HelenGilbert Top, Guest Bloggers10 Comments

Sylvia’s Gilbert Top

We are continuing our guest blogging series this week with another post from a fellow sewist! We recently moved away from ‘pattern testing’ and are doing ‘QA (Quality Assurance)’ for our patterns now – read more here. We have more clearly separated the testing and marketing sides of pattern review because, well, that’s how it should be! We now pay our testers and we no longer have ‘tester roundups’ where we show off the test versions. Instead, we are welcoming paid guest bloggers to make the final version of the Gilbert Top pattern and share their review of the design! This is just another way for us to show you new patterns on different figures and in different fabrics!

Sylvia's Gilbert Top

Today we are welcoming Sylvia (@theravelout and theravelout.com) to share her thoughts on the Gilbert Top pattern! Sylvia is a true joy to follow. Her use of bright colors and bold prints always makes me smile. Not to mention her smile makes me smile, too! Let’s see what she thought of the Gilbert Top.

Note: I ask my guest bloggers to be honest! I want you to hear what they thought of the pattern, things they might change for next time, and how they feel in the garment! You know, the real sewing experience! This post is their own and all opinions are honest.

Sylvia’s Gilbert Top Review

I am truly honored to have been asked to review the Gilbert Top which was recently launched by Helen’s Closet. As always, this is my honest review of the pattern. 

Sylvia's Gilbert Top

About the pattern – The Gilbert top is described as a fantastic button-up shirt with a camp-collar and options for dramatic bell sleeves and a tie-front. There are 2 views – View A with the short sleeve, tie-front feature, and slightly cropped length while View B is a slightly longer short length with long bell sleeves.

Gilbert Top Flat Illustration

Size & View made The size range available is 0-30 which means 30”-48” in full bust and 33”-58” in hips. The best part? It comes in both B and D cup sizes! I always do a little dance when pattern companies provide multiple cup sizes so this made me very happy.

I made View A in size 14 (D cup). For reference, my body measurements are bust 40”, Waist 34”, Hips 45”

Sylvia's Gilbert Top

Fabric Used – For this top, I decided to use a striped linen blend fabric I have had in my stash for at least two years. It is medium weight so gives a little more structure than lighter fabrics such as viscose would give. 

Sylvia's Gilbert Top

My experience with the pdf pattern (printing/cutting process) – I like to describe myself as a lazy sewist. This means there are some things I prefer the pattern to already have. It does make my overall experience with a specific pattern so much better. There are a few things I noticed right away that made this lazy sewist smile.

  • Layered pattern – The pdf pattern (copy shop version) is layered. This means you can choose to print just the size(s) you wish to make. As a lazy sewist who is also on ‘team cut your pattern’, this is a very useful feature to have.
  • Size chart – The size chart is on the paper pattern once printed. So many companies do not do this but I love it when I can reference that information right there on the paper pattern as well. I was pleasantly surprised to see it on my copy shop pattern
  • Lengthen/shorten lines are provided on all applicable pieces (ie. Front and back pieces and sleeves).

My experience with the pattern instructions – As Helen’s pattern instructions are always well thought out and explained, this was no different. Here are a few things I want to highlight:

  • Collar interfacing – Usually when patterns instructions ask to interface both collar pieces, I always interface only one to reduce the stiffness/structure of the collar. I have never been a fan of them being too structured. So guess my excitement when I read the instructions and it only asked to interface one collar piece? I understand this may be a personal preference but this definitely checked my box.
  • The Burrito Method – If you are familiar with this method of shirt making, then you already know how beautiful and clean it makes insides look. Helen’s method for this pattern was slightly different from what I had tried in the past due to this shirt having facings. Thankfully, it was still very easy to put together.
  • Facings – Ah yes! I have a love-hate relationship with facings for many reasons. However I did not totally dislike putting this one together mainly because by the time you finish sewing the shirt, the facing is neatly sewed and place with no raw edges of flapping/fly-away facing happening. Kudos for such a thoughtful process Helen!
  • Buttons – It blew my mind that I only needed 3 half inch buttons on a button up shirt. I actually used the buttonhole placement guide because I was convinced I’d need more. I was wrong and I was happy to be wrong this time! Part of the reason is because it is cropped but I don’t think anyone is going to complain about needing to make only three buttonholes.
Sylvia's Gilbert Top

Modifications/Adjustments – I made zero modifications to this pattern. Yes you read that right. This sewist who is obsessed with hacking patterns managed to make no adjustments to this pattern. Of course, for a true review of the pattern significant adjustments should not be made. So in order to still fully enjoy the process, I decided to play around with the stripes on the fabric instead.

For my second version, I plan to grade the waist to a size 12 or 10 so that when I tie it, it is a little more fitted at my waist. On this version, the tie-front does not give me that effect unless I choose to tie it beyond the curved design in the front. Note: The pattern shows how it is supposed to fit accurately. My desire for a tighter waist tie is a personal preference.

Sylvia's Gilbert Top

Styling – Outside of sewing a garment, the styling is probably my favorite part. I wanted to style this top in two ways – one with pants and then paired with a dress! Typically pants or skirts are the go-to for tie front top. But I also wanted to see how I could pair it with a fun dress and I love how it turned out. I left it unbuttoned for the dress so I could get it a little tighter at the waist.

Sylvia's Gilbert Top

Once again, Helen has knocked it out of the park with her attention to detail and thoughtful process when putting out a pattern. This is a great pattern for all level of sewists, even beginners who are ready to challenge themselves a little bit.

Sylvia's Gilbert Top

This is the second in a three-part guest blogger series! See Leanne’s Gilbert Top here and check back tomorrow for another guest blog review!

About the author


Helen Wilkinson is the designer and founder of Helen's Closet Patterns. She also co-hosts the Love to Sew Podcast! Helen is obsessed with all things sewing and strives to share her passion and knowledge with the sewing community.

10 Comments on “Sylvia’s Gilbert Top”

  1. Tiled copy shop patterns???? This makes me SO HAPPY to read. I have never understood why tiling is never available on copy shop patterns. I’ve asked lots of times and have been told it’s not possible. Which has just totally baffled me, and I never believed it.
    And now Helen you’ve shown it is TOTALLY possible.
    Thank you thank you thank you!
    Fingers crossed other pattern designers follow your lead.
    Honestly, you have no idea how happy this makes me!

  2. I love this make! The stripe play is inspiring. And I love that it’s exactly the size I’d make (happy dance).

  3. Sylvia, thanks for sharing your experience sewing the Gilbert top! I love how you played with stripe placement, and the top fits you so beautifully. I fully intended to buy this pattern, but after reading your thoughts I feel like I need it right this minute :D!

  4. She’s adorable. I love the fabric she chose and the way she played with the stripes. I also liked the idea of wearing it over a sundress. Short or long sleeved would be a great little summer sweater.

  5. Sylvia is one of my favourite sewists on IG, wonderful to see her review your pattern. I think the stripe placement is genius – much easier than trying to get those horizontal stripes to match across the placket. Totally ‘borrowing’ this idea!

  6. Thank you for this , I’m now going to play around with my stripes .One question ,how do I make the sleeves wider please ? I’m going to lengthen them to almost elbow length but I would like them to be loose ? Thanks .

    1. Hi Mattie,

      You can do a full bicep adjustment if the sleeves are feeling tight. Or you could try the bell sleeve option included with the pattern and make it a bit shorter :)

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