I pattern tested for Helen’s Closet for several years, and have met Helen in person once. The team continues to send me free copies of patterns as they are released, though I have bought patterns from them as well. (For example, I bought one pattern last year the day before they sent it to me, because I wanted it.) The aesthetic has grown on me over time, and I think their boxy, comfy, simple look is particular perfect for pandemic dressing. I think their patterns are perfect for masculine-presenting people who want a gender fluid look (aka if Jonathan Van Ness wanted to sew), and they are leaning into that with the gender inclusive Jackson pullover (my favourite pattern of 2021) and Cameron button-up.
So, what have I sewn from Helen’s Closet, from earliest to most recent?
This is my pattern tester version back in 2017. I made several versions after, but it never because my favourite pattern. I think at the time I preferred cardigans with some shaping and flow, like these, and now I prefer something boxier at the shoulders and sleeves. Still, a very classic design that I still see often in RTW.
This burgundy one is from 2017 too, as …
…this cream version! All versions were passed on at clothing swaps over the years.
Next up for me was the Winslow Culottes, which I think was Helen’s first pattern. These looked amazing in pictures, but I gave them away to a much taller family member almost immediately.
I made a shorter pair soon after (my goodness I was prolific in 2017!) and… gave them away before too long. I just can’t get used to a woven waistband with no elastic, because they are either too tight when I sit or too loose when I stand. I know there are various hacks to add elastic, but it’s a bit fiddly with the pleats. For a similar look these days I’d go with the Cashemerette Calders or Muna and Broad Glebe.
In 2018 I tested the Elliot Sweater, and something about the raglan sleeve was always a bit off on my body. I’d be curious to try this one again though, as my tastes have changed.
I do love this stripe ponte version though, and it is still in my closet 4 years later! In this stiff fabric the whole thing came out to big though, so I cut it up and resewed every seam smaller. I like the finished project but I remember being frustrated as I tried to make it work.
I tested the Avery Leggings in 2018 as well, and have absolutely nothing bad to say about the pattern. If you want workout leggings, these are great! I don’t work out, so I never made another pair.
This tester version was so bad it never made it to my blog. I had to spend 10 minutes digging around my own computer to find evidence! It’s my fabric choice that killed it more than anything – with wiser eyes, I can tell that this geometric repeat was never going to make me happy, and the contrast bias binding was a misguided attempt to make it feel fun. It also emphasizes my pear shape proportions more than I like. The pattern was exactly as promised, it just isn’t the style for me. The Yanta overalls are very similar and came out after this, and I could actually see making them now.
That’s the end of Part 1 of this roundup! These theme for these 2017-2018 projects is that I liked the patterns but didn’t keep the clothes. As we move into 2019-2022 in the next post, I think we’ll see my style match up to the Helen’s Closet aesthetic a little better, and find many of my current TNT patterns!
Have you made any of these patterns? How did they work for you?