Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes

As soon as I saw Helen start posting samples of the different versions of her Winslow Culottes I knew I wanted them. I even nearly signed up to pattern test them, which isn’t something I normally do as I don’t sew quick enough and I don’t know that I’d be that good at giving useful feedback. It was view D, the maxi version that stole my heart though.

winslow culottes

It was a lovely evening last night so I grabbed the manfriend and my camera and we went for a blog photo taking stroll. I’ve professed my love for maxi skirts and dresses every time I sew one and what appealed to me so much about the Winslow culottes is that you get the look of a skirt (in my case maxi) but the comfort of trousers. Be gone evil Summer inner thigh chub rub!

winslow culottes show legs

The culottes sit on your natural waist with a straight waistband, have two box pleats front and back and side seam pockets. I left the pockets off because I don’t like them so this was a super quick sew, even for a slowcoach like me.

It’s a PDF pattern and a maxi pattern usually takes a lot of paper and assembling but something I really liked about this pattern is that Helen gives you instructions for what pages to print for different views. Because they have a straight leg you can print view B and then just draw straight down on your fabric for how long you want your culottes. I still managed to make mine too long and had to cut 4″ off before hemming.

I think it’s because the crotch hangs slightly too low on me. It’s not noticeable to anyone but me and I don’t think you want the crotch seam all up in your business in a style like this but I will shorten the depth before my next version. I should have thought about it beforehand as I am petite.

winslow culottes back

The fabric I used was a bargain from The Textile Centre at £3.99/metre. It’s viscose but slightly heavier weight than most of the viscose I’ve used before, which I think worked well for this pattern. They’re still nicely swishy but I feel safe from my knickers showing through.

Here’s a close-up of the print, it’s teeny mint green and white hearts. I’m also pretty pleased with my invisible zip insertion.

Close up

I bought 3 metres of it and I think I have enough left for a top. Speaking of tops, the one I’m wearing in these photos is also a Me Made, which was fresh off the sewing machine before we went out. It’s a wearable toile of an off the shoulder Grainline Scout tee hack. I really like it but it’s not quite right and I’ll need to tweak it a bit before using my proper fabric. This fabric might look familiar as it was leftover from my By Hand London Flora.

helen's closet winslow culottes

All I did was cut off the top of the sleeve and bodice pieces just above the notches then added 7/8″ seam allowance to allow for pressing under 1/4″ and then 5/8″ to make a channel for my 1/2″ elastic. Hope that makes sense. I can attempt to make a tutorial as I make my proper version if anyone would like me to?

I don’t think I really have that much more to say but I had a surprising amount of photos I liked from this photo shoot so I’m going to carry on bombarding you with them sorry.

winslow-culottes-sitting

I wore these to work the day I finished them (I sewed the hem that morning) and I got a lot of compliments. One work friend got really enthusiastic thinking up different length and fabric combinations so I told her that she really should start sewing. I definitely want to try the knee length myself but as I have lots of summer sewing already planned they might have to be an autumnal pair in a heavier fabric.

winslow-culottes-looking-at-boats

Oh I there was something else I wanted to say. Can anyone recommend some good quality fusible interfacing I can buy online please? The stuff I have is a bit pants and doesn’t adhere very well.

The details

Pattern: Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes

Measurements: Bust 37″ – Waist 30.5″ – Hips 40″ (though waist is the only one that matters for this pattern) Height 5’2″

Size made: 12

Alterations: None

Fabric used: 2.25m of 140cm wide viscose from The Textile Centre

Another version?

Oh yes, definitely. I really want to try a shorter version but I’d love more long ones too. So many things to sew, so little time!

Any changes next time?

I’ll shorten the crotch depth by about 2″. I may also contour the waistband slightly as I don’t like the way straight waistbands sit on me. I did think about attempting to put front pockets on them too. Probably using the Sew Over It Carrie trousers as a guide. Not that I ever use pockets for anything other than my hands.

Non-clueless versions:

Helen’s round-up of tester versions has all of the pairs I was going to link to here so you should check that out to see more versions.

Final Thoughts

I love these culottes/palazzo pants. They’re comfortable but I still feel sort of elegant and put together in them.

