I recently had the pleasure of having a few days off work, with nothing planned other than to relax and unwind while the kids were at school. “Relax and unwind” naturally translates to “frantically plow through all my ‘life admin’ so I can get on with sewing all the things”, and I wasted the first day flitting about between plans to sew about twenty different projects.
Unable to commit to a project, I decided to head to my local fabric store for inspiration. I was remarkably restrained, and bought three cuts of suiting (along with matching lining and zips). One of the fabrics I picked up immediately reminded me of some windowpane checked culottes I’d seen on Pinterest recently. Those culottes were made from a gorgeous grey and black windowpane, but I felt like this navy, burgundy and white check would work just as well.
The pattern, alterations and instructions
The pattern, V9302, was already in my stash. Funnily enough, I’d originally purchased it by accident whilst trying to order v9032 trousers in a hurry! When I compared v9302 to v9032, I decided to go with v9302 for two reasons. Firstly, the v9302 culottes were slightly wider, so I hoped they would make more of a statement in this fabric. Secondly, I will always favour flat front trousers rather than those with fly fronts, because I have a proportionately full abdomen (34”-29.5”-37”) and I don’t think front fly trousers suit me, but that’s just my personal preference.
I sewed pattern size 14 without any pattern alterations. The nice thing about culottes is you can generally just focus on fitting the waist, as the crotch length is generous and the hips have lots of ease. These culottes sit below the natural waist and therefore have a curved waistband. I just fitted them whilst I was working on them, and even then I literally just took a slightly wider seam allowance at the side seams and centre back.
The instructions were fine, and I only deviated from them in respect of interfacing. I find that I now automatically do more interfacing than most patterns recommend. I want to build as much support as possible into my handmade garments. So I fused strips of interfacing to the pocket openings and the centre back seam where the zip would be inserted. I also interfaced the hem area.
The tricky bits..
The only real difficulty I had with the project was actually matching the plaid, as you might expect! Cutting out the fabric pieces for the front and back legs was fine. I cut them in a single layer and flipped the first trouser front piece over, aligned the vertical and horizontal stripes, and cut around it for the second trouser front. Same for the trouser backs.
The waistband is where the cutting out got tricky, and is probably why the pattern envelope says it isn’t suitable for obvious diagonals. Because it’s a curved waistband, and because I was desperate to save enough fabric for a simple shell top, I decided not to do anything other than try to match the vertical stripes of the trousers right at centre front and centre back. This means my waistband does look a little weird in terms of what’s going on with the stripes, but I plan to make some tops that hit just at the high hip level which I can wear untucked and which will cover the waistband anyway. Life is short, guys!
Having cut the trouser legs for perfect pattern matching, I was disappointed by not being able to sew them with the stripes matching perfectly. Guys, I tried the wonder clips, double pins and machine basting. I unpicked one inseam five times. FIVE!! In the end I decided that having them off by a couple of millimetres is something only a fellow sewer would notice, and then only if they were close enough to see, and for the sake of my sanity I decided to let it be. Again, life is short. I’m planning to get some fork pins and double sided tape for my home haberdashery so that next time I can achieve proper pattern matching though.
All drama aside, I’m looking forward to wearing these this spring/summer. I also plan to make a pair in black and possibly in a nice grey. This will depend on finding a fabric with the right handle – the one I’ve used for this project is a nice medium/heavy weight suiting so it really holds the shape well. Watch this space – there will be more!