Friday, February 3, 2012

Culottes, Then and Now: Muslin 1 Begins

OK, here are side-by each shots of the, left to right. TNT, altered Butterick (modern) and altered McCalls (vintage) culottes front pieces:

And here are the altered back pieces in a totally different order: Butterick, McCalls and TNT:

Like I said, I've got to start somewhere, so I've made reasonably minor crotch depth adjustments and I've also shortened the length by 1.25 inches. You'll also notice the shaded area with the arrow pointing to it which is where I added a reasonable amount (2/3 of an inch) of extra paper to straighten the hip to waist curve slightly. Thing is, looking at it now - and comparing it agains the original curve (see the 5th of 6 photos), that curve is practically as evident - the whole area is just wider. And, according to my estimations, widening this waist isn't going to help matters.

Well, the muslin is going to tell us whether the altered waist is too big and boxy, or whether it works.

Now below you can see the muslins I've cut out from some regrettably holey (bug-eaten?) worsted wool, vintage fabric that was gifted to me. (The kind gifter didn't realize that the fabric had seen better days. Guess that's what happens when fabric sits in your basement for 40 years.)

At any rate, it gives me the opportunity to make a muslin out of a wool fabric with good drape that I don't have to be sorry to use in this disposable capacity.

  • I didn't cut the entire length of the patterns - I don't really care about the width of the leg below the crotch, at this point. It's not the puzzle I'm currently trying to solve. It's possible that the finished legs, as is, may be very wide. I am a person with narrow legs. But I think I can manage proportion by taking fabric out of the inner and outer legs at a later stage. I also don't have that much fabric to use in this capacity.
  • You can see here how I've kept the inner-leg pleat closed for the muslin cutting. I really don't know if this is going to have some unintended (read: bad) consequences. Do I need to sew that pleat in order to determine what's happening with the crotch? Or is it actually a distraction on the matter of fit (it's just an extraneous element that doesn't actually impact the crotch so much as it abuts it)? I really have NO FREAKING IDEA. I mean, the pleat does go up to the waist on the McCalls. And it isn't like I'm going to leave out sewing the darts and (in the case of the McCalls) front pleats on the muslin. Again, if any experienced sewists can weigh in, I'll gladly take your feedback. Otherwise, wait till this weekend and, apparently, I'll play the role of the experienced sewist. :-)
Here's the McCalls (vintage) muslin:

OK, you can see where I've straightened the waist on the back piece, after all...

And here's the Butterick (modern) one:

Man, this is STRAIGHT compared with the McCalls above.

So, in the abstract, which shape of culottes do you prefer? You can really see the modern propensity for straight lines, yes?

Personally, I prefer the vintage shape (even as I may have mangled the waist to hip ratio on the back piece - or not). I like the way the legs flare. It's interesting to note that both patterns are basically the same length and the rise / waist height in both version is almost identical.

Please let me know your thoughts!


  1. I really love the straight lines, but that's because, subconsciously, I'm applying the fit to my own body.

    I think your idea to short-cut this is great—why waste all that fabric on a muslin? Super clever. I hope the changes you made work. I can't wait to hear about the results!

    1. I really can't justify all of that usage of fabric for a first go - but I hope my idea to get rid of the pleats isn't a deal breaker. Then I'll be using more fabric!

  2. I lookk forward to see how this turns out. And I so admire your patience to do all this experimenting :)

    I have to say I prefer the vintage shape too. Too flat lines might work if you fit on body but why start with that, when you can add shape to it. (not sure this all sentence makes sense but hey, lolol)

    1. Suzy: I am SO not patient by nature! And I'm horrible at documenting everything as I go along. That's why I never do those useful sort of tutorial posts that I so appreciate from other bloggers.

      Your sentence totally makes sense...

  3. Great to find your blog- I'm from Toronto- although live very far from there now.

    1. Ren: Thanks for dropping by. Seems you've lived in a lot of fun places. Please stop by again...

  4. Oo, exciting. I like the flare of the vintage pattern, honestly, although I think I might prefer the disappearing-pleat of the modern pair (I'm thinking it will create the look of a straight skirt when you're standing still,with the pleat and culottes being more obvious once you move. I'm thinking.)

    In an ideal world, the pleats wouldn't affect the fit. Whether this will be true in the real world, I have no idea... ;)

    1. T: I know - I'm so confused by the pleat on the vintage one it's starting to drive me insane. I've read the instructions a zillion times and I can only imagine that I'm misunderstanding how to fold the thing - or I'm only going to be able to get it when I finally work the fabric step by step. That makes me super nervous. I don't like not getting the spatial sense of things before I start. But I don't suppose I have much of a choice. For the muslin, won't matter, since I'm just seaming up the pleat free pieces (with a few darts thrown in).

  5. Keep this up and you'll be able to get a job at Stacy Lomman Industries soon!