Each summer I seem to find a dress that I make multiple times. Last year is was Named Clothing's Kielo dress, I made three- see here, here and here. This year, the weather was cooler and so I ended up choosing a cross-seasonal choice, the Merchant and Mills Ruby Dress. This came about by chance. Merchant and Mills started a small ready-to-wear line, Label, and the Rugby Dress was heavily discounted in their sale. I bought a size 8 and I loved it and wore it a lot and so promptly bought the pattern from Village Haberdashery with some glorious Lady McCelroy linen in Marinee and sewed up this version.
I made a size 8 with the following alternations:
- Lengthening the bust dart to size 6 point"
- Narrowing the side seam from underarms to pockets by 1/4"
- Hem reduced by 1"
I find Merchant & Mills patterns seem to differ from each other little in their presentation and instruction style. The Rugby dress has size 6 cutting lines, the other styles (I have the Factory Dress, and the Camber) do not. The Rugby has smoothly drawn digital style diagrams, the others have hand drawn sketchy pictures. There was a minor error and there are amended extra instructions to cover this (it's to do with the order of sewing in the collar). Check each pattern for seam allowances as they can vary too. Merchant & Mills designs look simple but there's always a very neat technique or finishing method and the pattern drafting is beautiful, even though I always make alterations, they are simple. Every pattern I've made involved narrowing the centre in some way: either lengthening the bust darts and shaving down the side seams, or reducing the centre width at the centre fold line (did this on the Camber, more to come on that when I get photos!). I especially like the closer fit on the shoulders combined with lots of room to move in the skirt section, plus the pockets are placed perfectly for me and disappear into the side seams. I faced mine with Liberty lawn in a blue cross stitch print. The visible Liberty lawn on the collar, placket and cuffs is a Grayson Perry print (long out-of-print) that I have scraps of from a dress from years back. It is one of my all-time favourite fabrics. The Lady McCelroy linen is a lovely weight for this style, it definitely needs a prewash and colour catcher too!
Here's a little outtake pic, I'm in mid conversation with the photographer, my daughter. We usually try and take these photos as fast as possible as it's on the road in front of our house so rather visible! I'm hoping to squeeze in another of these dresses for a little early Autumn wear, this time in Rustica Chambray which has a lovely drape, fingers crossed...