Original Helen's Closet Patterns

HelenHelen's Makes, Sewing Inspiration22 Comments

Original Helen’s Closet Patterns

I was visiting my parents recently and they had just cleared out the attic. Of course that meant a big bin of things for me to look through—old school work mostly. They had set aside a yellow file folder with something that might be of interest to me and I was intrigued. What was inside that yellow file folder? . . . I’ll show you!

Original Helen's Closet Patterns

When I was in home-ec class we did some projects where we made our own patterns. This involved some basic drafting, writing instructions, and creating the pattern envelopes. To be honest, I had completely forgotten about making these patterns. When I opened this folder It brought back so many memories and I had a moment where I was a bit stunned. I made these? I made patterns before I ever made patterns? 

Original Helen's Closet Patterns
Original Helen's Closet Patterns

One of the patterns in particular I do remember sewing. This flared skirt out of a light blue wool poly blend. When I opened the pattern, there was even a photo of me wearing the skirt! Paired with a 2000’s classic—a Paul Frank tee. I haven’t changed a bit!

Original Helen's Closet Patterns
Original Helen's Closet Patterns

In another envelope I found some written pattern instructions on lined paper and a sketch of a cutting diagram. Again, it feels surreal to know that I had done this previously. Like a seed was planted in the back of my mind.

Original Helen's Closet Patterns
Original Helen's Closet Patterns
Original Helen's Closet Patterns

I love the cover art in particular on these patterns. I was a big Archie Comics fan as a kid and I would always draw my figures to look like Veronica or Betty. I also love the pattern company names and I feel like I may have missed an opportunity here. Should I start a spin-off pattern company? Red Lipped? Winkz? Let me know in the comments!

Original Helen's Closet Patterns

Shout out to my home-ec teacher Ms. Orchard for assigning this cool project! In case you missed it, our free Orchard Dress is named after her! You can read more about that here.

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.

22 Comments on “Original Helen’s Closet Patterns”

  1. Oh wow Helen, what a wonderful find! And how awesome and life affirming that you really are following your dream.
    I have magazines that I wrote and illustrated as a teenager, and I finally went to art college and graduated last year at the grand old age of 62! So I’m a bit later than you at following my dream, but I’m getting there!

  2. I love this so much Helen! What a great assignment your home ec teacher gave you and look at what grew from that! ❤️

  3. Helen, this is incredible – thank you so much for sharing the experience of coming across your early work. I have had a similar experience of being amazed at how consistent my interests have remained since childhood when finding my own papers and collectibles. The detailed and developed patterns, instructions and envelope designs are impressive and charming. Maybe a Winkz or Red Lipped pattern would be a suitable homage. I really like the sporty tight fitting collared t-shirt with red banding. Also, look at the pockets on the pants! Love love love!

  4. I love this story so much! And it’s wonderful to know the background on “Orchard.” You were one of the lucky ones that got home ec at school, and apparently a really good one at that! Almost no schools here offer that anymore, and it’s such a shame. So many valuable life skills not learned.

  5. This was so fun to get a peek into the pre-Helen’s Closet inspiration! It looks like you always knew who you wanted to be- and we’re so thankful for you!

  6. I am SO impressed that in school you understood sewing construction well enough to be able to write out instructions for the steps AND draw diagrams! What a great skill to take into adulthood!

  7. This is my favorite thing that I’ve seen on the internet this year!!! So cool! I vote for Winkz Patterns!

  8. Helen – you should be so proud of yourself. Even though you may have tried other things you obviously came back to sewing and creating lovely patterns and made a business for yourself. This is wonderful to see. Congratulations!

  9. I would frame each piece and put up in my sewing room as a great reminder of where I started and what I have done! Amazing!

  10. This is amazing! I’m so happy you shared this time capsule with us. I’m a high school librarian, and it’s incredible to see how a school project connects with your passion and career! Loving your patterns, the blog, and the podcast!

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