Merchant & Mills craftsmanship is well known. In the last 5 years they have worked hard to built a strong reputation among makers, both at their store in Rye and online. Their product range consists in haberdashery, fabrics, sewing patterns and books. All packaged in an utilitarian brand that I love. They recently offered a collection of tools in collaboration with the V&A to accompany Alexander McQueen exhibition. This exhibition was breathtaking and as a member of the V& A I was lucky to visit twice.
Today I’m sharing a look on Merchant & Mills Workbook.
This is not a beginner’s book. To keep the projects concise and engaging you will notice that they don’t disassemble every technique into stages or explain basic procedures. They assume you (the maker) have a foundation and can start straight away. Merchants & mills have an elementary sewing skill book that is complementary if necessary.
The workbook wants the sewist to move beyond simplicity and dare some new skills. Starts with simple projects gradually moving to more complex ones; inviting the sewist to sew a capsule wardrobe to be worn all year around.
There are 6 full size patterns plus some variations. Each pattern has clear layplans, fabric quantity, finished measurements and illustrated instructions.
Curlew is a bias cut dress with a scooped neckline, skinny sleeves and curved back waist seam. The variation is a sleeveless t-shirt
Saltmarsh is a long line skirt gently gathered into the waist with a drawstring tie.
Heron is a wide bat-winged wrap top with shawl collar and side tie fastening.
Haremere is an oversized, drop-shouldered jacket with a rolled shawl collar and front patch pocket. You can turn the pattern into a coat.
Strides is a pair of straight, wide-leg trousers. Shorts as a variation.
As a birthday treat the husband (note this was the first weekend as a married couple) took me to Rye for the day. I had the opportunity to try all the finished items from the book and off course to buy guilty-free fabrics. After trying all their patterns I have pretty good idea of their fit and sizing. All the patterns have a lot of ease. A good thing for plus size sewist over the size 18. To give you a baseline on their sizing, based on my measurements on their book I “would” be size 12. The stride (trousers/shorts) size 8 fit me beautifully without alterations. When I tried the Haremere size M (10) was really big even for an oversize style and the Curlew dress which was size 8 was ok but needed the sleeves lengthen by 2,5 cm.
So what have I made from the book?
Loose fitting may not be a shape you associate with my personal style but I was inspired the whole book aesthetics. I love experimenting with styles. Even as this is masculine style top I think that if styled with a nice pair of jeans it can actually be really feminine, while keeping it casual and comfortable.
My Bantam (size 8) was made with Merchant & Mills olive linen. I bought as part of their fabric scrap bundle. A selection of different cuts of fabrics. It wasn’t enough so I just adjusted the pattern creating a back seam on the yoke. Really cute feature it turned out to be.
Interestingly this sewing book has the patterns seam allowances marked as notches.
Have you feel inspired by a different aesthetics that you are used too? What other styles are you experimenting?