Helmirama

Jess just published a very thoughtful post about sewing and body image, and the siren song of popular patterns. I’ve been sitting on some thoughts along those lines but I think Jess said it better than I could. So I begin with a reading recommendation today.

And instead of a more substantial post about what I’ve been sewing (and thinking about sewing) this summer, I give you a partial update with a trip down memory lane.

Here are all the versions of the Helmi pattern by Named Clothing that I’ve made so far.

I started by making the blouse version:

helmi1-2

This version, in a slippery lightweight polyester crepe, was my wearable muslin. I went with the hidden button placket but without the intriguing trench details. (More about the blouse here.)

And then I couldn’t stop, though I ditched the hidden placket on my next versions:

(More about the blue blouse and the black blouse appears in this post.)

I added kimono sleeves on summer versions:

And the dresses:

The first one in a stripy cotton (I later elasticated the back waist on that one),

the second one in a Cotton and Steel cotton print, with a bit more body:

Helmi-c+s1

And the latest one, sewn this summer, in a cotton chambray:

helmi-chambray1

On this one, I elasticated both the front and back. And I added this simple belt with D-rings, because I felt like that waist seam needed something more.

All the dress versions have pockets, pinched from a Simplicity pattern, by the way.

I pick up this pattern when I feel stuck, dispirited about fitting, but looking for a meaningful addition to my wardrobe despite those troubles.

So that clearly fits the definition of a tried-and-true pattern, but also says something about the adventure of dressing yourself…

This post will need an addendum because there’s one more blouse I have somehow failed to photograph although it’s a staple of my work wardrobe.

But, for now, I’m sharing this love letter to Helmi as is — maybe it can help someone get out of a sewing rut?…

What’s your go-to pattern?

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Helmi plus Cotton and Steel

I’m late* (fashionably?) but still timely with this post. Late, because I made this dress earlier in January but just couldn’t get it photographed. And then, over at Belle Citadel, Claire wrote a great post about sewing garments with quilting cotton.

So here’s my timely follow-up about sewing with quilting cotton despite all the doubts I always have about it.

Helmi-c+s1

It’s the print that was the decisive factor in this case, since, to be honest, whenever I’m considering quilting cotton for a garment, I always question that choice. Most of the time, I think it doesn’t work because a bit of give, fluidity, and drape makes a significant difference for how the garment hangs.

But I keep seeing a lot of successful projects that use quilting cotton — maybe the bold prints make up for drape sometimes? Claire’s post lists several shirt patterns and it’s shirts in quilting cottons in particular that catch my eye on Instagram.

And I guess that’s how I ended up choosing this print for yet another version of my favorite Helmi pattern from Named Clothing.

Helmi-c+s2

I discovered this print thanks to this dress made by Natasha. The birds kept reminding me of this mitten pattern by Spillyjane, which I made years ago. The birds must have imprinted themselves in my mind because I found myself remembering it repeatedly, looking it up, then deciding against it because what am I going to sew with quilting cotton… until I just went for it before last Christmas.

And that’s how you end up with a print that feels kind of outside your comfort zone but also kind of familiar. There’s a story in there, very different from Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds, unless it’s a sequel in which the birds give up murder, take some marketing seminars, and settle on using subliminal advertising to sell cotton prints.

Helmi-c+s3

The Helmi was the obvious choice. By this point this pattern must be imprinted, like the birds. I guess I just have to keep making it. I’m thinking about another version as I type these words…

I went with Esther’s (@estjune on Instagram) suggestion and elasticated the back. I like the look of the original pattern sample on the model but I don’t think I could pull it off most of the time. I also shortened the bodice slightly and added side-seam pockets, and skipped the hidden placket yet again because I found these buttons in my button box.

And that’s all, folks. Tell me about your sewing adventures.

so good, I made it twice

The skirt from Simplicity 2215.

simplicity2215_envelopeI originally bought it for the dress but then swiftly put myself in the Limbo of Hesitation. I didn’t feel like making a muslin and I was just stuck in a loop, fretting about the odds that the combination of the high neckline and voluminous skirt would make me the opposite of what the model in this linked photo is achieving. Because, moment of truth, I don’t strut into work with all the buttons undone, quite the opposite, so…

But that skirt.

I’m paraphrasing here, but it seems to me that I encountered this opinion in several places: “those asymmetrical pleats will change your perspective on pleats.” I wasn’t sure but I’m now totally on that bandwagon. I love them.

simplicity2215_rose+b_helmi_2
Skirt #1 with an unblogged Helmi blouse in black rayon

I had this beautiful floral fabric in my stash for a while now. The pattern’s too intense for me to dress myself in it head to toe, though I can’t get enough of those roses. I’ve used it in facings and pockets. It’s a pretty stiff (canvas?) second-hand find. And I think it was just the perfect pairing for this skirt pattern.

I had another well-loved remnant in my stash, from this dress. So I made another skirt.

simplicity2215_black+burdabookshirt2
Details:
Pattern: Simplicity 2215 view C; both skirts lengthened by 2.25″; black skirt squeezed out of a remnant due to which one pleat on the front and one pleat on the back were sacrificed but things worked out fine.
Fabrics: skirt #1 – mystery fabric (canvas?) bought second-hand; skirt #2 – remnant of the “Sprinkle” quilting cotton from Cotton and Steel
Notions: thread; skirt #1 – 7″ invisible zipper, navy single-fold bias tape for the hem, hook and bar; skirt #2 – 7″ lapped zipper, hook and bar
Seam finish, hems, etc.: skirt #1 – serged side seams, hem hand-sewn and finished with bias tape, waistband finished by hand; skirt #2 – serged side seams, double-turned handsewn invisible hem; waistband finished by hand
Fun fact: I went with one pocket in the right side-seam and am pleased; I worried it would feel asymmetrical but, no, it’s fine.

Verdict: another great simple pattern!

PS: I don’t think I can write much more about the Helmi blouse — not when I’m sewing it straight up from the pattern with only minor changes. This one was basically like the blue one construction-wise. It all started with these unusual buttons with a floral motif:

b_helmi-buttondetail

So I end with a prognosis: more Helmis to come and, possibly, more Simplicity 2215.

What patterns have you hooked?