Culottes Tutorial For Summer Glamour

culottes tutorial

Culottes, 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

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

“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 1500s and were worn mostly by the upper class.  Later, in the time leading up to the French revolution in the 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 tutorial

My choice of fabric is a Jacquard Knit since this pattern is for knits only.  For some ideas of the right sort of fabric to use, please check the link below.

Materials

Fabric Recommendations




Pattern sizes

These culottes are in sizes 6 to 22.  The Lower Waist measurement relative to the Hips measurement below may appear unusual to some readers, but for this design to fit right, I can assure you it is correct for the knit fabric I am using.

Finished Garment Measurements

Size Lower Waist Hips Hem Width
6 31″ 52″ 60″
8 32″ 53″ 61″
10 34″ 54″ 63″
12 35 1/2″ 55 1/2″ 64 1/2″
14 37″ 57″ 66″
16 38 1/2″ 58 1/2″ 67 1/2″
18 40″ 60″ 72″
20 42″ 62″ 74″

Pattern Pieces

  • Two backs
  • Two fronts
  • Two pockets front
  • Two pockets back
  • One waistband (not included in the pattern).  Please follow instructions on how to cut your waistband.

Features

  • These pants look 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 does 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.

Video Tutorial

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Pattern Layout

Culottes tutorial

Step One: Download the pattern

We're going to continue to use the new Payhip webstore to distribute our patterns.

Our patterns are still free, but now you now have the option of making a small contribution if you like our work! We'd really appreciate it and it will help is keep going with new and fun designs like this. Even a dollar or two really goes a long way.

Thanks so much in advance for helping us out.  You can use any credit card and you don't need a Paypal account, although you can use one if you have one.

Download the pattern 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.

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.

Culottes tutorial

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

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 tutorial

Culottes tutorial

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

Turn the pocket to the inside of the pants as it is going to hang and make two 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.

Culottes tutorial

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

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

Culottes tutorial

Sew the two fronts together but stop two 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.

Step Five: Check fitting and add the waistband

Culottes tutorial

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 and cut a band 1″ to 1 1/2″ smaller than the measurement.

Culottes tutorial

Culottes tutorial

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

Culottes tutorial

Fold the band lengthwise in half.

Culottes tutorial

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

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

Culottes tutorial

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

Finish 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.

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Culottes tutorial

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Cindy
Cindy

Hi! I love your patterns and am anxious to make these coulottes for end of summer wearing. I’m a bit confused as to what size to make, as there is only the finished garment table vs. the body measurement table. I typically make size D in your patterns. And not familiar with where exactly the “lower waist” is as that is not typical measurement. As you’ve noted, there’s quite a range between the hip and waist measurements so not really sure where to begin! Thanks for your insight.

Peggy
Peggy

When sewing the front and back pieces together, the instructions say to leave the last 2″ open. When does this opening get sewn shut? Thanks.

Bev M
Bev M

Thanks for sharing this! I love the pattern, will probably make myself some from rayon to wear to church. Beautiful!

Elsabé Vermaak
Elsabé Vermaak

Do you have projector files for layout and cutting? I don’t see anything mentioned.

So Sew Easy
Admin
Active Member

Hi Elsabe, for the moment, we don’t produce our patterns as projector files. We may look at it in the future if more people start using projectors so stay tuned.

Susan Mercurio
Susan Mercurio

I wonder about the waistband. It looks like the culottes are slipping down onto her hips.
I prefer a tighter waist.

Marilynn
Marilynn

I used to have a few pairs of culottes in the past, only one of which was a knit. Your comment about women who don’t want to wear pants in the summer, suddenly had me wondering about a maxi-skirt style set of culottes! I found out the hard way this summer that homemade cloth pantiliners slide all over the place without a pair of pants to hold them in place beyond their own closures! I find shorts and pants too hot in the summer, so I wear summer dresses, preferably with a high scoop or boat neck (can’t stand the plunging necklines most patterns think women want to wear!!!) But summer culottes don’t have to be knits, they can be made of any fabric, firm for office wear looks (had two of these at one point), flowy for summery looks, denim, knits for warmer needs such as fall or early spring. But now I’m sitting here wondering about a maxi-skirt-style pair of culottes. . . with all the fullness of the skirt, as culottes instead. A realtor pastor’s wife I knew used to have long flowing culotte-style pants and wore them every single day!

