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Liz’s Bastion Culottes!

Hello everybody, my name is Liz and I am also known as @thebakerthatsews over on Instagram and Youtube. 

 I am back with another make for the Felicity Fabrics blog and this make has been something I have needed in my wardrobe for a while now. Read on to find out what essential garment I have been sewing up.

During lockdown 3.0 I have been doing a lot of sorting, organising and de-cluttering at home which has also meant a bit reassessment of the clothes I have in wardrobe. After initially sewing all the dresses I have been enjoying making jumpers, tops and blouses. It has been fun discovering new patterns and learning some new skills along the way. When sorting out my wardrobe one of the gaps I discovered, thanks to my creativity with making all the tops, is something to wear on my bottom half. The beauty of making dresses is you have an instant outfit – no need to think about what to put on your bottom half. 

I’m going to be honest now and admit that trousers don’t bring me as much joy to sew or wear as dresses do which is probably why I don’t sew them very often. My hip to waist ratio means I usually span across several sizes with patterns which makes fitting a bit of a headscratcher at times. I also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome which means my tummy area can grow throughout the day by several inches. I have to be considerate with my choice of clothing across this area too as I can often suffer from tummy pain during the day too.

So when planning my next Felicity Fabric blog make I knew I wanted something that would pair well with my jumpers and tops but was high waisted and roomy across the tummy area. When planning a new make I usually start by looking through my wardrobe for inspiration and then my pattern stash for ideas. Whilst browsing both I remembered one of my favourite culottes patterns – the Jennifer Lauren Bastion culottes. I adore the shape and feel of them and they’re also high waisted so the perfect addition to my wardrobe. They’re described as ‘secret trousers masquerading as a skirt’ and I just adore the swish you get when wearing them. 

 Now I have said this before but I truly believe sewing and fabric shopping are two fabulous hobbies that link together nicely. I like to spend some time browsing when choosing fabric and love reading the descriptions to get a feel for the fabric. The Felicity Fabric website is easy to navigate and the care that goes into packaging too is wonderful. I love that you get a swatch included when your fabric arrives and it is always wrapped and carefully boxed up. It really does feel like a treat when your fabric arrives. 

If you were to peep into my wardrobe and chest of drawers, you would notice a lot of colour and pattern – I am always drawn to print and brightness when choosing fabric so for this project I knew I needed to be sensible with my fabric choice. The pattern suggests lighter linens and chambray for the summer or snuggly wool suiting and flannel for the perfect winter garment. I knew I wanted to create garment that could be worn all year round so opted for a neutral charcoal black chambray. Felicity Fabrics source a wonderful range of fabrics and I found it difficult to choose one fabric! I was drawn to the simplicity of the fabric and could imagine having lots of fun styling them with the various tops I have in my wardrobe.  

When the fabric arrived it was so buttery soft to hold and drapes beautifully. When you order fabric from Felicity Fabrics it arrives like a special gift ready to be opened. The fabric is carefully wrapped in tissue and enclosed in a cardboard box. One wonderful little detail that is included with your order is a swatch with the name of the fabric and how to care for it. This is such a clever little thing to include as it helps you remember what you’ve ordered and you instantly know how to wash the fabric before sewing with it. 

As soon as the fabric arrived I put it straight in the wash – I like to do this with fabric before putting it in my stash to ensure I don’t forget to pre-wash it. I have made that mistake before sadly when I forgot to pre-wash some double gauze, turned it into some trousers that then shrunk in the wash and had to be passed onto my daughter instead! 

 Once my fabric had been pre-washed I gave it an iron to ensure at the creases were out before laying it flat and placing the pattern pieces on top. The pattern comes in sizes 6 – 24 and when working out what size to cut out Jennifer Lauren suggests you base the size you need on your natural wait as they are meant to sit on this part of your body. Although my measurements put me between a size 8 and size 10 I opted for a size 8 and I am pleased I did as they fit me really well on my waist. My bust is 34 inches, my waist is 27 inches and my hips are 35 inches. 

After cutting out my project it sat in my work in progress box for a few weeks until I had enough time to sew them up. My day job can make life feel very busy so sadly this project sat waiting for a while. Although I was enjoying sewing little projects up here and there before picking this project up I put off starting on my culottes for ages! The simplicity of the fabric and no busy print to hide wiggly sewing lines meant I wanted to feel really refreshed and able to concentrate before starting. 

 The bastion culottes are aimed at a confident beginner or more advanced seamstress who has some experience of sewing up garments prior to starting on thus pattern. There are some challenges within the make, including 8 buttonholes, an interesting pocket construction and paying attention to notches to ensure everything matches up but if you take your time and follow the impeccably written instructions you’ll have yourself a lovely pair of culottes in a day or so. 

The culottes sit on your natural waist and then fall gently out over the hips in a fit and flare style silhouette. The hips are free in the finished garment making them extremely comfortable to wear. The flared leg design means they really do feel like a skirt when wearing them and the pockets are nice and deep too – an important feature for any pattern if you ask me! 

The pattern is a PDF pattern but also has the option for AO printing – which is great if you prefer to get your pattern printed using a copyshop service. There are two different length options, mid-calf or above the knee and it has been drafted for an average height of 170cm or 5’6”. 

 I opted for a mid-calf length and used 2.5 metres of chambray to create my pair. You also need 8 buttons, light weight fusible interfacing and fabric to line the pockets. You can use the main fabric for this or opt for a different fabric to add an extra detail. When choosing the buttons, I opted for some simple black buttons to ensure the culottes remained the much needed neutral addition to my wardrobe. You could have fun with the buttons, using them to add a pop of colour to the make for an extra detail. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed sewing the culottes up and the fabric was a dream to work with. The button holes went in with no dramas and it pressed beautifully throughout the process. I am so pleased with the end garment and have a great new addition to my wardrobe. I have already worn them to work and the pockets are the perfect size for holding the many bits and pieces I get handed throughout the school day! 

I just wanted to say thank you again to Caroline and Fliss for being so patient as I got my culottes sewn up. Do take some time to have a look at all of the wonderful fabrics on the website and of course check out the patterns and haberdashery sections too. So much choice and the attention to detail when sending your fabric out is a wonderful touch.