Sunday, July 25, 2021

Helena Wrap Dress from Just Patterns

When my friend Delphine of Just-Patterns asked me if I would like to sew her latest patterns I said yes right away. It's a bit outside of my usual style but this past year that has been my sewing theme, to try new silhouettes and see if I like them. This dress came together so easily and I highly recommend. It's the Helena Wrap Dress from Just Patterns

Helena dress3

I also think this is a case where the fabric choice was just right. Which was a bit of luck, as I had to look around in my stash to find a piece with enough yardage. This is rayon challis I ordered a few months ago from Fashion Fabrics Club and when it arrived I thought it was way too bright even for me. But I decided to give it a try for this and it worked out well. 

Here's the pattern drawing from the Just-Patterns website. 
Helena Tech drawing
Note that the recommended fabrics are mid-weight fabrics with some body such as linen, cotton poplin etc. I'm trying not to buy any fabric these days and have acquired so much yardage in the past year that I determined to use something from my stash. Looking at the design I think it would work for a lot of woven fabrics not mentions, such as silk crepe de chine, or even wool crepe. 

Helena front

I sewed size 40 as it for bust 36" and waist 28.5"  which is right around my measurements however I did add a bit at the waist which I will show below. The fabric requirement for that size is 3 yards of 60" fabric. That is a quantity that I almost never buy! Since I am shorter than most patterns specification (5'3") I can always shorten skirts and then play around with the cutting layout to squeeze the pattern pieces on. 

My fabric was about 2 1/3 yards. I removed 6" from the skirt length before I started cutting out and that helped a lot. I cut the pockets in half and only used the printed fabric for the back half of the pocket, and used a lining fabric for the front half, then seamed it where the fold would be. This is a common change I make on pockets anyway.  The reason I put the fashion fabric on the back is that this is the side that can possibly peek out when the garment is sewn. 

Helena inside fr and back

I also used a red cotton for the inside waistbands, so that also saved some fabric. Since this rayon is a bit limp as compared to some of the recommended fabrics, I put a fairly stiff interfacing on both the outer and inner waistband pieces which worked well. 

Helena dress4

For other fit adjustments, I added some width at the waistband, as the finished garment measurement was just around my waist number and I wanted a bit of extra ease at that area. 

Helena wrap dress front pieces

The amount I added is shown in pink. For the bodice I just tapered it away as it neared the sleeve. Now that the dress is finished I could probably omitted that although the extra in the waist circumference means I can wrap the dress overlapping nicely in the front, probably a bit more than the pattern is designed for. I did omit the sleeve bands, I basted them on but they made the proportions look odd to me, I like more arm showing so you can easily skip then and just put a narrow hem on the sleeves, or a facing if you want them to have more structure. Now that I see the photos and also on the advice of some sewing friends I'm going to take it in under the arm, to make the dress a bit less full at that point and also make the armhole opening smaller, perhaps just by an inch. All these things are not exactly fit adjustments, but more changes due to proportion and making a garment just right for my height and frame shape. 

The instructions on this pattern are very clear and the pattern pieces are well marked. I did read the instructions just to make sure I was sewing it correctly and then I did my own thing - as I usually do :)
The only quibble I have with this pattern is that it has 3/8" seam allowances which I suppose are more professional (?) but I can never get used to them and also they don't allow for any small fit adjustments as you go. In fact now that I like the Tatjana trouser pattern so much I'm going to go back and adjust my tracing to have 5/8" seam allowances. That way I can sew it on auto-pilot, I'm just a robot when it comes to sewing and have to constantly remind myself about 3/8". 

Helena front close up

Helena dress 5 backJPG

I've seen a few versions of this Helena dress made as a top and that is a clever idea, also as a 2-piece outfit which makes it very versatile. 

Up next, I'm sewing a pattern repeat however I think my fabric choice won't turn out as well as my first version (it happens :)  and then it will be time to make a birthday dress. Which I'm not sure about as I haven't worn the one I made last year.  Although it's supposed to be a hot spell this upcoming week and I have a few things on my calendar so perhaps I will reach for that one. 


Big news - in person classes are back on the calendar at Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley. So happy! Right now I have a beginner class starting in mid-September but we are working on adding a few more so stay tuned. And due to requests from students, I will continue doing live/online classes in the fall as well. So it should be a busy time and I'm really looking forward to sewing with people again. 

Happy Summer Sewing, 

Today's garden photo needs to be something as vibrant as that dress, so it's this dahlia. My dahlias have not been doing very well this year, and you can see from the photos above that the drought has really taken a toll with everything very dry. I have drip irrigation in the areas where there are roses, hydrangeas, gardenias etc. and then sprinklers for the lawn which is mostly a lost cause. I think in the fall a conversion of the lawns to drought tolerant plantings is the only way to go. But that's a project to contemplate on a rainy day (which I hope we have come October!!) as the ground is like cement now and impossible to do any yard work other than water, mulch and hope for rain. 

Dahlia 2021


  1. This silhouette really looks good on you. Makes you look taller and as a fellow 5’3” gal, any dress that can do that is a winner in my book! I agree, some of the fullness under the arms needs to go. Great colors on you as well!

  2. That is utterly gorgeous on you. Love it!