Do you have any culottes in your wardrobe? Here’s a chance to add a pair to your collection! There are less than 2 months left of this year and I still have 4 garments on my to-do list. Let’s see how many of them I manage to finish. First up, the culottes of course.

I’m going to take this opportunity to show you a simple way to draft a pattern for the culottes, starting from the basic skirt pattern. You can do this, if you like wide legged culottes. If not, it’s better to start from the basic pants pattern instead and make the palazzo pants.

The Inspiration and the Fabric

This was the picture that inspired me to make the culottes in denim.

culottes inspiration

I found the fabric already in December last year when I was in Finland, so it took almost a year until I actually got to make the pants. It’s a dark blue, medium weight, non-stretch denim. I noticed, it’s actually pretty difficult to find a non-stretch denim fabric these days.

The amount needed was twice the total length of the culottes.

The Features

To make the culottes a bit more interesting, I added pockets to the front and a fly front zipper. I could’ve been lazy and just added an invisible zipper to the back, but I thought these required a proper fly front zipper.

There are darts at the back and the waistband is contoured.

The Pattern

Like I said, the starting point for the pattern is the basic skirt block. You can find the instructions for the skirt here if you don’t have the pattern, yet.

(1.) So first, you’ll need to measure the crotch depth + 2cm (0,79in) of ease and draw the crotch line, extending it over the c.front- and c.back as follows:

½ hip circumference /6 + 2cm (0,79in)

For example 48cm /6 = 8 + 2 = 10cm

This approach is different than that of the normal pants, so the crotch line has the same length both front and back.

Extend also the hipline over the c.front- and c.back 1 cm / 0,4in.

Continue the c.front- and c.back lines downwards until you reach your desired length for the culottes.

Also, continue the c.back line upwards above the waistline so that it reaches the same height as the side seam line.

This is needed because the crotch seam will pull the waistline downwards when you sit down.

(2.) Now you can draft the crotch curve. Curve the backside slightly more than the front. (I know it doesn’t seem much so in the graph.)

After the crotch curve, draw a line down, parallel to the c.front/back. And then the hemline in a 90 degree angle.

Re-draw the back dart in the middle of your new back waistline.

separating waistband from culottes pattern

(3.) Let’s separate the waistband. Done this way it will be automatically contoured. Decide the height and draw a parallel line to your original waistline. My waistband is 4cm / 1,57in btw. When you separate it, just close the darts and you get the curve right.

If your remaining front dart width is 1 cm / 0,4in or less, you can eliminate it from the side seam.

The back dart is usually wider, so you might have to keep it, like I did.

Then just go ahead and finish drawing the side seams. At this point you can still adjust the pant leg width a bit.

The back pattern piece is ready.

culottes pattern back piece

Fly Front Zipper and the Pocket

culottes pocket and fly front zipper pattern


For the Fly Front Zipper you just add for example 3cm / 1,18 in to the c.front. If you want the final top stitching to be further away from the c.front, make this piece wider.

This will be the right side width. For the left side you calculate 0,5cm / 0,2in +the amount of seam allowance you want for the zipper. Usually this is 1,5cm / 0,59in so total amount is 2cm / 0,79in from the c.front. Mark this line.

In case you’re wondering, the dashed line is where the left side will be folded.

Then there’s the Fly Shield pattern, which can be rectangular or you can make a round corner to the lower end. This piece will be folded in half, so the width has to be twice the final width. Remember to include the seam allowance needed for the zipper (1,5cm / 0,59in).

The length is the same as your zipper.

Finally, you must add the Fly Shield width to your waistband pattern. (=the amount it extends over the c-front line)

Notice that the right- and left sides of the waistband front have a different length. However, you can just draft one pattern piece.

contoured waistband pattern


Just a tip: make the toile without the pockets, unless you want to practice sewing them or are unsure of the look. Otherwise you will have to correct more pattern pieces later.

Anyways. The pocket has 1-4 pattern pieces, depending on how you want to make it.

If you want both pocket bags to be made in a lining fabric, and the pocket bag to have a round corner, you need 4 pieces, because both of them need to be a separate piece and they both need a facing.

The other extreme is a rectangular pocket bag made in the main fabric. In this case you’d only need 1 pattern piece.

