Back in early-ish May, I saw that one of the bloggers I follow, Helen from Helen’s Closet, had issued a call for pattern testers. She was working on putting out a pattern for culottes and was asking for testers to get it to that final stage. I’ve always thought testing a pattern sounded fun, but I never seem to get chosen! Apparently it’s kind of a prestigious community, so I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. In any case, I decided what the heck, I’ll throw my name out there and cross my fingers. And lucky me, I was chosen!
I basically grew up wearing culottes, as one did in southern California in the 80’s. We spent lots of time outside, as well as a couple of weeks in Mexico each year. So naturally, these were the perfect garment choice; cute like a skirt but with the functionality of shorts. As a young’un, I used to refer to them as barracuda shorts. Or was that Bermuda shorts? In any case, I used to wear them a lot.
Besides the nostalgia, I wasn’t too sure about making culottes, because I don’t normally make myself shorts or pants. They just seem too constricting. Culottes of course are different, since they are more skirt-like, and once I saw the line drawings of the different variations, I knew I wanted to make some! I showed the pictured to my husband, and we both liked the calf length and the floor length. The great thing about Helen is that she didn’t assign us a certain size to sew, as some other designers do. And because they were so quick to sew, most of us testers made a few pairs.
Based on my measurements, I made a size 20 in quilting cotton. You really can use almost any type of woven for this pattern, with drapey fabrics being recommended. Since I have a million yards of quilting cotton on hand, that’s what I used. And it was my test pair, so I was really just checking the fit before I cut my good stuff. Good thing I did that, because the size I made ended up being a bit too big, by about 4 inches or so! I really wanted to make View D, the floor length, with my nice rayon, but I just could not figure out how to get the pieces to fit on my fabric, so I will figure that out another day.
So, for my ‘final’ tester pair, I made View A with more quilting cotton, but I sized down to a 16. The reason I didn’t make this view in the first place was because I was afraid they’d be a little too short, but I really like the final product. The waistband sits high, which looks to be flattering on almost any body type from what I can tell. I will say that if I bend over, then the culottes turn into something very unladylike, but really, we should be bending at the knees anyway, right?
The construction is very easy; two pieces for the front and back each, plus a waistband, and pockets. There’s also an invisible zip, but don’t let that deter you. They are probably the easiest sewing skill to master. The real difficulty is zipping them up and down without catching the fabric, am I right? The waistband does need to be eased in slightly, but that’s very simple. Before printing, you can choose different size layers so that you only print one size, and you can also opt to print up to View B and then just draw straight lines from there to get the longer views. That totally saves you on paper! These culottes are a perfect project for any level sewer, and should only take a couple of hours at the most. Perfect for summer or with a sweater in the fall; I WILL make that View D in my nice rayon!
In any case, they are extremely comfortable, and the pattern is very well written and easy to understand. For her first clothing pattern, Helen did a great job. Plus, the testing group was super fun! Everyone gave constructive feedback and assistance, and posted copious amounts of pictures. If you want to see all the final tester photos, you can check them out here. (Scroll down towards the bottom to see me!) Overall, it was a wonderful experience. Helen was wonderful to work with; very supportive and quick to answer any questions. She provided us with photos AND videos! 🙂 I really hope that if she designs any patterns in the future that I will get to test for her again.
Pattern: Winslow Culottes from Helen’s Closet (pattern is currently on sale for a short time!)
Fabric: Mystery Fabric from the Garment District in LA. I thought it had black spots until I got out into the sunlight, and yep, they’re navy. (And just a heads up, you will need quite a bit of fabric, due to the flowy nature of the culottes).
Lastly, thanks to my husband who took these photos just before we went into our favorite burger place and I stuffed my face with a veggie burger and fries. Whatever, we were celebrating our anniversary!