The replacements: Winslow culottes

Do you remember a month or two ago I made some Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes in bright red rayon? I loved those culottes. When I wore them with my stripy Scout tee I felt like I was on a 1930s cruise where I would perhaps bump into Poirot and help him solve a murder (who am I kidding, I would totally just be a hanger-on while he did all the sleuthing). They were so good for keeping me cool in the summer heat and I wore them on near-constant rotation. But why the past tense? Well, a few weeks ago I was in one of our many local drinking establishments, and I caught the culottes on a nail while squeezing past a table to get to the loo. Luckily my modestly was protected and I managed to make it home without flashing my rear to all of Fremont, but I was gutted that they weren’t salvageable.

Front

That’s my recent Agnes top I’m wearing too. 

I’m not sure I would have made another floaty pair this late in the year, but it’s still quite warm here (well, not this weekend) and we’ve got a couple of hot-weather holidays coming up, so it seemed sensible to make some more. And it meant that I could shift this Cotton & Steel rayon that’s been in my stash since June. Winning all round, I think.

I like this rayon. It’s got the drape I’m looking for, but it feels a bit more substantial than the red stuff of my first pair. I bought two yards from Drygoods Design, and I just managed to squeeze the knee length culottes out of it. It’s quite a skinny length (44 inches wide) and the back pattern piece is a tiny bit too broad to fit on the lengthwise grain. Luckily I could get them on the crosswise grain, but it meant having to use the selvedge. It’s something to bear in mind if ever I want to make the longer length (and I think I will… I have a wedding coming up in October, and these could be a good option).

Selvedge

I wish I’d remembered to get a proper picture of the selvedge cos they’re really cool on Cotton and Steel fabrics.

One of the things I love about the Winslow culottes is that it’s a really quick sew, although I made them over a couple of sessions. This approach paid off because I managed to do a pretty good job of the invisible zip – it’s not often that I manage to get the waistband meeting properly at all matching points! *pats self on back*

Back

Bit of a windy day on the roof, but I suppose you get to see the movement in the fabric. 

They had their first outing while camping last weekend, and I was glad of combination of the airiness of a skirt and coverage of shorts over what was a really very warm trip. I’m glad I’ve made them but I do miss that red pair. There may be more in my future…

Side

 

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New to me: Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes

I spend most of my year in either jeans or skirts/dresses, with my legs covered in thick black tights. That’s fine for nine months out of 12 in Seattle, but now that summer’s here it’s time for my pasty-white pins to see the light of day. Now, I will never have the legs of a gazelle and in the summer that means I’m a victim of chub rub. The struggle is real, y’all. I can cope with a London summer, which lasts about two weeks if you’re lucky, but I’m told that we can expect consistently higher temperatures from mid-June well into September. It’s time to try making shorts.

Unlike Homer Simpson, short shorts are really not for me, but knee-length is definitely more within my comfort-zone. And if it can look like a skirt but with the anti-chafing benefits, so much the better. Culottes are the definitely the answer. After seeing so many ace versions around the internet (here, here and here) , I thought I’d give the Winslow culottes by Helen’s Closet a go.

That’s a Grainline Scout tee I’m wearing on top too.

One of the things I like about them is how they can work in a range of lengths – the pattern includes four lengths from short shorts to trousers (and also tells you which PDF pages to print – super useful).  True to form, I cut the knee-length version in bright red rayon which I thought would be light and breezy for when the mercury climbs.

It was quite breezy yesterday so these photos look like I’m standing in a wind tunnel.

With only four pattern pieces and super-clear instructions, sewing up these culottes was a cinch. There are some nice optional features, too. I particularly like the recommendation to put a bar tack in at either end of the in-seam pocket openings to help the pocket to sit forward. Sometimes I think understitching isn’t enough, especially in a slinky fabric, so giving it an extra bit of encouragement is a great idea.

Check out the bar tacks at either end of the pocket opening.

If I had any issues it was with the fabric itself. Rayon is super slinky so obviously I used extra pins where I could, but no matter how many I used I still couldn’t get the pleats to hold together completely through the machine, so they’re not quite as sharp as I would have liked at the waistband. I’m also trying to save a bit of space in my sewing area (it’s a corner of my living room), so at the moment I am overlocking insides in either black or white thread, depending on the colour of the fabric. I went for black in this instance, which seems to have worked out ok, but I think if the fabric was any lighter in weight it’d be noticeable.

I wore these out and about yesterday and felt comfortable all day. It was a reasonably windy day and it was refreshing (ahem) to be able to walk around town without flashing my undies to the good folk of Seattle. I have one change to make for my next pair, which is to raise the crotch by about an inch and a half. At the moment it’s a little bit too low, which means I don’t get any of the anti-chafing benefits. I’m looking forward to that next pair, which will be in a palm-leaf print cotton for a Hawaiian vibe – I’m staring at it longingly as I type.

No more Marilyn moments!

If you’re looking to dip your toe into shorts/trouser-making, this is a great pattern to try. Easy to fit, easy to sew, easy to wear. Recommended!

This post also appears on the Monthly Stitch blog as part of their New to Me challenge for Indie Pattern Month 2017. Check out the other entries here and be inspired!

On the cutting table: June

So I spent most of yesterday glued to the UK election coverage. There were snacks and Dimbleby. It was awesome. While I’m worried about what the Tory/DUP coalition will bring, how long it will last and what effect that will have on Brexit, I’m suddenly more optimistic for Labour. Fingers crossed they can continue to put aside their differences and form the effective and coherent opposition that’s been MIA for too long. I hope my optimism lasts…

Anyway, let’s put the hot takes to one side and talk about sewing instead! The weather is definitely on the turn here in Seattle. The rain finally seems to be abating and it seems like summer might just be on the way. And of course, I have not prepped for this at all! This months plans are basically panic represented through the medium of sewing.

Despite not finishing my quilt last month (I didn’t want to swathe myself in a duvet in the summer, sorry not sorry), I did manage to make four things in May, so I’m sticking to the four items rule:

  • One day I looked at my duvet cover and decided that it would look awesome as a pair of pyjamas. As you do. So I bought another and the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn pj pattern and decided that would be a good idea. As all I have are winter pjs, these will be short in the leg and the sleeve and if Chris is lucky he may get a pair too (obvs done in a man’s pattern).
  • Running tights. I’ve recently taken up running again and I have a problem with tights. If I choose a size to fit my waist, the leg seams cut into my legs causing unsightly bulges. If I choose a size to fit my legs, they’re too big round the waist and end up falling down as I run, which is a bad look. I’m going to try the Seamwork Aries leggings, with the intention of grading to fit my weird body.
Aries leggings

Source. I wish I was this bendy.

  • I love the new Penny dress from Sew Over It (available via their PDF Club at the moment, but launching IRL later this month I think). Of course I would. It’s by Sew Over It and it’s a shirt dress. I’ve ordered some lovely rayon from Hart’s Fabric that I can’t wait to sew up, cos it will be super cool and lightweight. Bring it on.
  • Sub point. The Penny dress looks suspiciously similar to the current SOI sewalong in Simply Sewing in the UK. If you’ve already bought the magazine you could probably hack it into a Penny by shortening the skirt and lopping off the sleeves. Just sayin’.

What are you making this month?