However, in this case, the pocket consists of 3 pattern pieces: the large pocket bag in main fabric, the small pocket bag in lining fabric and a facing for the small pocket bag. You can find these in the picture above.

First draw the pocket opening. It can be straight or curved, however you prefer.

Then draw the facing. It could be for example 3-4cm (1,18-1,57in) wide and parallel to your pocket opening. This will then be sewn on top of the small pocket bag piece.

And finally draw the pocket bag in any size you want. It can even reach the c.front if you prefer so.

Here are the pattern pieces.

pocket pattern pieces

Notice, that your front culottes -piece ends at the pocket opening.

Optional: Add the seam allowance to all your pattern pieces.

The Toile and Corrections

I made the toile without the pocket. It was pretty much ok.

However there were 2 things I decided to change:

The pant leg width, which I thought was a bit exaggerated.

And I wanted to make the upper part slightly wider, because of the fabric and the pockets: The toile fit too perfectly, so I figured the same thing made in denim and considering the space occupied by the pockets would result in a too tight fit.

Here are the corrections. As you can see, at this point you’d have to modify even all the pocket pattern pieces, if you had already copied them.

I added just 0,5cm /0,2in on both side at the waist- and hip level. And took off a couple of cm / an inch from the hemline, both front and back.


Here you can see all the pieces after cutting.

culottes pieces cut

I interfaced the following:

  • the top layer of the waistband pieces
  • the pocket facings
  • the zipper shield


The sewing part was quite easy, so I’m just going to quickly explain some things.

I started by sewing the waistband pieces together and closing the back darts.

The Pocket

Then I prepared the pocket, starting from the facing: I placed it on top of the small pocket bag, folded the inner edge under (0,7cm – 0,28in) and stitched it close to the edge.

After that I sewed the two pocket bags together.

And finally attached the pocket to the front piece of the culottes. You can add a stay tape to this seam so the pocket opening won’t stretch.

Then just flip the pocket to the inside and press the seam. Top stitch to make the opening stay flat.

Fix the pocket bag in place.

Now you can sew the front- and back culotte pieces together and finish the seam allowances with a serger or zig zig stitch.

Then sew the crotch seam. The easiest way to do this, is to flip one pant leg right side out and place it inside the other pant leg.

The Zipper

Before attaching the waistband, we need to attach the zipper. This is probably the trickiest part of the whole garment.

First of all, fold the right side at c.front and the left side 0,5cm / 0,2in over the c.front. We want to hide the zipper under a fold and we want the fold to be exactly at c.front.

sewing fly front zipper: the starting point

Shorten the zipper if needed. You can pull out the little metal piece and re-position it. Then cut off extra zipper length.

Stitch the fly shield corner if you chose the rounded one. Finish all the vertical edges with serger or zig zag stitch.

The zipper will first be attached to the left side. It will be sandwiched between the folded pant front edge and the fly shield. Normal zipper foot is good for this purpose.

If this is too difficult, you can first attach the zipper to the pant front and then attach the fly shield with another row of stitches.

Now we must create the fold, so close the zipper and pin the right side of the pant front so that it covers the zipper.

Without taking off the pins yet, attach the underlying part of the folded edge to the zipper with another set of pins. This way you’ll attach the right side of the zipper at a right distance from the edge. Take off the previous pins and stitch the zipper.

You should have something like this:

The final thing is to top stitch the zipper front so that the fold remains in place. Mark the stitch line with a chalk or pins. Before stitching, pin the fly shield to the side so that it won’t get caught in the stitches.

I chose a dark thread because I didn’t have any top stitching thing going on in the rest of my culottes either. But you can use a colorful thread, too.

Waistband and Button

So now we can attach the waistband. I stitched the top side first and pressed the seam allowance towards the waistband. Then I folded the seam allowance of the remaining side of the waistband under and top stitched it.

I found this gray button to go with the culottes. The button hole is 2mm / 0,08in wider than the button.

Lastly I hemmed the pant legs and then my culottes were done!

The Final Garment

Here’s me wearing my new culottes. They would also go well with the white shirt I made recently, but it was too chilly for cotton shirts!

I’m already working on the next garment, so another sewing project is on its way!

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