Lois
Lois

I remember my mom sewing and making her culottes to wear back in the 50 ‘s because my Dad would not let her wear pants, so this is the way she got away with wearing pants.

Judy
Judy
Reply to  Mayra Cecilia

I am 83 and my mother never let me wear pants except for ice skating and painting rooms in the house. To date, I have never worn pants to work or to church: always dresses, skirts, suits, 3″ heels (but no heels anymore, sad to say). I made most of my clothes. May be old-fashioned but I do not care for a lot of the clothing today. I can’t understand people paying a lot for jeans that have tears in them, etc.

Bev M
Bev M
Reply to  Judy

I’m from the original ripped jeans generation.  😄  Honestly, none of my friends nor I could afford to buy ripped jeans, so we just bought jeans from thrift stores that were already torn up and added more rips if necessary.

danielle
danielle

Thank you so much for the Culotte pattern. Great!!
I have European size 48, which size should I print/cut??

rosa
rosa
Reply to  danielle

If that’s an Italian size 48, you should be ok with a size 12.

Saajidah
Saajidah

Hi
Does this pattern only go to saize 20?

Elyne Meulenbergs
Elyne Meulenbergs

Hello, I can’t find it on the site, but are the sizes American or UK? I have measured hips 110cm (43,3″) and lower waist 95cm (37,4″). And it seems that my fabric is stretching diagonal, do you think that will work? I only bought 1,5m (1,9 yards). Thanks for the advice! Greetings, Elyne (Belgium)

Danielle Goldberg
Danielle Goldberg

What are your fabric recommendation for making this in lightweight fabric? How much stretch is ideal for recovery? I have a stock of knit fabrics trying to see what would work best heading into summer.

Linda
Linda

Thank you for coulottes pattern. I made it from cotton even though you recommended knit. We are staying in because of the virus and I had the fabric already. They turned out adorable. I just had to make sure the waist elastic would stretch over my hips.

LAURA BETANCUR
LAURA BETANCUR
Reply to  Linda

I’d love to try them in woven!! Did you go up a size? Did you make any alterations?

Nora Nevers
Nora Nevers

I have always loved culottes. I would love to make some in a light weight woven fabric like chambray or very light denim. Could this pattern be adapted for that or do you already have a pattern for culottes from woven material.

Sara P.
Sara P.
Reply to  Mayra Cecilia

A pattern version for woven fabrics would be great!

Brenda Jerles
Brenda Jerles

Thank you for the video and the great instructions! I want to make these in a bit longer style for winter. I bought the jacquard fabric and down loaded the pattern.

Cathy Steyn
Cathy Steyn

How wide should I cut the waistband? It looks like maybe 6 inches in the photos?

Danielle Goldberg
Danielle Goldberg
Reply to  Cathy Steyn

In the video it says 6.5 inches high for the waistband.

viogra15
viogra15

I love the look. So simple to sew. Do you know the name of the fabric and where I could buy it. The fabric enhances the pattern.
Love it

Carol D.
Carol D.

It would be nice to have pdf instructions to download also, or if there is one – where do we look for it?

Dede Six
Dede Six

These are so stinking cute. Although it is officially fall, here in Texas it is still in the upper 90’s. I think they could also be made from a heavier knit for fall/winter. I will be downloading this pattern, and I will be happy to contribute. I have ordered many patterns from your site.

marilyn
marilyn

I noticed thst the culottes do not have elastic in the waist.
How does the waistband keep it’s shape and stay on the body?

Jaine
Jaine
Reply to  marilyn

The waistband is cut smaller than your waist so it appears that should keep your pants up. Due to varying stretch, I would feel more comfortable with adding elastic.

Tracy King
Tracy King

Thank you for another stylish and easy pattern and tutorial!

Anna
Anna

Thanks for the pattern and tutorial, I really want to try making some soon. The pedant in my has to mention that “culottes” in modern French means “knickers”! I had some funny looks there when talking about culottes there before I realised what it meant! ” Camisole” is another good one, in French it now means “straight jacket”!