New shirt: The Gilbert Top from Helen’s Closet in Heirloom

Hey folks and a happy Autumn to you! Did you have a good Halloween? We definitely did here and it was lovely to see the kiddos getting out and about almost as if it were a regular pre-Covid year. I had my own little horror story a week or so ago when I tripped in a pothole while walking my dog at night. Ouch! I may have a tiny fracture but mostly it’s just a very bad sprain and I’ll be wearing a boot for a few weeks, as you can see in some of the photos. I only had the second sleeve to sew on my new Gilbert Top, so I managed to get it finished yesterday and here are a few pics!

Summer was all about dresses for me this year and I really enjoyed trying out a few different patterns and styles and wore them all a lot. For autumn/winter I’m absolutely feeling a pull towards shirts and blouses and I have a few more patterns I want to try out. Here’s one of them: the Gilbert Top from Helen’s Closet. I couldn’t decide between this and the Hey June Willamette shirt for a while, but Helen always provides lots of extra content and hacks with her patterns and that, combined with the fact I really wanted a shirt with a tie-front option, decided the matter.

The Pattern

The Gilbert Top is a fairly relaxed camp collar shirt with a back yoke and an optional pocket. There are two main views offered (although lots of aforementioned hacks on Helen’s blog) and for this shirt I decided to make the short-sleeved version with the straight hem, so a mix of views A and B. I also opted to add two pockets as I thought one would look a little uneven on this view. I didn’t even attempt to pattern match the pockets as I usually have to experiment to find the ideal placement the first time I make a shirted pocket, but one of them ended up matching exactly – completely coincidentally! So now it looks as though I only made one, but there are actually two there, haha (see below for proof). In fact, I like the look of a pocket, so I don’t even always want to pattern-match them.

Helen has a great sizing range: a B cup range from 0-22 and a D cup range from 12-30. I am a D cup in sewing – I have a 4 inch difference between my high bust and full bust – and my bust measurements were spot on for the 16. My waist and hips are a bit larger than what is listed for that size, but since there was quite a lot of ease looking at the finished measurements, I decided to make the straight 16 and see how we got on.

Fabric

There are many fans of the Warp and Weft collections from Ruby Star Society’s Alexia Marcelle Abegg and I am one of them! I’ve got a fat quarter bundle and some yardage for some future quilts, but I’ve been wanting to use the fabric for garments for ages too. I happened to be in Drygoods Design in Seattle the other week and was very drawn to the plaids from the Heirloom Warp and Weft collection.

I bought the shirting weight Solar Navy variation and it is so darn soft. It washed up beautifully and the yarn-dyed aspect of it just makes for a beautiful cloth. This shirt pattern does have facings but the double-sided nature of a yarn-dyed woven means you don’t have to worry about “wrong” sides showing anywhere. I also LOVE the way it coordinates with the double-sided wool of my Acajou trousers. An autumn match made in heaven!

Fitting

As I mentioned, I made the straight-up 16 as I’m not very familiar with Helen’s block (I have made some of her patterns before but they were both much less fitted). As the pattern measurements went, it should have given me a good fit around the shoulders and bust and then a sleeker silhouette than designed for the waist and hips. The result was exactly that! I had planned to let out the side seams a bit if it ended up way too tight at the tummy and hips, but I actually really like the slimmer profile with my trousers and there aren’t any gaping buttons, so that’ll do for me! I will, however, grade it up for the tied-up view, when I make it, as I want the intended ease for that version.

I think the fit is very nice on the Gilbert, but there are a couple of small tweaks I would make next time:

  • The bust apex is just about half an inch too high for me, so I would lower that. I think half an inch is well within a reasonable draft for a D cup bust. I get slightly miffed if it’s a 1.5 to 2 inch difference as I don’t feel that’s terribly realistic, but half an inch is good. Many D cuppers will find it fine as is, I suspect.
  • I will shave about a quarter to half an inch from the shoulders. Again, this is a good fit and very much just my own tweakage. If I’m using a D cup pattern to my measurements I would expect the shoulder fit to be much closer than if I used a B cup pattern and it is. Very nice!
  • I have some pooling at the bottom of the back, but that is most likely due to the hips and waist being a little narrower than intended, I reckon. It’s certainly not a swayback situation and should be a quick fix.
  • I’m not completely convinced with the pocket placement. They need to be either closer towards centre front or smaller pockets as the outer sides are wrapping themselves around my body. I’ll experiment next time!
  • Edit: I just remembered one more tweak, so will add it to ensure I don’t forget! The armholes are just a touch – half an inch? – low on me. I find this in about 50% of the patterns I make but it does slightly restrict my movement.

Construction

Helen’s Closet patterns are often cited as having some of the best instructions around and they are indeed excellent. There was only one little spot I wasn’t sure about and that was the orientation of the collar when joining the facing to the collar area. In looking for the answer to my question I found a marvellous sewalong by Sara from Sewing Therapy. If you are a beginner or get stuck anywhere, this should help you out!

There were lots of nice touches, but I particularly liked the way the instructions have you stitch the facing down in two places. You get such a neat finish on the facing inside and out – it’s super!

Overall

This is a great staple pattern to have in your repertoire. There are two very useful variations and I definitely have my eye on some of Helen’s hacks, like the dress versions as well as a sleeveless number for summer. All in due time… In the meantime I have more shirt and top plans in the mix, including a vintage Vogue blouse and a new pattern that’s barged its way onto my list: the new Phen shirt from Pattern Fantastique, which I bought immediately and am currently pasting together. Lots of fun! Have a good week!

7 thoughts on “New shirt: The Gilbert Top from Helen’s Closet in Heirloom

  1. Great shirt – I love the “secret” pocket! The fit is very flattering.
    I’m wondering if you can explain why you would expect the shoulder fit to be closer with a D cup? (I would be a B, but shoulder fit is usually too big for me on most patterns.)
    I love the fabric line, and temptation struck when you described the softness! (I’ve been trying to use treasured stash, lol.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, this fabric line is so lovely. Well, all her Warp and Weft stuff is great, isn’t it? I bought some of the heavier chore weight for trousers or a skirt too, so we’ll see how that goes.

      Good question on the fitting! I will try to explain and hopefully it makes sense. Most patterns are based on a B cup, so if I went ahead and picked the size that corresponded to my bust size on the B cup sizing, I would pick the 20 as it has a 44″ bust. However, because it’s a B cup, that means the high bust would be 44-2 = 42 inches, since a B cup is a 2 inch difference between high bust and full bust. My high bust is only 40″ and there is a strong correlation between your high bust size and shoulder size/upper frame, so it would be way too big for me.

      If I use the D cup measurement chart, I know that a 44″ full bust, which is the 16 in this range, has a high bust of 40″, so the corresponding fit at my shoulders will be much closer to my frame size. Now, having said that, my shoulders are still just a touch narrower than the block most designers use for even a D cup, so I still have to shave about 1/4″ off to get a perfect fit, but it will generally (in not just the shoulders, but the armhole and neckline) be a much better shape for my body.

      If you are a sewing B cup, but find that the shoulders on patterns are too large, then you also have smaller shoulders than the standard block and need to do a narrow shoulder adjustment. If you find it’s too big at the armhole and neckline as well, it might be worth going down a size and doing a full bust adjustment. Perhaps that would work for you? If it’s just the shoulder, that adjustment is quick and easy.

      Hope that helps, but ask away if it doesn’t make sense!

      Like

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