Winslow Culottes!


This summer, I’m determined to experiment with fun trousers styles. There has to be more to life than skinny jeans, right?

After a lively discussion on my blog, I decided to start with the Winslow Culottes by Helen’s Closet. I did some pattern testing for Helen this winter, so she sent me the pattern to try out, no strings attached. It’s a simple, elegant pattern that doesn’t need much fitting because the legs are so wide! If you get the waistband to fit nicely, everything else will fall into place. I like that the pattern can be made as shorts, knee-length, cropped of maxi, and that it gives the illusion of a skirt with the comfort of pants.

tencel denim Collage

For my fabric, I wanted the swishy, drapey, yet sturdy characteristics of a rayon, but something more substantial than a challis. (Look, I’m afraid my butt will hulk out of challis pants when I sit, ok?) Tencel is the hot fabric for summer pants in the sewing world this year, but buying it locally costs $30/m. Instead, I used my most recent allowance from Cali Fabrics to buy 6 yards of this tencel denim. So far it’s been enough to muslin two pairs of pants, and I can squeeze some shorts from the remnants!

As you can see, this denim has a bit of a sheen that gives it a dressy look. It drapes beautifully, but also has a bit of body – the hand is more like a linen than a challis, I’d say. It was easy to sew, but a challenge to cut perfectly on grain!

Crazy pants Collage

The culottes themselves sewed up quickly, with 4 big pleats and a bunch of straight seams. My difficulty came in figuring out how to style them!

I wanted to keep the waist defined, and balance out the volume on the bottom. I had a look in my stash, and found the leftovers from my last Cali project – this black stretch lace! I made a simple cropped tee using the Jalie Dolman Tee pattern, hacked to have a tie front. Here’s how:

lace tie top Collage

The back hem and bottom of the triangular points in finished with a folded band for strength, topstitched flat with a zigzag. The slit at centre front is serged then folded up and topstitched. It’s held up well to lots of tying and untying. It’s versatile, too: you’ll see in some pics I have the ties hanging out for a casual look, and sometimes I untie it and tuck them in for a more polished style. I could see layering the lace tee over a knit dress in summer, too!

In fact, I was so happy using fabric from multiple orders that I started wondering what other Cali projects I could throw in the mix – and voila! Remember this striped jacket from last fall?

with jacket Collage

BAM! I love how it gives the culottes a more casual vibe, and makes them work for cooler weather. I wonder what else I have in my closet that would work with culottes?

waistband Collage

AND YET… I’ve given these pants away!

It started with asking ya’ll on Instagram about the length… this super-long length felt too formal, and in a fabric with this much body, the legs just felt overwhelming.

bad photoshop

I cobbled together this collage of different possible lengths, and  most people either liked the longest or shortest lengths. I was about to cut them off when my sister mentioned she’d be interested in trying them on to get a feel for this silhouette. Her mother-in-law happened to be passing through my city that day on the way to see Anne, so I sent the culottes with her!

Anne tried them on, and I said that if she liked them, she could keep them and I’d make more… then for kicks, her MIL tried them on too… and they looked so good, we all knew they belonged to her!


See? I love how on Lynda they look a bit more casual, and the length is perfect. I’m 5’2″, Anne is around 5’5″ish, and I think Lynda is about 5’11”, so it’s fun to see how they fit each of us differently. Lynda is a talented seamstress herself, but hasn’t sewn in decades… I’m hoping that now she is retiring, she’ll come back to it!

(BTW, my sister wore handmade every day in Me-Made May – either handknits or sewn tees she’s made, or clothes sewn by me! She’s my favourite model!) 

I’ve got every intention of making these again, but this time I think I’ll go for the midi length in a drapier fabric. Meanwhile, I’m sewing from Jalie woven joggers in the same fabric!


19 thoughts on “Winslow Culottes!

  1. They look great on you AND Lynda! A very different look for you, but I think it totally works – I think the midi length will be even better.


