Culottes tutorial for summer time glamour

culottes tutorialCulottes, one of the most trendy styles of the 50’s and 60’s, are back!  Culottes are flared pants or shorts that can often look like a skirt or a dress when you’re wearing them.  I have been trying to help you build a warm weather wardrobe that is both easy and practical  –and that is easy to make.  Here is another free pattern to add to your collection of projects for the summer.

culottes tutorial

“Culotte” is a French word that means the lower part of a garment or knee breeches.  They have been fashionable since Henry III made them popular at court in France in the latter part of the 1500’s and were worn mostly by the upper class.  Later, in the time leading up to the French revolution in 18th century, the lower classes who wouldn’t have worn culottes became known as “sans culottes” or literally “without short pants” — a term these partisans and revolutionaries embraced as they manned the street barricades.

There are two things I really like about this culottes tutorial and pattern –there is an option of adding front pockets to the pants without adding bulk to the tummy and you can easily transform them into long pants by adding length at the hem.

culottes tutorialMy choice of fabric is Jacquard Knit.  This pattern is for knits only and comes in sizes 6 to 22.  The finished garment measurements are printed on the pattern.


  • 1.5 yards of knit fabric.  You might want to consider these fabrics.
  • a ball point needle.  We use Schmetz.
  • stay tape or stretched fusible interfacing.
  • a sewing machine.  We have a good selection in our store.
  • rotary cutter and mat.  Fiskars makes a good one.
  • a twin needle (optional)
  • a serger (optional)

Pattern sizes

These culottes are in size 6 to 22.  For finished garments measurements please download the pattern is free!

Finished Garment Measurements


Pattern Pieces

  • 2 Backs
  • 2 Fronts
  • 2 Pockets Front
  • 2 Pockets Back
  • 1 Waistband (not included in the pattern).  Please follow instructions on how to cut your waistband.


  • These pants looks like an A-line skirt, or amazing super-elongating silhouette palazzo pants.
  • A flattering feature in this pattern is the pockets in the front but they are OPTIONAL.
  • Soft waistband that do not add bulk to the tummy area.
  • For the girls that do not like to wear pants in summer, this is the perfect style to feel very comfortable and still look like you are wearing a skirt.
  • 5/8″ seam allowance in all pattern pieces.

Step One: Download the pattern

Please download the pattern from our Craftsy Store and print using using Adobe Reader from a desktop computer.

Opt In Image
Download the Free Pattern

You can download the pattern for the Culottes Tutorial from our account at Craftsy.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

If you need any help with down How to download and print PDF patterns or How to print and assemble a PDF pattern, please check out the linked tutorials.
Culottes tutorial

Step Two: Cut the fabric

Use a rotary cutter or very sharp scissors and as many pins or weights as you can so your fabric does not move while cutting.  Pay special attention to the grain on the fabric indicated in your pattern.

For more guidance on Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting Fabric, please read this guide.

Step Three: Sew the pocket.

We will start by stabilizing the seam and the opening of the pocket by adding fusible interfacing or stay tape.  This step is a must because this area will stretch and become baggy if you do not use fusible interfacing.Culottes tutorial

Place the front pocket piece right side down on the front side of the pants.  Prints are going to be facing each other.  Sew the front pocket side to the front pants using a 5/8″ seam.Culottes tutorialCulottes tutorial

Turn the pant piece print side down and pin the seam allowance to the pocket. Culottes tutorialIron and stay stitch the seam allowance to 1/8″ from the seam. Trim the seam allowance, turn the pocket and iron.Culottes tutorial

Turn the pocket to the inside of the pants as it is going to hang and make 2 rows of stitches for decoration and for reinforcing the edge of the pocket.  You can use your twin needle here as well.

For guidance on How to Use a Twin Needle, please follow this guide.

Culottes tutorial

Do the same to the other pocket.

Trim the seam allowance, turn the pocket and iron.

Change your needle to a twin needle and stay stitch on the right side.  The use of a twin needle is optional.  To have the same effect without the twin needle just make 2 rows of stitches.

Turn the front side with the pocket you have been working on print side down, place the back side of pocket on top of the front side of the pocket.  Sew around the pocket at 5/8″.  Culottes tutorial

Culottes tutorial

Zigzag the edges or use the serger.  Please note that many knits do not need the edges to be finished because they do not ravel.  If they do, serge them.

