New Pattern: Zero Waste Culottes

Hi Everyone, I have a new pattern. Introducing zero waste culottes.

The pattern is in my Etsy shop now – please enjoy 25% off for the next month.

This pattern comes in twenty sizes, to fit a 66cm/26″ waist to a 163cm/64″.

The culottes are A-line and have a waistband with a button fly. A zip fly front or back zip can be substituted for the button fly if you’re allergic to buttonholes, and the waistband can easily be adapted to have back elastic (instructions included).

There are pockets in the side seams.

There are two options for the pattern: it can be printed out on A4, Letter or A0 paper OR drafted by you on paper following the step-by-steps in the instructions.

One pattern makes two culottes styles: classic regular culottes that are a divided skirt, and culottes which look like a skirt at the back.

Here are the culottes that look like a skirt at the back:

I borrowed this idea from a Madeline Vionnet evening gown (if you own Betty Kirke’s book Vionnet, it’s Pattern 15). I’ve wanted to try it for a long time. The legs of the culottes wrap around each leg then join together at the centre back (CB) to make a skirt. Here’s a bird’s eye view:

Here’s a gallery of culottes…

My neighbour Jennie looking fab in chambray culottes.
These have a zip fly front instead of buttons, and a half elastic back (which you can’t see).
3/4 length culottes in some original 1970s printed-on patchwork fabric. Worn with a zw Cendre top. I love this look.
Here they are close up, worn with my macrame belt for a full 1970s experience.
This pattern can easily be adapted for menswear – instructions are included.
Modeled by the ever-obliging Mr Haywood, who said they were very comfortable.
The silhouette reminds me of a kilt, with a garage band vibe.
Nigelle-ann, the book shop lady, in 3/4 length cotton drill culottes, worn with an Xanthea top. A good look! And smart-looking.
These also have a zip fly front.
I tested the pattern using plaid fabric to see how it would go. Very successful, but oops! I realised I’d accidentally re-created my school uniform!
Never mind, I thought I could still use it with some careful styling. Welcome to Country Life Magazine – the Antipodean Gardens Issue!
Ann wearing chambray culottes with a button fly and zipped pockets.
These also look very smart worn with boots and a jacket.
It’s lovely in linen. Full length culottes (technically skirt pants I guess) in flowing Lithuanian linen.
I lined the top part of these, for a smoother fit.

How much fabric do these use?

The sizes at the top are waist measurements in inches. So, for example, a size 32 will fit an 81cm/32″ waist. The finished culottes lengths are on the left hand side of each table, next to the fabric width.

This is a pattern which had several false starts. It began life as kind of a paneled skirt/shorts with a fancy sort of gusset I was experimenting with. My 13 year old said it looked like I was wearing a skirt that had gotten bunched up between my legs when I sat down, and was still bunched up now I was standing up. So harsh!

But after several shots at it I abandoned the gusset and arrived at a better shape. Below is the first successful sample, in cotton lawn.


UPDATE: 5 ways to wear culottes.


  1. Nicola on March 15, 2022 at 11:34 pm

    This is a fantastic design – I particularly like the Madeline Vionnet-inspired idea. I do like all the incarnations of the pattern, particularly the tartan one (even if it reminds you of your school uniform). Strange how off-putting school uniform can be – I steered clear of navy blue for years, even though blue is definitely my favourite colour to wear.

    • lizhaywood on March 16, 2022 at 9:59 am

      Thanks Nicola, I think these could be a bit “you”. Yes, funny about school uniforms. I couldn’t bear to wear navy blue until my 30s, and only because it was called “midnight”! The tartan one is growing on me.

  2. DSGear on March 16, 2022 at 2:14 am

    Hi Liz,
    Woke up to this in my email. I ordered it from bed, then proceeded to go down the Vionnet/Kirke rabbit hole. I’m very excited to draft and sew the skirt version–absolutly love that you provide print and diy draft options a la your fab book. Off to raid my stash:-)

    • lizhaywood on March 16, 2022 at 10:01 am

      Cheers, DS! It sounds very luxurious to lie in bed and order sewing supplies!

  3. Barbara Sherlock on March 16, 2022 at 6:52 am

    Culottes look good but even with zero waste need reasonable quantity of material. I would like to see an estimate of material requirements before I buy the pattern.

