Getting shirty with the Gilbert Top by Helen's Closet

You know how some fabrics just speak to you. (Anyone that isn't into sewing at this point will think I'm mad, but YOU know what I'm on about, right!?) Well this is that fabric. When I first received the delivery with the Audrey linen/viscose mix in it I KNEW she was the one for me. She's everything I love: happy colours, retro print, easy to work with. Win, win, win!  

I bought the Gilbert Top by Helen's Closet towards the end of summer last year on the recommendation of @blossomsandwich and it has not disappointed. I made view A (shorter length and tie waist) as I thought it would look more retro in my 50's inspired fabric. I didn't make any alterations. It really is a fantastic pattern - here are the main reasons I like it:

  • Instructions - Helen writes fantastic instructions. If you're a novice sewist or tackling a technique that you haven't come across before then these instructions are for you - they will hold your hand to see you through. 
  • Brilliant drafting - the shirt is really well drafted and constructed. I have made a lot of set in sleeves over the last few years and these are the ONLY ones which are perfect first time. 
  • Neatness of the finish - When I first learned needlework as a young girl, my Aunt drummed into me that the back should always look as neat as the front. In fairness this was for embroidery but the same principle applies to dressmaking. I find if a garment is a mess on the inside then you don't feel quite so special in it. Well this shirt is like the Mona Lisa on the inside - it's a work of art. I cannot believe how neat it is with almost no extra effort, and a lot of that comes down to the excellent drafting. 
  • No overlocker needed - this would be ideal for anyone who doesn't have access to an overlocker. The only exposed seams in the garment are the side seams and armhole. I french seamed the side seams as there is a generous seam allowance, and bias-bound the armholes for a neat finish. Tricky but worth the effort. (Here's a pic of me cutting the bias from the leftovers.
  • Hackability - (I have no idea if that's a word.) I really like how you can really springboard off this pattern to adapt it. The Helen's Closet website has a host of tutorials and I'll be making the sleeveless version next. I've got the pattern printed and ready to hack into.

As an aside, before I set in the sleeves, I was debating whether to make this a sleeveless shirt. I was very tempted. I looked at the Helen's Closet website to see the tutorial on how to adapt to sleeveless which is very detailed. When I tried the shirt on I realised that every single on of those changes she listed was needed to make it look spot on (size down the whole shirt, redraft the yoke and armscye to make a tighter fit to the shoulder, lower the amscye). So I decided to continue with my sleeved version and I'll make a sleeveless shirt next time with all the proper adjustments.

The ONE thing about the pattern I didn't like:

  • When you make the collar, you need to topstitch around the outside (once the collar piece is finished). However once the shirt is constructed then you stitch along the entire front edge, pivoting at the collar, continuing along the collar and then down the other side of the shirt. So you end up with two lines of stitching in the same place - and it's obvious if your second line of stitching isn't in exactly the same spot as the first. Next time I'll hold off topstitching the collar and wait until I topstitch the whole shirt, so I don't have this problem.

So all in all, I really rate this shirt. I've worn it all morning, got a couple of compliments and I feel like I'm wearing something really expensive. I am struggling not to go around showing people the neat insides...  ahhhh the joys of being a sewist! 


Happy sewing,

Tanya xx


May 17, 2022 — Tanya Brooman