I've had my eye on the Tania Culottes pattern from Megan Nielson basically since it's release. I've always loved this style of skirt but never got on with it very well due to the potential for knicker flashing with the combination of length and flippy fullness, especially considering the amount of trekking around London in all weathers and lifting around costumes I do. Luckily for me Megan has managed to draft a beautiful culottes pattern which looks exactly like a skirt when worn and my lovely boyfriend treated me to the pattern for my birthday!
Considering my birthday is at the very end of August when we in the UK are just about clinging on to the end of any summer weather we are lucky enough to get, I thought making these up immediately in a lovely voile (which was the vision I'd had in my head) might end up being a bit of a waste. I didn't want to have to wait 9 months to wear my finished garment! However, I couldn't bear to wait 9 months to make them either. I started thinking about more practical autumn/winter weight fabrics with a drape to suit the circle skirt design and settled on some wool crepe. I wanted my culottes to be wearable with a lot of my wardrobe so opted for black. I got 1.5m (which is just about enough for the longest length FYI) from my fave A-One Fabrics on Goldhawk Road. It was a bit of a treat at £18/m but it's the cheapest I've found this quality of wool for and I was using some birthday money!
I've been itching to work with wool crepe after reading so many rave reviews about it from other bloggers like Lauren and I was not disappointed. This stuff is so dreamy to work with, it feels so soft, cutting it with my lovely Ginghers was a delight and the stitches just sink into the fabric almost invisibly meaning a machined hem doesn't look awful (and trust me, you'll want to machine it, there's a whole lot of curved hem involved). However, the rumours are true, as lovely as this is to sew with it is a NIGHTMARE to unpick stitches from! Especially if it's black. Don't even ask me how I know.
|Obligatory silly 'You can't see my knickers!' Tania Culottes shot|
It was my first time sewing with a Megan Nielson pattern and I've got to say the drafting and instructions are impressive. The pattern is also printed on nice sturdy paper rather than tissue which I really like as I think I'll be making these again and again. The waistband was constructed in a different way to what I've done before and gives a really nice clean finish especially around the zip. The lining and skirt ware sandwiched between inner and outer waistband and slipstitched closed inside as usual. I found putting the invisible zip into the wool crepe very straight forward and all the seams matched up first time. I used french seams to finish the side seam without the zip and around the zip I bound the edges of the wool crepe and simply pinked the lining.
I was dreading the hemming. That hem is LONG. It's basically a circle skirt plus extra on the between the legs pieces, plus I had double that to do because of the lining. I'd also read on other blogs that the hem ends up all kinds of uneven when left to hang overnight, so I was feeling pretty nervous about levelling that off to start with. My culottes ended up being left to hang for about 3 days rather than the required 24 hours while I procrastinated but I finally got on with it as I realised my desire to wear them outweighed how I felt about the hemming.
It ended up actually being pretty enjoyable. My hem was uneven but not majorly and it was easily rectified by a process of comparing front and back and pinning, trying on and repeating. I used my rolled hem foot on the lining which is always a bit hit a miss but I'm definitely getting better! The wool crepe was too thick for this treatment so I followed the method in the pattern instructions and I'm definitely going to use this method for curved hems from now on! The circular style of these means the circumference at the very edge of the hem is slightly larger than the area you are trying to turn it up into so it won't sit flat naturally. Following Megan's tips of sewing a line of stitching to follow as you press I've ended up with a fairly narrow beautiful hem which I had no trouble easing in at all.
A big thumbs up to the Tania Culottes! I think they might even end up being worn on Christmas Day!