I’m a total novice with downloadable patterns – I’m an old-school pencil and dot & cross paper pattern cutter. So, when Helen of Helen’s Closet put the call out for pattern testers, I thought it was a good opportunity to step into the 21st Century!
I was very happy to be selected as a tester. I walk to work a lot and had been toying with the idea of drafting culottes – I prefer skirts to trousers, but they can be problematic, in a breeze, trying to keep up a brisk pace, taking long strides, static, etc. I don’t want to be flashing anything to the neighbourhood (perish the thought!)
Printing the pattern was not difficult – if you read the instructions, duh!
I accidentally scaled the pages, so put all the paper back in and reprinted on the other side. As it’s a straight leg shape, you don’t need to print all the pieces for the longest version, but can just extend the side seam lines. I plan to make a mid calf version in the future, and will probably just chalk the extra length directly onto the fabric.
The cutting was straightforward, and the sewing instructions good. The only issue I had was cutting a 14, when my waist size is probably a half size bigger ….I didn’t really measure, just assumed (rookie mistake), and my fusible interfacing shrunk my fabric a little.
No problem, though – an easy fix was to cut a longer band, interface it, then remeasure and trim down to my desired length. It was easy to reduce the pleats – I really only had to take out about 1/8″ from each. I hadn’t done an invisible zipper for ages (and it showed), but am now determined to keep practicing and perfect them.
I used a lightweight twill with a slight stretch – it was in my stash, and I was keen to get going without waiting to go fabric shopping. Looking at the pics, I was a little concerned I looked like a WW2 soldier in khaki, oversized shorts – but overall, I’m happy with them. They are excellent for walking…..and have pockets, yay!
A couple of weeks later, I visited my favourite purchase-by-the-lb fabric store and picked up a retro looking print for pair #2. I really like these – very “skirty”! Should have ironed them for the pics – sat down for a long birthday dinner in them the night before….by the way, they cover a belly full of good food pretty well!
I have another print lined up for a 3rd pair, too.
I think the pattern is great as it is, but I can also see the potential for other versions – hem borders, side slits, yokes, etc. It was fun to test a pattern – took some self control to read instructions, and not “wing it”, like when you create it yourself. Helen’s support was great – she set up a Facebook page with photos and videos to show how the different lengths looked. The group was fun – lots of input and variety!
All in all, this was a fun experience. If you’re not sure that culottes are your thing, Helen’s pattern is a good way to try them out – the only tricky part is the zipper, but there is plenty of help online for that. When choosing fabric, I would drape it down your body folding in some soft pleats to get an idea if it will fall well.