A Helen’s Closet Duo: March Top and Ashton Dress

Hello, hello! Spring in the air, even though it’s often still freezing here over night. Helen from Helen’s Closet sent me the new March Top and Dress pattern when it launched, and I decided to sew it up right away! I used to pattern test for Helen’s Closet quite a bit, but obviously not since Helen moved to a paid quality control model. I appreciate getting the patterns, even though I’d buy most of them anyway. I enjoyed sewing March so much that I dug out my old Ashton pattern (which I had tested) and sewed one up too.

First up, the March Top. When I first saw the release I thought for sure I’d sew the dress version, but the more I loved at the modelled pictures, the more I liked this straight peplum top. Basically I wanted to look just like this model and this one! (All the models are local seamstresses from Vancouver Island.)

So here we are! I followed the size chart and made size 22. I added 3-4″ at the hem so that it is work appropriate, and as I’ll talk about later, I lengthened the cuff bands. The construction surprised me when I went to print it out – I assumed it was a princess seam top with the centre doubled as a facing, but in fact it is a classic boxy tee with the centre panel attached on top. That means that when the neckline folds back, you see the wrong side of the fabric. The centre “bib” is interfaced. I had enough light interfacing for the front, but used a heavier one for the back.

I made the short sleeves, but you’d never know it on my short arms! The sleeves are lightly gathered and attached to the dropped shoulder, then gathered again and set into a cuff. I thought the sleeves would end above my elbow, so I lengthed the band so it was long enough to fit comfortably on my bent arm. In the end those wider cuffs give me lots of mobility as I raise my arms, and I’m happy for it.

I’m sneaking in perhaps my most worn project of the year – this yellow wool blend knit (aka cheap boiled wool) Mallee Jacket by Muna and Broad! I’ve been wearing my Mallees so much while working at home. I get cold sitting still so I always have one on hand.

Now, after all the many steps involved in sewin the March top, I was ready for a palate cleanser. Something fast and simple! I’d recently reprinted the Ashton tank in my current size, and bought the sleeve expansion pack. I always liked the tank, but I was so impressed to realise that Helen had redrafted the armscye to fit the new sleeves. Helen had some super cute versions on her blog and I wanted in!

And my friends, it is love. I used the butterfly sleeve and added 15″ in length to the tank. I flared out the side seam by angling a ruler from under the bust to 1″ wider at the tank hem, and continuing that line down. The result is a good length either with or without leggings, and plenty of swingy volume. I used a polyester stretch woven from Fabricland, which I admit is kinda sweaty in the underarms, but makes for a comfy and cute dress.

I think the sleeves are so cute! A little bit of flirty fun but not fussy. I can definitely see making this as a top or dress in light woven prints for summer. Whenever I do this strange airplane pose, it is a sign I was feeling cute while taking pictures!

Instead of using the tank facing, I just cut a second layer of the bodice shoulders. It is caught in the sleeve seams so it stays in place, and doesn’t need any topstitching. Ashton has a bust dart that hits me in the right spot, not that you’d ever know in this print. I skipped the hem facings and just turned the hem up normally.

It’s so satisfying to be able to sew two such different patterns from one designer, and experiment with personal style. The Ashton swing dress is probably my favourite, but I like the boho feeling of the March top too. I can definitely imagine making a March dress this summer – ok, fine, I already have the fabric picked!

I hope that if you have a long weekend right now, you are relaxed and finding some time for sewing. ❤


8 thoughts on “A Helen’s Closet Duo: March Top and Ashton Dress

  1. I’m with you. I thought the Marsh was a princess style, too. I just finished one and skipped the included facing, drafting my own traditional for a round neckline with a back slit. I didn’t have enough fabric (busy print, too) to make it like it was designed, plus all that work and still the wrong side of the fabric shows. The sleeves were what attracted me. I love how yours turned out. I waiting to see if you try it in a knit fabric. I know I’m giving that some serious thought!

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    1. I honestly hadn’t even considered a knit! But now that you mention it… 😉

      I’m glad to hear you were successful changing to a facing! I was thinking of doing that next time just to save time and steps!

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  2. Great makes! I love the March top with the wool jacket. I am not quite finished my March dress but blundered at the neckline by putting that small rectangle facing on the incorrect side.

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    1. I did that too! Luckily I realised and pulled it off before I started sewing. Is yours all caught in the seams?

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  3. AHHHHH, Gillian! I can’t thank you enough for sewing and sharing these makes, they are both beautiful!! I’m really glad to hear you enjoyed sewing the Ashton Sleeves and that the March has turned out to be a successful top for you, they both look really great. I am also a big fan of airplane arms in my photoshoots when I get excited, lol. Love the pairing with the Mallee jacket, too!

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