Sub-zero-waste culottes

I bought the pattern for the Zero Waste Culottes from Liz Haywood pretty much as soon as it was released and then procrastinated on fabric. I wanted some for the cooler weather, and I wanted something in an interesting colour; and so began the hunt!

I had some teal-y blue wool blend that was given to me, I think, by my friend Thelma several years ago, and that is the first piece of fabric I pulled out of the stash. Then I had a look at the fabric requirements and sizing. My waist hovers around 73/74cm which means I fall between the 28/30 sizes. I decided to go for size 30 as I’d rather address a too big waist than a too small one. Size 30 requires 163.8cm of 112cm wide fabric or 167.6 of 150cm wide fabric. The culottes are cut across the grain so the width of the fabric determines the length. My fabric was 132cm x 113cm and it needed squaring off. I laid the pattern on in a triumph of hope over optimism and realised, rather sadly, that the pattern was not going to fit.

Because it’s a zero waste pattern, I didn’t want a big piece of fabric that would then have wastage. I had half my stash out, and I must have spent at least two hours trying to work out what fabric to use. In the end – you guessed it – I went back to the too small piece! This meant that I had to make the culottes rather than the skirt culottes, the pattern for which is also included – see details on the pattern, sizes, etc, towards the end of this post. Here is a schematic which may make more sense.

I worked out that I could get the waistband out of some of the length as I didn’t want the culottes as long, and I began folding out the pattern at the inside leg. I was going to cut four strips and sew down the inside leg as inserts. Of course this made the pockets too narrow (they are derived from the crotch cutouts) so they needed inserts too.

By the time I finished I had chalk marks everywhere!

Once I started, I forgot to take in progress photos, but a few things to note: this fabric frayed like the devil and I had to overlock quickly before it shredded to nothing. The inside leg seam is 2.5cm and I had considered just reducing this to 1cm which would solve all my problems. However I’ve done this before and it hasn’t ended well. I wasn’t sure if there was a reason for the big seam allowance, so I added all the strips as planned, overlocked, pressed, and began sewing.

The last seams to be sewn are the inside leg with the big seam allowance and my carefully added inserts. I sewed them and realised that they were 1cm inside my added on strip. Yes, I had to unpick four strips and my inside legs are sewn with a 1cm seam allowance, with no visible difference. I mention this because others may find themselves a bit short on fabric and I think this might be a way to overcome the problem. This is also the reason I entitled this post “sub-zero-waste culottes” as I used even less fabric than I should have.

There is a front fly, but I wanted a flat front so put an invisible zip in the back. I always think this looks better on me. The zip, which should have taken 10 minutes to put in, took about an hour because I made poor decisions. I was going to have it go to the top of the waistband, but this ended in tears. I had that zip in and out more often than I could count, but did get there in the end.

I really wanted to wear them out for a meeting and lunch, but the weather forecast was for 31° and my friend Megan (Meggipeg) suggested I should wear a summer dress for the last time, so I did. However, I did get up early (ish) for you, dear reader, so I could get photos of my culottes in the relative cool.

I wore them with my Closet Core Patterns Kalle shirt made from a tablecloth, and some sneakers. I think it looks quite well pulled together.

The culottes have some nice seam lines, which I’m sure I’ll be able to exploit next time I make them. You can just see the “Nailed It” label I sewed on the waistband, chosen because of the colour.

I machine stitched the hem, but I may unpick it and hand stitch it. If I get round to it!

By the way, the waist is a little too big, so if it annoys me, I shall insert a piece of elastic in the sides of the waistband to pull it in.

I love the back, it falls so beautifully. The photo on the right was my fit photo, the first time I tried them on, basically when they were finished. The red top I’m wearing is made from a scrap of knit from Woven Stories Textiles that I embellished with beads, and the pattern is the Pattern Union Sumekko hacked into a cropped top with a band.

I’m really pleased with the length of these, they will be good to wear with tights and boots, and the fabric doesn’t crease too badly so they may get added to my travel wardrobe. Of course I have to now find tops to go with them.

Some extra photos that add nothing to the story!

But the obligatory seated view. They are so comfortable!

This pattern is still 25% off in Liz’s Etsy shop, and it is a bargain! The details of the pattern are as follows:

These A-line zero waste culottes come in twenty sizes, to fit a 66cm/26″ waist to a 163cm/64″.
They are designed to sit on the natural waist and feature a waistband with a button fly. A fly front or back zip can be substituted for the button fly, and the waistband can easily be adapted to have back elastic (instructions included).  
There are pockets in the side seams.
One pattern makes two culottes styles: regular classic culottes and culottes which look like a skirt at the back. The culottes can also be adapted for menswear.
The length of the culottes is dictated by the fabric width. Three lengths are suggested – 54cm/21¼, 73cm/28¾” and 103cm/40½” – based on 112cm/44″ and 150cm/59″ wide fabrics. However, the culottes can be made any length depending on your fabric width and preference.
Suitable fabrics include lawn, cotton, linen, drill, gabardine, wool, and denim in plains, checks or stripes.”

Bonus pic is of Miss G taking an interest in her Daddy’s vintage ute restoration – he’s rebuilding this from the wheels up; it’s proving to be the ultimate mending job!


10 thoughts on “Sub-zero-waste culottes

  1. They look great Sue, worth the perseverance.
    The 2.5cm wide inside leg seam is “fitting insurance” – I discovered during fit testing that some people are thinner/thicker through the middle than others.
    Love the Miss G bonus photo – I see she now has her own website tag!

    1. It’s good to know that I haven’t thrown the balance off! I really love this pattern Liz, they are my new favourite culottes and I think they will be fabulous for travel. I couldn’t resist tagging Miss G! 😂

  2. Hi Sue, in the 70s culotte was already modern. Back then, we called them “trouser skirts”. I loved them!
    Yours look really great with Kalle, (in German the nickname for “Karl”) and the sneakers.
    On the extra photos you look very youthful. Chapeau! 

  3. These look great. I wore culottes I made all the time, mostly with long boots, at uni in the late ’70s. 🤪🤣
    Are the pocket bags cut from the crotch off-cuts?

  4. Sorry for being so bossy! I hope you have found another opportunity to wear these. They look fab with the white top and shoes. That ute looks amazing!

    1. Thanks Meg, I’ve worn them twice, and you were right, I needed to wear a summer dress! The Ute looks really good now. Still not drivable though!

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