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, pinsneedlesrulerrotary cutter
Alabama Stitch BookAlabama 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.


Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color – Peacock
Button Craft thread – Navy #13
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan

*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.


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Click to read 15 comments
  1. Claudia

    This is great. I’ve made one Merchant & Mills dress already although not in the Alabama Chanin style. I like how the shirt dress seems to really work with the cotton jersey.

  2. Nancy Gott

    How coincidental! I just purchased this pattern as well as the Factory Dress pattern. Great timing! What a lovely iteration a la Alabama Chanin.

  3. Ina + Pokey + Stella

    Oh mee oh my … you read my thoughts … in December I purchased some of the gorgeous lanacotta @ purlsoho for the Merchant & Mills Trapeze dress and you have just confirmed that my thoughts were right on track with y’all … that’s lovely! Their patterns are gorgeous … timeless and a match made in heave for the cotton jersey!

    Sew faster! Cheers!!!

  4. Eva

    This is true serendipity…just this morning I was wondering if the Dress shirt would work a la Alabama Chanin and with cotton jersey that I have come to like a lot….. I bought the pattern over a year ago along with some lovely linen and lightweight denim, but I wanted to use embroidery techniques from one of my AC Studio books with a hand dyed variegated embroidery floss….thank you for the inspiration!

  5. Emily Lowrey

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I learned to quilt as a child and started sewing again about two years ago after I picked up the Alabama Chanin book series. I don’t like using a machine, so even though I bought this pattern from Merchant and Mills, it hasn’t been used yet. This gives me confidence to get it out now because I can hand sew it with cotton jersey. I appreciate y’all so much!

    1. Alabama

      Yes, we used the yoke in this pattern. The dress itself is single layer – while the yoke and bib portion is double – following the instructions found on the pattern. Happy Sewing!

  6. Rosalind

    I’d love to see that on someone as apposed to all the woven’s I’ve seen. Beautiful site – so happy to have discovered you! Thanks Pinterest

  7. Patricia

    There are no seam lines on the paper pattern. I assume one cuts the patten put on the lines and sews the seams 5/8 of an inch inside of the edges? Patricia

    1. Alabama

      Hello Patricia,

      To make the pattern in Alabama Chanin style, follow the Merchant & Mills instructions exactly as written for everything except the neckline finishing and seam allowances.
      You will want to reduce the 5/8” seam allowances on the pattern pieces to 1/4” by removing 3/8” from every seam, except the necklines, armholes, and hem – they can be reduced by the full 5/8”. Hand-sew all seams with a straight stitch, leaving the 1/4” seam allowance. The hem can remain raw. For the neckline, you can add rib-binding with the stretch stitch of your choice.

  8. Claire

    Both of these studios are very much on my sewing radar, so it’s fun to see the cross-pollination. Question for in general: I have no doubt that the item will fit across the different kinds of fabrics, but what about sizing? Wovens would have to have a bit more ease for slipping over. Do you recommend that if this pattern is made from jersey, that you size down one or two sizes? Also, I am so curious to see this dress on a person 🙂