Step Four: Assemble the culottes

Sew the 2 fronts together but stop 2 inches from the end.Culottes tutorial

Sew the back pieces the same way, stopping 2 inches from the end.Culottes tutorial

Sew the sides of the culottes and finish the seam either with a zigzag or a serger. Culottes tutorial


Sew the inseam and zigzag the edges or use your serger.Culottes tutorial

Step Five: check fitting and add the waistband

The pants at the waist should be close to your hips but not tights,  there should be no gaps between the waistline and your hipbones.  Adjust the pants according to your body, then measure the waist Culottes tutorialand cut a band 1 to 1.5 inches smaller than the measurement.

Culottes tutorial

Fold the band in half.  Sew the ends at 5/8″.  Culottes tutorial

Fold the band length wise in half.Culottes tutorial


Mark the middle top and bottom by making a small notch with your scissors.Culottes tutorial

Pin the seam to the band to the  seam of the back of the culottes and the center mark you did before to the front seam of the pants.

Pull the bands to distribute the stretch of the waistband evenly.Culottes tutorial

Using a small zigzag, stitch sew the waistband to the culottes.  If you have a serger you can finish the seam with it.Culottes tutorial

Culottes tutorialFinish the edge with your serger or using a zigzag stitch.  And there you have it.  Done.

Whether you decide to make the culottes or the palazzo pants you are sure to have an outfit for many occasions.  Team them up with a tank top or pretty blouse and you can go anywhere.


Culottes tutorial

photo credit: Spring and Summer 1955 Lane Bryant via photopin (license)

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49 Responses to Culottes tutorial for summer time glamour

  1. Ann Eckert says:

    Mayra, thanks for the pattern, it will be ideal for my trip to Israel next week!
    One question, how wide should the waistband be? I could not find the dimension anywhere. Would 5″ be about right? Also, are the culottes worn at the waist or lower? I’m sorry to be so pesty, unfortunately I am very anxious to get these done well, quickly.
    Thanks so much for your help, and for designing such wonderful wearable clothes!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Ann, I would recommend a 1.5″ waistband plus seam allowance, this culottes are designed to cover the bellybutton, with the waistband they should fall one inch over the bellybutton. But of course this depends on the shape of your hips. The best approach will be to make the culottes and fit them before cutting the waistband. Have fun in Israel, one of the destinations on my bucket list. There is a great deal of amazing designers there. I would Love to see a picture of you wearing the culottes on a famous site. Please do share!

      • Ann Eckert says:

        Thanks Mayra! I just finished basting the seams and tried them on. I was concerned the size 14 would be too small, since the finished measurement should be 37″ and my hips are 37″. Well, I need to take them in about 1/4″ at each side seam, and they look great!
        Thanks again, and I will try to get a picture of myself wearing them to post.

  2. Jazmyn says:

    Thank you for this pattern. Made a pair in a ‘stylish’ print and wore them a lot this summer…very comfortable! Now I’m going to find some nice autumn fabric as they’d be great with long socks for hiking in the fall 🙂

  3. please forgive if this is a stupid question, but i don’t see how these pants stay on – there doesn’t seem to be a zipper, button, elastic or drawstring at the waist. can you please clarify this for me?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      This pattern is for knits only, so the fabric is stretchable, and the pants are supposed to be use closed to the body.

  4. giulia says:

    Hi, I love your pattern and would like to make it, but I still can’t find the size table in it. can you please help me? thank you!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Giulia, I loaded the finished garment in the tutorial, please have a look. Let me know how you go. Cheers! Mayra

  5. giulia says:

    hi, I love this pattern and I would really like to try it, but I still have trouble finding the size table ore the finished garnment measures (downloaded it a second time but still can’t find them). is it just me? can you help me? thanks a lot

  6. I owned a pair of full length culottes in the 60s and I LOVED them. I’ve showcased your fab culottes today, Mayra.

  7. kim says:

    Would a mid weight jersey in poly work? I am wanting to do a wide leg pant.

  8. Cathy says:

    I dont see the pockets pattern in the download. Am I missing something?

  9. Elaine says:

    Hi there. I love this pattern but there are no finished measurements or size guide printed on the pattern as stated in the instructions above and so I’m not sure which size to make.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Elaine, can you have a look at the pattern again, I reloaded it and the measurements are there as well as the pocket, so you can trace the pieces. Sorry for the inconvenience and hope you enjoy the culottes. They are really comfortable.

