Plum Polka dot Helmi Trench Blouse

This Named Helmi Trench Blouse project came out of nowhere. I had seen some really nice versions around (I’m looking at you, Swarm of Chickadees thumps way up). Still, the pattern wasn’t really on my radar. I was certainly in the market for a good woven shirt pattern, and as an avowed Named Clothing fan, I was leaning towards the Quinn or the Wenona. But when Harts Fabric approached me to sew for their Sew your Hart out September event, I ended up choosing the Helmi pattern, on something of creative whim, to go with the fabric I’ll be using for this upcoming project.

Although you’ll have to check back in September to read more about that project, for now I can tell you about my first version of the Helmi. The Helmi Trench blouse is a tricked out pattern with lots of bells and whistles–well, lots of straps and special effects. Underneath the “Trench” cape and wrist straps secured with D-rings, you have a yokeless, front side bust darted blouse with split side seams, a hidden button placket, and a Peter pan collar (I think…). The pattern also comes with a 3/4 sleeve, collar optional tunic version that has been very popular. When I sat down and thought about all the options available in one pattern, I was impressed. Considering the design details are quite developed, they may be too much for some tastes or time constraints. Thankfully, these features provide a lot of room to tailor to you personal tastes.

I went for the full, decked out trench version, even though I didn’t know if this style would work for me. Whether or not it does has become irrelevant to me, though, because I think it is just so cool. The design details are both fun to sew and wear. I appreciated the opportunity to focus on all the steps involved, and to savor the process as it developed.

Construction went smoothly, and I did my usual adjustments–bust, upper back, lower darts. I did make a muslin which helped me remove some excess fabric at the center back neckline. Because I can loose all interest in a well-sewn garment if I don’t like the fit, making muslins has become an important step in most of my projects. It was once daunting and time consuming, but now I find it makes the sewing process more confident and comfortable.

One thing I did not do for this version is line the cape, as the pattern suggests, and I immediately understood why I should have–hemming the curve of the cape is no fun. With a lining, or bias tape at least, you’ll have an easier time sewing around the curve. For the second version I have in progress, I did line the cape. I also tweaked a few other things after this version (lowered the cape, added a bit more for the upper back), so I’ll see how that works out later. It is also worth considering the size of the buttons. Mine are quite thick which makes the outer flap of the placket somewhat bumpy. My second version has flatter buttons.

As for the fabric–was I pleased so sew this up! I purchased this plum-wine shirting from Blackbird fabrics two years ago. It was always begging to be made up and I’m glad its finally a garment. Since it is still summery here in Montreal (and I would never rush the good weather away!!), I’m not yet wearing long sleeves, but I’ll be thrilled to have this shirt ready for when it it is a little cooler. It is my first Fall garment, and I hope it is a sign of an exciting list of future projects to come. I am already impatient to finish the next version, and to try out some others with different modifications. I hope you like the shirt because there is more to come!!

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