Winslow culottes

Hope you’re all having a great weekend. Yesterday I recklessly agreed to make my mum a dress to wear to a wedding in a couple of weeks. So I’m off to her house in a little bit to take her measurements and look at fabric online. I’m a bit anxious about it as the pattern we’re thinking about is quite fitted. Though I suppose fitting someone else is easier than fitting yourself.

Do you have any tips for me?

True Bias Southport Dress

It feels more than a little bit wrong to be posting about a summer dress in the middle of winter but if I don’t show you the True Bias Southport dress I made for my holiday now then I will forget everything about it. So here I am in Fuertaventura last month, not being rained on… *wistful sigh*

True Bias Southport dress

I originally bought this fabric (javanaise viscose from Abakhan) with the plan to make a By Hand London Anna dress with a gathered skirt. Then the Southport dress was released and this fabric seemed perfect for it. I only had two metres of the fabric so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get the dress out of it but I managed fairly well. I just had to forgo any sort of thoughtful pattern placement and the drawstring is slightly shorter than its supposed to be for my size but it’s still plenty long enough. And I only ended up with one boob flower.

southport-dress-dancing
Dance party para uno

This ended up being a bit more of a last minute make than I had intended thanks to a rather stonking hangover on the Sunday I’d earmarked for sewing. So it was sewn in evening snippets throughout the week before I went away.

I was good girl and made a bodice toile and as I result I moved the shoulder seam forward by 2cm (chopped 2cm off the front shoulder and added 2cm onto the back) and raised the neckline by about 1.5cm. I possibly didn’t need to raise the neckline but I’m funny about low necklines. I think I need to do a swayback adjustment as there’s lots of fabric pooling above the waistline at the back.

true-bias-southport-dress-side-view

It would probably benefit from taking some length out of the bodice all round to be honest. It seems to be hitting below my natural waist in these photos and making me look a bit rectangular. I was also expecting the skirt to be floofier than it is. And yep, floofier is totally a word. I certainly can’t think of a better one anyway. Ooh ooh, got one, more voluminous.

southport-dress-floaty

I shortened the skirt by about 3 inches at the lengthen/shorten line but it’s still a smidge long for flats. I also left off the pockets because I seem to be a bit of a rarity in that I don’t particularly like pockets on dresses. I never use them and I think they often make things sit funny so I’ve left them off every pattern I’ve made that includes them. I wimped out a bit with the slit and didn’t sew it as big as it’s supposed to be, which I regret now. Though if I make another I’ll probably leave the slit off entirely so that I don’t have to shave my legs to wear it, which as we all know, is the beauty of a maxi dress.

southport-dress-back-view

I used French seams on all seams except the slit, which I folded under and edge stitched all the way up, so I have stitching either side of the centre seam. I did make my own bias tape and then realised that I’d accidentally used the wrong fabric and the one I’d used was the one that leaked blue dye all over my Megan dress so I didn’t want to risk it and used some pre-made stuff I had. I messed up stitching that down loads of times and kept having to unpick and redo so there are some slightly shoddy looking bits.

true-bias-southport-dress-walking

The details

Pattern: True Bias Southport dress view B

Measurements: Bust 36″-37″ ish – Waist 29″ – Hips/butt – 39″ Height 5’2″

Size made: US 6

Alterations: I moved the shoulder seam forward by 2cm and raised the front neckline by about 1.5cm. I shortened the skirt by 3 inches.

Fabric used: 2m of 148cm wide javanaise viscose from Abakhan

Another version? I’m really not sure. I don’t know how much I like it. I think I’ll need to wear it properly when it gets warmer before I decide.

Any changes next time? Fit wise, I’d make a swayback adjustment and shorten the bodice a smidge. Style wise, I might slash and spread the skirt to get more swoosh and I’ll probably cut both the bodice and skirt on the fold. I might replace the drawstring with elastic too.

Non-clueless versions

So that’s my first make of 2016, that I won’t be able to wear for another 4-6 months… It has put me in the mindset for planning and sewing spring/summer clothes though. How early is too early?

