In our ongoing Makeshift conversation on design, craft, food, DIY, and fashion—and how they intersect—we continue to adapt open-source patterns from other designers and brands using Alabama Chanin techniques. This experiment demonstrates how open-sourced materials and collaborative works can be used in any number of ways and tailored to almost any personal style.
For this entry in the series, we have chosen to work with a pattern from Merchant & Mills, a popular UK-based company created by Carolyn Denham and Roderick Field, formed, in their words, “to elevate sewing to its proper place in the creative world, respecting the craftsmanship it entails.” That is certainly a philosophy in line with Alabama Chanin’s mission and Makeshift’s goals.
Merchant & Mills has an interesting selection of patterns to offer. UK sizes differ a bit from US numbered sizes, but the website has clear size charts that can help you select the right pattern size for your body. But keep in mind that their patterns are priced in pounds, not US dollars; you should also take into account shipping costs when shopping. Alternatively, there are quite a few stockists in the US with ready links available here.
In order to highlight the simple beauty of this Dress Shirt, we have opted to make a basic version. Of course, you can choose to utilize any of the techniques from our previous posts or our Swatch of the Month Club to embellish your project. We’ve found that the loose fit and shape of the pattern makes it an easy pull-on garment when paired with our stretchable cotton jersey, and this piece looks great with The Every Day Long Skirt or the Bloomers Swing Skirt and Stripe Tall Socks.
Merchant & Mills: The Dress Shirt Pattern
*2.5 yards of 60”-wide 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey for single-layer garment
Button Craft thread
Basic sewing supplies: scissors, pins, needles, ruler, rotary cutter
Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: All three of these books contain the basic sewing and embroidery techniques we used to make our version of this dress.
Follow the Merchant & Mills instructions exactly as written for everything but the neckline finishing and seam allowances. We reduced the 5/8” seam allowances on every pattern piece to 1/4” by removing 3/8” from every seam. Reduce necklines, armholes, and hem by 5/8”.
Hand-sew all seams with a straight stitch, leaving a 1/4” seam allowance, using a double strand of thread on our Alabama Chanin medium-weight cotton jersey. We felled our seams for the dress above, but that is a matter of taste and desired style. If you choose to use a floating seam, we suggest reducing the seam allowance or trimming around all seams after completion to reduce bulk.
For the neckline, we applied our standard Alabama Chanin rib-binding with a Cretan stitch, but any stretchable embroidery stitch (such as cross-stitch or herringbone stitch) will work as well. Leave hem raw.
*This garment was made in a size 8. Yardage may vary for different sizes—please reference pattern for the exact yardage required for your garment.