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Pattern Review: Merchant & Mills Harlene Dungarees in Double Indigo Denim

Pattern Review: Merchant & Mills Harlene Dungarees in Double Indigo Denim

Jane offers up her thoughts and tips on sewing a classic pair of overalls: the fab Merchant & Mills Harlene Dungarees in Japanese Double Indigo Selvedge Denim.
October 21, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Pattern review: Merchant & Mills Mary White top in Honeysuckle linen

Pattern review: Merchant & Mills Mary White top in Honeysuckle linen


The Mary White pattern is a recent release from UK's Merchant & Mills. It's slated as Intermediate skill level and described thus: "A loose fitting dress or top with front and back pleats, side in-seam pockets (dress only), breast pocket and a sailor collar. Perfect attire for any board walk."

 

Merchant & Mills is not (as far as I've seen) forthcoming about the origin of the pattern's name. A quick internet search revealed a Dr Mary White, prominent Australian Paleobotanist who died in 2018, and a Kansas schoolgirl of the early 20th century, daughter of a journalist and subject of a 1977 movie about her life and early death from a horseriding accident. Your guess is as good as mine. *EDIT* thanks to our lovely friend Dorothy who remembered that M&M had answered the query a while back - it's a lifeboat! 

I'm drawn to the sailor collar, but wary of the exaggerated look that brings to mind Popeye or Princess Di in the early 1980s.

 





 

However I trust Merchant & Mills to keep it classy. So I selected our soft washed Lithuanian linen in 'Honeysuckle' and went to work on the top (the dress version is simply lengthened straight down, with added side seam pockets).

As usual with M&M patterns, the sewing process was full of satisfaction, with notches lining up beautifully, sleeves easing in nicely and so forth. However, I did find the front pleat quite a head-scratcher. I got there in the end, and it was partly my fault for making chalk marks (which became hard to discern) instead of the recommended tailor tacks. Next time, I'll take the time to tailor tack properly. 

There is a section where facings are sewn to folded pieces of the front bodice, and in case it helps anybody, I offer the following as additional guidance in the second part of Step 13, where I found the diagram difficult to interpret:

 

Right front bodice (view of wrong side), interfaced neck facing above inner workings of the pleat. Fold both out away from the bodice.

 


Pin top of pleat to bottom of facing.
Sew across, the full width of the facing.
This is how it looks once folded back against the bodice.
After this, I sewed the closing of the pleat incorrectly several times before I finally worked it out. It's quite tricky to picture how it all comes together. If you're not sure, hand-baste the pleat and check it, which will be easier to unpick than my 'surely this time' machine sewing!
 
I had concerns about the length of the top (fairly cropped), but in the end I think it's fine. Taller people might like to add a bit of length though. I may have hemmed it a tad longer than as per pattern. Here it is in action, worn with shorts in (sold out) Traditional Japanese Dinosaurs, made with the Closet Core Carolyn Pajamas pattern. Better rumpled photos than not at all.
 
 
 
PATTERN: Merchant & Mills 'The Mary White' Top & Dress
FABRIC: 'Honeysuckle' Lithuanian Washed Linen, 210gsm  1.4m as per pattern - we find M&M generally accurate with yardage and their layouts make efficient use of fabric.
SIZE: 14
ALTERATIONS: none
COMMENTS: Ultimately, after some frustrations, this was a satisfying sew. If I end up leaving this at the shop as a sample (as planned), I would like to make one to keep for myself. I actually chose this colour linen because I adore it (so, enjoyed the sew) but thought it was better suited to people with darker colouring... so I wouldn't be tempted to keep it. But I think the colour looks surprisingly fine. I'd better crack on with another 'keeper' then!
 

 

February 11, 2021 by Jane Goldney
Pattern Review - Merchant & Mills Trapeze pattern, button back top

Pattern Review - Merchant & Mills Trapeze pattern, button back top

Have you ever made a list of your top 5/‘desert island’ patterns? If I made such a list - which, come to think of it, sounds like kind of a fun diversion - the Merchant & Mills Trapeze pattern would be included without hesitation. I’ve made quite a few of these over the years, (blogged about my first version in 2015). I’ve traced a couple of different sizes, too, as my weight has fluctuated over the years; this pattern has been a constant

 

About a year ago Merchant & Mills released a button-back iteration to the Trapeze, and I’ve been keen ever since to give it a go. A sleeveless pinafore was at the top of my list until seeing this button-back top on the M&M Instagram. Plus, those sleeve gussets are really rather nice, too (terrible low-light photo below).

 

 

 

Sizing 

The Trapeze has generous ease around the bust and hips, but I find the arms (as with other M&M patterns) quite tight fitting in comparison. The linen in this Essex blend has given a little with wear and so the tight-ish arms are wearable for this top but if I was using a tightly woven fabric like a liberty Lawn for this pattern, I would probably want to use the armscye and sleeve from the next size up.

 

M&M have recently extended their size range for the Trapeze, but only for PDF purchases from their website here, so we only have available the printed version of the pattern which covers sizes 8-18. Jess from Broad in the Seams gives a helpful review of the extended size range here.

 

Construction

There are no top instructions as such in this pattern, but converting dress to top is as straight forward as you would imagine. Making this version of the pattern required cutting the dress front, back and front & back facing pieces from self fabric and interfacing, cropping each at desired length. I cut about 65cm from shoulder seam to new hem. 

 

 

 

There is a nice wide hem facing on the dress version which I didn’t include in this top (I hemmed the whole thing with a 1cm double fold.) My fabric, this lovely Essex cotton/linen blend in Rust is 110cm wide. At a guess, I cut 2m (the full length facing pieces for the button placket make this a fairly fabric hungry proposition) and found I didn’t have quite enough to cut a hem facing for the top. In retrospect, an added facing at the hem using this substantial fabric would probably have made this top a bit rigid and a-line, but if your fabric is quite light (double gauze/washed linen) a facing would be lovely - perhaps just plan your project better than I did and cut about 25cm extra to begin with! ;)

 

 

 

These photos were taken after a solid day of wear with lots of time getting crushed in the car, but that probably gives a guide as to how the Essex wears over the course of a day. Looking now at the drag lines around the buttons at the back, I suspect I need a wide-back adjustment or more buttons - and bigger buttons, too (in my defence, there were only 5 of these left when I purchased and I was struck with decision overload in the button shop!) Oh, and, I can get this on and off without needing to undo any of the buttons… so if you are buttonhole-averse, you could probably get away with making these purely decorative. 

 

 

 

So, in my book, the Trapeze continues to earn its stripes as a versatile and wearable pattern. It’s most definitely still coming to the desert island with me!

 

- Fiona xx

September 08, 2020 by Jane Goldney