Sewaholic Gabriola Skirt

How did it get to be Friday again? I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I got back from my holiday. It feels like ages and no time at all. I’ve come down with a stinking cold since I’ve been home and I’ve spent most of this week feeling thoroughly sorry for myself, doing lots of lounging around, rewatching Brooklyn Nine-Nine and a bit of knitting. I’m making quite good progress on my Vianne cardigan for the Outfit Along and I’m hoping to start on my dress at some point this weekend.

But for now I have a Sewaholic Gabriola to share with you.

gabriola-balcony
Oh to be back here…

I mentioned in my last post that I had sneaky selfish plans for this black and white viscose if my nan didn’t choose it for her dress and I’m really pleased with how they turned out. I love maxi dresses and skirts in the summer and have no doubt that I’ll get lots of wear out of it. It’s so swooshy and fun to wear.

I have a few photos but they’re not very varied. We were off out for dinner and I asked my mum to take a few photos of me before we went and I was starting to feel a bit divaish when she kept trying to give the camera back and I kept declining and asking for more photos.

gabriola skirt rock
And then I got some more photos stood on some rocks.

I made the skirt in a size 10 but redrafted the waistband to be curved, using this tutorial. I’m glad I did as I think it fits much better than it would have otherwise. Though I would have had more room for meze…

I’m a bit confused by the finished measurements given on the pattern envelope as they are quite a bit smaller than what I measured the pattern pieces as when I was deciding how much to reduce the top edge of the waistband by. (I went with 5/8″ in two places and the waistband is then cut on the fold so I took 2.5 inches out in total.) The only explanations I can think of are that the skirt is actually supposed to sit on the hips, so the finished waist measurement is theoretical or I actually cut a size 12.

gabriola balcony 2
I really should have ironed it

I used a mixture of seam finishes on the insides, some French seams, some turned and stitched seams and I even broke out the overlocker for the back seam and the front yoke seam. I’m a lot less terrified of it now.

Oh speaking of new toys, my manfriend found me a dressform in a local charity shop a few months ago and it (she?) was really helpful for levelling the hem after the bias dropped. I know it doesn’t look particularly straight in any of these photos but that’s because I apparently refuse to stand straight. I took about 3 inches off the bottom too, as I’m a shorty at 5’2″. It’s now a good length for me to wear with a low-mid heel but I did wear it with flip-flops too after the heels I started out in tried to chew my toes off.

sewaholic gabriola
I’ve never looked so much like a blogger

I love maxi skirts and dresses and I’m really happy with how this skirt turned out. I can see more in my future, maybe a solid cobalt blue one. Though I have lots of other things on the to be sewn pile to get through first. Including lots of new to me patterns, so this weekend shall be the weekend of toiles/muslins. I’m thinking of getting myself some Swedish tracing paper to try out. Has anyone used it? Would you recommend it?

New Look 6096 Maxi Dress

Not a lot of sewing has been going on around these parts. I stupidly entered a Tough Mudder and didn’t start training until about a month ago so most of my spare time has been spent running and weight training, desperately trying to get fit enough to not die half way round the course. So with that, enjoying the sunshine and househunting I haven’t had very much spare time to sew. I did manage to finish this baby though.

New Look 6096

After the success of my Anna maxi dress – which I have worn the hell out of – I knew I wanted to make another maxi dress as they are easily my favourite thing to wear. So I prowled Minerva looking at pretty much every maxi dress pattern they stock. I was torn between New Look 6096 and 6774 but chose 6096 in the end because of the lack of zip. I hate zips.

The fabric is some viscose I got on eBay, pretty cheaply. I bought 5 metres and plan to make some Tania culottes with what I have left. It was my first time working with viscose and I wouldn’t say I did a great job. Some of my cutting out was pretty shoddy and I sincerely doubt that very much of the dress is on grain. I really struggled with that part as the selvage wasn’t very straight and the slight stretch to the fabric kept throwing me.

IMG_3864
It can also be worn pulled down off the shoulder for a peasant blouse style look.

