Though the Me-Made-May community I discovered Megan Neilson’s Tania Culottes, and bought the downloadable pattern. Call me old school (believe it or not I’m an IT professional) but I prefer printed patterns. Whilst its easy enough to do the jigsaw and stick the pattern pieces together I hate working with printer paper for my patterns (and generally can’t be bothered to trace them off again onto tissue paper). However, needs must I couldn’t find them it in stock to buy, so used the instant download option. All worked great, and not a bad price.
The pattern is designed to be a short skirt/shorts which were a little too short for my liking. However, the pattern came with instructions to lengthen them which is great. The first ones I made, I simply cut to the length for the biggest size (which resulted in a still quite short skirt). To make longer (say knee length) takes quite a bit of fabric.
Instructions were clear an simple to follow – I liked the technique to clip the skirt top (after stay stitching) before pinning on the waistband. One thing the instructions don’t mention which beginners will not realise, is that as they are cut on the bias they will stretch when cut. Therefore make sure you hang them for at least 24 hours before you hem them. You’ll have to straighten the hem as the bias will not stretch evenly.
Having made one pair, I went on to make a second pair! The first pair were made in cheap cotton, to check out the sizing. I did find that I’d cut and made them slightly too neat, so will make the next pair slightly bigger. Even though I’d made the first pair longer, they were still quite short. Certainly for a work length pair I’ll need to extend about 3″ from the longest length on the pattern, which will obviously take a lot more fabric. I reckon you’d need 3m of 115cm wide fabric to make a knee length pair. As I didn’t have 3m of my cotton/bamboo the next pair will also be non-work (ideal for the up-coming summer).
On this second pair I made a few modifications to the original pattern instructions, which I’ll share as I think it improves the finished culottes.
Firstly, I decided to add an in seam zipped pocket. One of the great advantage of this “skirt” is that you can cycle easily wearing it. I’m always looking for somewhere for my phone, so a pocket was ideal (and one that things can’t fall out of). I’ve written a tutorial on adding an in-seam zipped pocket, which can be read here. Tutorial on In-Seam Pockets.
Secondly, I under-stitched the waistband, to prevent the underside peeping out. It also helps make it slightly more stable. This time I used a medium weight interfacing which has made a difference too. To under-stitch simply sew close to the upper seam, on the facing piece before you secure the sides and bottom. I sewed on the facing, ensuring that all the seam allowance below was also being stitched through.
Finally, instead of folding under the edges of the facing and hand stitching to the zip tape, I left them open, then used my machine to sew the facing to the zip (done by encasing the zip) then turning the facing the correct way out. I then stitched in the ditch, to attach the facing to the body of the culottes.
Overall – great pattern with nice instructions to follow. Best thing – they are a great way to wear a light weight skirt that’s practical for an outdoor girl. Thanks to Megan Neilson for the design. Buy the pattern for these culottes, or look at her other designs here: Megan Neilson Patterns