Happy sigh. Following a recent trip to beautiful Rye in Sussex I am enjoying a healthy obsession with all things Merchant and Mills. I like their aesthetic, and the workshop vibe of both their shop and their branding. It reminds me more of my dad’s woodworking shed than a sewing space. It encourages us to take it seriously. Sewing is IMPORTANT, not fluffy.
Thats not to say I didn’t get a bit giddy and excited in there. Me and my lovely mam spent hours, we had to have a coffee break and go back! Not before my mam bought me the Workbook, which we took with us to the coffee shop for a peruse…
The Merchant and Mills Workbook was top of our list of things to check out, I wasn’t expecting to buy it because I didn’t think the style of the clothes would suit me. This is where the genius of pattern companies providing samples for customers to try on comes in.
I tried on absolutely everything, and I learned so much. Firstly that the styles really suit me, and they give me a look of relaxed elegance that I like. Secondly, I learned my size, this is such a joy because I am forever diligently tracing off patterns and sewing up the wrong size. Thirdly, which fabrics are suitable for each garment.
Here is my linen Saltmarsh skirt (from the workbook) in Merchant and Mills soft grey Irish linen. I have not hemmed it (in fact, will I ever?!). I’m wearing it with the bantam vest from the same book in a lovely organic white cotton from my stash.
Here it is with a Merchant & Mills mustard muslin bantam vest. I’ve styled it with my favourite necklace, plus bloke and smallest child.
I also made it in a vintage paisley crepe – that languished in my nana’s fabric stash, then my mam’s, and is now a much-loved Saltmarsh. What a difference fabric choice makes. It seems to be half the size! Please excuse my damp hair and awkward posing.
This isn’t intended to be a review of the pattern, so I won’t go into detail about the sewing process. Just to say it was a pleasure to sew, everything went together beautifully. My favourite features are the deep pockets, which are a subtly cool design feature when topstitched. And also useful for stashing biscuits, hair bobbles, pebbles, seashells…. I hadn’t thought that a drawstring waist could be flattering, but this pattern has changed my mind. I think the darts in the back provide clever gentle shaping (sorry you can’t see these in my photos).
I will definitely be making more of these, perhaps I’ll try a knee-length one next summer. Big thumbs up for the Saltmarsh, chuffed to bits.
I’ll probably do a separate post on the bantam vest once I’ve made a couple more, plus the dress variation.
Saltmarsh skirt: I cut a straight size 10 with no adjustments, I’m 5’5″, waist 29″, hips 38″.
Bantam vest: I cut a size 10, but took it in about an inch at each side seam. Bust 35″. Will try the size 8 next time.