Thursday, 7 June 2018

SIMPLICITY 1069 CULOTTES / you look radiant!

Hello! Back again! This time with a garment that scores such high compliment ratings, I recommend you all go and make one forthwith!

The item in question is a pair of cropped-length culottes, sewn from view B of Simplicity 1069. I can't remember where I first came across this pattern, but it was love at first sight: the shapes in the pictures caught my eye, and then I realised it was a multi-garment pattern consisting of both culottes and wrap skirts, and was immediately smitten. Two items at once so similar and so different, both of which I'd been wanting to make for a very long while - whenever it was, this pattern hit me at just the right time, as I had neither thing in either my wardrobe or my pattern library. I had to have it!

And then of course I didn't actually do anything with it for over a year. (In fact, it might even have been two).

When I did finally open the pattern envelope, I discovered that the first page of the instructions was missing, so I didn't have any of the diagrams or general info, just the text - in Spanish. Fortunately I've sewn enough pairs of trousers to not need a great deal of info, and just googled the relevant vocab to check which way to press the pleats and suchlike. Also of great help is that there are only 4 pattern pieces: front, back, and front+back facings. It was traced and cut in no time!

Cutting was a pain, though. As you can hopefully tell from this marvellous pose, my fabric is a lovely drapy crepe (probably a polyester-rayon mix: inexpensive but prone to creasing) which shifted all over the place during the making process. But thanks to the minimal pattern pieces, it was manageable - and upon completion I forgave it instantly anwyay, because let me tell you: THIS FABRIC IS LUSH. It hangs beautifully without clinging anywhere, just swishes around in a cool and luxurious manner - these culottes are an absolute delight to wear, and I would probably do so whether they were flattering or not.

However, it seems they really are! I wore this exact outfit to work yesterday and had two people tell me how fab my trousers were, three people telling me I looked "radiant" (!!) and, one, well ok it was more of a backhanded compliment, but I'll take it: "Jo! You look great! Different somehow... really quite... chic!"  Er, thanks? Yes probably quite different from usual, indeed.

Personally, I think it's all down to that shape that grabbed me in the first place. These trousers are wide and pleated and culotte-ish in perfect balance. There is no bulk where it's not needed, but just the right amount of fabric to skim down from the waist into those deliciously wide (but not too wide!) legs. I mean, look at those lovely pleats:

And the back view is not bad either. Having learned from previous trouser-sewing experiments, I carried out a flat seat adjustment on these, which I think makes a good deal of difference - if there was too much more fabric there, the back legs wouldn't drape nearly as nicely. Small things, but important! The method I used was from this book, which I find absolutely invaluable. Often the methods it describes are different - and frequently simpler - than most tutorials online, and in fact I wanted to link to a version of how I did it for this post, but couldn't find one. So, if there's any interest in a quick tutorial for an easy flat bum adjustment, let me know and I'll post it :-)

The main thing to note about the fit of this pattern is that, as we have come to expect from the Big 4 pattern companies, it comes up large where it should be more fitted. I chose my size based on my waist and hip measurements, and it's not far off being just right - but the pattern does explicitly state that:
  1. the culottes are designed to sit 1" above the natural waist, and;
  2. the finished waist measurement has 1" ease above the actual body measurement.

But as one can clearly see here, these neither reach my natural waist, let alone 1" higher, because there is a lot more than 1" ease.

These didn't turn out a lot too big, but big enough to not be wearable, because they just wouldn't stay put. Time for some ninja fixing skills. While I had been quite looking forward to wearing proper trousers with a zip for once (y'know, like a grown-up), resorting to elastic AS USUAL was the obvious remedy. (I realise now that I haven't blogged all the trousers I usually wear, but yes, elastic waists everywhere).

So, I made an elastic casing by topstitching the trousers to the facing at 2cm below the waistline, leaving gaps of +/- 3cm either side of the centre-back zip. I then fed my elastic through and secured it to the zip seam allowance on either side to hold it in place, stitched the gaps closed, and that was it. Waist brought in nicely! And I actually think the resulting trousers are better this way than if they had fit properly to begin with - they're certainly more comfortable, but because the elastic is only a few cm longer than the waistband itself, there's no bunching or gathering - they still hang as smoothly as if they were properly, more closely fitted. WIN!

Yes, I like them very much.

Not that you can tell from my facial expressions, but we've already established that I'm giving up on those.

These pictures are just me swishing and swooshing my culottes around, hoping you can tell how fab they are.

Make no mistake: these culottes are fab. Go sew yourselves some, you radiant people!

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