children's clothing · kids clothing · sewing

Lunch Box tee and culottes

The Oliver + S Lunch Box tee and culottes pattern really appealed to me when it was first released.  Despite culottes being fashionable at the moment, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to make a pair for me.  Being 158cm tall, thick around the middle and middle-aged could have something to do with that – as well as having worn them the last time around (which reminds me of knickerbockers…who else had corduroy knickerbockers, worn with a checked ruffled shirt some time around the early 80s…anyway, I digress).  So when I spotted the Lunch Box pattern, I thought that I could make some for my kids!  For Clare, to be precise.

Oliver + S Lunch Box tee in striped knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics with Lunch Box Culottes in cotton/viscose twill from Rathdowne Fabrics

I’d better get things straight from the outset – this pattern was my choice, not Clare’s. I really, really wanted to make some culottes. So it’s probably not surprising that although Clare has said “it looks good” she has also said “but I’m not sure that it’s really my style”.

Oliver + S Lunch Box Culottes in cotton/viscose twill from Rathdowne Fabrics

The Oliver + S pattern description says this pattern features wide, pleated culottes that look like a full skirt but can be worn for activities from biking to climbing on the monkey bars. The knit top can be sewn up as a T-shirt with cute cuffed sleeves or a sweatshirt with pockets. As always, it was a pleasure to sew. In my experience Oliver + S patterns are consistently excellent, both in terms of the pattern drafting and the instructions. No criticisms there! I sewed size 10 for both the top and the culottes.

Oliver + S Lunch Box Culottes in cotton/viscose twill from Rathdowne Fabrics

The fabric for the culottes came from Rathdowne Fabrics. It was describe on the roll as 100% cotton, but it certainly didn’t feel like it. In fact, it felt like it had a large rayon or viscose content. A burn test in the shop supported my theory, and the saleswoman agreed. It is a twill with a super soft washed finish, and sewed beautifully. It also feels lovely against the skin. The elastic is just in the back of the waistband of the culottes, and it is pulled rather tight for Clare. This is reflected in how the back really does look like a skirt, whereas you can more easily tell from the front that it is divided into culottes. Can I mention how peeved I am getting at the moment with wide legged pants being called culottes? They aren’t! They’re palazzo pants, or wide-legged pants, or gauchos. But they are NOT culottes, which really are divided skirts.  (I do think that these DO meet the definition of culottes, by the way).
Okay, rant over.

Oliver + S Lunch Box tee in striped knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

The top is made from what I think is a cotton/lycra (although it may also involve viscose) knit from the Darn Cheap Fabrics $2 table. I really, really like this knit, and am glad that I have quite a bit left! It’s lovely quality and the colours go perfectly with the culottes. They will also work well with jeans, and I suspect that I will most often see them worn in that combination. The pattern is a great one for playing with stripe direction. Because the fabric has a fair lycra content it was also okay to cut the neckband on the cross grain.

Oliver + S Lunch Box tee in striped knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics with Lunch Box Culottes in cotton/viscose twill from Rathdowne Fabrics

There are little pockets in the front, tucked into the seam between the upper front and the lower band. Potentially useless, but really cute. That seam was sewn on the sewing machine, but everything else was done on the overlocker.

Oliver + S Lunch Box tee in striped knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics

Would it be really bad if I used the same fabric and the Bento Tee pattern to make myself the same top as Clare? I’m sure that my younger girl would be thrilled if I did that, but I’m not so certain that my tween would agree.

Oliver + S Lunch Box tee in striped knit from Darn Cheap Fabrics with Lunch Box Culottes in cotton/viscose twill from Rathdowne Fabrics


11 thoughts on “Lunch Box tee and culottes

  1. I had velvet bottle green ones so I know where you’re coming from….don’t think they’re for me either now! Your daughter’s looking fab in hers though, and I don’t think she’ll be embarrassed in 30 years when she’s looking back at these pics and reminiscing!

  2. I love the tee but like Clare I am kind of on the fence about culottes in any form. My answer to cord knickerbockers is YES, in brick red and I loved them! I also had a cord blazer which were worn to church when I was about 11! It was all made by my fashion forward grandmother who had 8 granddaughters to sew for and I was in the middle so got the benefit of my older cousins from Sydney style. Thank you for reminding me! Make that tee for yourself. You don’t need to wear them at the same time, in fact I wouldn’t. You will probably find going forward, this sort of thing will happen a lot. Embrace it I say!

    1. I mean’t to say that I am on the fence about culottes for me, but I do love them on others. If Clare is unsure about them, would she wear them if they were shorter, say above the knee? Teens tend to wear their skirts short so perhaps short culottes would be less of a departure from her regular style.

  3. Ugh don’t remind me about knickerbockers! I had some in khaki corduroy, which I wore with a cream polyester ruffly pirate shirt and my awful ‘boy popstar’ haircut. I thought I looked so cool…

    I love Clare’s top and the ‘culottes’ look great but I can understand why she might be unsure about them – they are quite different to what she usually wears, aren’t they! At the moment I’m really liking palazzo pants – having more length to them than your standard culottes I find they’re a bit more flattering to a curvy grownup shape!

    1. I REALLY like that top, and yes, I’d make one myself. I think I’ll try to do one myself. I wish I lived near Darn Cheap Fabrics. so many great knits you’ve gotten there for $2. Lucky girl with a mom that sews.

  4. She looks super. I love that top especially. I’ve made both of these for my six year old. I love the idea of the denim culottes I made (and the look) but they don’t get worn. I think the pair I made were just a bit too heavy and plain. I also know that my girls aren’t in love with the flat front/elastic back design of the waistband – in these pants, or some of the other oliver and s designs. I think it’s a very clever design, but in real life, my girls are tiny like Clare and it means the back is pulled in super tight, and yet it still doesn’t have the stay up power on little hips through the day. Next time I make these, I will do the full waist elastic and choose a bright pink, rainbow, unicorn fabric that I know will get worn 😉

  5. I can understand Clare not being sure about the pants. I think that although there is nothing wrong with the pants,they wear her she doesn’t wear them.
    I recently bought 2 original 70’s coulotte patterns,but haven’t yet decided if I want to use up some of my life’s minutes sewing them. Lol.

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