Friday, June 17, 2016

Finished Project: Testing The Winslow Culottes

A little while back, I posted some thoughts on pattern testing in general and I want to thank you guys for your interesting contributions to the discussion! (which had previously just been taking place in my head, ha!)

When I wrote that post, I'd tested two patterns, the second of which is undergoing final touches before the official release, but I'm excited to share the project as soon as I can. Shortly after my 'thoughts' post, I volunteered to test Helen's new Winslow Culottes pattern (available soon!), her first apparel pattern and my third tester experience.

It was not until very recently that I've taken culottes seriously. I'd always written them off as not for me and tended to find them either a little dowdy and boring or too minimal/modern for my taste, depending on the style. In the last couple of months, I've admired more cute, casual, and even sleek and more formal culotte styles popping up on Instagram and Pinterest. Then I saw Helen's sample pair on IG and finally became interested in trying the style for myself. When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the skort (a skirt with secret shorts inside, or even a skirt front with shorts in the back -- wait, is that the clothing form of a mullet?!), and I think the culotte is the more polished, adult version for me. As soon as Helen posted a call for testers, I signed up and was lucky enough to get to take part!

Regarding the testing experience, I really felt good about the entire process. Helen was helpful, attentive, friendly, and enthusiastic throughout and it's clear that she put a lot of thought into making the instructions for her pattern as truly useful as possible. She set up the pattern as a layered PDF,  included a visual of what pages are needed for what views, and even listed out what sizes can skip certain pages when printing at home. I enjoyed the private Facebook group she set up for us testers, which allowed us to easily ask her and each other questions, catch things that needed to be corrected, and view each others' makes as we eagerly cranked out our tester versions.

Also of note is that we were given a reasonable amount of time to complete our test projects and submit feedback, so I don't think anyone felt rushed or stressed.

This was a fun pattern to test! Not just because the designer was delightful and I was excited to try a new-to-me style, but also because it was quick and uncomplicated to sew and fit. The pleats are so deep in the front and back that the only fitted part is at the waistline, which is also straightforward to adjust if you find it not quite fitting right.

What you're seeing here is my tester version. I chose View A, the "shorts" style, and found the length just right. I forged ahead making my test version as a wearable muslin, due to the simple style, and ended up with a very wearable garment. I'd toyed with making a matching crop top for a vintage playsuit look, but decided to put it off for now.

There are in-seam pockets, a single piece waistband, center back zip, and two inverted box pleats at front and back, which were simple to sew and provide a lot of subtle fullness to the hip and bum area. So, everything feels nice and flowy and not restrictive at all, which works beautifully with more fluid fabrics. Heavier fabrics and those with less drape cause the pleats to become rather pronounced and form a more structured look.

The fabric I used is Gertie's lemon print sateen from JoAnn's. I was delighted when I saw the fabric in person. It's a really vibrant print with rich colors that did not fade after washing (even the black background!), with a slight sheen to it, but it is not stiff! It's lightweight and soft and even has a nice drape to it, reminding me of polished cotton I've seen vintage clothes made in. It worked nicely for this project, and I think the only thing I'd have done differently with it would be to try to match the lemon print pattern across the crotch seam, and then just buy more of it because I think it's awesome fabric!

I think I'm sold on this style and can now call myself a culottes fan! Where do you stand? Have you bought or sewn culottes?

Make sure to check out Helen's Winslow Culottes pattern when it comes out later this month. I highly recommend it!


  1. I haven't bought or sewn culottes, but I think I definitely prefer the ones that you really can't tell are shorts (like these). I find some patterns can just look like wide-legged shorts/trousers which isn't a good look for me. I don't know if I would ever buy a culottes pattern though, even if I really liked it. I think I'm just team skirt more than team culottes. Yours look great though! The pleat detail is really nice. :)

    1. Thanks, Carlee! I agree, I definitely need pleats or some other detail to make culottes work for me -- I can't handle the simpler ones that are more obviously not skirts! haha

  2. I really want some culottes since it's sooooo windy here! I would like to make my own pattern so it's not happening anytime soon lol. Anyway yours look fab! Love the lemons too!

  3. I don't actually own some culottes but they used to be all the rage when my Mum was my age and somehow they've come back. I've never tried them, but I think I will someday! These definitely don't look dowdy, I love the fabric you've used, it's gorgeous and perfect for the summer! I didn't even know you could test patterns for people, that sounds great and would love to know more about it. I'll try and find the blog you were talking about it to find more about it. Well done on making such a beautiful pair of culottes! XxxX


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