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?