Culottes = the perfect balance between pants and a skirt.
Don’t want to flash the other moms at library storytime wile you’re sitting criss-cross applesauce? Want to avoid the universal temptation of young children to literally hide underneath your skirt when meeting a stranger? Love the breezy feeling of a skirt but not the potential indecent exposure?
Culottes may be your answer! When my favorite ready to wear (RTW) pair started to fall apart (after all, they’ve survived frequent wear for 8 years, and vaulted in my esteem when I found I could even wear them at 8 months pregnant and look halfway decent), I started a hunt for a suitable pattern to make my own army of culottes for the summer/fall months.
After a some intense pattern research (culottes are not very common in the indie pattern world, for some reason?), I came up with the Ninni Culottes by Named Patterns. They looked awesome on one of my favorite bloggers, Novita of Very Purple Person (we share a similar body shape), so I decided to give them a try. I actually own a few Named patterns (like the Jamie Jeans) that I have never sewn up (#patternhoarderproblems), so I knew that I liked the clean, Scandinavian esthetic and the simple, straight-forward instruction style.
The Ninni culottes are designed for knit fabrics, but due to the generous ease, can be made in wovens as well, and I think the instructions are well suited to both (I did take a couple shortcuts, based on my experience sewing knit pants, like not interfacing the waistband). If you want to see them in a woven, Meg of Cookin’ & Craftin’ has a great pair on her blog here!
They come with pockets (hooray!!), and feature line drawings in the instructions.
I lurve me some line drawings. While many beginners think photos are easier, line drawings are your best bet for clear, unmistakable visual instructions. My pet peeve is when a designer uses fabric that looks the same on the right and wrong side for their photos, or that is so busy it is hard to make out the seam being sewn. Line drawings solve this for you, and Named does this quite well. They also have an awesome sewing glossary and technique section on their website.
I choose a medium/heavyweight bamboo lycra knit from Pretty Posh Prints for my culottes (the same as my ready to wear pair), and got to work. Named patterns are drafted for a MUCH taller standard, so I adjusted for my height by removing 2 inches at the hip and 1 inch at the thigh markings on the pattern (I love that they have all those markings on the pattern for easy adjustments).
After they were sewn up, I removed another 2 inches at the hem for a whopping total of 5 inches removed. I’m 62 inches tall, for reference, so if you’re shorter than an Amazonian legend you might want to check the inseam length before proceeding to save some fabric.
My mom, who doesn’t like loose fitting things on me at all (“if I had your body, I’d show it off”) was ambivalent, but I can tell you these are easily the most comfortable pants in my closet and they’ll get worn a ton. I wouldn’t wear them with a really loose top, but I think if I strike the right balance with a more fitted top, they are really flattering. (Or not, they’re so comfortable, I just don’t care!)
One thing I’ve noticed is that the pockets tend to sag a bit due to my fabric choice, so they are only suitable for holding small items, but they’re plenty big enough for a phone and a diaper, if need be (what? You don’t carry diapers in your pockets?)
I’m on the hunt for some nice tencel denim knit to make another pair (comment below if you have a source!), and have a shorts version from an opaque stretch chiffon from JoAnns (not a pattern option, but a very easy hack) on my cutting table as well. That’s the true measure of a pattern for me- there are plenty I sew once and stash away, but the ones that get two, three or even more makes are my favorites.
I’m so glad I finally got a chance to sew a Named Pattern, and encourage you to go check out their designs – each one is unique and available in PDF or paper versions (if you hate tracing and piecing together patterns!). You can also purchase them from the Oliver and S shop here, and they have a list of international retailers on their site here. I’m drooling over the Ansa Butterfly Blouse and the Beverly Twisted Bikini!
Note: This post contains affiliate links, and I was provided this pattern free of charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own (this is a laughable disclaimer if you know me in real life- I ALWAYS have my own opinion!).