Burda 108 07/2018 pleated culottes

Here’s the first new item from my wardrobe sewing plan. These pleated culottes are intended to be a more wearable version of hakama (traditional Japanese pleated trousers) which is a look I’ve always liked.

Here’s the technical drawing. The pattern is 108 07/2018.

Technical drawing of pleated culottes Burda 108 07/2018
Burda 108 07/2018 pleated culottes technical drawing from burdastyle.ru

Burda’s version is made up in pale blue and styled with a matching letter jersey and striped sandals for a very prim and preppy look. However I’m aiming for something somewhat more samurai than Sandra Dean! Despite this I didn’t need to make changes to the pattern other than adding length: the 5cm that I always need to add to Burda trousers and then another 4cm on top. All the difference is in the fabric and styling.

Woman in pale blue pleated culottes and letter jersey
Burda 108 07/2018 model photo, burdastyle.ru

The fabric is a cotton drill from Empress Mills. This is quality stuff: really sturdy, blackest black, and stable. It’s such a pleasure to sew with well behaved cotton.

Cotton isn’t the ideal thing for pleats because they won’t stay pleated after washing. I’ve edge stitched mine to try to make them stay put. The process is a bit different from Burda’s method. I first basted the pleats down the whole length of the leg, pressed them very well, then pulled out the basting and edge stitched all the folds from the top edge to just above where the hem would turn up to (of which more in a moment). To keep the pleats stitched down over the hips I then top stitched them down over the previous edge stitching to the point where they’re supposed to release. My edge/ditch stitching foot worked overtime on this project. I spent a whole evening just on the main pleating, and most of another folding and stitching the pleats at the hem after doing the hemming. It would have been easier to make the hem before pleating, but that relies on knowing exactly how long you want it to be in advance.

They’ve come out well though and they make some great shapes when in motion.

The culottes fasten with an invisible zip at centre back. I thought I’d done a pretty good job putting it in at the time but there’s a bit of pulling in the photos – see the drag lines pointing to the bottom of the zip.

The back view on these is very plain. Real hakama would have additional overlapping pleats at the back, but I have an office job and I imagine back pleats would look less than great after being sat upon all day. Hakama also fasten with ties around the waist and have long triangular gaps at the side waist; they’re intended to be worn over a long top so the gaps don’t reveal anything. Burda’s version has a conventional side seam instead, which handily allows for inseam pockets. There’s also a self fabric belt, which cleverly hides any slight mismatching that may have happened when sewing the innermost pleats, which are supposed to meet each other exactly at the centre front seam. Again this isn’t right for real hakama, where the centre front pleats should overlap.

I initially only lengthened these by my usual 5cm, but when I tried them on I realised I wanted them longer. I managed to squeeze out some extra length by facing the hem instead of turning it up. In the highly unlikely event I make these again I’d add even more to the length.

I’m very pleased with how they’ve come out. I have nothing else like them in my wardrobe but they go with most of my existing tops and I like the unusual shape. The eagle-eyed may have noticed that I’m wearing trainers in some of these photos and ridiculous heels in others, and I think they work with both. The top is my Rick Owens knockoff from a couple of years ago. Time will tell how practical these really are; they’re comfortable to wear but the real test will be how much effort they are to wash and iron.

Thanks to my husband for immensely patient and creative photo taking as always!

34 thoughts on “Burda 108 07/2018 pleated culottes

  1. These look fantastic! You do indeed look like a modern samurai or a detective out of bladerunner!

  2. Wow. I love your version, and thanks for pleat details. How to keep pleat detail is always a consideration with such defined pleats, your solution looks really good. I liked the idea of these culottes, but the Burda photos put me off. Yours re-ignite my interest.

    1. Thanks! It’s incredible what a difference fabric makes isn’t it. This month’s Burda has a story I love, but when I look at the patterns really critically I think what I really like is the fabric choices and the shoes.

  3. Beautiful and fun. Good problem solving with the pleats and length. I think you’ll get good wear from them, since they are black. And will we ever wear ridiculous heels again? I’ve been barefoot, in flip flops or Chuck Taylors since March. I finally started going to the office last week, but I am the only one there, so leave the Converse on!

    1. Heh yeah, my heels only come out for photo shoots. At work I sometimes have to wear safety boots and am very sad that my steel toe capped doc martens pair disintegrated just before lockdown; they’d have gone well with the culottes.

      1. I have a replacement pair but sadly they had to come out of the work catalogue and are much less cool than the DMs – I won’t be bringing them home for photoshoots!

  4. They are fabulous pants!! So much better than pale blue version. I’m sure making the pleats was the most time consuming part of theses pants and so worth it.

  5. they’re really really amazing! would love to make a pair myself, dunno would it happen though, those pleats seem like so much work.. and i love them with trainers and heels too, your styling is always perfect!

  6. I love these! They look SO COOL. I’ve been looking for a pleated front trouser for a while but I *totally* skipped over this pattern because it looks so unlike my vision in the magazine, but your version has totally made me reconsider. I think it looks really awesome and super versatile. And so so cool!

  7. Nice – I am a fool for a pair of offbeat trousers(In fact, need to post pics of my latest.) ! I have eyed a real hakama pattern but have been daunted by the gapy triangle at the hip. This looks to be great solution!

  8. Just fabulous! Love the Japanese styling and I now have to make these – so original and unique, which is the whole purpose of sewing our own clothes.
    You remain an inspiration to me – thank you.

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