Every time I look at the above photo I can't help but think of Bowie and Jagger Dancing in the Street. Something to do with shoulder pads, the concrete, the gawky pose, and the acres of fabric billowing in the (absolutely bloody freezing) NYC wind, or something like that.
I'm not sure what that says about my styling. And I'm pretty sure Jagger at least has never been seen in a pant so wide. Bowie, however, we know would be all about the cropped flared trouser or, in this case, a culotte. Oh so ridiculously sad that he is no longer able to share his sartorial (amongst other) genius with us.
Relative to that intro and rock god reference, this ensemble seems pretty sober, which doesn't reflect how much I love it, which is probably why I made such lofty allusions (is that even a word?)
After my sheer culotte joy manifested here, I wanted to make more but to try and make a pair that were winter friendly, and more easy to wear on a day-to-day basis, i.e. with flats and sweaters and you know, all that practical kind of attire (which is clearly the category that a silk cami, patent brogues and a striped blazer fall into ...)
I didn't want to make them out of wool. My track record with woollen trousers is one of thorough discomfort, itchiness, over-heating and shininess plus general feeling over-dressed, so this heavy, denim-like slubby cotton that I found at at Metro Textiles during Cheese and Wine with Kashi felt like the perfect wintery substitute; warm, casual, crisp and weighty.
I originally intended to tweak my own culottes pattern, but this time around, and particularly with the weight of this fabric, I wanted a cleaner line, slightly slimmer leg and not the bulk of pleats. So that left a pattern dilemma.
I toyed with Butterick 6178 (having seen this utterly wonderful pair) but I plumped for Vogue 9091 as I've had it for a while and I liked that it looked fairly straightforward without all the bells and whistles of my previous version. The pleats however would have to go - wearing that much heavy weight denim around my lower half would turn walking the 20 blocks I walk four times a day into some kind of weight training exercise.
This was pretty straight forward - I just folded the pattern piece along the pleat lines. The only other changes I made were to slim the legs a little, add five inches to the midi length and after comparing the pattern pieces to my self-drafted culottes, I added a half inch to each pattern piece at the crotch seam to accommodate my full butt. Given the amount of alterations I have had to make to patterns on other recent makes, this was a doddle by comparison.
I didn't want to make a muslin so I basted the pieces together first of all to check the fit. And they fit like a dream. It's interesting as reading the measurements I thought the UK 12 would be too small around the waist, but actually it fits perfectly with no alterations.
This is good to know as with a lot of McCalls patterns their offerings are frequently split into two size brackets and frustratingly my top half is firmly in the smaller size bracket but my bottom half is in the larger. Consequently, unless I'm willing to buy two patterns, which clearly I am not, I can't grade between the sizes. I've decided before that grading out at the hips is a darn sight easier than shrinking the top so, going against my natural instinct in all clothing sizing related matters, I generally buy the smaller size and usually just replicate the grading from the previous sizes to add width on the bottom half of patterns. Or it could be that I fail to remember to change the size option when buying the patterns online so always end up with the smaller size anyway. It could be.
These were so simple to make and I'm really pleased with the finish. I used some left over silk from a WIP top to line the pockets, used self fabric for the waistband and serged all the seams. I figured that an invisible zip would struggle with the heavy cotton, so I put in yet another exposed zip. After ruing my lack of ability to make waistbands a consistent width all the way around, I took a lot of time to make sure I was as accurate as possibly and actually drew the stitching line on the waistband so it would all match up and it does, which I'm thrilled about. Sadly, even though I'm pretty experienced with inserting exposed zips at this point, this is an abomination. And it was the third attempt.
I love these pants. Really love them. They are immensely flattering and I'm so glad I opted for a simple line and no pleats. I love the structure the fabric gives to them, the length and how well fitting the waistband is. I could do with reducing the inch I added to the crotch a little, but other than that jobsa gud'un!
And I love the whole 80s pop video wind tunnel thing going on here.
Maybe it's not so much Bowie and Jagger.
Diana Ross, eat your heart out!
So, how do you deal with Big 4 pattern sizing / ease issues? How would you style culottes?
And, Bowie or Jagger?
See you soon x