Merchant & Mills Workbook

Source Merchant & mills

Source Merchant & Mills

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.

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Today I’m sharing a look on Merchant & Mills Workbook.

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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.

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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. merchantandmills9

There are 6 full size patterns plus some variations. Each pattern has clear layplans, fabric quantity, finished measurements and illustrated instructions.

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 Sizing from 8-18. The patterns in the book are:merchantandmillsbookBantam is a androgynous loose-fitting vest.merchantandmills8

 Curlew is a bias cut dress with a scooped neckline, skinny sleeves and curved back waist seam. The variation is a sleeveless t-shirt

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Saltmarsh is a long line skirt gently gathered into the waist with a drawstring tie.

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Heron is a wide bat-winged wrap top with shawl collar and side tie fastening.

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Haremere is an oversized, drop-shouldered jacket with a rolled shawl collar and front patch pocket. You can turn the pattern into a coat.

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Strides is a pair of straight, wide-leg trousers. Shorts as a variation.

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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?

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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.merchantandmills33

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.

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All been sewn using french seams. I overlocked the edge of the hem before sewing it.merchantandmills29Front:merchantandmills21Back:merchantandmills24Fabric weave:
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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?

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  • I think this will be the first thing I make from the book too! I love the colour of your vest.

    • Thank you Laura. The trousers is high on my wish list now but its always fun to start with a simpler project. have fun sewing it

  • It’s a pleasure to read your words about this book ! I tryed all the patterns except the coat, it’s only cut in a grey rainproof fabric. I love your Bantam, the fabric is very beautiful, and the back is a very good idea….

    • How exciting and wonderful to have your closet full of those beauties.

  • Hélène

    Every garnment in this book is so simple and luxurious. Love your Bantam top and what you did with the back yoke to squeeze it into your piece of fabric. Genius! You should have taken some pics of you wearing it though!

    • Thanks Helene. This weeks been terribly busy and sometimes is so nice not to have to pose for the camera.

  • Thanks for the review and love your choice! My local shop has just got the book in but I’m just not sure about the style for me, especially at only 5ft 3.

    • Hi darling. It does work for shorter people but you would need to really shortener it. I found all very long ( which is great news for me) except sleeves.

  • I recently discovered Merchant & Mills and I am so impressed by their style and quality. I was thinking of getting this workbook but I was not so sure of its contents so this review came in such a good time. I already ordered their pattern for a “dress shirt” and will surely share the result in my blog soon once the pattern comes in. There is one disadvantage of Merchant & Mills for international sewists though especially if they are not based in Europe, their shipment is expensive. With the shipment, the pattern came out a bit more than twice its amount. It would be great if they could do something about this but of course, this will not stop me from ordering 🙂

    • Im glad to be of assistance. I totally get the issue of shipping. This is an issue that my Brazilian blogging friends always raise. Of how hard is for them to get anything there in a reasonable cost. I really want to subscribe to a Finish magazine ( the one named does the sewing patterns) however besides the high costs of the subscription the delivery/ shipping cost is over £60. And I think? how? we are all in Europe.

  • Yeah exactly, I always find myself chasing people travelling to the US or Europe to get sewing books and patterns.