Pattern Review: Merchant and Mills September Coat
September is a serious coat. Long, lined and designed in England for combatting proper weather. The kind of thing we here in the warmer parts of Australia don’t really *need* for our mild Winters. But as soon as I clapped eyes on the raglan sleeves and sweet peter-pan collar, I knew I’d find a way to make one. I had a need in my wardrobe for a long, mid-weight coat and while it may not snow here in Adelaide it can certainly get, well, chilly.
In keeping with serious coat intent, Merchant and Mills specify mid to heavyweight fabrics like wool, oilskin heavy canvases or 7-12oz denim. I chose a medium weight washed linen (Raisin, from our 210gsm washed range; currently out of stock but back toward Spring), paired with our Japanese silky lawn in black for the lining. For this pattern the linen is definitely an outlier: it’s on the light side of mid-weight and washed & drapey, but I was aiming for an unstructured, loose layer that could be worn both outdoors and in.
September comes in two size ranges: UK 6-18 (bust 78cm to 106cm) and 18-28 (bust 108.25cm to 139.5cm. I’m not exactly sure why there are two different measurements for the 18, but assume that it’s because the two size ranges are cut from a different block.) Merchant and Mills pitch this as an “oversized fit” and sensibly recommend we consult finished measurements to select a size based on the fit we desire. Helpfully, there are a bunch of photos on the M&M website to show what the coat looks like on people of differing shapes and heights. There’s buckets of wearing ease, which makes sense as it’s designed to house a layer or two underneath. I decided on the size 14, one size down from measurements. It’s still extremely roomy so if I made it again I’d go down a size - even two.
Things you might like to know about the September
There are 18 pieces to this pattern; it’s a reasonably involved sew. (I broke my always-trace rule and cut straight into the paper pattern. Sometimes life’s too short!) Despite the number of pattern pieces and steps involved there’s nothing difficult here, it just takes time, sweet time. The directions are very clear, and even the lining goes in nicely.
The two part raglan sleeves are lovely and designed to be long but just didn’t suit me at all so I shortened them by 8cm.
Overall the coat is *very* long. From the outset I knew I wanted it to hit around my knee so shortened the length by 19cm (I’m 167cm tall for reference). There is a lengthen/shorten line for such adjustments but that would have made the back vent sit comically high on me, so I took the length off at the hem and it all worked out fine.
Aside from arm and body length changes, I omitted the side seam pockets because I didn’t want them flapping around in the soft linen - also there’s already three patch pockets on the front and I was wary of pocket overkill. But my hands have been reaching for those absent pockets every time I put this on. Whoops.
I sewed this in fits and starts over a busy period so found it hard to keep up my enthusiasm for this slightly involved project. When I first tried it on before installing the lining it looked like an enormous floppy bag and I was cursing myself for choosing washed linen rather than a fabric with more structure. It was definitely not love at first sight! Once the lining was in and hems done however, I came around - it was exactly what I had hoped for. The weight and drape of the linen makes this quite swishy and - just like the packet promises - the September Coat feels like just the thing to 'stride through town and country with purpose' in. I’m wearing it all day as an extra layer rather than an ‘outside coat’ (but it’s good for that too). I do think the pattern is better suited to a more rigid fabric though, and would love to see it in denim, velveteen or a good heavy twill.