I had just finished my culottes today when I checked my email, and lo and behold! VeloJoy’s newsletter was about culottes! She sums up the reasons why I decided to embrace this trend, despite my initial skepticism (okay, flashbacks to childhood fashions): freedom of movement yet classy, easy to dress up or dress down. Culottes are bike-friendly midi skirts! The opposite of everyone’s favorite skinny jeans/pants for biking, culottes offer a more flattering fit (note: you have to get the right cut for your size!) yet are shorter than the other current trend, wide-legged trousers. Oh sure, you can use a pants strap on those, but culottes make it unnecessary. Swing your now covered legs off your bike and it immediately looks like you are wearing a smart skirt. Yep, I’m a convert.
I ordered Vogue Pattern V9091 just this month, and found the plum colored linen blend fabric at JoAnn Fabrics. Initially I’d been thinking of culottes in some sort of faux suede, since suede is also on trend for Spring. I chose V9091 because it had a flat front; I still can’t bring myself to wear pleated pants or culottes or shorts. But once I got the pattern in my hands, I realized that Version B did in fact have a massive inverted pleat right in the front! Oh. So much for my faux suede idea; linen has a better drape. I actually cranked these out in two days, after a few days of trying to decide how to alter the pattern. I’m trying to be better about the fit of the things I make, and I know that back in the early 90s, when I took a pattern alterations class, I had to do a certain number of alterations to get pants to fit properly – lengthen the rise, more curve for the bum… I just can’t remember what the exact numbers were. So I only added 1/2″ to the rise and yet somehow they still ended up being rather high-waisted! No matter, it makes my waist look tiny, and I can’t complain about that!
The linen blend was just lovely to work with, pressed up easily, nice and forgiving to sew on, nice drape. I started with the size 14 pattern and then took in the waist enough to fit properly, although maybe I did it a bit too carefully – there is no room to gain an ounce in these now! Not that I want to, just saying I can’t.
I didn’t have much in the way of obvious seams for reflective trim, so I only ended up adding a bit to the side seam. I probably should have done more, because now this falls into the “nice try” category – just enough to say it’s reflective, but not enough to be truly visible. Grr. I considered just edging the hem with it, but thought it would negatively impact the drape, so I didn’t, but that would have been more visible. Given the fullness of these culottes, the reflective bits might not show as much as I’d like.
The legs are much fuller than I anticipated, and I feel somewhat like those early cowgirls who wore giant divided skirts to ride their horses. Anyone else remember that Folkwear divided skirt pattern?
They are very comfortable to wear, but I didn’t get to bike in them today because, well, The Mechanic accidentally flung ice cream on my lap and I wanted to wash them right away. <sad face> But I can’t wait to try them out!
The next challenge will be to figure out how to style them. Some of the photos I’ve found on Pinterest show crop tops or oversized shirts, but I think any top I wear with these will need to be fairly fitted, to balance out the bottom. And although the oxfords look fine, I will need to try other shoe options. Even if they aren’t the “bikiest” of the things I’ve made (that is, with the least amount of reflectivity), they will probably become a summer favorite because of the lightweight, easy breezy feel of them.