Helmi Tunic Dress – take 3

I was getting all geared up for Spring sewing until the Beast from the East and Storm Emma made my plans feel seasonally inappropriate! I had purchased this lovely cosy brushed cotton from Croft Mill a couple of weeks ago and it just seemed perfect for another Helmi Tunic Dress. As you can tell from the title of this post, I’ve sewn this Named Clothing pattern a couple of times in dress form, as well as a shorted shirt version. The first dress is blogged here.

And these are a couple of unblogged versions:

I thought I’d quickly ‘whizz up’ this new Helmi, as it’s usually quicker sewing something familiar. However, where checks/plaids are involved things slow down significantly when you get into the pattern matching! It’s so worth the effort though and I’m pretty pleased with how this came together – no mean feat considering that I only had a 1.5m length of this fabric. I didn’t even have enough for the full length sleeves so had to fashion a wide bound cuff, which of course I really like!

Here’s a tasty pattern matching photo. The waist seam only matches at the centre, but there’s only so far you can go with pattern matching – the seam is a slight curve so you can’t match all the way along. But the centre front, collar and bust darts are pretty accurate!


I had planned to use a remnant of lining fabric to line the front skirt so it hangs well and avoid that annoying riding up effect when worn with leggings.  However, I actually found that I had enough lining to line everything except the sleeves. The fabric is a truly awesome stretch viscose lining from Croft Mill. Not at all slippery, easy to sew and breatheable.

Thus began another ‘slow sewing’ step as I chose to underline things. In a nutshell, this means that you cut your lining pieces exactly the same as the exterior, and baste/tack things together at the edges before sewing the garment together, treating the layers as one. This is one of my favourite dress-making techniques and it has worked a treat on this Helmi, adding a lovely weight to the dress.

This photo shows the inside of the dress:


As I mentioned above, I didn’t have quite enough fabric to get the full sleeves cut out. After sewing the dress together I made wide cuff bindings, which look really nice turned up.

As I’ve made a couple of dresses sticking to the pattern, I decided to make a few changes to this version. The original pattern has a hidden placket at the front, but I just cut the bodice fronts the same and made a standard placket so the buttons are visible. I also straight-lined the hem and when hemming I chose to leave a side vent and hem the front about an inch shorter than the back. I really like this feature.


And finally, I added a full collar, rather than the simple stand included with the pattern. This was a super easy adaptation – I just use the collar piece from the Grainline Archer shirt.


I absolutely love this pattern. I don’t often make multiples of anything, but I can see myself making this again and again. I tried it on during fitting before I’d added the sleeves and reckon it would look great with a tweak to the armhole to leave it sleeveless for the summer.

Here are the rest of the photos from my little ‘shoot’ with my lovely daughter, who has a great eye and seems to enjoy ‘directing’ me!



7 thoughts on “Helmi Tunic Dress – take 3

  1. Looks great, and I like your lining method, since I often do that “attached only at one point” kind of lining. This seems like it might yield better drape.


  2. Thanks Claudia. I have to say the underlining method has turned into a firm favourite. I would still use the other method in many cases, but underlining is great if you’re actually trying to add weight to a lighter fabric. When I purchased my brushed cotton I expected it to be much heavier. Give it a try! The time it takes to prepare your fabrics probably doesn’t add much sewing time when you consider that with the hang lining you basically have to sew everything twice!


    1. Thanks Lisa, what a nice compliment. It’s amazing how the look can change with a few tweaks like the straight hem and full collar. My other versions are a little smarter so don’t get worn so often, but I’ve already worn this cosy version twice this week!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So glad I found your post – planning a similar flannel version and was searching for an adding a true collar. Did you use the stand from the original pattern and just the collar piece from the Archer pattern or both stand/collar from the Archer? I love how your version turned out! Thanks for any insight!


  4. Hi Katie, it was a long time ago, but I think I used the Helmi collar stand with the Archer collar. That would make sense as the stand needs to for the neckline. I wore this dress so much that I need to make a replacement soon! Hope yours goes well.


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