HelenHelen's Makes, Pattern Hacks, Winslow Culottes, Winslow Hacks53 Comments

Winslow Culottes Hack: Elastic back

A tutorial for an elastic back version of the Winslow Culottes has been requested by many of you since I began this hacking series. I totally understand why! Elastic backs are much more comfortable for sitting, and it is nice to maintain the pleats in the front for a more elevated style. It can also be frustrating to make a pair of pants with a very fitted waistband because if your weight fluctuates, those pants won’t fit the same.

Question: Can I take an already made pair of Winslows and do this hack? YES! You have to unpick the waistband, back pleats, and zipper, and you will need to have fabric on hand to cut a new waistband. This is a great way to save a too-small pair of Winslows from the donation bin.  If you don’t have extra fabric on hand, one option would be to piece together a new waistband using the old waistband and some fabric cut off the bottom of your existing Winslows. Perhaps those palazzos become culottes or those culottes become cute shorts! Another option is to do a contrasting waistband in a new fabric.

I also made angled pockets instead of inseam pockets for this pair of Winslows, and the tutorial for that will be on the blog next week!

Let’s get started.

You will need the front and back leg pieces, and the pockets (optional). We will cut a new waistband to size once we have sewn up the pants.

The extra two inches is so that the interfacing extends just a bit onto the back waistband area. When we secure the elastic in place at the end, this will also secure the interfacing. We are not interfacing the back waistband because it will add too much bulk to an already bunched up area.

I like to finish the waistband seam with my serger before inserting the elastic because I find it is much easier than doing it after when the fabric is all bunched up. I serge closed the two holes at the very end.

Once you have secured the elastic, you can close the two holes in your waistband to complete this hack.

I also made angled pockets instead of inseam pockets for this pair of Winslows, and the tutorial for that will be on the blog next week!

I hope you liked this Winslow Culottes hack. Let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to sharing my next hack with you soon!

About the author


Helen Wilkinson is the designer and founder of Helen's Closet Patterns. She also co-hosts the Love to Sew Podcast! Helen is obsessed with all things sewing and strives to share her passion and knowledge with the sewing community.

53 Comments on “Winslow Culottes Hack: Elastic back”

  1. Thanks for this tutorial. I bought your pattern a few months ago (after months of searching through patterns and online tutorials) because you were the first designer that I found that could sew the “sample” and make it look so good you couldn’t tell that it wasn’t a skirt. I just to need to get around to making it. I like how I easily use the same pattern at different lengths with different materials. I was intending to move the back zipper to the pocket side seam but I think I might give the elastic a try instead.

  2. I would like to print the tutorial in PDF but my printer won’t do it. Is there a way to put it in PDF?

  3. As soon as I saw the title, I thought “I’m going to unpick my Winslows and try this!” and then there you are in the second paragraph, reading my mind!!!!!

  4. This is the hack I’ve been waiting on! Thank you! So much simpler than I thought. I need to get started on some winslows for summer!

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  6. Hi Helen, love this hack of the Winslows! When cutting the waistband do I need just the height of my elastic+ seam allowance+ wiggle or do I need to double the height of my elastic? Just can’t quite get my head around it. Thanks xx

    1. Hi Camilla! Thanks for pointing out that this isnt very clear. I have updated the graphic now! You do need to do your elastic width times two. Happy sewing! -Helen

      1. Thanks Helen. Pair 1 completed – am really enjoying wearing them with the warm weather that the UK is having at the mo. Pair 2 already cut.

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  8. I am looking forward to making these in Liberty Lawn. Would I need to change anything to make them in jersey that has very little stretch one way, and a bit of stretch the other way (with the elastic back hack). Thank you.

  9. I did this with a pair! Sadly the fabric I used was really heavy, and the elastic wasn’t very firm, so they, uhh, were often just a tug away from being on the ground. I have some lighter tencel and should try again! I loved wearing them, even if my fabric was the wrong choice for it.

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  11. I just bought this pattern with a trip to Europe in mind and this is the perfect hack to keep these looking dressy but allowing some space for all the yummy treats I will certainly devour there! Thank you!

  12. HI i have a question, do you still stitch in the ditch as the pattern directions say to do after you have secured and closed the waistband?

