Starting my Seasonal Sewing

With my sewing plans all laid out for easy viewing, I decided pretty quickly on what I wanted to start with.  It will come as a surprise to you that it is neither a Burda pattern, nor a self-drafted one!  In fact, what I wanted to start with wasn’t even a piece of fabric that had made it onto the pile this year, nevermind the season. So much for not getting distracted!!

I’d given in to purchasing the Merchant & Mills workbook after seeing a couple of items online that I liked (and a couple I wasn’t entirely sure of).  I checked images and some blog posts, looking at some of the reviews of the book itself, not just individual patterns.  The one thing I couldn’t see was the sizes the book catered for.  They state the patterns go to size 18 and I managed to find some published photos of some sort of measurements, but they were never clear enough to see exactly what they were.  I thought I’d take a gamble & get it anyway, figuring if it wasn’t going to work for me I could always sell it.

I rather liked the wrap top, called Heron.  Wrap tops don’t always work terribly well on fuller busted figures.  I’d seen this post while conducting my research and figured if it worked on this lady, it wouldn’t look too terrible on me!  I also decided on a linen to make it in.  Deep in the fabric cupboard, in the linens box, languished a beautiful, light weight, warm grey linen.  This is one of those pieces that has a slight sheen to it, no slubs and the most perfect smooth texture.  It’s been hanging around for about 8 years, too gorgeous to make just any old thing from, but perfect for the Heron top.

Warm grey lightweight linen for the Heron
Warm grey lightweight linen for the Heron

The book arrived and was immediately devoured.  There are patterns I will make, others that I shudder at.  The overall asthetic is a bit arty teacher who doesn’t own an iron, but each to his/her own!  I did spot a problem though.  On each pattern page there is a helpful table of finished measurements, diagrams of pattern pieces, fabric requirements etc.  Nowhere could I find a size table. Nowhere.  Please tell me what the point is of providing finished measurements when you have no starting point??

I checked the Merchant and Mills website, perhaps it was there on the patterns you buy individually..  Nope, only finished measurements.  In frustration I googled “size table for merchant & mills patterns” which lead me to a PDF I could download and lo and behold, sizes!!  Am I going on too much about this? Perhaps, but it annoyed me that it wasn’t in the book.

Apart from that, this isn’t going to be a review of the whole book, I have only made one pattern so far!!  From the size table and finished measurements of the Heron I chose the 18 & made a toile in a lightweight calico.  I wasn’t worried too much about the fit in this exercise, but the look.  Sometimes wrap tops feel too enveloping and claustrophobic.  It seemed ok but I needed to make the ties longer, much longer!

Toiling the Heron from Merchant & Mills
Toiling the Heron from Merchant & Mills

The patterns are easy to trace, nothing like the Burda mazes.  Markings are shown with little rectangles and seam allowances are shown as notches.  Most are the standard 1.5cm but on this pattern the side seams are 2cm to allow the armhole openings to appear neater when topstitched.  It’s a really easy pattern to make, not taking long at all.  I used Gill Arnold’s fine sheer polyester interfacing on the front facing and shawl collar piece, this gave the fabric just enough body.  The ties were short for me, I lengthened the short, left piece by 10cm and added that length to the right piece.

I had it finished just in time to wear to Daughter No1’s graduation ceremony in Birmingham at the beginning of September.  I wore it with a plain white Marks & Spencer tee underneath and my pale linen trousers made just before I went on holiday.  After lots and lots of sitting during the day, here it is just before lunch…

Merchant and Mills Heron Wrap Top
Merchant and Mills Heron Wrap Top
Mr W, Daughter No1 & myself after the graduation ceremony.
Mr W, Daughter No1 & myself after the graduation ceremony.

I had thought it would look pretty good with a longer sleeved tee underneath, I think black, grey or white would work pretty well, so the next item to be made from the table of goodies was an off white viscose jersey.  I chose the Maria Denmark Brigitte tee, bought with a birthday discount.  A standard tee, nothing fancy, I chose the 3/4 slightly trumpet shaped sleeves and v-neckline.  It needed an FBA to fit across the bust but otherwise was just fine.  This is the first time I’ve made a Maria Denmark pattern for myself, & I’m hoping to use the sleeves from this pattern for the Day to Night Drape top.

Maria Denmark Birgitte in off white viscose jersey
Maria Denmark Birgitte in off white viscose jersey

Putting the Heron & Brigitte together works fabulously well, and even better with my wide legged black linen Burda trousers!

P1120934-1P1120923-1P1120917-1Ok, I know it could be longer, especially in the front, and Kimono sleeves always look funny on the fuller busted, so I don’t think I’d get it too much better than this.  But I’ve worn this top a few times now and can’t really complain about anything.  It also irons really well, & with linen that’s a massive bonus!

P1120926-1P1120915-1That’s the Brigitte tee sticking out, I like these sleeves very much, and may only change the length of the body of the tee.  For me I feel it’s just a wee bit too long, around 5cm or so could easily be lost from the length.  I do want to make anther tee to wear with this top, one with long, tighter fitting sleeves, probably in black.  I might also make another Heron top!  I found, buried deep in the ironing basket, a piece of dark grey wool with a fine mustard/gold pinstripe that would look fabulous in this pattern!  (Heaven knows where – or when – I got that fabric!)

Two out of 21 there, my next project was already chosen!  Here’s a glimpse…

Wrap Jacket #117 Burdastyle 09/2015
Wrap Jacket #117 Burdastyle 09/2015

More wrapping, we’ll see whether it works on my frame or not!