Navy Block-Printed Culottes
Two summers ago, on a visit to Ohio, my mom and I accompanied my aunt and uncle on a stroll through their local farmers’ market. We sampled some scones, picked out some produce, and saw many wonderful doggies, but what I remember most about that day was a pair of shorts.
I saw a girl about my age wearing the most adorable shorts. They had an elastic + drawstring waist, but they were made from a navy fabric with a floral border print that elevated them from “gym shorts” all the way to “dressy shorts”. In a rare moment of nerve, I approached her, gushed over how cute her shorts were, and asked if I could take a picture so I could try to sew them later. She was more flattered than confused, and didn’t even seem to think I was weird (although perhaps it was just midwestern kindness).
This all took place a few weeks before my move to Florida, and I knew similar shorts could play a huge role in my Endless Summer wardrobe. Who am I to refuse a super comfy pair of shorts that doesn’t make me look like a bum? Needless to say, for the past 1.5 years I’ve been on a mission to create my own version of the Canton Farmers’ Market Shorts.
My “house pocket shorts” were a step in the right direction, and my second pair sewn from Simplicity 1887: the pattern that I hoped would be the one. My first pair from S1887 was a navy rayon, sewn as a wearable muslin. They came out really big, but the flowiness of the fabric + the magic that is elastic made them work for the most part. I knew the chambray of the House Pocket Shorts wouldn’t have much drape, so I made those in a much smaller size for an exact fit.
After two very different pairs, that pattern went back in my binder and the Canton Farmers’ Market Shorts went to the back of my mind as I journeyed around the world.
When I got home from India, of course my sewing room closet wasn’t quite ready to accommodate the enormous stack of fabrics that I had acquired. So they stayed in the open, displayed on a shelf for inspiration. And inspiration they were… because one night, as I was falling asleep, I remembered this fabric and realized it could become some wonderful shorts.
I used my trusty Simplicity 1887 again, and cut oversized to allow for full comfy-ness and because this cotton has the perfect amount of drape. I elasticized the whole waistband, which made the front a little bit funny until I added extra tacked down pleats. I also put two minor darts in the back. The pleats + darts allow me to have the flowy culotte look I was aiming for, without weird puffiness near the waistband.
I didn’t have much extra fabric, but I did line up the pattern pieces carefully for appropriate flower placement. With such a big motif, I wanted to make sure I didn’t end up with a round orange flower like a target in the center of my booty.
The pocket fabric is another blockprinted cotton I brought home from Jaipur, and I can’t believe how well it matches the flowers of the main print. I let a little bit of the pocket lining peek out for a faux-binding look.
The jury is still out on whether I will add a tie-front, but otherwise these are done! I finished them over the weekend and immediately celebrated their wearability with a stylish beach walk.
And now, back to sewing with plain white.