Hello friends! So, my latest sew was a real challenge. After rushing through a couple of simple tops and dresses I decided that I needed something to stretch myself….introducing the Merchant and Mills ‘Strides’
I’m a sucker for a nice looking book and ordered the Merchant and Mills ‘Workbook’ a couple of weeks ago … it is just lovely.
You could use it as a coffee table book it’s so hipster and stylish. The patterns are held in an old-fashioned card envelope with a string-and-washer fastening and the photos are all moody in black-and-white. The patterns themselves are all of a simple and classic style – the tagline of the book is ‘all season wardrobe’ and you could make yourself several outfits from just these six patterns.
The strides are one of the more advanced options and that was what I wanted…a big meaty project to get my teeth into. I have not sewn a proper pair of trousers before. I’ve sewn what are known in our house as ‘scrumfies’ (scruffy-comfies, you know, tatty old trackie bottoms and baggy sweatshirts) which are really just 2 tubes with elastic around the top. These ‘strides’ are not scrumfies – they are ‘proper’ pants – inspired by mens’ suit trousers from a bygone era; they have slanted multi-piece pockets, a concealed zip, a fly guard, darts and pleats and belt loops … the whole works.
I had a piece of medium/lightweight denim in my stash which I thought would be perfect and a free weekend so off I went. The book is not geared for beginners – the instructions are clear and accompanied by diagrams but there’s no hand-holding. I think you need a basic grasp of sewing techniques to attempt these – they nearly had the better of me at a couple of points. I found the pocket construction very complicated, in fact that was the hardest bit. And there were other steps I had to read over and over until the penny dropped. There is nothing particularly fiddly to sew, the challenge is putting all the parts together in the right place in the right order. (As other reviewers have mentioned there is an error in the book on step 16 ‘right-hand trouser front’ should read ‘left-hand trouser front.’ I’m glad I knew that before I started.) I didn’t make any alterations apart from the usual generous shortening of length. The waist is pretty true to size and the hip area is roomy in the extreme.
Although they are complex they come together very nicely and I got a big sense of satisfaction in making something that looked so … ‘real’ A nice thing about the pattern is that all the hard stuff – pockets, zip and fly-guard is done at the beginning so once you get to sewing the legs together you’re nearing completion.
I’m pretty chuffed with the outcome. Yes they are a little big, and wide-legged trousers are a hard look to carry off when you’re 5’3”. The style is supposed to be baggy but if I made them again I may go down a size. A lighter drapier fabric might make them a bit classier .. or you could add a pair of braces and a trilby and pretend you’re a character in Bugsy Malone. I’d rather imagine myself an intrepid Amelia Earhart type in them or maybe Lauren Bacall slouching against a wall looking moody and smoking a cigarette.
All in all a very satisfying make, and best of all, I think they’ll get worn – they are super comfy with that nice high waist. Tally-ho darlings .. I’m off to drink a Tom Collins and be intrepid somewhere rather dangerous ….