culottes tutorial

Culottes, one of the most trendy styles of the 50’s and 60’s, are back!  Culottes are flared pants or shorts that can often look like a skirt or a dress when you’re wearing them.  I have been trying to help you build a warm-weather wardrobe that is both easy and practical  –and that is easy to make.  Here is another free pattern to add to your collection of projects for the summer.

culottes tutorial

photo credit: Spring and Summer 1955 Lane Bryant via photopin (license)

“Culotte” is a French word that means the lower part of a garment or knee-breeches.  They have been fashionable since Henry III made them popular at court in France in the latter part of the 1500s and were worn mostly by the upper class.  Later, in the time leading up to the French revolution in the 18th century, the lower classes who wouldn’t have worn culottes became known as “sans-culottes” or literally “without short pants” — a term these partisans and revolutionaries embraced as they manned the street barricades.

There are two things I really like about this culottes tutorial and pattern –there is an option of adding front pockets to the pants without adding bulk to the tummy and you can easily transform them into long pants by adding length at the hem.

culottes tutorial

My choice of fabric is a Jacquard Knit since this pattern is for knits only.  For some ideas of the right sort of fabric to use, please check the link below.


Fabric Recommendations

Pattern sizes

These culottes are in sizes 6 to 22.  The Lower Waist measurement relative to the Hips measurement below may appear unusual to some readers, but for this design to fit right, I can assure you it is correct for the knit fabric I am using.

Finished Garment Measurements

Size Lower Waist Hips Hem Width
6 31″ 52″ 60″
8 32″ 53″ 61″
10 34″ 54″ 63″
12 35 1/2″ 55 1/2″ 64 1/2″
14 37″ 57″ 66″
16 38 1/2″ 58 1/2″ 67 1/2″
18 40″ 60″ 72″
20 42″ 62″ 74″

Pattern Pieces

  • Two backs
  • Two fronts
  • Two pockets front
  • Two pockets back
  • One waistband (not included in the pattern).  Please follow instructions on how to cut your waistband.


  • These pants look like an A-line skirt or amazing super-elongating silhouette palazzo pants.
  • A flattering feature in this pattern is the pockets in the front but they are OPTIONAL.
  • Soft waistband that does not add bulk to the tummy area.
  • For the girls that do not like to wear pants in summer, this is the perfect style to feel very comfortable and still look like you are wearing a skirt.
  • 5/8″ seam allowance in all pattern pieces.

Video Tutorial

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Pattern Layout

Culottes tutorial

Step One: Download the pattern

We’re going to continue to use the new Payhip webstore to distribute our patterns.

Our patterns are still free, but now you now have the option of making a small contribution if you like our work! We’d really appreciate it and it will help is keep going with new and fun designs like this. Even a dollar or two really goes a long way.

Thanks so much in advance for helping us out.  You can use any credit card and you don’t need a Paypal account, although you can use one if you have one.

Download the pattern HERE

If you need any help with down How to download and print PDF patterns or How to print and assemble a PDF pattern, please check out the linked tutorials.

Step Two: Cut the fabric

Use a rotary cutter or very sharp scissors and as many pins or weights as you can so your fabric does not move while cutting.  Pay special attention to the grain on the fabric indicated in your pattern.

For more guidance on Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting Fabric, please read this guide.

Step Three: Sew the pocket.

Culottes tutorial

We will start by stabilizing the seam and the opening of the pocket by adding fusible interfacing or stay tape.  This step is a must because this area will stretch and become baggy if you do not use fusible interfacing.

Culottes tutorial
Culottes tutorial

Place the front pocket piece right side down on the front side of the pants.  Prints are going to be facing each other.  Sew the front pocket side to the front pants using a 5/8″ seam.

Culottes tutorial
Culottes tutorial

Turn the pant piece print side down and pin the seam allowance to the pocket. Iron and stay stitch the seam allowance to 1/8″ from the seam. Trim the seam allowance, turn the pocket and iron.

Turn the pocket to the inside of the pants as it is going to hang and make two rows of stitches for decoration and for reinforcing the edge of the pocket.  You can use your twin needle here as well.

For guidance on How to Use a Twin Needle, please follow this guide.

Culottes tutorial

Do the same to the other pocket.

Trim the seam allowance, turn the pocket and iron.

Change your needle to a twin needle and stay stitch on the right side.  The use of a twin needle is optional.  To have the same effect without the twin needle just make 2 rows of stitches.

Culottes tutorial

Turn the front side with the pocket you have been working on print side down, place the back side of pocket on top of the front side of the pocket.  Sew around the pocket at 5/8″. 

Culottes tutorial

Zigzag the edges or use the serger.  Please note that many knits do not need the edges to be finished because they do not ravel.  If they do, serge them.

Step Four: Assemble the culottes

Culottes tutorial

Sew the two fronts together but stop two inches from the end.

Culottes tutorial

Sew the back pieces the same way, stopping 2 inches from the end.

Culottes tutorial

Sew the sides of the culottes and finish the seam either with a zigzag or a serger.

Culottes tutorial

Sew the inseam and zigzag the edges or use your serger.

Step Five: Check fitting and add the waistband

Culottes tutorial

The pants at the waist should be close to your hips but not tights,  there should be no gaps between the waistline and your hipbones.  Adjust the pants according to your body, then measure the waist and cut a band 1″ to 1 1/2″ smaller than the measurement.

Culottes tutorial
Culottes tutorial

Fold the band in half.  Sew the ends at 5/8″. 

Culottes tutorial

Fold the band lengthwise in half.

Culottes tutorial

Mark the middle top and bottom by making a small notch with your scissors.

Pin the band seam to the seam of the back of the culottes and the center mark you did before to the front seam of the pants.

Culottes tutorial

Pull the bands to distribute the stretch of the waistband evenly.

Culottes tutorial

Using a small zigzag, stitch sew the waistband to the culottes.  If you have a serger you can finish the seam with it.

Culottes tutorial

Finish the edge with your serger or using a zigzag stitch.  And there you have it.  Done.

Whether you decide to make the culottes or the palazzo pants you are sure to have an outfit for many occasions.  Team them up with a tank top or pretty blouse and you can go anywhere.


Culottes tutorial

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