I've got to say, I'm all smiles about this project!
How could I not be - a beautifully drafted pattern combined with a very chic French fabric. This is the Named Helmi, the shirt/blouse variation made up in some beautiful Atelier Brunette cotton Shine in Blue-Black, both available from Stitch 56 here and here.
As you can see, I decided to leave off the 'trench' details of the shirt - the shoulder flaps, cape and sleeve belts/buckles. I felt that the drape of the cotton might not suit those details, and I also wanted it to be less fussy. A drapey solid rayon or silk would suit those details more than a cotton with body.
The fabric was a delight to work with. It's slightly sheer, presses beautifully but does crease a little with wearing. I made sure to prewash before I sewed it up. I've worn this shirt quite a few times before I was able to get these photos and there's been no shrinkage.
The pattern I can't fault. Unusually for me, my measurements put me in one straight size, and I'm very pleased with the fit. I made my standard small forward shoulder adjustment of 1cm, and that's it! No other alterations!
Tips to make your Helmi construction smooth - I'd highly recommend using a pressing jig (a piece of cardboard the width of the different folds) for the placket, especially if you use a slinky fabric. The placket is very easy to sew, and it's worth noting that the buttonholes are sewn before the collar is attached. I'd also recommend reducing stitch length when sewing the curves on the collar - I didn't do this, and as you can just see, the curve is just not super smooth - I know I'm being picky!
I love that button placket! My sewing machine makes rather unpredictable buttonholes, and it's so nice to have them hidden away! I still used these cute little buttons with asymmetric holes.
I briefly considered adding some cuffs and a placket to the sleeves from another shirt pattern, but decided to hold off - I've plenty of leftover fabric so could always do this down the track. I mostly wear my sleeves a little rolled, so took care to french seam the sleeves (remember Named patterns generally have a 1cm seam allowance).
I have been wearing this both with the collar buttoned right up (much to the amusement of my husband who has decided it's my new hipster look) and undone. The collar shape is very sweet without being twee. The side slits and slight high-low hemline are great details too.
I'd love to make another version - I've a piece of Helene's beautiful Merchant and Mills irish linen waiting in my stash for a shirt project. And the tunic variation.... as always, there are so many projects, so little time!