I used French seams pretty much throughout but I messed up the one joining the bodice to the skirt. I sewed it the wrong way first and ended up with the seam on the inside. I thought about trimming it really close to the stitching line and sewing at 1/4 inch again and then finishing off as normal, doing a sort of double (triple?) French seam but was a bit worried about making the bodice too small. That turned out to be a needless worry as next time I’d probably take some length out of the bodice anyway.

I cut a size 10 and it fits okay apart from there being a bit too much floof in the bodice (technical term). I don’t think I’d go down to an 8 as the arms fit just right on the 10. So I think I’d possibly just see what taking some length out does and if that doesn’t work then either fiddle with the pattern to take some fullness out or cut an 8 but use the same length arm elastic as for a 10 and see how that works out.

I enjoy my properly stroppy face in this photo.
I enjoy my properly stroppy face in this photo and I think the dress looks nice in it.

I wasn’t too keen on the dress when I tried it on before I hemmed it. It felt a bit too much like I was trying to hide a baby bump. But somehow it doesn’t feel as huge now and I really like it. The viscose feels lovely to wear too. It has actually inspired another dress I’m working on at the moment that I’m going to laughably call self drafted.

Cost:

Fabric – 3 metres @ £3 /metre = £9
Elastic – not sure how much I used. I’ll say 2m as I bought 5m and have loads left @ 30p / metre = 60p
Thread – free

Total = £9.60 Bargain

And I’ll leave with some outtakes of my stupid faces – no photobombing Max this time, he was too sleepy.

The many gimpy faces of a Leigh
Hawt!

Floral Anna Maxi Dress

By Hand London Anna dress

I love love love this dress so much. I am very much a maxi dress girl in the summer and the maxi version of the By Hand London Anna dress was one of the things that drew me to the pattern in the first place. I got this lovely floaty cotton lawn from Abakhan for £4.99/metre. I used 3 metres so with the notions that’s less than £20 for a dress that makes me feel amazing. Sewing is great.

I used French seams throughout again and I’ve used loads of new techniques. I applied bias binding to the edge of the facing, I understitched for the first time, which was no where near as scary and hard as I was expecting thanks to this great tutorial from Tasia of Sewaholic. Sewing it as a straight line just made it so easy.

Understitched bias bound facing
Understitched bias bound facing

I also made my own bias binding and bound the centre back seams before putting in my zip. This didn’t go that well. I used the pin method to fold my bias tape as I don’t have one of the maker thingies and it was pain in the arse and didn’t really fold that evenly (and I hadn’t cut it that well either). Because it was all uneven I foolishly tried attaching the binding to the first raw edge just by folding it in half and stitching both sides at once, which I buggered up and had to try to sort out loads of bits where the fabric wasn’t enclosed properly.

So for the second edge I did sew along the fold first like you’re supposed to, even though the fold was wonky and then used a zig zag stitch to close it. That worked much better but the inside doesn’t have the nice clean finish I was intending when I decided the bind the unfinished edges rather than just zig zag or pink it. It doesn’t detract from how happy I am with the dress though. I just want to dance around in it waiting for people to tell me how pretty it is so I can creepily shout, “THANKS, I MADE IT!” in their faces.

By Hand London Anna dress

I used my altered bodice pieces from before but with the length I took out initially put back in and the fit is much better than my first Anna. I took 5 inches off the skirt pieces before cutting them out and the dress would have been long enough to wear with heels but I wanted it to be short enough to wear with flats so I took off another 2 inches before hemming. It’s now maybe a teeny bit short if I ever did want to wear it with heels but I’m more of a flip flop girl anyway so it doesn’t really matter.

almost matched the zip at the waist seam, it’s a few mm out. It starts a little bit too far off the top of the dress too but I put a hook and eye in for the first time so it’s not really a problem. I was going to handstitch the hem but it was gone 9 o’clock by the time I was ready to start and I wanted to wear it to work today so I decided to machine stitch it. I had lots of compliments from people at work, who were very impressed when I said that I’d made it.

I’m so, so happy with this dress. It’s easily my favourite of the three I’ve made so far and it’s possibly my favourite maxi dress I own (I have about six). I’m very glad I started sewing.

I’ll leave you with one more photo featuring a photobombing dog.

By Hand London Anna and Max the dog
Rub my tummy, Human.