Saturday, 18 October 2014

Linen culottes adaptation

Among the pre-loved clothes that I have been given was a very lovely pair of black linen culottes. Sadly, they were too small for me. Gladly, in my vast stash of fabric I had some pale green linen of a similar weight. Again I have reason to thank my late paternal grandmother's addiction to textiles! I suspect the fabric had originally been intended to make napkins or a table-cloth. Instead it has become a practical and decorative border to a pair of culottes, and a matching top.

I decided to adapt the garment from the waist - since this was the area that was too small for me. The original had a zip at one side. So, I put on the culottes, zipped the zip up as far as it would go, and then marked the position with chalk as the new waist position. I marked all the way around at that height, before un-picking the zip down from the waistband to this same height. (This meant I didn't have to completely remove the zip, but could just re-stitch it into the replacement waistband.)

There had also been pockets in either side seam. By cutting off and replacing the waistband I was shortening the pocket opening. However, I was not too worried about this. These pockets are not the sort that I would want to fill too much, or put my hands into, as this would spoil the shape of the garment. There is still enough of an opening to be able to put a handkerchief into the pocket if needed.
To replace the waistband I cut a panel which was double the width of what I had removed, plus a bit extra for seams. I ironed interfacing along one half of the length for stability.
Confession time. I had a bit of a brain-melt moment when I was measuring the length of the new waistband, and it was a brain-melt moment that lasted quite a long time! Instead of measuring my waist, and  then adding a bit extra for seams (which would have been the right thing to do), I measured the newly cut waistband and added a bit extra for seams (which was completely the wrong thing to do!). When cutting off the old waistband, I hadn't taken into account the pleats in the fabric.
I carried on making the waistband, without even considering the implications of a waistband which was measuring at more than a metre! 
I attached it to the culottes and stitched in the zip.
I even completed the top-stitching.
And then I tried it on..... and the culottes slid down over my hips as if I was attempting to wear a small duvet-cover.                                                 That old adage of "measure twice, cut once" only applies if you are measuring the right bit!                                       Had I been making this for someone other than myself, this would have been the time to unpick and re-work. But I am not quite so scrupulous when it comes to my own garments. I took up the extra fabric in five rather generous pleats which I built into the waistband. I positioned two at the back and two at the front, each in line with the darts in the original garment. The remaining difference was turned into a box pleat in the centre front, in line with the central seam. They all seem to line up quite well, and look natural on the finished garment. I share my embarrassing mistake to help you avoid the same pitfall!

Finally, I wanted to put a panel at the bottom of the culottes. On a practical level, this was to replace the length that had been lost when I had cut off the old waistband. Although I had replaced some of this with the new waistband, the complete length had come in a little shorter. However, I also wanted to include it as a design feature. I liked that I could tie all the elements together by attaching a waistband-matching panel at the hemline, and then top-stitching it in a thread to match the main fabric. It was a small detail that I found  immensely satisfying.

Overall, I am happy with the final result.
I was also excited to realise that I had enough of the green linen to create a matching top, so look out for details of that in a blog-post soon!

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