Skorts, culottes and trouserskirts are garments that seem to be rarely in the shops but for which you can buy many attractive sewing patterns.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what to sew for myself this summer and since I have plenty of skirts and dresses already I’ve decided to concentre on culottes and skorts.
Culottes are a more useful option for me than a skirt, as I can tuck them into my wellies to go out into the garden, sit cross-legged, walk easily etc. However, culottes seem to be very few and far between in the shops. Periodically they’re in fashion, as they were in the 1970s, but then they disappear again. That means you have to make them instead but this is actually a fairly easy option with a modified trouser pattern or a specialist pattern.
Also high on my list is trousers with overskirts, of the kind Shirin Guild sells (at massive expense), or a longer version of what might be called a ‘skort’, as some of us used to wear in gym.
A trouser with overskirt gives a bit more coverage than a plain trouser and depending on cut, can even look exactly like a skirt from the front and sometimes the back too. If you like the practicality of trousers but don’t fancy drawing too much attention to your rear end or inner thigh area, these designs work brilliantly, and with certain designs, you can even choose quite a transparent fabric because you’re double-layering.
I’m also a big fan of Thai fisherman’s pants, with their wrap front and fold-over top section; Islander pants (which wrap front to back and back to front, being open at the sides); and hakama-type pants, which again you wrap front to back and back to front, but which have closed side seams. All of these Eastern-inspired pants are incredibly comfortable to wear and give you a wider range of movement than Western trousers, and if you choose a fabric that drapes well, they also look very good.
For all of these pants there are some lovely patterns out there for the home dressmaker (of if you don’t sew yourself, you could always have a pair made up). Some of them are vintage and I’ve spent years, on and off, tracking down designs that I like. Conventional culottes tend to fall into two styles: quite crisp, almost mannish trousers, and very full, almost dirndle types, but more modern variations are much more interesting, and I favour the wrap-over variations.
My personal favourite is the Tahoe Pant from Sewing Workshop, shown above in ideal form and on my shorter, wider figure. This has an extra-wide leg that wraps to both front and back to create what looks like a skirt. You can see the shape in these pictures – this is one I made some years ago in a border-patterned hemp. Vogue also produced this pattern (left, in red) which is very similar, but only has the wrap at the front.
I’ve just bought the McCall’s long skort pattern at top left, which I’ve been after for some time; the trouser pattern with half-skirt (shown right above) – a new variation for me; and these two wrap designs with tie waists (left, in white and grey). I think all of them will get lots of use in my wardrobe.
Still to get are this super Marfy pattern with button sides, and the trouser with tie-over half-skirt (shown in a flowered fabric above), by Birch Street Clothing.