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Simple, gathered Heron culottes

After seeing a few lovely pairs of elasticated waist Fern shorts on Instagram (here and here), I felt inspired to give it a go for a winter-friendly pair of Heron culottes. I unearthed this perfect rust corduroy that I bought just before I left Cape Town. It’s super velvety and luxurious with quite a bit of stretch, so I felt it would be a great fit for a gathered waistband – it’s a bit too soft for the usual side zip and waistband affair.

Heron culottes printed pattern

Here follows a very simple step by step to show you how I approached this little Heron hack. I was up to my usual tricks, cutting out on the living room floor and kind of sewing on the fly, but I think it just goes to show that it’s a very easy adjustment to make, and that the fit is super forgiving.

First off, instead of cutting a waistband, I laid out the front and back trouser pieces, leaving enough space to extend the top of the waistline by about 8 cm. This is so that later on, I could fold the top over to the inside to create a tube for the elastic. Of course, elasticated waist trousers also need enough width on the waist to create nice gathers when worn, and provide enough room to step in and out of them. I simply cut the trouser pieces as is, opting not to insert the front inverted box pleat or the darts on the back. I found this was plenty of fabric to give a good drape and fit.

Extend the top waistband

The Heron culottes usually zip up at the side seam, leaving room for only one side seam pocket. But when faced with the choice, more is always more in the pocket department. When setting the pockets, make sure to place them 8 cm below the top edge, so that they’re in the right spot when the waistband is folded to the inside.

Place the pockets

Set the pockets on the front and back trouser pieces. Then flip the pocket pieces out to the side, matching pocket bags of the front and back trouser pieces. Stitch the side seam, sewing around the curvature of the pockets. Baste the pockets to the front to keep them in place. Then stitch the in-seam of the trouser leg from the crotch to the hem. Repeat this whole step for the other trouser leg.

Sew the legs

At this point, I decided that instead of finishing my culottes with an elastic waist, I would use my left over fabric to create a long waist tie instead. For this to work, I needed to create a small gap for it to feed through at the centre front. To do this, place one trouser leg inside the other with right sides facing, and sew all the way along the curve of the crotch seam from back to front, stopping 8 cm from the end. Press seam allowances open and baste in place by hand.

Baste seams

Then simply fold the waistline in toward the inside by 5 cm, pin and stitch in place.


This creates the perfect tube to feed the waist tie through, allowing you to tie a nice big bow at the front! I’m really pleased with how these culottes turned out. It’s a super easy sew, and with the waist-tie approach, it was pretty much zero-waste too, which I’m super pleased about. They are really comfortable and it honestly just feels like wearing a big blanket all day (although I like to think it looks slightly more stylish), so I do recommend them for a slouchy winter look.

Gathered Heron culottes