    1. I definitely need to try midi pants this summer! Still humming over just which pattern to use though… maybe at this point I should plan to sew ALL THE PANTS! 😉


  2. They look so good! I’ve been debating trying this pattern for ages. I love how skirt-y it looks. I especially like the longest and shortest lengths. The thing though is that it’s high waisted, right? I find high waisted bottoms throw me out of proportion. I’m on the short side (5’4″) but my legs are proportionately long which means I have a shorter torso. High waisted bottoms make my legs look way too long, you know? My guess is I’m going to keep waffling for a while…


    1. TRY IT! You’ll love it. I’m a shortie too but short-waisted. I didn’t find it to be particularly high-waisted on me. Search IG and you will see an amazing variety of body shapes and everyone looks really great in it. I haven’t tried to maxi length yet because I haven’t found the right fabric, ya know?


    2. Ah, interesting! We’re oppositely proportioned – I’ve got a longer torso and shorter legs. I think it depends what top you wear with them though, and if you’ve been tempted y the pattern for ages, then I think you should give it a go! The short length won’t need a big investment of fabric! 😉


  3. Great pics as always Gillian and the comparison shots of all three of you wearing the same garment was so much fun to see and informative too. How the same garment can look so different on everyone. I like that mid-length on you – they do fit nicely through the waist and hip and the drape makes them look more skirt than pants which is a nice silhouette on you 🙂


    1. I like the skirt-ness too! I’m tempted to try the pattern in something even drapier, and without the sheen… I feel like all that volume is throwing off my opinions!


  4. Gillian, I really like it best with the lace tee. I think visually, sleeveless isn’t working for you with the maxi length. A top with sleeves seem to balance you out better. Although, I am thinking that a sleeveless bodice in the same fabric would have come off as a jumpsuit and then might have worked too.


    1. I totally agree! I don’t know why I used a pic with the tank top when I was asking you all about length on IG… I’d always intended to balance the volume with the kimono-sleeve style!


  5. So glad you’re sharing your journey into wide legged culotte territory. It’s a jungle out there, and seeing pics of garments on others really helps when it comes to making my own choices.

    I quite like your Winslows styled with the burgundy tank and the striped jacket. The look does, however, look dressy to my eyes. Maybe it’s because I’m used to seeing this silhouette at formal occasions like the theatre?

    It’s so interesting seeing the trio of pics. I can see that you’ve tried to make each of your images ‘true to size’ for lack of a better word. Your feet are all approximately at the same level, yet your heights are varied as you mentioned they are in real life. I think the culottes look very balanced on Lynda. There’s no doubt…she is rockin’ the look! On you the culottes appear so much more voluminous. The beauty of the horizontally striped jacket is that it balances your top half and lower half without adding volume. Really quite brilliant what you did there and not sure I have the chops to try it for myself.


  6. What a fun departure these are–they’re so elegant on you, and this fabric looks perfect for the style. I love the drama of this shape! Helen’s convinced me that culottes need to be given a try. She looks so great in all of the lengths.


    1. She really does, doesn’t she? I enjoyed the Winslow Week posts last month, because it gave me a chance to compare all the lengths on her. That said, i have to keep reminded myself that I’m wider and shorter than her, so it won’t be quite the same on me! ;P

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  7. Fabulous photos of some great pants! They are so elegant and swoosh-y because you picked the perfect fabric for the style, as usual! It is interesting how they look so different on each of the models. How cool that you passed them on to someone else…I always find it hard to part with what I’ve made.


    1. It’s always a bit hard giving away me-mades, isn’t it? I pass on a LOT of clothes to my sister (half her wardrobe is sewn by me) but generally they are either things I’ve made for her or things I don’t wear. It’s nice to see a garment get enjoyed though, and it clears out room in my closet for even more clothes! 😉


  8. Yep, they were made for Lynda! They were lovely on you and your sister too, but it was meant to be for her! I love projects like that. I once made an a-line cocktail dress from a 60s Burda pattern for a work event, but just felt off in it. My coworker loved it and tried it on for fun, and it was all over. That dress was hers!


  9. These look fabulous on all of you, but they definitely belong to Lynda. I’d love to see the shorter version with different fabric on you.


  10. These look so good on you but also I feel like they’re the kind of thing that look great in stills but in movement are tricky! I really like the proportions of the shorter lengths but the legs might need narrowing if you do that? I don’t know what I’m talking about though, just guessing 😛

    It’s so fun to try different styles though!


  11. That lace top is so stylish! It looks like it’ll be versatile, too. The culottes really do look perfect on Lynda, and I hope your next pair works better for you!


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