look really great on you – the fit appears accurate and is flattering. Yes for a red pair! An idea for zipper insertion: I’ve not tried it myself, but have read so many sewists recommend Wonder Tape. Like a double sided tape but one side has a film that you remove after you’ve got it where you want. So you’d use it to hold your zipper in place exactly then sew right over it and wash and wear as if it were never there. It’s on my list for my next zipper.

  19. Predictably, I love them! I think they’re a really neat shape and look like they could be a skirt. I’ve now got culotte envy and have dusted off my Prima pattern to ponder over….

  20. Still catching up on blogland… Oh, yes you should definitely keep wearing them, they look great. I finally got round to wearing my culottes-jumpsuit on holiday and was amazed at how practical it was 🙂 Thanks for the link to sewing that zip, will have to remember to come back to this one and for the link to a new pattern company, both designs look lovely!

  21. Hello stranger!
    I’m somewhat behind on my blog reading, so a little late to comment on your culottes.
    I like ’em. I think these look great on you (they are just the right length) and I do love the practicality of being able to sit cross legged with no fear!
    I’ve just gone back to the 90s with a pair of dungarees… I am still wondering if a 46 yo woman in dungarees is quite seemly, but I am quite liking them and think I might make more (I might even get around to taking a photo at some point, too :-0)

    • Lovely to here from you!! Will have to catch up for a coffee, you’re only down the road!! I’ll wear my culottes and you wear your dungarees! You were subconsciously jumping into June making dungarees! (It’s a long story if you missed that one!). We’re both off work and doing family stuff this week but once H us back at school I’ll get in touch if you want and we can catch up 😀

      • I almost did jump into June – not sure what got in the way! Have a great week with your boys and it’d be great to catch up soon x

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