Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Floral Tania Culottes

Diary of a Chainstitcher Floral Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes

A little bit of sunshine in Britain and my mind races straight on to summer, my favourite time of year! When I made my first pair of Megan Nielsen's Tania Culottes in wool crepe to make them suitable for winter wear I fell totally in love with the pattern. They had a definite place on my list of things to sew for summer and when the perfect fabric came along I couldn't resist whipping them up straight away...even though the temperature is no where near the short skirt and bare legs stage of the year yet!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Floral Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes

You may recognise this fabric from my Flora Dress! Susan from Sew Box very kindly supplied me with this beautiful John Kaldor viscose print for my pattern testing version of By Hand London's most recent pattern. It's such great quality, the print is exactly the type of floral I like and it has the most gorgeous drape to it. I remember reading a few posts suggesting that rayon and other fabrics with a similar soft drape were a ideal match for the Tanias (Sew Busy Lizzy's version was particularly inspiring) and when I was cutting out my Flora I suddenly realised that the fabric between my blades was perfect! Luckily the BHL ladies had slightly overestimated the amount of fabric needed for the Flora and the fabric is nice and wide, so I whipped out the Tania pattern pieces and with some slightly creative placement and a tiny bit of width reduction at the hem I JUST managed to squeeze these out of the leftovers.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Floral Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes

The amount of fabric I had was so tight I used some plain hot pink cotton poplin to face the waistband which I had left over from making my Sister's Christmas pressie. I also had the perfect zip and matching thread waiting in my stash so considering it was the second time I'd used this pattern (and it was a gift in the first place!) this project cost me nothing! Woohoo!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Floral Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes

After wearing my first pair a few times I decided the waistband probably could do with being a little snugger as they tend to slip down around the hips a bit. So this time I cut the size XS but again with the XL length. If you're thinking of making up this pattern it's probably worth pointing out that these are drafted super short! I love them at this length, I feel really comfortable in them, but I don't think I'd go any shorter. I really like the 'just above the knee' pair that Megan's model is wearing on the bicycle in the promo shots so may have to try out that style too. If we're going to get an actual spell of hot summer weather this year I'm going to be living in floaty skirts again, but I got rather fed up last year of trying to keep them down over my bum when walking back and forth over Waterloo Bridge; Megan may have solved all my problems!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Floral Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes

For a fabric so drapey the viscose has got a nice weight to it and is also lovely and opaque even in direct sunlight. This meant I could go without the lining I added to my winter version and keep the silky viscose against the skin. I simply overlocked the seam allowances inside. If I had made these without my overlocker I probably would have chosen to use french seams. There are very few seams involved so it wouldn't have been too time consuming and it would have made that crotch seam (which will probably undergo a fair bit of wear between the legs) nice and strong.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Floral Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes

As with a couple of dresses I've made recently I used a little strip of fusible interfacing along the seam allowances where I was going to install the invisible zip. This may well be my favourite sewing tip I've picked up this year. Every time I've tried it so far I've ended up with pretty much perfectly matching seam. It basically helps stop the fabric stretching out as it goes under through the machine, which is usually the reason behind mismatching sides which appeared matched when you pinned them. Another great tip is to make sure you sew both sides of the zip in the same direction. I probably should have been doing that from the start but I know on more than one occasion I've sewn down one side then up the other and ended up with less than perfect results.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Floral Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes

The construction of these is very straightforward, much more simple than you probably imagine it to be thinking about those pleats at the centre front and back. This pair probably only took 2-3 hours to make from cutting up to the point of hemming. The hem is really the only slightly difficult part to the pattern. When the instructions tell you to leave them to hang at least overnight you NEED to! Because of the circular skirt shape parts of the hem are cut on the bias and therefore the fabric's own weight will cause it to stretch out towards the ground in these areas over time. I didn't really experience this with my wool crepe version (it must be something to do with the way the fabric is woven) but boy did these one's give themselves a nice wonky hem overnight! It took me quite a while to level it off to somewhere close to acceptable. I'm not sure of the best way to do it at all but Gertie has a great little video about levelling the hem of a circle skirt which may come in handy!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Floral Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes

The other aspect to the hem is the length of it! You're basically hemming two giant circles. When using this fabric for my Flora Dress I took the time to hand stitch the hem. As this is more of a casual garment and the print masks the stitching line a bit I decided to go with machine stitching. I used my favourite method for hemming a long curved edge which is actually included in the instructions for this pattern. You stitch around the entire hem 1/4" away from the raw edge before using that line as a guide to press up along. Not only does this take away the need to measure each little bit as you press but it tightens up that stitching line making it easier to ease into the smaller circumference you're turning it into.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Floral Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes

I'm still completely in love with how this pattern is drafted. I've always loved the look of short circle skirts on other people but never had the confidence to wear them out and about in drafty London town (particularly going up the escalator on the tube!). These are not completely risk free when it comes to flashing as each 'leg' is pretty much a full circle but they can't blow completely up revealing your entire bottom so that's got to be a good thing right? And until you start pulling them about you just cannot tell that you're not wearing a skirt. Genius.

I can't wait for the temperatures to go up a little bit so I can start getting some regular wear out of these. I love them paired with my Swiss Dot Archer Shirt! What are your sewing plans for summer?


22 comments:

  1. I want to steal your culottes! I’m surprised about this, actually, since I’m not a florals gal at all—but these are awesome!
    I’m planning a pair of Tanias as well, have been since autumn. Not floral ones, however, at least not the first pair. (:
    I printed, taped and traced the pattern a few months ago, and I think I did it in a size XS with XL length as well. I’m really glad about this right now since you look great in them—and I’m just hoping they’ll work on me too!

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    1. It's a great floral isn't it Jana? I think it's because it's not too obviously floral, more of a random watery print in brilliant colours! I really like the length of the XL, looking forward to seeing yours!

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  2. These are so cute! And free, wow!!! Gotta love stash-busting! These really look great on you! I'm with you- as soon as there's a hint of sunshine, I'm ready to start sewing summer clothes! This year I really need to tackle sewing a pair of shorts, and I'm planning a matching skirt/top set in a bright print for fun summer wear. :)

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    1. I can't wait to see that! I loved your first crop top and skirt combo! I'm well on the stash busting at the minute, just trying to make some room!

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  3. Gorgeous fabric choice! I love love love these Tania culottes.

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    1. Thanks Mela! It's a cracking pattern, have you tried it yet?

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  4. Totally cute! and free too, wardrobe WIN!! I love these short but haven't tried them myself, I was unsure how they would go on a larger thigh, potentially may ride up. Now that summer has disappeared I will have to think about that in a few months time :)

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    1. O you could totally make a winter version for wearing with some tights! Both the 'legs' are so full I don't think you'd have any problem at all with things riding up, they're very loose fitting. It looks really simple to lengthen past the XL length too if you were worried. I hope you do make some!

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  5. These are adorable fiona. Got to love free sewing right? I can't wait for summer. We deserve a good long one this year don't we?

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    1. We absolutely do Jo, plus my head is full of summer sewing ideas so I need a nice long bit of sunshine to hopefully wear them all!

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  6. These are my favourites! Thank you for the care and detail you put into your post. So helpful!

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    1. You're very welcome Janet! I try to think about what I'd like to know from other bloggers posts about similar makes so I'm glad you find it useful!

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  7. These are so beautiful! I bet they'll be in high rotation for the summer!

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    1. O yes! They are going to be so useful for work if we are lucky enough to get another heatwave this year!

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  8. How lovely and dainty. I'm allll about the machine hemming. It'd take quite a garment to convince me to hand sew the hem.

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    1. I definitely think it's the way to go for casual garments. I actually don't mind the hand sewing if i'm settled in front of the tv though!

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  9. Love these! I've been planning to make a pair since last summer so think I might have to go for it this year. Quickly before the summer is over!

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    1. Definitely go for it! A great practical project that you still feel stylish in. I hope we get a decent enough summer for me to get some good wear out of these!

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  10. These are fabulous and exactly the sort of style I've been looking for. Swap London Wall for your Waterloo Bridge and that pretty much describes my commuting challenge too. I'm off to check out this pattern and dream up a gorgeous fabric

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    1. O I hope you do make some! I've already got another pair planned out now! I think these would pair great with the Nettie bodysuit too!

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  11. Lots of great information here! I am going to be making these this weekend. Yours look super cute!

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  12. Outstanding dress. you are looking so pretty. what is the name of this dress?
    Fabrics Usa Inc

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!