Merchant And Mills Factory Dress Review

In which I decide to explore a change in direction, and take a different approach to deciding which garments I want to sew and welcome into my wardrobe, with pattern company Merchant and Mills.

As I have not been producing multiple sewing projects this year, it has made me focus more on the garments I really want to sew. Most of my sewing time has been and will be taken up with continuing to work on my wedding dress, so any additional projects undertaken have been carefully considered.

In a way, this has also made me re-evaluate the type of items I want to sew. In the past I have made garments based on utilising amazing novelty prints or bright colour combinations. As much as still adore bright colours and prints, I have realised that I do not exactly have a lack of these in my wardrobe. In fact, whenever I open my closet I am confronted with a riot of colour and bold prints. At times, this can prove overwhelming when deciding on garments to combine in order to form coherent outfits.

All of these thoughts led me to the conclusion that I need to focus on making garments that are muted, solid colours (ie no prints), and will be key versatile pieces to combine with existing items. For me, part of the joy of sewing is being able to create pieces from unusual colour combinations or whimsical prints, so to focus on plain fabrics is quite a big change.

In order to hopefully lessen the days when I am overwhelmed by my brightly hued wardrobe, I turned to UK based pattern company Merchant & Mills. The Factory Dress was my very first pattern from Merchant & Mills, and as I opened the pattern envelope, this phrase perfectly surmised my recent thoughts and evaluations:

‘Take Pause. Invest thought time and labour in making your own clothes by your own hand.’

The Factory Dress is inspired by a 1920s design, made to be worn as a durable, hard working garment. The pattern comes in multiple sizes, from UK8 up to UK18. I decided to cut the UK 8, which turned out to be a nice fit. Full illustrated instructions are also included with the pattern, which I found not only helpful, but also a delight to read. Through the use of language, it is apparent that Merchant & Mills really encourage the development of sewing skills. Indeed, equal attention is heeded to the internal finishing of the dress as the overall look of the garment, reinforcing the sense that garments made from Merchant & Mills patterns should be garments made to last.

I used a beautiful muted pink pure linen purchased from Ditto fabrics to sew up my Factory Dress. I feel this was the perfect fabric choice – durable, easily laundered, with just the right amount of drape and weight. I love that the pattern includes pockets in the side seams, I do have a tendency to fiddle around with pockets as a kind of social comfort blanket!

Overall, the dress did not take long to make at all, as I recall I had it whipped-up in a day or two. I spent extra time making my own bias binding, which I used to finish the facing and bodice/skirt join on the inside.

I would absolutely make up this dress again, as the pattern was so straight forward to work with. Sizing wise, even the darts were absolutely perfect on my completely flat bosom area – something which never happens with shop bought patterns.

As a testament to how impressed I was with the pattern, I persuaded Kieren to take us on a little road trip last weekend to visit the Merchant & Mills shop in Rye. I purchased the Workbook, and some beautiful English herringbone cotton twill. The next projects I intend to work on are the Saltmarsh skirt, and the Haremere coat – both from their Workbook.

Whilst I previously may have viewed plain, practical clothes as unexciting, Merchant & Mills patterns have made me realise a new joy in sewing – the joy of taking pleasure in the process. Creating and crafting something with care, thought and patience.

Outfit Details

Until next time dears!

8 thoughts on “Merchant And Mills Factory Dress Review

  1. Juliane says:

    Thank you so much for the inspiration, Jenny – the dress turned out so beautifully! A few months ago, I too purchased the Factory Dress pattern because just like you, I want to have more versatile pieces in my wardrobe. I haven’t had the time yet to try the pattern and will have to find the right fabric first. Luckily, I will be in Berlin in a few days, with plenty of fabric stores to choose from. Maybe I will change my plans and go from something grey or blue to a more feminine colour – I really love that dusty pink you have chosen.

    Warmly, Juliane

  2. Porcelina says:

    I too have recently had the realisation that so many patterns and colours in my wardrobe sometimes make putting things together a bit tricky, and that I often wear solid colours more often in the end. This dress turned out really beautifully, you can see the care and attention that you made to finishing it. Lovely! X

  3. PsychicSewerKathleen says:

    I have one of Merchant & Mills patterns (the Camber) and I’ve been eyeing the Trapeze dress pattern too. You’ve inspired me! They do have lovely straightforward and really practical designs and yours made up in this lovely linen is just perfect for summer. Great job with the bias binding inside the dress.

  4. Jenny Frances says:

    Hi Juliane,
    Ooh, I’m jealous of your choice of fabric stores in Berlin! I’m sure you will have a great time! I am so in love with this pattern, that I have already purchased some more fabric to make-up a second version. This time, I have chosen a 100% cotton gingham in cream & black. I am not usually a gingham person, but this particular fabric has a nice texture to it, almost like poplin. I’m excited to see your version! xxx

  5. Jenny Frances says:

    Hi Porcelina,
    I totally know what you mean about patterns & prints – they are absolutely lovely, yet can be a bit tricky to team together. I am definitely going to try harder to incorporate solid colours and tones into my wardrobe from now on! xx

  6. Jenny Frances says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    I have been eyeing up the Ellis & Hattie for ages now, but I’m not entirely sure that style would suit me. Regardless, I am going to make the Haremere jacket from their Workbook at some point in the future, and I can definitely see me making up even more of their patterns too! I really love how the patterns include a photo of the inside of the garment once it has been sewn, it really helps to envisage how the completed garment will (or should haa ha!) look. 🙂

  7. Ellen says:

    The pink is just perfect! Question–did you find you had to size down at all? I’m thinking about making this pattern myself, but I’ve read some reviews that said if you stay true to size with this pattern you may end up swimming in it!

  8. Jenny Frances says:

    Hi Ellen, I think I cut a size 8, which I did find came up a little on the large side. But, I don’t like my clothing to fit tightly, so for me it was fine. Maybe make a quick mock-up/toile to check the fit first just in case 🙂 Jenny x

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