Category Archives: Merchant & Mills

Alder

Alder

Well the clocks went forward this weekend, officially signalling spring! It was horrendous weather all weekend obviously, but today is a bit brighter and I’m wondering if I can get away with wearing my decidedly springlike new dress yet…

Alder

Two things stopped me from pouncing on Grainline’s Alder shirt dress when it was released last year – the fact that I never ever wear collared anything, and that I wasn’t sure the slightly dropped loose waistline would work on my shape. Well, fear 1 was easily fixed by using Jen’s handy tutorial from the sewalong to convert the neckline into a v-neck faced with bias binding – a simple hack and the construction was familiar to me as it’s essentially the same as the Darling Ranges.

Alder

Fear 2? Well, I think this fits so well that it’s kind of flattering anyway! I cut a size 6 with a 3/4″ FBA, and I love the fit through the bodice and waist. The only other tweaks were a 1/2″ swayback adjustment, nipping in the bodice side seams a bit, and raising the shoulder line by 3/8″ right at the end to fix a bit of neckline gaping.

Alder

I should add that I didn’t really refer to the instructions but made it in an order that made sense to me. Basically after joining the yoke and shoulders I gathered the front and back skirt pieces separately, attached them to their corresponding bodice pieces, then did the armhole binding, then did the side seam from underarm to hem in one go. I just prefer doing everything as flat as possible. The curved hem is finished with bias like the neckline.

Alder

The fabric is some hand-blocked Indian cotton from Merchant & Mills that I’ve had in my stash for a while. It was beautiful to work with – taking a press so easily, barely fraying, smooth to gather and French seam – and is so super soft and comfy to wear, albeit a bit creasy. I managed to squish this dress onto the narrow 2m I had.

Alder

Spring needs to roll on for real now so I can get wearing this – I think it looks weird with tights and a cardi and it’s not quite warm enough to ditch them yet. I’m already dreaming up a version with cut-on short sleeves though which might be a bit more seasonally-adaptable.

NYD at Liberty, and Merchant & Mills Top 64

Liberty

I don’t mean to boast, but I had the BEST January 1st ever. After spending the morning in bed nursing a slight hangover, my friend Arianna messaged me saying she was heading to Liberty and did I want to come with. Duh, yes. Despite it being a yucky rainy day, me and my hangover bundled onto a bus and found solace in the delights of the Liberty sale. We hit every floor, from Arianna picking up a beautiful Anya Hindmarch bag at half off in the accessories hall, to a pit stop in the cafe for cream tea and a hair of the dog champagne cocktail, to the haberdashery and fabrics, obviously.

Liberty

The fabric sale was decent: a good selection of the jerseys, silks and georgettes were 30% off and there were big boxes of 1m and 3m lengths of tana lawns (£12-35) and silks (£25/m) to rummage through.

Liberty

I tried to be restrained and only bought a few bits. I got 1.5m of this lovely blue leopard-y type print jersey, marked down to £23/m. It drapes and feels like the feather-print jersey from Mood that became my very favourite me-made dress, so I think it’s a wise investment to make something similar in. I also got a 1m piece of tana lawn with a pretty kind of abstract muted camo print, which will probably become a Scout tee. Tana lawn isn’t my favourite fabric in all honestly – I find it a bit crisp and cold – but I love this print and colours. The tiny remnant of wax print was only a couple of quid and will likely become a make-up pouch or bag lining.

Liberty

I also bought some yarn! I haven’t knitted for years and years – in fact I just logged in to my Ravelry account for the first time in ages and was greeted by the bio I wrote: ‘I’m a 24 year old…’. SIGH. I got really into knitting at university (no space for the sewing machine, innit) and got pretty good, but gave it up a couple of years after moving to London. Anyway ten balls of this super soft Rowan wool dk was £24, and I’ve cast on for a Hitch sweater which looks to be the right combo of gentle enough to ease me back in, but with a bit of lacy cabling to keep it interesting. Luckily it’s all coming back to me and I’m currently whizzing through the garter stitch hem band with half an eye on the telly in the evenings. Let’s see if my patience allows me to finish it… Feel free to add me on Ravelry by the way, I’d love to find new knitters to follow.

top 64

Tangentially related and rather back on topic, I wore my newly-sewn jumper for this lovely Liberty jolly, which is just perfect for a cold and slightly hungover day when I needed to feel snuggly. It’s a Merchant & Mills’ Top 64; the patten was a Christmas gift from my lovely in-laws and I got right to making it between Christmas and New Year.

top 64

It’s a simple fisherman-inspired tunic top, but with some nice seaming details to keep it interesting. The little pockets are set in a horizontal seam much like the Papercut Saiph tunic, but this pattern smartly integrates the pocket bags into the front pieces making it much less fiddly to cut and sew. I made it up in some French terry knit bought from Girl Charlee and shipped over from the States. It’s a cute and cosy fabric and was a bargain even with international shipping, but probably not quite right for this pattern.

top 64

For one, it was a bit of a headache matching the stripes, not just at the usual spots but horizontally across the hip seams, across the raglans, the two-piece arms, and at the centre front and back. Secondly, this terry is pretty diaphanous and non-stable – the pattern recommends a sturdier weave which I think it’s wise to abide by. My first try was way too big, probably caused by the fabric’s drag, but it was a quick fix to whiz in the side seams a bit and take the excess length off the cuffs and hem.

top 64

A neckline facing is included, but I didn’t think my floppy fabric would stand up to it so did a simple stretched band instead. Again this took a few tries to get right thanks to the fabric – my usual twin-needle finish looked awful as the stitches just sank into the knit, and unpicking it from the loopy terry was not fun at all. It then started unravelling a bit, woe! So the neckline is a little larger than I would like.

top 64

The pattern was a delight to use, though: it comes rolled in a tube complete with printed instructions and even a nice metal hanging loop to keep the pieces on. You can buy the patterns multisize but this is a single-sized one which means no pre-cutting, a real time-saver. Anyway, I think this turned out pretty nice as a casual sloppy top for work-at-home and/or hungover days and I’m sure I’ll wear it plenty. I do think Top 64 deserves re-making in a classy fabric to reflect its quality as a pattern as well.