  13. Hi. I purchased this pattern recently but haven’t gotten around to sewing it yet. I will be using this elastic back hack. Would it be possible to size down to create less volume? I typically wear between sizes 4 & 8 in RTW but I’m measuring between 14 & 16 in this pattern. I’m worried I’ll be swimming in these! 🙂

    1. Hi Kati! RTW and sewing pattern sizing often differs. You can definitely take volume out by taking out width on the sides (as illustrated). We recommend choosing the crotch curve that corresponds to your measurements and our size charts.

    1. That is such a good question. Helen and I both buy a lot of our elastics in bulk off the roll at our local fabric store- hand feel is just such a good way to judge elastic comfort. I look for something plush and thick with lots of stretch to it. Personally, I find any elastic that claims to be “non-roll” is just too stiff for me!

  14. Hi Helen! I’m gearing up to make these fantastic pants! But I’m a bit worried about the rise. I have a super high waist, I measured it at 87 cm. The rise in the pattern (size 18) is 87.5 (if I calculated it right: front rise + back rise + 1/2 waist band) with seam allowance. How do you recommend I add to the rise? Can I just add some length at the top of the pattern?

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  16. Hi Helen,
    Love this pattern so much and this hack even more. I’m stuck at the elastic width choice.
    I currently have one that is 1/2″ wide but I’m afraid that it will feel uncomfortable at the time of wearing the pants.
    Do you think this width is enough?

    1. Hi Julieta! Ideally, the elastic is the same width as the waistband casing. You can make a smaller casing so the 1/2″ will fit, but as you said you may find this uncomfortable when wearing. We like a 1″ – 1.5″ inch elastic for waistbands.

  17. Wow! You continue to rock my world! I did this elastic waist and the side slash pocket hack on the shorts in a terra cotta linen and I am amazed with the results! Thanks for the very well worded and described hacks! So simple and wonderful!

  18. Thank you so much for this hack Helen! I just made my first pair and they are fabulous! I made them in a tencel twill and the drape is lovely.

  19. Hi Helen! I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the Island life! I’m finally going to start my first Winslows! I love the look of the original pleats, but I am leaning toward this elastic back hack – after 10 months working from home in COVID times, my measurements have fluctuated a bit and comfort has become a higher priority 🙂 Do you think it would work to do both pleats and elastic in the back, by making the pleats a bit shallower? Or would the gathering from the elastic make the pleats invisible and superfluous? Any tips appreciated!

    1. Hi Abby! I totally know what you mean – this year has been a change for me too and my clothes aren’t fitting the same way! I think this is an interesting idea. If you let out the pleats just a little (1″) and then did an elastic AND a zipper, I think the pleats would still look like pleats and you would have a waist that can flex with you. But if you want to avoid the zipper, you will have to let the pleats out way more, and then as you said, I think they will disappear into the gathers. Given that this is the back we are talking about, I’d probably go for the easier option and do a full elastic back!

  20. Hi Helen – I don’t mind the zipper, so that sounds like a great idea! I’m currently between two sizes so I think I’ll make the smaller size, let out the pleats an inch or and add elastic with the zipper.

  21. Just about to sew my 1st pair of the up and it’s the 1st time sewing a viscose challis so it’s going to be interesting.
    In the instructions it says to stabalise the back seam for the zip; is that needed for this hack?

  22. Flat front and elastic back? My new summer sewing obsession. So glad I found you. Thank you for this clear and concise tutorial.

  23. I am about to make this hack, but I guess I have to make the waistband longer. Else there’s no way I can get the culottes over my hips.
    By the way I really love the fact you add so many hacks to your patterns!

    1. Hi Nynke,

      Yes, you will need to make the waistband longer to accomodate the gathered back in this design. Then you can pull it on over your hips thanks to the elastic!

  24. Hello! I’ve made this hack once and am about to do it again :). One my first pair, the elastic has a tendency to roll inside the casing a bit even though it is secured at both ends. More like the casing rolls around the elastic I guess. Should I sew the back casing to the elastic (stretching while sewing) to avoid that?

    1. Hi Marisa,

      Yes that would be on solution. Topstitching the elastic does help to stabilize it the most thoroughly. You can add more vertical lines of stitching along the back to stabilize it while still hiding the stitching as well.

  25. Hi Helen! I’m wondering about sizing- I can see how the waist measurement would be most important for a zipper/non-stretch waist but if we’re making an elastic one- would we size down? I’m an apple 44W 47H what would you recommend (also to maybe save on fabric 🙂 )? Thanks

  26. Hi. What about a fitted skirt with darts in the back? How would you approach that differently? Remove them? Thanks!

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