  10. Debi says:

    Love the pattern, would love to know where you got that particular fabric from?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi, I got it from a store called Spotlight, as far as I know they are only in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore where I am. You can find it in the knit section. Hope you get it and can share your culottes with us. Cheers!

    • Debi says:

      Perfect, I’m in Brisbane so I will go down and have a look. Thanks 🙂

  11. Kathleen says:

    I see there was an update to this pattern on the Craftsy website. Can you tell me what has changed so hopefully I don’t have to print all of it all over again.
    Thank you.
    kakingsbury at verizon dot net

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Kathleen, no need to print the pattern again. The size of the test square was a little off before the update. The pattern was correct, just the test square was showing as something like 2.2″. We have updated that.

  12. Pauline says:

    Fantastic design. Reminiscent of the 50s with a modern twist and made from stretch! Perfect combination. Cannot wait to make these. Thankyou for the pattern.

  13. Jan Murry says:

    When I go to print, the 2 inch square is too big – anybody else have this problem? These are so cute!!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Jan, you were correct. Thanks for highlighting to me. The test square was a tiny bit too big but the pattern itself was perfectly to scale. I have updated the square on the pattern but you don’t need to print again as the pattern itself is unchanged. Kind regards and thanks again.

  14. francescapia says:

    this is lovely – so cool!….. thanks so much. I am wondering when you finish off the crotch seams that are left unsewn?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      You made me smile, it is at the end of step 4 you do close the crotch, this technique makes it easier for you to fit the pants in case they are too wide.

  15. Anais Rigal says:

    I absolutely love this pattern, but the fabric I had in mind for it is not a knit :'( Any chance you’d release a woven version? Or maybe you know of a pattern already available that compares? In any case, thanks for another great tutorial! I’ll keep it for when the right knit fabric comes along 🙂

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      I do have a pair in mind, soon I will publish it.

    • Linda Goschke says:

      If you are anxious to use the woven and like this pattern, the general advice for converting patterns from woven to knit and vice versa is that the pattern types vary by approximately one size. So, if you want to use this knit culottes pattern with your woven fabric, try going up one pattern size larger than you would normally use (i.e., if you normally use a size 12, choose the size 14 cutting lines instead). Then, make a trial muslin to test the fit before cutting into your fashion fabric. If the woven muslin seems to need more give to be comfortable, you can try cutting a second muslin on the bias grain to create more fluidity and give, if you know how to do this. Making the muslins will let you determine if you like the pattern and how it fits when made in the woven fabric.

  16. Kathleen says:

    I used to love wearing culottes!! This pattern looks really nice in the fabric you used. Thanks for sharing the pattern!

  17. Kathy says:

    Do you have a PDF instruction file for the culottes pattern?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Kathy, we’ll post these on Craftsy in the next week or so. We’re usually a week behind with the full PDFs. There’s just so much to do to publish a tutorial and that just takes a little longer. Please check back in a few days.

  18. Mireille LORANT says:

    Merci pour le patron de ce joli modele que je viens de telecharger. Grace a vous je decouvre la couture et je suis heureuse de voir tout ce que vous faites. Je vous remercie de tout coeur. Vraiment BRAVO pour votre site que j’aime beaucoup. Mireille

  19. Carol Gerster says:

    I love this pattern…thank you…but I would almost kill for the pattern for the turquoise dress…or at least the top…do you have it?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Do you mean the ones in the old drawings from the 50’s? I don’t, but it really only takes me a couple of hours to make a pattern is the tutorials and photos where my time goes. I am happy to make something up if you are more specific. Let me know Carol.

  20. Marie says:

    Wonderful , thanks.
    You are right about the story of “culotte” in french. But it was a loooong time ago , right now this word in used only for underwear for woman (panties, knickers)
    Have a nice day and thanks again for the pattern

  21. Val Clements says:

    Culottes look ver comfy. I am going to try them. I am also going to pin this tutorial. Thank you sew much Maya.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      They are! I really hope you make them and show me, you can load your project on our store on Craftsy. Thank you for your time!

  22. Christina in FL says:

    FAB-U-LOUS!! I was looking for a culotte pattern online last night and … BAM!!… here you are with this today. To say I am thrilled is an understatement. 🙂 Thank you so very much. Pinned and bookmarked so I can print and make later. :))

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