This summer, I’m determined to experiment with fun trousers styles. There has to be more to life than skinny jeans, right?
First and foremost, I needed a good flowy fabric that was also robust enough for pants. I was so happy to find this tencel denim on the Cali Fabrics site! (It’s sold out right now, but I hope there will be more stock soon!) Tencel is a really trendy fabric right now – it’s a rayon, basically, but made from wood pulp. I ordered 6 yards so that I’d have enough to try at least two patterns!
As you can see, this denim has a bit of a sheen that gives it a dressy look. It drapes beautifully, but also has a bit of body – the hand is more like a linen than a challis, I’d say. It was easy to sew, but a challenge to cut perfectly on grain!
After a lively discussion on my blog, I decided to start with the Winslow Culottes by Helen’s Closet. I did some pattern testing for Helen this winter, so she sent me the pattern to try out, no strings attached. It’s a simple, elegant pattern that doesn’t need much fitting because the legs are so wide! If you get the waistband to fit nicely, everything else will fall into place. I like that the pattern can be made as shorts, knee-length, cropped of maxi, and that it gives the illusion of a skirt with the comfort of pants. Rachel blogged a pair in crepe this winter, showing that they can work in all seasons (except perhaps deep snow!)
The culottes themselves sewed up quickly, with 4 big pleats and a bunch of straight seams. My difficulty came in figuring out how to style them!
I wanted to keep the waist defined, and balance out the volume on the bottom. I had a look in my stash, and found the leftovers from my last Cali project – this black stretch lace! I made a simple cropped tee using the Jalie Dolman Tee pattern, hacked to have a tie front. Here’s how:
The back hem and bottom of the triangular points in finished with a folded band for strength, topstitched flat with a zigzag. The slit at centre front is serged then folded up and topstitched. It’s held up well to lots of tying and untying. It’s versatile, too: you’ll see in some pics I have the ties hanging out for a casual look, and sometimes I untie it and tuck them in for a more polished style. I could see layering the lace tee over a knit dress in summer, too!
In fact, I was so happy using fabric from multiple orders that I started wondering what other Cali projects I could throw in the mix – and voila! Remember this striped jacket from last fall?
BAM! I love how it gives the culottes a more casual vibe, and makes them work for cooler weather. I wonder what else I have in my closet that would work with culottes?
I’ve still got 3m of this tencel denim left, and several more patterns I’d like to try… tune in to my next post to find out which I chose!
Have you ever worn or sewn with tencel? It would be lovely for a shirtdress, casual skirt, or tank. What would you make with it?