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Monday, 1 April 2013

A Fisherman's Smock

Simple is best.

I made a top: a simple unadorned top, but a top that tops all other tops when it comes to my quest for plain, fuss free clothing.

Recently, I've avoided making my own clothes because past experience has revealed I have terrible judgement when it comes to choosing a pattern that results in an item of clothing I'm actually happy to wear. I've lost count of the number of dresses and blouses sent to charity shops, or given away, not because they are badly made, just that they are totally unsuited to my lifestyle. I've made 50s style dresses with boned bodices and diaphanous skirts, pussy bow blouses, and slinky Beatnik t-shirts meant to casually slip off one shoulder, which I'm sure would look fabulous on someone who's as flat as a pancake, or looks like the model on the pattern envelope.

And that's the trouble–I'm not the girl on the envelope, so the result all too often looks disappointingly different on me. Add to this, that when selecting patterns, I enter a kind of sartorial twilight zone, where I really do believe I will wear halter-neck tops and skater dresses, and I usually end up with something that only ever gets worn by a coat hanger!

But last year, I found a pattern on the Merchant & Mills website, and knew instantly, that this, at last was something I would make AND wear! As you can see, it's a humble top, totally lacking in bells, and whistles, and that always makes me happy. I can throw it on over anything and it hides a multitude of Easter egg sins, and because it's made from a medium-weight tweed, it keeps me lovely and warm throughout what is turning in to the longest ever Winter in history.

Look, invisible pockets–what do you
mean, you can't see them!
I especially love the invisible pockets, which I decided not to accentuate with another line of stitching (as the pattern suggests) since, then, they'd no longer be invisible and the top would lose a little of its magic. The pattern is supplied as pre-cut stiffish card, thus giving the impression you are working with professional pattern cutter's blocks. I feel this is an unnecessary gimmick and would much have preferred a traditional tissue paper pattern that I could pin to the fabric, as I found it impossible to mark round the blocks with tailor's chalk on to my slightly slubby tweed. This meant that my pattern pieces weren't as accurate as they could/should have been, which isn't too much of an issue on such a simple garment as a fisherman's top, but certainly would be a problem if making a Merchant & Mills pattern that requires a neater fit. Fortunately, it won't cause a problem the next time I make this top as I intend to use a light chambray for the upper part, and a dark blue linen & silk mix for the bottom third, both of which fabrics will be easy to mark.

Oh yes, I'm on a roll now, and feel a renewed interest in clothes-making slowly taking hold of me. But I've learnt my lesson, and from now on, I'll stick to the basics and avoid anything with boning or pussy bow necklines–you know–the kind of thing they wear in Mad Men!



  1. ohhh nice!!

    YOu convinced me to try this pattern, thank you!

  2. I trace paper patterns onto non woven vilene and cut them out. This gives you a soft but durable pattern that you can pin through again and again, whilst preserving the original paper master, which can be used again to make a copy pattern if the vilene wears out. That might work for you instead of working from the cardboard pattern.

  3. beautiful, and I love Merchants and Mills.


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