The Pattern Probe #2 – McCalls M7131 Culotte Shorts

pbMcCalls_pantsM7131-3inX4in pbMcCalls_pantsM7131-Back3inX4in

Close-Up of Pack Front | Close-Up of Pack Back

I know, another Pattern Probe post so soon! I’m so productive. 🙂

Actually I tried out this McCalls pattern as soon as I finished the sweatpants. Summer was practically here and it turned out that I had no shorts that were more dressy-looking for nicer occasions. Since the fashion industry has been pushing culottes back into our       closets, I thought a pair of floaty culotte shorts might be a cool thing to sew for myself to wear in the warmer months.

So I went to Joann’s to pick up some black linen for this project because it’s the ultimate fabric for summer clothes; lightweight and breathable. This one I used has a mix of polyester in it to make it more opaque for underwear concealing (don’t want THAT wardrobe malfunction happening in public!).

As promised on the packaging, this pattern construction was simple to figure out for the most part, with 2 exceptions. First, I had issues with understanding Step 5 which dealt with the pocket insertion:


The understitch instruction wasn’t really clear enough for me and I had to search online for some answers. I compiled some photos to show what I eventually did:

The second task that got confusing was sewing the waistband to the pants. This was of my own doing because the instructions have interfacing added to one of the waistband pieces for added structure. Since I was using black linen with some structure in it, I nixed using interfacing for this project and had to pick one of the 2 waistband pieces and treated it like the “interfaced waistband” piece:

Also, I improvised on the elastic measurements because my waist size wasn’t on the pattern pack. Thanks to these 2 videos, I was able to increase the size of my waistband to fit my measurements:

How To Increase The Waist In A Commercial Pattern

How To Increase The Hip In A Commercial Pattern

So on that note, I added 1/2 in. to both sides of the elastic for the waistband:

Here is a gallery of photos showing the final product. As I found out, the increased measurements seemed to be unnecessary. They sat at my hips and felt too heavy on my frame with the medium-weight linen fabric making up the shorts. I probably should have figured that out before because the back waistband is elasticized so on that note, I could have just used the largest waist size on the pattern pack and not increased the measurements.

After learning this, I decided to tailor the waistband by decreasing the length on both ends so that they sit a little higher on my waist:

After I figured out how much to take in, I removed the waistband and cut it down to size before re-sewing it back on the shorts. I also had to trim the sides of the shorts and pocket close to the waist to accommodate the new length.

Already there is significant improvement. It’s more structured sitting at my waist and hangs better off my body. However, there are 2 minor things to remember next time.

One, the connection between the front and back waistband pieces isn’t as smooth as the illustration suggests; there is a round edged slope showing the front higher than the back. I think it could be the bulk in the fabric when creating the tucked corner from the interfaced waistband piece flipped inside. It may not be that way with lighter-weighted fabrics, so I’ll have to keep that in mind for when I make this again.

Two, as a result of my raising the waist through my tailoring efforts, the crotch was also raised a little higher. It’s not that big a deal, since it doesn’t impair walking and sitting. However, the next time I make these culotte shorts (or pants) I may lengthen the shorts pieces at the hip to accommodate the rise.

At the end of the day, I like this pattern design; it was simple to construct despite the edits to the waistband, the pockets are roomy, and I like the elasticized back to slip on and off with ease. It’s the perfect garment for the warmer months in casual and dressy occasions.

Putting my new culotte shorts to work. 🙂



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