    • lizhaywood on March 16, 2022 at 9:55 am

      Good point Barbara. There’s a fabric estimate in the Etsy listing but I’ve gone back in and put it in this blog post with some more explanation (which I should have done before). The fabric yield is actually pretty good. For knee length (54cm) regular culottes to fit an 81cm/32″ waist it takes 127cm of 112cm wide fabric – I haven’t found any comparable culottes that take less than 2m. Skirt culottes of course take more since they’re more like 1 1/2 garments, but still, skirt culottes in the same size and length only take 168cm.

      • Barbara Sherlock on March 18, 2022 at 3:14 pm

        Thank you, Liz. I’ll try it out in lighter fabric, but I found some wool in an op shop the other day. Could be scratchy, so what are the possibilities in lining the culottes do you think?

      • lizhaywood on March 18, 2022 at 5:08 pm

        It works well with a lining. The tartan culottes are lined – I had the same thoughts as you re: scratchiness. I used an ordinary thin silky sort of lining and cut it using the same pattern, but a little shorter. It’s free-hanging and joined in at the waist with the waistband. There are some notes on linings in the pattern.

  4. Ali Murphy on March 17, 2022 at 1:36 pm

    Ohh, I accidentally fell in love with some heavyweight purple linen (Lithuanian, of course) the other day. This is the perfect project for it!

    • lizhaywood on March 17, 2022 at 5:43 pm

      Heavyweight purple Lithuanian linen you say? I totally approve!

  5. Sara on March 23, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Liz. Great looking pattern. Can’t wait to make it. But I am intrigued – in what way is it Madeleine Vionnet inspired? Did she design an evening gown that was culotte based? I have been very interested in her bias cut designs of that time, so this is a little different?
    Just interested… Sara

    • lizhaywood on March 23, 2022 at 8:48 pm

      Thanks Sara.
      Yes, Vionnet designed an evening gown that was culottes based. It was full length, very flared skirt, with a sleeveless bodice attached, 1937. Vionnet’s wraps twice around the legs but mine only wraps 1.5 times. There’s a sketch of a very similar thing here if you scroll down – it’s on the left with the title Sketch and pattern of pajamas from Vionnet’s personal wardrobe 1937, but in Kirke’s book it’s an evening gown.

  6. Sara on March 24, 2022 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you Liz, That is a fascinating article. I was particularly interested in her discussion of how Vionnet’s bias remained hanging straight over such a long time, never dropping, and the weft and warp thread lengths, as well as the use of godets and gussets. Madeleine Vionnet certainly was a very technical worker!
    Out of interest, if as the author comments, Vionnet’s designs could only have been achieved by draping as opposed to drawing a pattern, did that mean all her designs were ‘one off’ for clients? Otherwise how would she cater for different sizes. Then again, she was probably not making for the RTW market at that time. (And not for the ZW market).

    • lizhaywood on March 24, 2022 at 2:03 pm

      From reading Kirke’s book, it sounds like she only made clothes in one size (and as made to measure). The bias cut was able to be worn by a range of sizes because it was so flexible, and there were fewer big sized people around in the 1920s.

  7. Pamela on March 26, 2022 at 11:44 pm

    Hello Liz! I am the Italian customer that bought past year your Cendre top pattern 🙂 and I love this new culotte pattern. Would it be suitable for a patterned fabric? Thank you very much for your reply!
    P.S. I sewed your Cendre top during the Italian lock down in 2021 and it was a great way to spend time when we could not go outside.

    • lizhaywood on March 27, 2022 at 1:53 pm

      Hi Pamela, sure I remember – it was pretty tough for your country.
      The culottes are fine to sew in a patterned fabric but it depends on the print. The pattern pieces are top-and-tailed (and also cut across the fabric) so it can’t be a directional print, but otherwise yes. I’m sure you have access to some awesome fabrics!

  8. DSGear on April 3, 2022 at 1:16 am

    Hi Liz,

    Did you reduce the flare on those full length Lithuanian linen pants or add the length on the same plane as the original pattern panels? I’m looking to make them as formal wear out of velvet.

    Almost finished with my first go in lightweight denim. I’ll be using the neat elastic waist technique to adjust for “back there” as opposed to fiddling around with my pattern draft.


    • lizhaywood on April 3, 2022 at 8:52 am

      For the full length linen culottes, I just added length on the same plane. They would be wonderful in velvet but the nap will run in different directions (unless you cut two pairs and swap the panels).
      The lightweight denim will be great!

  9. DSGear on April 3, 2022 at 9:29 am

    Boo! Okay, maybe silk shantung or jacquard or another fancy napless option with movement…but thanks for saving me the tears.

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