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The Florence Dress is 'smock dress' done in Merchant & Mills style. Comfortable, timeless and with a few key details - button back, low-high bodice and shoulder darts - that set it apart. 

Fiona and I (Jane) had both thought it might be a bit on the exaggerated-roomy side for us, and initially passed it over. But after seeing a few in person, we became quite Florence-curious, so gave it a whirl. Call us converts!

A few customers had expressed interest in how this pattern works on someone with a fuller bust, so we're bringing our personal shapes to the party, in the name of sewing research.

I chose a size 14 based on measurements that wavered between 14 and 16, knowing that bust was definitely the key measurement for this pattern. 

Florence sews up quite quickly. Which is good, because while this one stays as a shop sample, we're both pretty keen to make one for ourselves. It's rated as 'Intermediate' but I think it's beginner-friendly.

Merchant & Mills Florence Dress
Merchant & Mills Florence - back view

 

TIPS

  • Consider sizing down. Or not. When I first put this on I felt a bit overwhelmed by the fabric, and thought I could have sized down. And perhaps I still could. But after seeing the photos, I'm kind of digging the oversized look, which is entirely the pattern's intention. It feels so very lushly swishy.
  • There are no pockets included in the pattern! This is a bit of an oversight in my opinion. It will be very easy to add some side seam pockets, but I do like a pattern to do the work for me.
  • There's loads of room at the bust. (See finished garment measurements provided.)
  • I hemmed the sleeves before setting them in, which meant a lot less fabric wrangling than hemming them in the final stages.
  • It's long. Subtract twice the shortening amount from your fabric allowance if you want it shorter. The length feels pretty luxe though.
  • You definitely need the top button to be functional to take this on and off. But if you're really buttonhole averse you could just sew buttons two and three on top, straight through all the layers.
  • The instructions have you pin the skirt around the bodice in measured amounts before pulling up the gathering threads, rather than trying to evenly distribute pre-gathered fabric. This is an excellent idea that I'll use again.
  • If the neck binding and 'bagging out' instructions have you scratching your head a little, it's simpler than it might sound. Here's a photograph of the binding overlapping the interfaced back opening, pinned in place before stitching, in case it helps. Stitch neckline from end (far left of this pic) to other end. The raw ends of the binding end up enclosed under the facing, which is topstitched down.
Merchant & Mills Florence neckline binding

 

So, here's Florence, on two different humans!

Merchant & Mills Florence Dress pattern in linen

Merchant & Mills Florence dress in linenMerchant & Mills Florence, back viewMerchant & Mills Florence dress backMerchant & Mills Florence in linenMerchant & Mills Florence dress in linenMerchant & Mills Florence side view

Merchant & Mills Florence twirl factor

SUMMARY

Pattern: Florence by Merchant & Mills (wouldn't you know it, sold out by the time I got this written up, but on order and back in soon, so sign up to be emailed when it's back in... or go straight for a pdf from M&M direct!)

Fabric: 100% Linen, Pomander, made in Lithuania, washed/softened, 2.7m (as usual, satisfyingly accurate fabric requirements from M&M). There was enough fabric left over in the scraps if I'd wanted to add decent side seam pockets.

Buttons: Merchant & Mills Cotton 15mm in 'Maud'

Size: 14, no adjustments

Comments: A pleasant surprise. Merchant & Mills has nailed the styling of a voluminous frock that is still elegantly fitted at the neck and shoulders (as per Trapeze and Ellis & Hattie, as well). A match made in heaven for our washed Lithuanian linens. The soft weight and swishiness is truly a luxury to swan around in. It's just a mystery as to why no pockets are included.

- Jane & Fiona xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

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