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!

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Author: Anne W

I love fabric, and sewing. And I could do nothing else but sew, all day, every day, if I could!

28 thoughts on “Starting my Seasonal Sewing”

    1. Thanks for that!! I know I will need to alter the armhole, and make copious changes to the pattern itself in order for it to fit me, but I fancy one! 😊 I like these sleeves very much too!

  1. Congratulations on your daughter’s graduation, and on your two new tops! Both look wonderful, and extremely comfortable. So glad you’ve got new things to wear & share (hadn’t heard about that book & will await more revelations). 😀

    1. Thank you Del! I will make another, also fancy some of the vests for wearing under fine, long jumpers & the trousers on on my list too!

  2. Oooh, this look lovely on you! Very chic, and it does look really nice over your white top too. I might be getting this book too, so it’s fabulous to see the projects popping up and looking so cool 🙂

  3. Anne, in the Workbook (on the black pages) there are “finished” measurements for each garment. I found such details much more important to choosing size rather than the Big 4 starting sizes. It meant I could easily figure out if I fitted into the finished item, including ease.
    Love your Heron! What’s next?

  4. Love your Heron top – Looks great on you!
    Also, I’m just wondering – did you pre-wash that viscose jersey fabric?

    I have some in my stash, but have never used this kind of fabric before. According to my web searches, washing can ruin it – and it should only be dry cleaned. Any tips?
    🙂 Chris

    1. Honestly I just threw it in the washing machine when it arrived in the post! I don’t do dry cleaning, if it can’t be laundered at home I don’t buy it. Good luck with yours!

  5. Very chic! I love the layered look you have going on. BTW…you and your daughter look so much alike…very pretty!

  6. What an interesting top, I love it. I haven’t really liked any of the M&M designs as they always appear a bit sacklike but this looks perfect on you. The t shirt also looks great under it.

    1. Some of them most definitely are! I do think it’s down to fabric choice, & how they’re interfaced or lined to get a better look. I want to make the trousers, but need the perfect fabric first. Would you know, there’s nothing in the stash…

    1. It is easy to buy all these things & never have time to make anything! That’s why I held off until I had decided most definitely that I wanted at least two of the items.

      1. How funny!!! We stayed in Stow on the Wold, but when I saw your photo I was immediately taken back to that place 🙂 You live in a gorgeous part of the world, but I bet you already knew that 🙂

  7. Hello! I just finished the Heron top, and found the ties WAY too short, as well. And the front is too short on those not a stick figure. I’m thinking of pretty buttons on the hem after it’s criss-crossed. I like the t-shirt underneath, but overall, I’m disappointed in its fit. Wish I would have made it in muslin first, rather than a lovely piece of linen. Ah, well! It looks nice on you!

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