Sewing Culottes By Making Your Own Pattern

By Angela B. Trenholm, 695 Eastbourne Road, Kelowna, BC, V1X 5L1
Copyright March 2003

These instructions may be distributed freely, at no cost only.
Please include this cover sheet with my contact information so I may be contacted for any questions or concerns.

Culottes Pattern Available for Download as Well For Easy Printing

Printing Instructions:
Change your printing properties to make the smallest margins possible, making sure to minimize page to fit standard 8 1/2" X 11" sheet, otherwise you will cut off some of the side.
The pattern will take

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 Heavy Denim

(Shown with six pleats)


(Shown with extra pleats)



Light Denim / Chambray

(Shown with six pleats)



Obviously, these culottes have lots of flair, but are not excessive in bulk.


(Shown with no extra pleats)


Hello ladies! I hope these instructions will be a help to you as you try to sew culottes that are not only modest but pleasing in appearance, and comfortable to wear.

All you need is your tape measure, a marking tool (I like my children's washable markers) and your fabric. Good choices are: denim, chambray, rayon, knit, poly/cotton, really, just about anything. That is another beauty of this pattern. Fine flowered prints add even more modesty.

I have strived to make a pattern that is both functional and modest, while eliminating a great deal of bulk that is often found in some patterns.  This pattern can even be made with heavy denim, though it does give a little bulkier appearance, but at least you don't look like you're wearing a tent.

There is one feature of this pattern that I have seen only rarely in other patterns (centre front and centre back pleats--which I have found essential for modesty)  and another feature that I have added in order to reduce bulk at the waistline, yet still give a full-skirt appearance, and this is an angled inner leg, versus the straight-vertical inner leg of a pant pattern. You can also create an endless array of different culotte patterns by adding the centre front and back pleats, as well as the angled inner leg to any commercial pant or skirt pattern (adding  the crotch section as well to the skirt.)

I would love to hear from anyone who makes this pattern, and if you have any questions, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail or mail.

Once you have made your first pair of culottes, you will find they are really not difficult to sew. There are very few pattern pieces, in fact, only three pieces for each of the two different styles I am going to show you. Firstly, you will need a few measurements.

Taking proper measurements is essential, so let's start there. If you  tie an elastic or string to the waistline of the person you are measuring, it will be much easier. If you have a hard time finding the waistline, get the individual to bend sideways and this will create a crease on their side: this is the waistline.

The hip is the fullest part of the buttocks, and you will need to also measure how far from the waistline this fullest part is for the Hip Depth.

For the Crotch Length, measure between the legs from front to back (or back to front) as shown above. The Crotch Length can easily be obtained by having the person sit down (with proper posture) on a firm chair and measuring a straight line down from the elastic to the chair seat.

Ease Chart

1" to 2"

1" to 2"


1" if hips are less than 37"

1/2" if hips are less than 37"

1 1/2" if hips are 37" to 40"

3/4" if hips are 37" to 40"

2" if hips are 40" or more

1" if hips are 40" or more


The following chart also gives guidelines for ease to added to your measurements, if needed. (These are general guidelines found in most sewing fitting books.

Fabric Requirements will depend on your size. Further instructions to follow.

Notice how the inner leg seam angles out at between 20- 30 degrees—indicated by the blue lines. The greater the angle, the fuller the leg will be, etc. I have found 20-30 degrees is adequate to eliminate any hint of a pant look.

I know most people don't have very large paper at their disposal to make a large pattern, but all you really needed to make the actual pattern peices is the top section (indicated by thick black line) with about 1” below the crotch. The width of your fabric will really determine how much angle you get to put in the inner leg.

The goal is to have six front pleats (3 per side) and, although you may add some, no pleats are needed in the back (besides the centre front and back pleats that are critical to this design (Note: Centre Front and Back pleats can be varied from 2-4” depending on size.

Your top section will look like this if you have an integrated side seam, or split if you have a side seam.


For Integrated Front and Backs:

Front Section: (HM + Ease) divided by 2 + 15”

(Hip Measure + Ease) divided by 2 + 8” Front and Back Pleat (4” X 2) + 6” for 3 Front Pleats ( 2” X 3) and
1” for Seam Allowance (1/2” X 2)

For Separate Front and Backs:

Front Section: (HM + Ease) divided by 4 + 11”

(Hip Measure + Ease) divided by four + 4” Front Pleat + 6” for 3 Front Pleats (2” X 3) + 1” for Seam Allowance (1/2” X 2)

Back Section: (HM + Ease) / 4 + 1”

(Hip Measure + Ease) divided by 4 + 4” Back Pleat + 1” for Seam Allowance (1/2” X 2)

Setting up the crotch line:

There are various ways to do this. If you have a pant or other culotte pattern, simply use that. If not, here’s the “from scratch” instructions. To figure out your front/back crotch length, divide the total crotch length (with ease added in) in two, then subtract 1/2 inch on the front length, and add a half inch to the back, and you have your needed measurements.


CL = 20” + 1.5” (for 38 inch hips) = 21.5” divided by 2 = 10.75,

then subtract 1/2” = 10.25” for front, and adding 1/2” = 11.25” for back

Now, take a tape measure, and using your determined front or back crotch length, start at the top and drape the tape in the shape of the a typical crotch line, with the vertical line going slightly outwards of the straight of grain and ending at the crotch depth. It will surprise you how well the tape measure almost automatically forms the proper line. Now simply trace that line for your pattern.

Roughly centering this pattern piece at the top of your fabric (two layers), draw a line from the end of the crotch line (lilac dot) to the edge of your fabric (red dot), checking to make sure you have a minimum 20 degrees at both inner legs, adjusting the location of the pattern piece so that both sides have the same angle, but having any excess fabric all to one side, as this will make it easier to cut your waistband, but not necessary, as there is usually enough fabric cut out of the crotch area to create a waistband.

The Waistband

The waistband will be cut in one piece, with the seam being put on one side.

The Waistband = Hips + 3” by 3 1/2” deep

The Waistband (WB) will be 3 1/2” deep by the following:

WB = Hips + 2” Ease + 1” for Seam Allowance (1/2” X 2)

On to the Sewing!

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Culottes Pattern Available for Download as Well for Easy Printing


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